About Kharkiv


Next to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine. With a population of 1.6 million, Kharkiv is a major industrial, cultural and educational center of Ukraine.

Originally founded in 1654 as a fortress protecting Moscow from the Tatars, the city grew as a trade and cultural center, and in 1765 it became the administrative center of Ukraine. With the development of the vast mineral wealth of the region in the late 19th century, Kharkiv developed into an industrial and rail transportation center.

During World War I Kharkiv was the scene of heavy fighting, first between German and Russian troops and later (1917-20) between opposing forces in the Russian Revolution. It was the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1920 to 1934, when it was replaced by Kyiv. During World War II Kharkiv was occupied (1941-43) by German troops and suffered severe damage.

Today, Kharkiv’s industrial base includes major industries such as farm and mining machinery, electric and railroad equipment, chemicals, machine tools, and processed food. Kharkiv is the home of 23 institutions of higher education with a combines enrollment of over 100,000 students including one of only four major law schools in the former USSR. In addition, it is a major center for treating victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.  In the cultural area it includes numerous theaters, museums, churches and cathedrals, parks and gardens.

In 1781, Kharkiv adopted its current city seal. Its horn of plenty symbolizes the richness and wealth of the Kharkiv province and the fruitfulness of its land. The caduceus symbolizes the significance of Kharkiv’s history as a main trade center of Ukraine and the Russian empire.


American Center dedication in Kharkiv

The American Center is one of the most innovative projects developed by CKSCP and is unique among all the countries of the former Soviet Union. The idea for the center grew out of the strong sister city bond between Kharkiv and Cincinnati, and the desire on both sides to have a focus for American activities in Kharkiv and northeastern Ukraine. Seed funding was provided by funds saved from the implementation of CKSCP’s Community Connections program.

The center was established in August 2000 and formally dedicated on September 11, 2001 fatefully at the exact moment the World Trade Center was being attacked in New York. Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv (Ukraine) and others present at the dedication were struck by the stark contrast of events, and by the importance of citizen diplomacy and outreach such as that embodied in the new American Center.

Since then, the American Center has provided seminars on a wide variety of topics, and English language instruction for little or no fee, and has served as a gathering place for club meetings and for other NGO’s related to American activity. It has served thousands of Ukrainians by gathering and disseminating information focusing on the United States and its programs. Perhaps its most important mission has been to present the positive face of America—to expose Ukrainians to the kind of ideas and ideals the helped bring about the ‘Orange Revolution’ and the events surrounding the election of November 2004. Our Ukrainian counterparts told us “our work together helped bring this about.” We helped sow the seeds that resulted in the peaceful demand of the Ukrainian people for real democracy.

The American Center has operated with the cooperation and support of the US Embassy, as well as in-kind and volunteer efforts of CKSCP and its partner NGO, the Kharkiv-Cincinnati Sister City Association.

Peace Corps Volunteers


The Kharkiv-Cincinnati Sister City Association (KCSCA) is a non-governmental volunteer organization in Kharkiv whose purpose is to foster sister city activities with Cincinnati. Formed at the urging of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Program (CKSCP) to broaden CKSCP’s access to non-governmental entities and person, KCSCA is meant to give ordinary citizens of Kharkiv the opportunity to have positive contact with people in Cincinnati.  It is the first organization of its kind in the Newly Independent States.

In the spring of 1991, CKSCP took the beginning steps to promote a counterpart non-governmental organization (NGO) in Kharkiv. The mission for the new NGO was to encourage the participation of Kharkivites from all walks of life in the Sister City process. CKSCP initiated a search for an “official representative” in Kharkiv to help CKSCP by organizing volunteers, arrangements, and outreach.

On December 15 1992, the Kharkiv-Cincinnati Sister City Association (KCSCA) was established in Kharkiv, Ukraine. KCSCA was the first NGO of its kind in the NIS. Since 1992, KCSCA has been an important partner for CKSCP in Kharkiv, and a contributor to the many successful exchanges between Cincinnati and Kharkiv. As more and more Kharkivites became used to the idea of being volunteerism, the committee grew and took on more challenging programs. It now boasts members from all professions and occupations who are eager to participate in joint activities with CKSCP.