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Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Автономна Республіка Крим
Автономная Республика Крым
Qırım Muhtar Cumhuriyeti
Flag Coat of arms
MottoПроцветание в единстве  (Russian)
Protsvetanie v yedinstve  (transliteration)
"Prosperity in unity"
AnthemНивы и горы твои волшебны, Родина  (Russian)
Nivy I gory tvoi volshebny, Rodina  (transliteration)
Your fields and mounts are wonderful, Motherland

Location of Crimea (red) with respect to Ukraine (light blue).
Location of Crimea (dark green) with respect to Ukraine (light green) on a map of Europe.
(and largest city)
44°56′N 34°6′E / 44.933°N 34.1°E / 44.933; 34.1
Official language(s) Ukrainian1
Recognised regional languages Russian, Crimean Tatar
Ethnic groups (2001) 58.32% Russians
24.32% Ukrainians
12.10% Crimean Tatars
Government Autonomous republic within Ukraine
 -  Head of State Viktor Yanukovych2
 -  Prime Minister Vasyl Dzharty[1]
 -  Speaker of the Parliament Volodymyr Konstantinov[1]
Legislature Verkhovna Rada (Crimea)
Autonomy from the Russian Empire / Soviet Union
 -  Declared October 18, 1921 
 -  Abolished June 30, 1945 
 -  Restored3 February 12, 1992 
 -  Constitution October 21, 1998 
 -  Total 26,100 km2 (148th)
10,038 sq mi 
 -  2007 estimate 1,973,185 (148th)
 -  2001 census 2,033,700 
 -  Density 75.6/km2 (116th)
29.3/sq mi
Currency Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD crimea.ua4
Calling code +3805
1 Because Ukrainian is the only state language in Ukraine, no other language may be official. But according the Constitution of Crimea, Russian is language of inter-ethnic communication. However, government duties are fulfilled mainly in Russian, hence it is a de facto official language. Crimean Tatar is also used.
2 The President of Ukraine (currently Viktor Yanukovych) serves as the ex officio Head of State of Crimea.
3 The Crimean Oblast's autonomy was restored into the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as a part of independent Ukraine.
4 Not officially assigned.
5 +380-65 for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, 380-692 for the administratively separate City of Sevastopol.

Crimea (pronounced /kraɪˈmiːə/) or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukrainian: Крим, Автономна Республіка Крим Avtonomna Respublika Krym; Russian: Крым, Автономная Республика Крым, Avtonomnaya Respublika Krym; Crimean Tatar: Qırım, Qırım Muhtar Cumhuriyeti, Къырым, Къырым Мухтар Джумхуриети) is the only autonomous republic of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name.

The territory of Crimea was conquered and controlled many times throughout its history. The Cimmerians, Greeks, Persians, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus', Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars and the Mongols all controlled Crimea in its early history. In the 13th century, it was partly controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese; they were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries, the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries, the Russian SFSR and later the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union in the rest of the 20th century, Germany in World War II, and now Crimea is an autonomous Ukrainian administrative region.

Crimea is a parliamentary republic which is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The capital and administrative seat of the republic's government is the city of Simferopol, located in the center of the peninsula. Crimea's area is 26,200 square kilometres (10,100 sq mi) and its population was 1,973,185 as of 2007.

Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority who now make up about 13% of the population, have formed in Crimea in the late Middle Ages, after Crimean Khanate had come into existence. The Crimean Tatars were forcibly expelled to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin's government. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some Crimean Tatars began returning to the region.[2]


Etymology of the name

The name Crimea takes its origin in the name of a city of Qırım (today's Stary Krym) which served as a capital of the Crimean province of the Golden Horde. Qırım is Crimean Tatar for "my hill" (qır – hill, -ım – my). However, there are other versions of the etymology of Qırım. Russian Krym is a Russified form of Qırım. The ancient Greeks called Crimea Tauris (later Taurica), after its inhabitants, the Tauri. The Greek historian Herodotus mentions that Heracles plowed that land using a huge ox ("Taurus"), hence the name of the land, and thereby asserting that these people named their land, and hence themselves, after an ox used by a mythical, Greek figure.

In English, Crimea is sometimes referred to with the definite article, the Crimea, as in the Netherlands, the Gambia, etc. However, usage without the article has become more frequent in journalism since the years of the Soviet Union.



Early history

The "Chersonesus Tauricus" of Antiquity, shown on a map printed in London, ca 1770
Greek colonies along the north coast of the Black Sea in the 5th century BC.

Taurica (Greek: Ταυρίς, Ταυρίδα) also known as Tauris, Taurida, Tauric Chersonese, and Chersonesus Taurica was the name of Crimea in Antiquity.

The Greeks named the region after its inhabitants, the Tauri. As the Tauri inhabited only mountainous regions of southern Crimea at first the name Tauris was used only to this southern part, but later it was extended to name the whole peninsula. Sometimes Taurica is referred to as Tauric Chersonese or Chersonesus Taurica. This name is Greek for the "Tauric peninsula" (Chersonese literally means "peninsula"). This variant of the name should not be confused with the city of Chersonesos. According to Greek legends, Tauris is the place to which Iphigeneia was sent after the goddess Artemis rescued her from the human sacrifice her father was about to perform. The goddess swept the young princess off to Tauris where she became a priestess at her temple. Here, she was forced by the Taurian king Thoas to perform human sacrifices on any foreigners who came ashore. Taurica was inhabited by a variety of peoples. The inland regions were inhabited by Scythians and the mountainous south coast by the Taures, an offshoot of the Cimmerians. Greek settlers inhabited a number of colonies along the coast of the peninsula, notably the city of Chersonesos near modern Sevastopol. In the 2nd century BCE the eastern part of Taurica became part of the Bosporan Kingdom, before being incorporated into the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. The land of Tauris and its rumored customs of killing Greeks are also described by Herodotus in his histories, Book IV, 99-100 and 103.

During the first, second, and third centuries CE, Taurica was host to Roman legions and colonists in Charax, Crimea. The Charax colony was founded under Vespasian with the intention of protecting Chersonesos and other Bosporean trade emporiums from the Scythians. The Roman colony was protected by a vexillatio of the Legio I Italica; it also hosted a detachment of the Legio XI Claudia at the end of the 2nd century. The camp was abandoned by the Romans in the mid-3rd century. This de facto province would have been controlled by the legatus of one of the Legions stationed in Charax. Taurica was eventually renamed by the Crimean Tatars, from whose language the Crimea's modern name derives. The word "Crimea" comes from the Crimean Tatar name Qırım, via Greek Krimeia (Κριμαία). After the annexation of Crimea in 1783 the newly-installed Russian authorities made an attempt to revive the ancient name, and the former lands of the Crimean Khanate were organized into the Taurida Governorate. But this name was used only in the official documents and "Crimea" remained a common name for the country.

Two centuries later (438 BC), the Archon (ruler) of the latter settlers assumed the title of the Kings of Cimmerian Bosporus, a state that maintained close relations with Athens, supplying the city with wheat, honey and other commodities. The last of that line of kings, Paerisades V, being hard-pressed by the Scythians, put himself under the protection of Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus, in 114 BC. After the death of this sovereign, his son, Pharnaces II, was invested by Pompey with the kingdom of Bosporus in 63 BC as a reward for the assistance rendered to the Romans in their war against his father. In 15 BC, it was once again restored to the king of Pontus, but since ranked as a tributary state of Rome.

Throughout the later centuries, Crimea was invaded or occupied successively by the Goths (AD 250), the Huns (376), the Bulgars 4th–8th century), the Khazars (8th century), the state of Kievan Rus' (10th–11th centuries), the Byzantine Empire (1016), the Kipchaks (the Kumans) (1050), and the Mongols (1237).

In the mid-10th century, the eastern area of Crimea was conquered by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev and became part of the Kievan Rus' principality of Tmutarakan. In 988, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev also captured the Byzantine town of Chersones (presently part of Sevastopol) where he later converted to Christianity. An impressive Russian Orthodox cathedral marks the location of this historic event.

