Montana and Ukraine Share Similarities You Probably Didn’t Notice
It's heartbreaking to see the video and images coming from Ukraine, as Russian forces continue to bomb the country into piles of rubble. The fighting has now entered its third week and casualties are rising daily. Like the majority of Montanans, I feel helpless, sad, and angry watching lives and livelihoods being destroyed. It also makes me think about how Montana and Ukraine are similar in a lot of ways.
Ukraine's footprint has almost the exact area as Montana and Idaho combined (about 230,000 sq miles). The southern edge of Ukraine reaches the 45th parallel, which also marks the southern border for the majority of Montana. Ukraine is much lower in altitude than Montana (an average of just 574 feet above sea level) and is mostly gentle plains. However, the country also has mountain ranges on its western border - like Montana - with some peaks reaching 6,500 ft (source: Brittanica).
The weather in Ukraine is fairly similar to Montana, minus some of the extreme seasonal temperature swings we experience. They receive 13.43 inches of rain annually; Billings averages around 14.5 inches of rain per year. The hottest month in Ukraine is July (70-degree average) and their coldest months are similar to ours, with January averaging daytime highs in the upper 20s.
According to World Atlas, Ukraine is one of the top 10 producers of corn and grain in the world. Montana is a top 5 wheat-producing state. Ukraine produces the most honey in Europe. Montana is a top 5 honey-producing state. Many Montanans were cheering when videos surfaced of Ukrainian farmers hauling off Russian tanks with their tractors. This is so Montana.
Montana has a rich mining history and our state is one of the few suppliers of palladium in the world. Ukraine is also rich in natural resources. Their main minerals are iron ore, chalk/limestone, and manganese. Ukraine also has 47 billion tons of coal reserves and large oil and gas fields, much of which remains untapped.
Ukraine is the 8th most popular tourist destination in Europe, according to World Atlas, with around 10 million visitors per year. Montana receives 11 million visitors annually (2020 per Missoulian). Many of Ukraine's visitors came for the same reasons people visit Big Sky Country... the outdoors.
War is awful. I hope this article helps as a reminder that people are people, no matter what part of the globe we reside in. We have more in common with our fellow man than we do differences.