Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974 (though higher estimated numbers have been cited in the press), making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe. Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro.
The city's name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders. During its history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial centre as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was a tributary of the Khazars, until seized by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbours; first the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by Poland and Russia.
The city prospered again during the Russian Empire's Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. In 1917, after the Ukrainian National Republic declared independence from the Russian Empire, Kiev became its capital. From 1919 Kiev was an important center of the Armed Forces of South Russia and was controlled by the White Army. From 1921 onwards Kiev was a city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was proclaimed by the Red Army, and, from 1934, Kiev was its capital. During World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, but quickly recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991, Kiev remained the capital of Ukraine and experienced a steady migration influx of ethnic Ukrainians from other regions of the country. During the country's transformation to a market economy and electoral democracy, Kiev has continued to be Ukraine's largest and richest city. Kiev's armament-dependent industrial output fell after the Soviet collapse, adversely affecting science and technology. But new sectors of the economy such as services and finance facilitated Kiev's growth in salaries and investment, as well as providing continuous funding for the development of housing and urban infrastructure. Kiev emerged as the most pro-Western region of Ukraine where parties advocating tighter integration with the European Union dominate during elections.
Kiev, one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe, played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval East Slavic civilization as well as in the modern Ukrainian nation.
Scholars debate as to period of the foundation of the city: some date the founding to the late 9th century, other historians have preferred a date of 482 AD. In 1982, the city celebrated its 1,500th anniversary. The first known humans in the territory of Kiev lived there in the late paleolithic period (Stone Age). The population around Kiev during the Bronze Age formed part of so-called Tripillian culture, as witnessed by objects found in the area. During the early Iron Age there lived around Kiev settled tribes practising land cultivation and husbandry and trading with the Scythians and with ancient states of the northern Black Sea coast. Findings of Roman coins of the 2nd to the 4th centuries evidence trade relations with the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. The carriers of Zarubintsy culture are considered the direct ancestors of the ancient Slavs who later established Kiev. Notable archaeologists of the area around Kiev include Vikentiy Khvoyka. Legendary accounts tell of the origin of the city; one legend features a founding-family, members of a Slavic tribe (Polans): the leader Kyi, the eldest, his brothers Shchek and Khoryv, and also their sister Lybid, who allegedly founded the city (See the Primary Chronicle). According to the Chronicle the name Kyiv/Kiev means "belonging to Kyi". According to archaeological data, the foundation of Kiev dates to the second half of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century. Some claim to find reference to the city in Ptolemy's 2nd-century work as Metropolity. Another legend states that Saint Andrew passed through the area (1st century CE), and where he erected a cross, a church was built. Since the Middle Ages an image of Saint Michael represented the city as well as the duchy.
Kiev was the historic cultural centre of the East Slavic civilization and a major cradle for the Christianization of Kievan Rus'. Kiev retained through centuries its cultural importance and even at times of relative decay, it remained the centre of primary importance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity . Its sacred sites, which include the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves) and the Saint Sophia Cathedral are probably the most famous, attracted pilgrims for centuries and now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site remain the primary religious centres as well as the major tourist attraction. The above-mentioned sites are also part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine collection.
Local public transportation in Kiev includes the Metro (underground), buses and minibuses, trolleybuses, trams, taxi and funicular. There is also an intra-city ring railway service.
The publicly owned and operated Kiev Metro is the fastest, the most convenient and affordable network that covers most, but not all, of the city. The Metro is continuously expanding towards the city limits to meet growing demand, currently having three lines with a total length of 66.1 kilometres (41.1 miles) and 51 stations (some of which are renowned architectural landmarks). The Metro carries around 1.422 million passengers daily accounting for 38% of the Kiev's public transport load. In 2011, the total number of trips exceeded 519 million.
The historic Kiev tram system was the first electric tramway in the former Russian Empire and the third one in Europe after the Berlin Straßenbahn and the Budapest tramway. The tram system currently consists of 139.9 km (86.9 mi) of track, including 14 km (8.7 mi) two Rapid Tram lines, served by 21 routes with the use of 523 tram cars. Once a well maintained and widely used method of transport, the system is now gradually being phased out in favor of buses and trolleybuses.