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During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians.
Beginning in the sixth century BC, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia and Chersonesus, were founded on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea.
Ukraine has maintained its independence as a sovereign state ever since.
Before its independence, Ukraine was typically referred to in English as "The Ukraine", but sources since then have moved to drop "the" from the name of Ukraine in all uses.
In the 2000s, the government began leaning towards NATO, and a deeper cooperation with the alliance was set by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002.
Kievan Rus' was founded by the Rus' people, who came from Scandinavia across Ladoga and settled in Kiev around 880 AD.
Kievan Rus' included the central, western and northern part of modern Ukraine, Belarus, far eastern strip of Poland and the western part of present-day Russia.
Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Russia.
A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but its territory was eventually split between Poland and the Russian Empire, and later merged fully into Russia.