In the 13th century, the Republic of Genoa seized the settlements which their rivals, the Venetians, had built along the Crimean coast and established themselves at Cembalo, Soldaia, Cherco and Caffa, gaining control of the Crimean economy and the Black Sea commerce for two centuries.

Crimean Khanate: 1441–1783

The Hansaray, succession home of the Crimean Khans, in Bakhchisaray.

A number of Turkic peoples, now collectively known as the Crimean Tatars, have been inhabiting the peninsula since the early Middle Ages. The ethnicity of the Crimean Tatars is quite complex as it absorbed both nomadic Turkic and European components (in the first place, the Goths and the Genoese) which is still reflected in their appearance and language differences. A small enclave of the Karaims, possibly of Khazar (i.e. Turkic) descent but members of a Jewish sect, was founded in the 8th century. It existed among the Muslim Crimean Tatars, primarily in the mountainous Çufut Qale area.

After the destruction of the Golden Horde by Timur in 1441, the Crimean Tatars founded an independent Crimean Khanate under Hacı I Giray, a descendant of Genghis Khan. He and his successors reigned first at Qırq Yer, and from the beginning of the 15th century, at Bakhchisaray.[3]

The Crimean Tatars controlled the steppes that stretched from the Kuban and to the Dniester River, however, they were unable to take control over commercial Genoese towns. After the Crimean Tatars asked for help from the Ottomans, an Ottoman invasion of the Genoese towns led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha in 1475 brought Kaffa and the other trading towns under their control.[4]

After the capture of Genoese towns, the Ottoman Sultan held Meñli I Giray captive,[5] later releasing him in return for accepting Ottoman sovereignty above the Crimean Khans and allowing them rule as tributary princes of the Ottoman Empire.[4][6] However, the Crimean Khans still had a large amount of autonomy from the Ottoman Empire, particularly, followed the rules they thought were best for them: Crimean Tatars introduced raids into Ukrainian lands, which were used to get slaves to be sold on markets.[4]

In 1553–1554, Cossack Hetman Dmytro Vyshnevetsky gathered together groups of Cossacks, and constructed a fort designed to obstruct Tatar raids into Ukraine. With this action, he founded the Zaporozhian Sich, with which he would launch a series of attacks on the Crimea peninsula and the Ottoman Turks.[7] In 1774, The Crimean Khans fell under Russian influence with the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca.[8] In 1783, the entire Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire.[8]

Russian Empire and Civil War: 1783–1922

Swallow's Nest, a symbol of Crimea, one of the best-known, romantic castles near Yalta. It was built in 1912 in the Neo-Gothic style by the order of the German Baron Stengel. It was designed by Russian architect A. Sherwood.

The Crimean War (1853–1856) devastated much of the economic and social infrastructure of Crimea. The Crimean Tatars had to flee from their homeland en masse, forced by the conditions created by the war, persecution and land expropriations. Those who survived the trip, famine and disease, resettled in Dobruja, Anatolia, and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, the Russian government decided to stop the process, as the agriculture began to suffer due to the unattended fertile farmland.

During the Russian Civil War, Crimea was a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, including the Crimean People's Republic. It was in Crimea that the White Russians led by General Wrangel made their last stand against Nestor Makhno and the Red Army in 1920. After the resistance was crushed, many of the anti-Communist fighters and civilians had to board the ships and escape to Istanbul.

Soviet Union: 1922–1991

On October 18, 1921, the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as part of the Russian SFSR.[6] However, this did not protect the Crimean Tatars, who constituted about 25% of the Crimean population[9], from Joseph Stalin's repressions of the 1930s.[6]

The Greeks were another cultural group that suffered. Their lands were lost during the process of collectivisation, in which farmers were not compensated with wages. Schools which taught Greek were closed and Greek literature was destroyed, because the Soviets considered the Greeks as "counter-revolutionary" with their links to capitalist state Greece, and their independent culture.[6]

Crimea experienced two severe famines in the 20th century, the Famine of 1921–1922 and the Holodomor of 1932–1933.[10]

During World War II, Crimea was a scene of some of the bloodiest battles. The leaders of the Third Reich were anxious to conquer and colonize the fertile and beautiful peninsula as part of their policy of resettling the Germans in Eastern Europe at the expense of the Slavs. The Germans suffered heavy casualties in the summer of 1941 as they tried to advance through the narrow Isthmus of Perekop linking Crimea to the Soviet mainland. Once the German army broke through (Operation Trappenjagd), they occupied most of Crimea, with the exception of the city of Sevastopol, which was later awarded the honorary title of Hero City after the war.

Sevastopol held out from October 1941 until July 4, 1942 when the Germans finally captured the city. From September 1, 1942, the peninsula was administered as the Generalbezirk Krim (general district of Crimea) und Teilbezirk (and sub-district) Taurien by the Nazi Generalkommissar Alfred Eduard Frauenfeld (1898–1977), under the authority of the three consecutive Reichskommissare for the entire Ukraine. In spite of heavy-handed tactics by the Nazis and the assistance of the Romanian and Italian troops, the Crimean mountains remained an unconquered stronghold of the native resistance (the partisans) until the day when the peninsula was freed from the occupying force.

In 1944, Sevastopol came under the control of troops from the Soviet Union. The so-called "City of Russian Glory" once known for its beautiful architecture was entirely destroyed and had to be rebuilt stone by stone. Due to its enormous historical and symbolic meaning for the Russians, it became a priority for Stalin and the Soviet government to have it restored to its former glory within the shortest time possible.

On May 18, 1944, the entire population of the Crimean Tatars were forcibly deported in the "Sürgün" (Crimean Tatar for exile) to Central Asia by Stalin's Soviet government as a form of collective punishment on the grounds that they had collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces.[11] An estimated 46% of the deportees died from hunger and disease. On June 26 of the same year Armenian, Bulgar and Greek population was also deported to Central Asia. By the end of summer 1944, the ethnic cleansing of Crimea was complete. In 1967, the Crimean Tatars were rehabilitated, but they were banned from legally returning to their homeland until the last days of the Soviet Union.

The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was abolished in June 30, 1945 and transformed into the Crimean Oblast (province) of the Russian SFSR. On February 19, 1954, the oblast was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. As it stated in the Supreme Soviet Decree, the transfer was caused by close (1) geographic, (2) economic, and (3) cultural ties to the Ukrainian SSR.[12]

In post-war years, Crimea thrived as a prime tourist destination, built with new attractions and sanatoriums for tourists. Tourists came from all around the Soviet Union and neighbouring countries, particularly from the German Democratic Republic.[6] Also, Crimea's infrastructure and manufacturing also developed, particularly around the sea ports at Kerch and Sevastopol and in the oblast's landlocked capital, Simferopol. Populations of Ukrainians and Russians alike doubled, with more than 1.6 million Russians and 626,000 Ukrainians living on the peninsula by 1989.[6]

Autonomy within independent Ukraine

Crimea's southernmost point is the Cape of Sarych on the northern shore of the Black Sea, currently used by the Russian Navy.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, a situation largely unexpected by its population.[citation needed] This led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine. With the Black Sea Fleet based on the peninsula, worries of armed skirmishes were occasionally raised. In August 1991 Yuriy Meshkov established the Republican Movement of Crimea and was registered on November 19.

On September 2, 1991 the National Movement of Crimean Tatars appealed to the V Extraordinary Congress of People's Deputies in Russia demanding the program how to return the deported Tatar population back to Crimea. Based on the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada (the Crimean parliament) on February 26, 1992, the Crimean ASSR was renamed the Republic of Crimea. Crimea proclaimed self-government on May 5, 1992,[13][14] and on the next day passed the first Crimean constitution.

