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In Medieval times Kiev was a busy commerce center, a strategic trading point between the Baltic and the Medditerreanian. Because of its wealth, it was often the target of Mongol invaders and the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times. But always, at least until the 20th Century, Kiev was able to recover from adversity and maintain its stature as an important trade port due to its people and its location on the Dnipro River.
The city of Kiev, like much of Eastern Europe, was badly damaged in the Second World War. In addition, the Soviets systematically destroyed many of the city's churches and monuments, causing Kiev for many years to exist as a shell of itself, in poverty, under a foreign government.
Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union, one of the first nations to do so, in 1991. Since then Kiev has undergone massive restoration to try to repair some of the damage that World War II and the Soviets did to the city. Slowly, it is again gaining ground as an important business center and tourists are returning in droves to visit its historic cathedrals and theatres for the first time in over 50 years.