Changes in Ukraine's national and linguistic structure according to the 2001 census
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The situation of ethnicity and language in Ukraine is complex. In December 2001, for the first time since the declaration of independence in 1991, a census was carried out there. Previous censuses during the era of the Soviet Union had suggested unfavorable tendencies for the Ukrainians: their numbers declined, while the Russian population grew, and the Russian language become increasingly more important among the inhabitants of Ukraine. On the basis of preliminary sociological research it is possible to conclude that since 1991, in comparison with the1989 census, the tendencies earlier observed are changing. The 2001 census confirmed the following observations. In contrast to the previous census, the number of people who declared their identity as Ukrainian increased to 77.8 %, in comparison to previous 72.7 %, while the number of people declaring Russian identity declined to 17.3 % (from 21.1 %). As far as the language is concerned, 67 % declared Ukrainian as their first language (an increase by 2.8 %), while the Russian language was spoken by 29.6 % (a decrease by 3.2 %). Yet the actual situation in Ukraine, at least concerning language issues, demonstrates that the information supplied during censuses differs from reality.
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