On May 19, Crimea agreed to remain as part of Ukraine and annulled their proclamation of self-government. By June 30, Crimean Communists forced the Kiev government to expand on the already extensive autonomous status of Crimea.[15] In the same period, Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk agreed to divide the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet between Russia and the newly formed Ukrainian Navy.[16] On October 24 Meshkov re-registered his movement as the Republican Party of Crimea - Party of the Republican Movement of Crimea. On December 11, 1992 the President of Ukraine called the attempt of "the Russian deputies to charge the Russian parliament with a task to define the status of Sevastopol as an imperial disease"[17]. On December 17, 1992 the office of the Ukrainian presidential representative in Crimea was created, which caused wave of protests a month later. Among the protesters that created the unsanctioned rally were the Sevastopol branches of the National Salvation Front, the Russian Popular Assembly, and the All-Crimean Movement of the Voters for the Republic of Crimea. The protest was held in Sevastopol on January 10 at Nakhimov Square.

On January 15, 1993 Kravchuk and Yeltsin in the meeting in Moscow appointed Eduard Baltin as the commander of the Black Sea Fleet. At the same time the Union of the Ukrainian Naval Officers protested the Russian intervention into the Ukrainian internal affairs. Soon after that there were more anti-Ukrainian protests led by the Meshkov's party, the Voters for the Crimean Republic, Yedinstvo, and the Union of Communists that demanded to turn Sevastopol under the Russian jurisdiction and followed by the interview given by the Sevastopol's Communist, Vasyl Parkhomenko, who said that the city's Communists request to recognize the Russian as the state language and restoration of the Soviet Union. On March 19, 1993 the Crimean deputy and the member of the National Salvation Front, Alexander Kruglov, threatened the members of the Crimean Ukrainian Congress not allow into the building of the Republican Council. Couple of days after that Russia established an information center in Sevastopol. In April 1993 the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence submitted an appeal to Verkhovna Rada to suspend the Yalta Agreement 1992 that divided the Black Sea Fleet that was followed by the request from the Ukrainian Republican Party to recognize the Fleet either fully Ukrainian or a fleet of a foreign country in Ukraine. Also over 300 Russian legislators called the planned Congress of Ukrainian Residents a political provocation.

On April 14, 1993 the Presidium of the Crimean parliament called for the creation of the presidential post of the Crimean Republic. A week later the Russian deputy, Valentin Agafonov, stated that Russia is ready to supervise the referendum on Crimean independence and include the republic as a separate entity in the CIS. On July 28, 1993 one of the leaders of the Russian Society of Crimea, Viktor Prusakov, stated that his organization is ready for an armed mutiny and establishment of the Russian administration in Sevastopol. In September Eduard Baltin accused Ukraine of converting some of his fleet and conducting an armed assault on his personnel, and threatened to take countermeasures of placing the fleet on alert.

On October 14, 1993, the Crimean parliament established the post of President of Crimea and agreed on the quota of the Crimean Tatars representation in the Council to 14. The head of the Russian People's Council in Sevastopol, Alexander Kruglov, called it excessive. The chairman of the Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Cemiloglu (Djemilev), used words categorically against in regards to the proposed election for Crimean president on January 16. He stated that there cannot be two presidents in a single state. On November 6, the Crimean Tatar leader, Yuriy Osmanov was murdered. Series of terrorist actions rocked the peninsula in the winter among them were the arson of the Mejlis apartment, the shooting of a Ukrainian official, several hooligan attacks on Meshkov, the bomb explosion in the house of a local parliamentary, the assassination attempt on a Communist presidential candidate, and others. On January 2, 1994 Mejlis announced a boycott of the presidential elections, which were later canceled. The boycott itself was later taken over by other Crimean Tatar organizations. On January 11, Mejlis announced their representative, Mykola Bahrov, the speaker of the Crimean parliament, as the presidential candidate. On January 12, some other candidates accused Bahrov of severe methods of agitation. At the same time Vladimir Zhirinovsky called on the people of Crimea to vote for the Russian Sergei Shuvainikov.

On January 30, 1994, the pro-Russian Yuriy Meshkov was elected to the new post but quickly ran into conflicts with parliament. On September 8, the Crimean parliament degraded the President's powers from the head of state to the head of the executive power only, to which Meshkov responded by disbanding parliament and announcing his control over Crimea four days later. Amendments to the constitution eased the conflict[citation needed], but on March 17, 1995, the parliament of Ukraine intervened, scrapping the Crimean Constitution and removing Meshkov along with his office for his actions against the state and promoting integration with Russia.[18] After a interim constitution lasting from April 4, 1996, to December 23, 1998, the currently existing constitution was put into effect, changing the territory's name to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Following the ratification of the May 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership on friendship and division of the Black Sea Fleet, international tensions slowly eased off. With the treaty, Moscow recognized Ukraine's borders and territorial integrity, and accepted Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea and Sevastopol.[19] In a separate agreement, Russia was to receive 80 percent of the Black Sea Fleet and use of the military facilities in Sevastopol on a 20-year lease.[19]

However, other controversies between Ukraine and Russia still remain, including the ownership of a lighthouse on Cape Sarych. Because the Russian Navy controlled 77 geographical objects on the south Crimean Shore, the Sevastopol Government Court ordered the vacating of the objects, which the Russian military did not carry out.[20] Since August 3, 2005, the lighthouse has been controlled by the Russian Army.[21] Through the years, there have been various attempts to return Cape Sarych to Ukrainian territory, all of which were unsuccessful.

In 2006, protests broke out on the peninsula after U.S. Marines[22] arrived at the Crimean city of Feodosiya to take part in the Sea Breeze 2006 Ukraine-NATO military exercise. Protesters greeted the marines with barricades and slogans bearing "Occupiers go home!" and a couple of days later, the Crimean parliament declared Crimea a "NATO-free territory." After several days of protest, the U.S. Marines withdrew from the peninsula.[23]

In September 2008, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko accused Russia of giving out Russian passports to the population in the Crimea and described it as a "real problem" given Russia's declared policy of military intervention abroad to protect Russian citizens.[24]

During a press conference in Moscow on 16 February 2009, the Mayor of Sevastopol Serhiy Kunitsyn claimed (citing recent polls) that the population of Crimea is opposed to the idea of becoming a part of Russia.[25]

Although western newspapers like the Wall Street Journal have speculated about a Russian coup in Sevastopol or another Crimean city in connection with the Russian-Georgian war and the Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia.[26] Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, acting head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), stated on February 17, 2009, that he is confident that any “Ossetian scenario” is impossible in Crimea.[27] The SBU had started criminal proceedings against the pro-Russian association "People's front Sevastopol-Crimea-Russia" in January 2009.[28]

On the 55th anniversary of the transfer of Crimea transfer of the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR (on February 19, 2009) some 300 to 500 people took part in rallies to protest against the transfer.[29][30]

On 24 August 2009, anti-Ukrainian demonstrations were held in Crimea by ethnic Russian residents. Sergei P. Tsekov said that he hoped that Russia would treat the Crimea the same way as it had treated South Ossetia and Abkhazia.[31]

Government and politics

The Massandra Palace near Yalta is one of the official residences of Ukraine.

Crimea is a parliamentary republic that has no president. The legislative body is a 100-seat parliament, the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea.[32]

The executive power is represented by the Council of Ministers, headed by a Prime Minister who is appointed and dismissed by the Verkhovna Rada, with the consent of the President of Ukraine.[33] The authority and operation of the Verkhovna Rada and the Council of Ministers of Crimea are determined by the Constitution of Ukraine and other the laws of Ukraine, as well as by regular decisions carried out by the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea.[33]

Justice is administered by courts that belong to the judicial system of Ukraine.[33]

Elections and parties

While not an official body controlling Crimea, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is a representative body of the Crimean Tatars, which could address grievances to the Ukrainian central government, the Crimean government, and international bodies.[34]

During the 2004 presidential elections, Crimea largely voted for the presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych. In both the 2006 Ukrainian parliamentary elections and the 2007 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, the Yanukovych-led Party of Regions also won most of the votes from the region.

