The popular symbol of Mother Ukraine appeared first in Ukrainian baroque poetry of the seventeenth century as a typical allegory representing homelands as women.
When Ukraine was divided between the Russian and Austrian empires, the image of Mother Ukraine was transformed into the image of an abused woman abandoned by her children.
In 1989 statistics showed Ukrainian spoken as a native language by 87 percent of the population, with 12 percent of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their native language.
The use of native languages among ethnic groups showed Russians, Hungarians, and Crimean Tatars at 94 to 98 percent and Germans, Greeks, and Poles at 25 percent, 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Distinctive dialects are the Polissya, Volyn, and Podillya dialects of northern and central Ukraine and the western Boyko, Hutsul, and Lemko dialects.