The Ukrainian SSR was a founding member of the United Nations, although it was legally represented by the All-Union state in its affairs with countries outside of the Soviet Union. Upon the Soviet Union's dissolution and perestroika, the Ukrainian SSR was transformed into the modern nation-state and renamed itself to Ukraine.
Throughout its 72-year history, the republic's borders changed many times, with a significant portion of what is now Western Ukraine being annexed by Soviet forces in 1939 from the Republic of Poland, and the addition of Zakarpattia in 1946. From the start, the eastern city of Kharkiv served as the republic's capital. However, in 1934, the seat of government was subsequently moved to the city of Kiev, Ukraine's historic capital. Kiev remained the capital for the rest of the Ukrainian SSR's existence, and remained the capital of independent Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Geographically, the Ukrainian SSR was situated in Eastern Europe to the north of the Black Sea, bordered by the Soviet republics of Moldavia, Byelorussia, and the Russian SFSR. The Ukrainian SSR's border with Czechoslovakia formed the Soviet Union's western-most border point. According to the Soviet Census of 1989 the republic had a population of 51,706,746 inhabitants, which fell sharply after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
For most of its existence, it ranked second only to the Russian SFSR in population, economic and political power.
The name "Ukraine" (Latin: Vkraina) is a subject of debate. It is often perceived as being derived from the Slavic word "okraina", meaning "border land". It was first used to define part of the territory of Kievan Rus' (Ruthenia) in the 12th century, at which point Kiev was the capital of Rus' (Russian land). The name has been used in a variety of ways since the twelfth century. For example, Zaporozhian Cossacks called their Hetmanate "Ukraine", which can be translated as "Our country" or "our land".