Ukrainian is an Eastern Slavonic language closely related to Russian and Belarusian. It is spoken by about 51 million people in Ukraine (Україна) and in many other countries, including Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia.
The recorded history of the Ukrainian language began in 988, when the principality of Kiev (Київ) was converted to Christianity. Ukrainian religious material, including translations of the Bible, was written in Old Slavonic, the language used by missionaries to spread Christianity to the Slavic peoples.
In the 13th century, Ukraine became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian and Ruthenian, an ancestor of Belarusian and Ukrainian became the main language. The remaining parts of Ukraine were taken over by Poland during the 16th century and Latin and Polish were used for official purposes. Ruthenian began to split into Ukrainian and Belarusian during this period.