Following the Crimean parliamentary election, 2006, the following political parties are represented in the Verkhovna Rada bloc: "Za Yanukovycha!" (Party of Regions and the Russian Bloc): 32.55% (44 mandates); party "Soiuz": 7.63% (10 mandates); Kunytsyna Electoral Bloc: 7.63% (10 mandates); Communist Party of Ukraine: 6.55% (9 mandates); People's Movement of Ukraine: 6.26% (8 mandates); Yulia Tymoshenko Electoral Bloc: 6.03% (8 mandates); People's Opposition Bloc of Natalia Vitrenko: 4.97% (7 mandates); Opposition Bloc "Ne Tak": 3.09% (4 mandates).[35]

Crimea – United States relations

On 18 February 2009 the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea sent a letter to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the President of Ukraine in which it stated that it deemed it inexpedient to open a representative office of the United States in Crimea and it urged the Ukrainian leadership to give up this idea. The letter will also be sent to the Chairman of the UN General Assembly. The letter was passed in a 77 to 9 roll-call vote with one abstention.[36]

Administrative divisions

Crimea is subdivided into 25 regions: 14 raions (districts) and 11 city municipalities, officially known as "territories governed by city councils".[37] While the City of Sevastopol is located on the Crimean peninsula, it is administratively separate from the rest of Crimea and is one of two special municipalities of Ukraine.


Subdivisions of Crimea
1. Bakhchisaray Raion
2. Bilohirsk Raion
3. Dzhankoy Raion
4. Kirovskiy Raion
5. Krasnohvardiyske Raion
6. Krasnoperekopsk Raion
7. Lenine Raion
8. Nizhnyohirskyi Raion
9. Pervomayske Raion
10. Rozdolne Raion
11. Saky Raion
12. Simferopol Raion
13. Sovetskyi Raion
14. Chornomorske Raion

City municipalities

15. Alushta municipality
16. Armyansk municipality
17. Dzhankoy municipality
18. Yevpatoria municipality
19. Kerch municipality
20. Krasnoperekopsk municipality
21. Saki municipality
22. Simferopol municipality
23. Sudak municipality
24. Feodosiya municipality
25. Yalta municipality

Major cities

Geography and Climate

Sevastopol sunset.
Burun mountains.
Yalta cliff.
Map of Crimea with major cities.
Sevastopol sunset.
The Crimean Mountains near the city of Alushta.

Crimea is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea and on the western coast of the Sea of Azov, bordering Kherson Oblast from the North. Although located in the southwestern part of the Crimean peninsula, the city of Sevastopol has a special but separate municipality status within Ukraine. Crimea's total land area is 26,100 km² (10,038 sq mi).

Crimea is connected to the mainland by the 5–7 kilometre (3–4 mi) wide Isthmus of Perekop. At the eastern tip is the Kerch Peninsula, which is directly opposite the Taman Peninsula on the Russian mainland. Between the Kerch and Taman peninsulas, lies the 3–13 km (2–9 mi) wide Strait of Kerch, which connects the waters of the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov.

The Crimean coastline is broken by several bays and harbors. These harbors lie west of the Isthmus of Perekop by the Bay of Karkinit; on the southwest by the open Bay of Kalamita, with the ports of Eupatoria and Sevastopol; on the north by the Bay of Arabat of the Isthmus of Yenikale or Kerch; and on the south by the Bay of Caffa or Feodosiya, with the port of Feodosiya.

The southeast coast is flanked at a distance of 8–12 km (5–8 mi) from the sea by a parallel range of mountains, the Crimean Mountains.[38] These mountains are backed by secondary parallel ranges. Seventy-five percent of the remaining area of Crimea consists of semiarid prairie lands, a southward continuation of the Pontic steppes, which slope gently to the northwest from the foot of the Crimean Mountains. The main range of these mountains shoots up with extraordinary abruptness from the deep floor of the Black Sea to an altitude of 600–750 metres (2,000–2,500 ft), beginning at the southwest point of the peninsula, called Cape Fiolente. It was believed that this cape was supposedly crowned with the temple of Artemis, where Iphigeneia is said to have officiated as priestess.[39] Uchan-su waterfall on the south slope of the mountains is the highest in Ukraine.

Numerous kurgans, or burial mounds, of the ancient Scythians are scattered across the Crimean steppes.

The terrain that lies beyond the sheltering Crimean Mountain range is of an altogether different character. Here, the narrow strip of coast and the slopes of the mountains are smothered with greenery. This "riviera" stretches along the southeast coast from Cape Sarych, in the extreme south, to Feodosiya, and is studded with summer sea-bathing resorts such as Alupka, Yalta, Gurzuf, Alushta, Sudak, and Feodosiya. During the years of Soviet rule, the resorts and dachas of this coast served as the prime perquisites of the politically loyal. In addition, vineyards and fruit orchards are located in the region. Fishing, mining, and the production of essential oils are also important. Numerous Crimean Tatar villages, mosques, monasteries, and palaces of the Russian imperial family and nobles are found here, as well as picturesque ancient Greek and medieval castles.

Most of Crimea has a temperate continental climate, except for the south coast where it experiences a humid subtropical climate, due to warm influences from the Black Sea. Summers can be hot (28 °C/82 °F Jul average) and winters are cool (−0.3 °C/31 °F Jan average) in the interior, on the south coast winters are milder (4 °C/39 °F Jan average) and temperatures much below freezing are exceptional. Precipitation in the interior is low with only 400 mm (16 in) a year. On the south coast precipitation is more than double of that, Yalta annually receives about 1,050 mm (41 in). Because of its climate, the southern Crimean coast is a popular beach and sun resort for Ukrainian and Russian tourists.

Duvan house

Places of interest


Sevastopol, heart of Crimean economy

The main branches of the Crimean economy are tourism and agriculture. Industrial plants are situated for the most part in the northern regions of the republic. Important industrial cities include Dzhankoy, housing a major railway connection, Krasnoperekopsk and Armyansk, among others.

The most important industries in Crimea include food production, chemical fields, mechanical engineering and metal working, and fuel production industries.[33] Sixty percent of the industry market belongs to food production. There are a total of 291 large industrial enterprises and 1002 small business enterprises.[33]

The main branches of vegetation production in the region include cereals, vegetable-growing, gardening, and wine-making, particularly in the Yalta and Massandra regions. Other agricultural forms include cattle breeding, poultry keeping, and sheep breeding.[33] Other products produced on the Crimea Peninsula include salt, porphyry, limestone, and ironstone (found around Kerch).[40]


Almost every settlement in Crimea is connected with another settlement with bus lines. Crimea contains the longest (96 km or 59 mi) trolleybus route in the world, stretching from Simferopol to Yalta.[41] The trolleybus line starts in near Simferopol's Railway Station through the mountains to Alushta and on to Yalta.

The cities of Yalta, Feodosiya, Kerch, Sevastopol, Chornomorske, and Yevpatoria are connected to one another by sea routes. In the cities of Yevpatoria and nearby townlet Molochnoye are tram systems. Railroad lines running through Crimea include Armyansk—Kerch (with a link to Feodosiya), and Melitopol—Sevastopol (with a link to Yevpatoria), connecting Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland.


Native Crimean Tatars per cent

As of 2005, the total population of Crimea is 1,994,300.

From 1989 to 2001, Crimea's population declined by 396,795 people, representing 16.33% of the 1989 population, despite the return of displaced groups such as Crimean Tatars. From 2001–2005 the population declined by another 39,400 people, representing a decline from 2001 of another 2%.

According to 2001 Ukrainian Census, the population of Crimea was 2,033,700.[42] The ethnic makeup was comprised the following self-reported groups: Russians: 58.32%; Ukrainians: 24.32%; Crimean Tatars: 12.1%; Belarusians: 1.44%; Tatars: 0.54%; Armenians: 0.43%; and Jews: 0.22%.[43]

Other minorities are Black Sea Germans, Romani people, Bulgarians, Poles, Azerbaijanis, Koreans and Greeks.

Ukrainian language is the single official state language countrywide, and is the sole language of government in Ukraine. In Crimea government business is still carried out mainly in Russian. Attempts to expand the usage of Ukrainian in education and government affairs has been less successful in Crimea than in other areas of the nation. [44] Another language widely spoken is Crimean Tatar. According to the census mentioned, 77% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language; 11.4% – Crimean Tatar; and 10.1% – Ukrainian.[45]

Currently 2/3 of the migrants into Crimea are from other regions of Ukraine, every 5th is from the former Soviet Union and every 40th from outside of the former Soviet Union. 3/4 of those leaving Crimea move to other areas in Ukraine. Every 20th migrates to the West[45].    


