The Ukrainian language is currently emerging from a long period of decline. Although there are almost fifty million ethnic Ukrainians worldwide, including 37.5 million in Ukraine (77.8% of the total population), only in western Ukraine is the Ukrainian language prevalent. In Kiev, both languages are spoken, a notable shift from the recent past when the city was primarily Russian speaking. The shift is caused, largely, by an influx of the rural population and migrants from the western regions of Ukraine but also by some Kievans’ turning to use the language they speak at home more widely in everyday matters. In northern and central Ukraine, Russian is the language of the urban population, while in rural areas Ukrainian is much more common. In the south and the east of Ukraine, Russian is prevalent even in rural areas, and in Crimea, Ukrainian is almost absent.
Use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine can be expected to increase, as the rural population (still overwhelmingly Ukrainophone) migrates into the cities and the Ukrainian language enters into wider use in central Ukraine. The literary tradition of Ukrainian is also developing rapidly overcoming the consequences of the long period when its development was hindered by either direct suppression or simply the lack of the state encouragement policies.
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