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| The Crimean peninsula, South European in the Ukraine, coextensive with the Crimean Autonomous Republic. The peninsula, connected with the main-land to the North by the narrow Isthmus of Perekop, projects southward from the rest of the Ukraine into the Black Sea, which bounds it on all sides except the Noth-East where it is bounded by the Sea of Azov. Kerch Strait, joining the latter and the Black Sea, separates the Crimea from the Caucasus on the East . The Crimea extends from 320 km (about 200 mile) from East to West and about 175 km (about 110 mile) from North to South. The terrain consist spredominantly of a level upland plain, an extension of the Russian steppes. Several parallel mountain ranges occupy the SouthEast part of the peninsula. The climate in the plains area is cold and windy in the winter season and extremely arid in the summer. The climate of the south-eastern coastal strip is mild and healthful, and the land is fertile. Among the flora are the cork oak, olive, laurel, and cypress. Fruit trees and vineyards are numerous. The coastal section is the principal resort area of the Soviet Union. The leading resort town of the Crimea is Yalta, scene of the historic World War II Yalta Conference. |
In addition to such fruits as cherries, peaches, figs, apricots, apples, pomegranates, and pears, agricultural products of the Crimea include tobacco, wheat, and barley, which are grown mainly on the steppes, and corn, flax, and almonds. Cattle and sheep are raised on the mountain slopes. The Crimea contains productive mineral deposits, notably salt and phosphoriciron ore. The deposits of the latter mineral, located near Kerch, an important iron and steel centre, are next to the richest in the former Soviet Union. Other important industries include ship-building, fishing, and the manufacture of fertilizer, chemicals, tobacco products, canned foods, flour, soap, leather products, and metals.
The population of the Crimea is composed chiefly of Russians, Ukrainians, and Tatars, with smaller groupings of Bulgarians and Greeks. The administrative centre and principal city is Simferopol and the leading port is Sevastopol.
In ancient times the Crimea was known as Chersonesus Taurica from the name of a tribe, the Tauri, who were descendants of the Cimriicrians. Between the 7th and 5th centuries BC the Greeks of Miletus colonized the territory, founding many cities and towns. These were united 1438 BC to form the kingdom of Bosporus. In 114BC the kingdom accepted the overlordship of Mithridates VI Eupator, king of Pontus, as a protection from tribes of Scythians. For nearly three centuries after the defeat of Mithridates by the Romans, the Crimea was under the nominal suzerainty of Rome. The region was conquered by the Goths in AD 250. This was the first of a series of successive invasions by the Huns, Khazars, Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks and Genoese, extending over a period of nearly 1000 years. In 1475 the peninsula was overrun by the Turks, who, with the cooperation of the Tatar princes controlling part of the area, retained possession of it until 1777. As a result of the Russian victory over the Turks in that year, the Crimea in 1783 became part of the Russian Empire. The peninsula was the scene, from 1854 to 1856. of the Crimean War and figured prominently in the civil war that took place between 1917 and 1920 after the Russian Revolution. In 1921 the Crimea was established as an autonomous republic of the Russia. In 1941 the Crimea was invaded by German armies. The Germans completely occupied the republic after the fall of Sevastopol in July 1942 holding it until the spring of 1944. The Crimea was demoted in status from an autonomous republic to a region in 1945, reputedly because of widespread collaboration with the enemy during the occupation. It was made a region of the Ukrainian in 1954. Area, 25,993 sq km (10,036 sq mi); pop. (1979) 2,183,000.
CRIMEAN NORTH ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY, is situated in the center of the Crimean peninsula, altitude 560 m (about1840 ft) above sea level. The observatory operates a 260-cm (102-in) reflecting telescope at its main site near Simferopol. This instrument, completed in 1960, was the largest in Europe until 1976, when a 600-cm (236-in) reflector begun to operate at the Soviet Academy of Science Observatory near Zeienchukskaya on Mount Postukhova in the Caucasus. The mirrored surface of this reflector, however, has a serious flaw that hampers its usefulness. The Crimean Astrophysical Observatory also operates a 125-cm (49-in)reflector at its secondary site in the southern Crimea at Simeiz.
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