The population of the Crimean peninsula has been consistently falling at a rate of 0.4% per year[46]. This is particularly apparent in both the Russian and Ukrainian ethnic populations, whose growth rate has been falling at the rate of 0.6% and 0.12% annually respectively. In comparison, the overall growth rate of the ethnic Crimean Tatar population has been growing at the rate of 0.9% per annum[47].

The growing trend in the Crimean Tatar population has been explained by the continual Crimean Tatar repatriation (mainly Uzbekistan), the high birth rate amongst the resettlers, and the low death rate as few senior citizens have resettled back into their ancestral home.



Crimea is a prominent figure in Ukrainian sports, especially the most popular: Association football. The most successful Crimean football club is Tavriya Simferopol in the Ukrainian Premier League possessing one championship title. In the Ukrainian First League Crimea is represented by FC Feniks-Illychovets Kalinine, FC Ihroservice Simferopol, FC Krymteplitsia Molodizhne, PFC Sevastopol. In the Second League Crimea has the club FC Tytan Armyansk.

See also

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ a b Vasyl Dzharty of Regions Party heads Crimean government, Kyiv Post (March 17, 2010)
  2. ^ Pohl, J. Otto. The Stalinist Penal System: A Statistical History of Soviet Repression and Terror. Mc Farland & Company, Inc, Publishers. 1997. 23.
  3. ^ The Tatar Khanate of Crimea
  4. ^ a b c Subtelny, Orest (2000). Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 78. ISBN 0-8020-8390-0. 
  5. ^ Soldier Khan
  6. ^ a b c d e f "History". Retrieved March 28, 2007. 
  7. ^ Subtelny, 109.
  8. ^ a b Subelny, 176.
  9. ^ Crimea: History
  10. ^ Famine in Crimea
  11. ^ Subtelny, 483.
  12. ^ "The Transfer of Crimea to Ukraine". International Committee for Crimea. July 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  13. ^ Wolczuk, Kataryna (August 31 2004). "Catching up with 'Europe'? Constitutional Debates on the Territorial-Administrative Model in Independent Ukraine". Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved December 16, 2006. 
  14. ^ Wydra, Doris (November 11 2004). "The Crimea Conundrum: The Tug of War Between Russia and Ukraine on the Questions of Autonomy and Self-Determination". SpringerLink. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  15. ^ Subtelny, 587.
  16. ^ Ready To Cast Off, TIME Magazine, June 15, 1992
  17. ^ M.Drohobycky, xxxi
  18. ^ Laws of Ukraine. Verkhovna Rada law No. 93/95-вр: On the termination of the Constitution and some laws of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Passed on 1995-03-17. (Ukrainian)
  19. ^ a b Subtelny, 600.
  20. ^ "Access to Ukrainians is prohibited." (in Ukrainian). Zakryta Zona. Retrieved February 24, 2007. 
  21. ^ "The owner of the "sarych" lighthouse came back with a blank document to the President of Ukraine" (in Ukrainian). CPCFPU. Retrieved February 24, 2007. 
  22. ^ Page, Jeremy (June 8, 2006). "Anti-Nato protests threaten eastward expansion". The Times Online. London. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  23. ^ "Tensions rise in Crimea over NATO". EuroNews. June 7 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  24. ^ Cheney urges divided Ukraine to unite against Russia 'threat. Associated Press. September 6, 2008.
  25. ^ Crimean population opposed to becoming part of Russia, UNIAN (16 February 2009)
  26. ^ Russia's Next Target Could Be Ukraine by Leon Aron, Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2008
  27. ^ Ossetian scenario impossible in Crimea – Nalyvaychenko, UNIAN, (February 17, 2009)
  28. ^ Security Service of Ukraine institutes criminal proceedings against association "People's front" Sevastopol-Crimea-Russia", Radio Ukraine (January 29, 2009)
  29. ^ Protestors in Crimea throw eggs at Khrushchev's portrait, RIA Novosti, (February 19, 2009)
  30. ^ Events by themes: Torch procession on occasion of 55th anniversary of Crimea to Ukraine passing, UNIAN photo service, (February 19, 2009)
  31. ^ Russia and Ukraine in Intensifying Standoff
  32. ^ The Verkhovna Rada of Crimea should not be confused with the national Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  33. ^ a b c d e f "Autonomous Republic of Crimea – Information card". Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Retrieved February 22, 2007. 
  34. ^ Ziad, Waleed; Laryssa Chomiak (February 20 2007). "A lesson in stifling violent extremism". CS Monitor. Retrieved March 26 2007. 
  35. ^ "Results of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea elections are accepted" (in Russian). REGNUM. April 19 2006. Retrieved April 28 2007. 
  36. ^ Crimean parliament votes against opening U.S. diplomatic post, Interfax-Ukraine (18 February 2009)
  37. ^ "Infobox card — Avtonomna Respublika Krym" (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved February 23, 2007. 
  38. ^ The Crimean Mountains may also be referred to as the Yaylâ Dağ or Alpine Meadow Mountains.
  39. ^ See the article "Crimea" in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.
  40. ^ Bealby, John T. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Cambridge University Press. pp. 449. 
  41. ^ "The longest trolleybus line in the world!". Retrieved January 15, 2007. 
  42. ^ "Regions of Ukraine / Autonomous Republic of Crimea". 2001 Ukrainian Census. Retrieved December 16, 2006. 
  43. ^ "Results / General results of the census / National composition of population". 2001 Ukrainian Census. Retrieved December 16, 2006. 
  44. ^ Bondaruk, Halyna (March 3 2007). "Yushchenko Appeals to Crimean Authority Not to Speculate on Language". Ukrayinska Pravda. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  45. ^ a b "Results / General results of the census / Linguistic composition of the population / Autonomous Republic of Crimea". 2001 Ukrainian Census. Retrieved December 16, 2006. 
  46. ^ Falling Population growth rate in Crimea (in Ukrainian)
  47. ^ Population growth in Crimea (in Ukrainian)

External links

Official links

  • — Official portal of the Council of Ministers of Crimea (English)/(Ukrainian)/(Russian)/(French)
  • — Official web-site of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea

Informational links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Ukraine : Crimea

Crimea is a region in the south of Ukraine. The Crimean Peninsula is connected to the rest of the Ukraine by a narrow neck of land, making it more like an island with a natural land bridge than simply a bit of land jutting out into the sea. The peninsula was the site of the Crimean War, between 1854 and 1856, and gave rise to modern nursing, live war reporting,and the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade and the Balaclava(woollen head garment)..

