32 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Born in Ukraine

Source: Chris Weeks / Getty Images

Even though Ukraine may be in the news today for all the wrong reasons, before the Russian invasion it was a vibrant, thriving country – the largest in Europe outside Russia – known as “the breadbasket of Europe” for its rich soil, and one of the world’s three largest exporters of wheat, corn, sunflower oil, and other agricultural products. With a population of more than 43 million and a land area of nearly 224,000 square miles, it also boasts seven World Heritage Sites, and was the home of one of the world’s earliest constitutions, written in 1710. (Here are 32 things you may not know about Ukraine.)

In addition, over the centuries, what is now Ukraine has been the birthplace of numerous illustrious figures. Because the histories of Russia and Ukraine have been intertwined for more than 1,000 years, and because Ukraine was officially part of the U.S.S.R. as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1922 to 1991, a number of prominent “Russians” were actually born on what is now Ukrainian soil – among them the revolutionary Leon Trotsky and the composer Sergei Prokofiev. (These were the republics of the Soviet Union.)

By the same token, because Eastern Europe has seen empires come and go over the centuries, some well-known people were born in what places that were then part of Poland or the Austrian or Austro-Hungarian empires, but are now firmly within Ukraine’s borders.  

To compile a list of famous people born in Ukraine and determine details of their careers, their birth (and where appropriate death) dates, and birthplaces, 24/7 Tempo consulted Vox Ukraine, Biography, Britannica, The New York Times, The Famous People, and Wikipedia. Birthplaces are given as they were at the time of birth, with modern Ukrainian names noted when different.

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