Greece. Republic situated in the southern Balkan Peninsula and on neighboring islands of the Ionian and Aegean seas. Its land area is 131,957 sq km, and its population in 2020 was 10,718,565. The capital is Athens (2012 pop 664,046). Greece became an independent state in 1829. From 1832 to 1974 it was a constitutional monarchy; since then it has been a republic.
Because of Ukraine’s dependent status, political, economic, and even cultural contacts between Ukraine and Greece have been sporadic and short-lived. From the mid-19th century the Greek merchant navy played an active role in servicing Ukrainian ports. But there has never been significant trade between the two countries. From January to April 1919, over 23,000 Greek troops were part of the Entente interventionist forces and occupied areas around Odesa, elsewhere in Southern Ukraine, and in the Crimea. From March 1919 to July 1920 a diplomatic mission represented the Ukrainian National Republic in Athens; it was headed by Fedir Matushevsky and, after his death in October 1919, by Modest Levytsky. A Greek consul was based in Kyiv until August 1918. During the Soviet period minor cultural contacts existed between Greece and Ukraine. A new chapter in Greek-Ukrainian relations began with Ukraine’s proclamation of independence in 1991.
Greek themes are found in the works of such Ukrainian writers as Mykola Kostomarov and Yakiv Shchoholiv in the 19th century and Maksym Rylsky, Mykola Zerov, Borys Ten, and Leonid Pervomaisky in the 20th century. Translations of works by M. Ludemis, N. Kazantzakis, K. Kodzias, Y. Ritsos, H. Alexiou, and other writers have been published in Ukraine. The works of Taras Shevchenko (ed H. Alexiou, 1964), Lesia Ukrainka, and Ivan Franko (trans S. Mavroidi-Papadaki) have been translated into Greek. Some of the leading Hellenists in Ukraine have included Andrii Biletsky (classical philology) and T. Chernyshova (modern Greek at Kyiv University). (See also Ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast, Byzantine Empire, and Greeks.)
[This article was updated in 1995.]