  • The Coastal Beach Cities -- The Coastal beach cities are very hospitable to tourists (if you speak Russian). Accommodation is plentiful and cheap (minimum cost for a one night stay is 7 USD). Houses advertising accommodation will usually have a large white sign stuck on the door that has about three words written in Cyrillic. During the tourist season expect the beaches to be quite packed, with mostly Russian tourists. The whole coast line is dominated by the mountains that tower above them, sometimes reaching up to 2000 meters.
  • The Coastal Mountains -- The mountain area that stretches from the coast to about 70 km inland contains some very pristine untouched nature. The mountains are formed by ragged limestone that has been shaped into high peeks with canyons, cliffs and valleys transecting them in all directions. Most of the area is extremely rural and poor. Expect a great adventure if you want to go hiking here, but also expect to rough it. Camping sites are few and far between so you'll probably have to just find one of the many secluded fields to camp in. The area has numerous caves as well as small lakes. There are almost no marked trails
  • The Sea of Azov and Kerch --
  • The Inland Plains -- A lot of really nice farm land. Looks nice while passing through it by train.
  • Alushta -- The first beach city on the way to Yalta from the west, this city does not have much in it except old boat docks that have been transformed into beaches.
  • Alupka -- Rocky beaches, home to a number of dacha's and the Voronotsof palace, where Churchill stayed during the Yalta Conference in 1945.
  • Bakhchisaray -- Located in a canyon between Simferopol and Sevastapol, this Crimean Tatar town has a wealth of interesting sites to see including the Khan's palace, the cave city and the Armenian monastery that is built in a cave. The town is predominantly Tatar.
  • Balaklava - famous for the Crimea war of the 1850's, the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade and home to a former secret Soviet submarine base.
The abandoned jewish cemetery in Feodosiya
The abandoned jewish cemetery in Feodosiya
  • Feodosiya -- Feodosiya is located 100km to the east of Simferopol. From the outskirts it looks like an urban industrial disaster but once past the factories it has a very nice old town. Very similar to Odessa in architecture but just on a smaller scale.
  • Kerch -- Your last stop before reaching the eastern edge of the Crimea and heading across the straits into Russia
  • Koktebel -- Located between Feodosiya and Sudak, this small town has a great beach area that has a carnival type environment. It sits below a spectacular wilderness area to the west that regrettably you can only visit on a guided tour.
  • Sevastopol -- A major port for the Russian Atlantic fleet. Given the title 'Hero City' for its resistance to the Nazi's during WWII. Numerous monuments to the past's military exploits. Nice shops.
  • Simferopol -- The capital. The train station is very clean and beautiful. For the most part this is a place of transit to the coast or to the mountains. It is famous for having the world's longest trolley bus service 56km. Its really slow, boring and uncomfortable on a 50's Soviet trolleybus but very cheap, it might be best to take a minibus.
  • Sudak -- A beautiful coastal city with the remains of a very old Genoan (as in Italy) fortress.
  • Yalta -- A very beautiful city containing many of the Russian Czar's palaces and other great monuments. Twinned with Margate in England amongst other places. Yalta is a tourist hotspot, which contains a mixture of ugly Soviet hotels and modern high rise apartments. Yalta was once the main holiday destination for many Russians before they were allowed to travel outside the Soviet Bloc.
  • Simeiz - Not so far away from Yalta, Simeiz is a rocky and sunny town.
  • The Bolshoi (grand) Canyon


When you get to Crimea you can buy the local guide book "TIME to COME to CRIMEA!" (in both English and Russian) at many of the small booths on the street. For your reading entertainment here are some quotes from the book.

"The attitude of the population to lesbians is curious and benevolent; to gays it is hostile, except for the famous ones."

"The modern military tourism including, for example, shooting from grenade launchers and flights by supersonic fighters, is developing at numerous polygons and air stations that used to be secret ones."

Weather and Water

The weather in Crimea during the summer season is very much Mediterranean. Expect relatively hot weather and lots of thunderstorms that come and go. Hot and very humid at night. In the winter snow can cover the mountains and make the roads almost impassable

The water is fairly warm,, although not as warm as the Adriatic. The water is clean and clear, although also a bit less than the Adriatic.

Genealogy & Research

All historical documents (including birth records) for all nationalities (Russian, Tatar, Jews & German) are kept in the National Archive in Simferopol.

You may contact them by email at although the best way to receive a response to your email will be to send it in Russian. The archive is open from 8:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. Individual access to much of the archive is not permitted, although for 30 USD you can pay someone to who works in the archive to do the work for you. Nobody in the archive speaks English so either be prepared to speak Russian or bring along a translator.

The archive is located at No. 3 Keckemetckaj, which is the main street running directly east from the train station in Simferopol(about 1 km).

The archives and its staff are not accustomed to foreigners so be prepared to explain to the guard at the front desk what it is you want to do.

The Lutheran Church in Simferopol supposedly has a list going back to the early 1800's of all German families who emigrated to Crimea under Catherine the great, or so it was said at the Archive. This information has not actually been confirmed at the Lutheran Church. For that matter, finding the Lutheran Church, though mentioned in the guide book, is actually a quite difficult (and as of yet unaccomplished) task.

The city of Feodosiya has a Jewish Community Center that is very active in doing research on the Jewish community of Crimea. You may contact them at, they can communicate in basic English (so you can send the email in English) but more than likely the response back will be in Russian.


In Crimea, Russian is the language of choice (Stalin imported Russian families into the Crimea, whilst exporting the local Tatars to Uzbekistan) in addition to the Tatar and Ukrainian languages. The point being, memorize your phrase book as you most likely will be communicating mainly with Russian speakers. A lot of young people speak or understand English.

There is a University in Simferopol, and many young people study English. Their English is usually of a very good standard.

Some of the street signs in Yalta are in English from the time of the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Get in

There are overnight trains running to Crimea from throughout the Ukraine. The cost will vary based upon where you will be leaving from, but from the Slovak border to cost is about 20 USD in the third class, 30 USD in the second class. Beware, the trains (mainly third class) are disgusting. If you can afford it you should consider flying, a return flight Kiev <-> Simferopol with Ukraine International Airlines is about $150.

If you travel by overnight sleeper train it is quite comfortable, cheap and the quality is OK. Just the average travelling speed of trains is slow in Ukraine in general (about 50km per hour).

There are flights to Simferopol from Kyiv, Lviv, Moscow, Istanbul, and many western European cities, including Frankfurt, Tallinn and Riga.

Get around

You can get anywhere in Crimea by mini bus. You can also go by taxi. Prices vary, be prepared to haggle a fare as you will always find someone to do a deal with. Many private citizens also work as sudo taxi drivers, sometimes it is difficult to tell. Taxi's range from modern comfortable cars to 1950's gas powered Soviet cars!

Frequently while traveling in the country if you look like a foreigner (for example with a backpack) and you are standing on what passes as a 'major' road people will stop and ask if you want a ride ... for a price, fortunately that price usually amounts to only a few USD to go some very long distances.

The road system in Crimea as well as most of the Ukraine, is in very poor repair, expect huge potholes. There is a very strict zero policy to drink driving. Police patrols are frequent as well as roadside checks for documents. The death toll on Ukraine roads is very bad, you have been warned.

The Khan's palace
The Khan's palace
  • The Khan's Palace -- The Khan's palace is located in the small mountain village of Bahkchisaray a halfway between Simferopol and Sevastapol. The Khan's palace was the seat of the Tatar rulers of Crimea dating back to 1443. With the Ottoman conquest of Crimea in 1475 the Khan's became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire but were left as the rulers. After the Crimean war with the victory of Russia all of the Khan's were made Russian nobility but the capital of Crimea was moved to Simferopol. The palace grounds include impressive gardens, several old mosques including cemeteries, a harem and of course the palace itself. You can take a guided tour of the palace but only in Russian.
  • Chufut Kale Cave City -- An hour and a half walk up a beautiful canyon from the town of Bahkchisaray you will find the Chufut Kale cave town dating back to the 6th century. It is located high up in the cliffs so the walk is a bit strenuous but not overwhelming. It is a city of what appears to have been several thousand people who built/dug their homes into the limestone rock. The city was abandoned in the 19th century.
  • The Bolshoi Canyon -- The Bolshoi Canyon is located on the opposite side of the mountain range that Yalta sits below. It will take about an hour and a half to get there by automobile from Yalta. It can also be reached from Bahkchisaray by hitch hiking or minibus. Bolshoi means 'Grand or Large' in Russian. After reaching the entrance to the park you will have to pay a small fee (2 USD) to start down the trail. From there it is about an hour hike into the canyon along a small mountain stream. You never actually end up getting a perfect view of the canyon as you are also down in the middle of it surrounded by lush vegetation but it is impressive all the same. The trail ends at a small picnic area where a local man is selling awful wine and really good fried food. There is a small waterfall and a pool where you can do some minor diving/jumping. You can continue further up the stream without the trail but it is a bit more rough going.
  • The Swallow's Nest a folly, now an Italian restaurant.
  • Lavadia Palace - former summer palace to the Tsars and famous setting for the Yalta Conference.
  • Massandra Palace - another former Tsarist palace, which looks a bit like a French Chataeu, once visted by Stalin who declined to stay there as he did not feel very safe.
  • Gurzuf. One of the best places in Crimea. Small city between Alushta and Partenit. Climate is very similar to French Riviera. Gorgeous veiws and clean warm sea.  edit
  • Hiking in Crimea is wonderful. There are very few other backpackers and almost no clearly marked trails (as in posted signs) so you're going to be roughing it. The trails themselves though appear to be well used. In the mountainous region though you can pretty much pick any two small towns and hike between them and be assured of an adventure. Campsites are few and far between but there is lots of open space for camping, be environmentally sensitive of course about the place you choose to camp. For a brief description of a hike see Bahkchisaraj


Street food can be delicious in Crimea, if you are not prone to gastritis. Once your system is acclimated, definitely try some local Tatar specialties such as chebureki (Russian: чебуреки), from an outdoor stand or a cheburechnaya (Russian: Чебуречная, chebureki joint). These are succulent half-moon shaped meat pies, usually filled with lamb or beef (Crimean Tatars, being Muslim, do not eat pork), and deep-fried in aromatic sunflower oil.

Try manti (Russian: манты), which are steamed lamb-filled dumplings, often served with adjika (Russian: аджика), which is a very hot red chili pepper paste.

Try ljulja-kebab and shashlik (Russian: люля-кебаб and шашлык), which are shish-kebabs, especially if you can find ones cooked over a wood fire. If you can find pork shashlik, definitely try them. You will have more success with this in a Russian-run restaurant, as pork is not served in Tatar restaurants.

Find a good Tatar restaurant and try the lagman (Russian: лагман). It's an incredibly rich, thick lamb soup with vegetables and long homemade noodles that is absolutely to die for.

The ice cream sold at the beach includes a simple one called molochnoye (Russian: молочное, "made of milk"). It's white, but it's not vanilla-flavored. It tastes like sweet milk.

If you see women walking up the beach selling something from buckets, it's probably paklava (Russian: паклава, baklava). This paklava is like nothing you have ever had before. It's thin layers of homemade dough, put together to resemble big flowers, deep-fried and covered with nuts and honey. It's absolutely heavenly.

Find a pastry shop and try the trubochki (Russian: трубочки, "little trumpets"). A trubochka is a cornucopia shape of short pastry filled with meringue and sometimes dipped in nuts. Delicious with chai (Russian: чай, tea).


The beer in Crimea is outstanding and cheap.

Crimea is a wine-producing region. Most of the wine produced here, at the famous Massandra Palace winery and in Koktebel', is dessert wine in the style of Port or Madeira. Unwary foreigners might buy a bottle of what looks like red or white wine in a kiosk and find it undrinkably sweet. That's because it's meant to be sipped, in very small quantities, not drunk like a Merlot. If it's regular wine you're looking for, avoid anything labeled Портвейн (Portwine), Мадейра (Madeira), Мускат (Muscat), Токай (Tokay). For table wines, ask for "sukhOye vinO" (dry wine) or look for labels such as Совиньон (Sauvignon), Каберне (Cabernet), and Ркацетели (Rkatseteli), or look for Georgian wines, which are delicious and plentiful.

Try the regional sparkling wine, produced at Noviy Svet (Russian: Новый Свет, "New Light"), near Sudak. It's labeled "Шампанское" ("Shampanskoye", champagne). It's very good. Try to buy it somewhere reputable, though, because there are knock-offs. Noviy Svet is a very beautiful spot; you can tour the caverns where the wine is aged.

If you're not going anywhere else in Russia and Ukraine, try kvass (Russian: квас).

It's a very refreshing non-alcoholic drink made of fermented wheat, the traditional drink of farmworkers in the bread-basket of Ukraine, prized for its restorative properties.

Try the local kefir (Russian: кефир), a cultured-milk beverage. When ice-cold, it's extremely refreshing on a hot day.

If you're feeling adventuresome, you might look for "kumys" (Russian: кумыс or кымыз), which is fermented mare's milk, a traditional drink of the Tatars and nomadic peoples of Central Asia.

Beware, some of the local mineral waters taste very salty. Look for a Western European brand, especially if you're going to be exercising.

Vodka is cheap and plentiful, some of the supermarkets have the best prices and the widest choices.

Stay safe

Automobiles will be the biggest hazard to your safety in Crimea. Drivers tend to stick to speed limits as there are many militsyia (police) but the road surfaces are poor which leads to some unsafe overtaking, even on the curvy coast and mountain roads. Pedestrians cross roads at their own peril. Be particularly careful if a car has stopped for you at a marked crosswalk; check around the car before you venture past it farther into the crosswalk, because another very well may swing around it and go right through... right where you would be walking. Most cars ignore pedestrians!

Crimea does not have a major problem with crime. However, foreigners are at risk of being robbed if they are not careful about flashing wealth, except in Yalta during the summer which is filled with rich Russians. Foreigners should not hitchhike or take unmarked cabs unless they are travelling in a group. The safest way for a foreigner to travel alone is to take a bus or a marshrutka (a microbus that follows the regular bus routes).

The countryside, which is extremely poor, is very safe. You are more likely to get kicked by a wandering horse than robbed. Ukrainians on the whole are very polite, except when lining up for a bus or service at a shop when pushing to the front has been perfected into an art form. Standing in line is not an option!

There are plenty of ATM's and as always be careful around them. At night avoid lonely places where the numerous drunks hang out, they are not really a danger except they might fall on top of you.

The teenagers in the Ukraine (outside of Kyiv) appear to be some of the best behaved.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CRIMEA (ancient Tauris or Tauric Chersonese, called by the Russians by the Tatar name Krym or Crim), a peninsula on the north side of the Black Sea, forming part of the Russian government of Taurida, with the mainland of which it is connected by the Isthmus of Perekop (3-4 m. across). It is rudely rhomboid in shape, the angles being directed towards the cardinal points, and measures 200 m. between 44° 23' and 46° 10' N., and 110 m. between 32° 30' and 36° 40' E. Its area is 9700 sq. m.

Its coasts are washed by the Black Sea, except on the north-east, where is the Sivash or Putrid Sea, a shallow lagoon separated from the Sea of Azov by the Arabat spit of sand. The shores are broken by several bays and harbours - on the west side of the Isthmus of Perekop by the Bay of Karkinit; on the south-west by the open Bay of Kalamita, on the shores of which the allies landed in 1854, with the ports of Eupatoria, Sevastopol and Balaklava; by the Bay of Arabat on the north side of the Isthmus of Yenikale or Kerch; and by the Bay of Kaffa or Feodosiya (Theodosia), with the port of that name, on the south side of the same. The south-east coast is flanked at a distance of 5 to 8 m. from the sea by a parallel range of mountains, the Yaila-dagh, or Alpine Meadow mountains, and these are backed, inland, by secondary parallel ranges; but 75% of the remaining area consists of high arid prairie lands, a southward continuation of the Pontic steppes, which slope gently north-westwards from the foot of the Yaila-dagh. The main range of these mountains shoots up with extraordinary abruptness from the deep floor of the Black Sea to an altitude of 2000 to 2500 ft., beginning at the south-west extremity of the peninsula, Cape Fiolente (anc. Parthenium), supposed to have been crowned by the temple of Artemis in which Iphigeneia officiated as priestess. On the higher parts of this range are numerous flat mountain pastures (Turk. yailas), which, except for their scantier vegetation, are analogous to the almen of the Swiss Alps, and are crossed by various passes (bogaz), of which only six are available as carriage roads. The most conspicuous summits in this range are the Demir-kapu or Kemal-egherek (5040 ft.), Roman-kosh (5060 ft.), Chatyr-dagh (5000 ft.), and Karabi-yaila (3975 ft.). The second parallel range, which reaches altitudes of 150o to 1900 ft., likewise presents steep crags to the south-east and a gentle slope towards the north-west. In the former slope are thousands of small caverns, probably inhabited in prehistoric times; and several rivers pierce the range in picturesque gorges. A valley, 10 to 12 m. wide, separates this range from the main range, while another valley 2 to 3 m. across separates it from the third parallel range, which reaches altitudes of only Soo to 850 ft. Evidences of a fourth and still lower ridge can be traced towards the south-west.

A number of short streams, none of them anywhere navigable, leap down the flanks of the mountains by cascades in spring, e.g. the Chernaya, Belbek, Kacha and Alma, to the Black Sea, and the Salghir, with its affluent, the Kara-su, to the Sivash lagoon.

In point of climate and vegetation there exist marked differences between the open steppes and the south-eastern littoral, with the slopes of the Yaila-dagh behind it. The former, although grasses and Liliaceae grow on them in great variety and luxuriance in the early spring, become completely parched up by July and August, while the air is then filled with clouds of dust. There also high winds prevail, and snowstorms, hailstorms and frost are of common occurrence. Nevertheless this region produces wheat and barley, rye and oats, and supports numbers of cattle, sheep and horses. Parts of the steppes are, however, impregnated with salt, or studded with saline lakes; there nothing grows except the usual species of Artemisia and Salsola. As a rule water can only be obtained from wells sunk 200 to 300 ft. deep, and artesian wells are now being bored in considerable numbers. All over the steppes are scattered numerous kurgans or burial-mounds of the ancient Scythians. The picture which lies behind the sheltering screen of the Yailadagh is of an altogether different character. Here the narrow strip of coast and the slopes of the mountains are smothered with greenery. This Russian Riviera stretches all along the south-east coast from Cape Sarych (extreme S.) to Feodosiya (Theodosia), and is studded with summer sea-bathing resortsAlupka, Yalta, Gursuv, Alushta, Sudak, Theodosia. Numerous Tatar villages, mosques, monasteries, palaces of the Russian imperial. family and Russian nobles, and picturesque ruins of ancient Greek and medieval fortresses and other buildings cling to the acclivities and nestle amongst the underwoods of hazel and other nuts, the groves of bays, cypresses, mulberries, figs, olives and pomegranates, amongst the vineyards, the tobacco plantations, and gardens gay with all sorts of flowers; while the higher slopes of the mountains are thickly clothed with forests of oak, beech, elm, pines, firs and other Coniferae. Here have become acclimatized, and grow in the open air, such plants as magnolias, oleanders, tulip trees, bignonias, myrtles, camellias, mimosas and many tender fruit-trees. Vineyards cover over 19,000 acres, and the wine they yield (31 million gallons annually) enjoys a high reputation. Fruits of all kinds are produced in abundance. In some winters the tops of the mountains are covered with snow, but snow seldom falls to the south of them, and ice, too, is rarely seen in the same districts. The heat of summer is moderated by breezes off the sea, and the nights are cool and serene; the winters are mild and healthy. Fever and ague prevail in the lower-lying districts for a few weeks in autumn. Dense fogs occur sometimes in March, April and May, but seldom penetrate inland. The difference of climate between the different parts of the Crimea is illustrated by the following data: annual mean, at Melitopol, on the steppe N. of Perekop, 48° Fahr.; at Simferopol, just within the mountains, 50°; at Yalta, on the south-east coast, 56.5°; the respective January means being 20°, 31° and 39.5 and the July means 74°, 70° and 75.5°. The rainfall is small all over the peninsula, the annual average on the steppes being 13.8 in., at Simferopol 17.5, and at Yalta 18 in. It varies greatly, however, from year to year; thus at Simferopol it ranges between the extremes of 7.5 and 26.4 ill.

Other products of the Crimea, besides those already mentioned, are salt,. porphyry and limestone, and ironstone has recently been brought to light at Kerch. Fish abound all round the coast, such as red and grey mullet, herring, mackerel, turbot, soles, plaice, whiting, bream, haddock, pilchard, a species of pike, whitebait, eels, salmon and sturgeon. Manufacturing industries are represented by shipbuilding, flour-mills, ironworks, jam and pickle factories, soap-works and tanneries. The Tatars excel in a great variety of domestic industries, especially in the working of leather, wool and metal. A railway, coming from Kharkov, crosses the peninsula from north to south, terminating at Sevastopol and sending off branch lines to Theodosia and Kerch.

The bulk of the population consist of Tatars, who, however, are racially modified by intermarriage with Greeks and other ethnic elements. The remainder of the population is made up of Russians, Germans, Karaite Jews, Greeks and a few Albanians. The total in 1897 was 853,900, of whom only 150,000 lived in the towns. Simferopol is the chief town; others of note, in addition to those already named, are Eupatoria and Bakhchisarai, the old Tatar capital.


The earliest inhabitants of whom we have any authentic traces were the Celtic Cimmerians, who were expelled VII. 15 by the Scythians during the 7th century B.C. A remnant, who took refuge in the mountains, became known subsequently as the Tauri. In that same century Greek colonists began to settle on the coasts, e.g. Dorians from Heraclea at Chersonesus, and Ionians from Miletus at Theodosia and Panticapaeum (also called Bosporus). Two centuries later (438 B.C.) the archon or ruler of the last-named assumed the title of king of Bosporus, a state which maintained close relations with Athens, supplying that city with wheat and other commodities. The last of these kings, Paerisades V., being hard pressed by the Scythians, put himself under the protection of Mithradates VI., king of Pontus, in 114 B.C. After the death of this latter sovereign his son Pharnaces, as a reward for assistance rendered to the Romans in their war against his father, was (63 B.C.) invested by Pompey with the kingdom of Bosporus. In 15 B.C. it was once more restored to the king of Pontus, but henceforward ranked as a tributary state of Rome. During the succeeding centuries the Crimea was overrun or occupied successively by the Goths (A.D. 250), the Huns (376), the Khazars (8th century), the Byzantine Greeks (1016), the Kipchaks (r050), and the Mongols (1237). In the 13th century the Genoese destroyed or seized the settlements which their rivals the Venetians had made on the Crimean coasts, and established themselves at Eupatoria, Cembalo (Balaklava), Soldaia (Sudak), and Kaffa (Theodosia), flourishing trading towns, which existed down to the conquest of the peninsula by the Ottoman Turks in 1475. Meanwhile the Tatars had got a firm footing in the northern and central parts of the peninsula as early as the 13th century, and after the destruction of the Golden Horde by Tamerlane they founded an independent khanate under a descendant of Jenghiz Khan, who is known as Hadji Ghirai. He and his successors reigned first at Solkhat (Eski-krym), and from the beginning of the 15th century at Bakhchi-sarai. But from 1478 they ruled as tributary princes of the Ottoman empire down to 1777, when having been defeated by Suvarov they became dependent upon Russia, and finally in 1783 the whole of the Crimea was annexed to the Russian empire. Since that date the only important phase of its history has been the Crimean War of 1854-56, which is treated of under a separate article. At various times, e.g. after the acquisition by Russia, after the Crimean War of 1854-56, and in the first years of the 10th century, the Tatars emigrated in large numbers to the Ottoman empire.

See Antiquites du Bosphore cimmerien (3 vols., St Petersburg, 1854); C. Bossoll, The Beautiful Scenery of the Crimea (52 large drawings, London, 1855-1856); P. Brunn, Notices hist. et topogr. concernant les colonies italiennes en Gazarie (St Petersburg, 1866); J. B. Telfer, The Crimea and Transcaucasia (2 vols., London, 2nd ed., 1877); F. Remy, Die Krim in ethnographischer, landschaftlicher and hygienischer Beziehung (Leipzig, 1872); Joseph, Baron von HammerPurgstall, Geschichte der Chane der Krim unter osmanischer Herrschaft (Vienna, 1856); M. G. Canale, Della Crimea e dei suoi dominatori dalle sue origini fino al trattato di Parigi (3 vols., Genoa, 18 551856); and Sir Evelyn Wood, The Crimea in 1854 and 1894 (London, 1895). (See also BOSPORUS CIMMERIUS.) (P. A. K.; BE.)

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Proper noun




  1. A peninsula in southern Ukraine, surrounded by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
  2. An autonomous republic within Ukraine, occupying the peninsula.

Usage notes

Often with the article: the Crimea.


  • (peninsula): Chersonesus Taurica, Taurica, Tauris, Taurida, Tauric Chersonese, Tavria (historical)
  • (republic): Crimean Oblast (historical)

Derived terms




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