"The Crimean peninsula"
Ancient Greek colonies on the northern coast of the Black Sea
GNU Free Documentation LicenseAncient Greek colonies on the northern coast of the Black Sea - Credit: MapMaster

Crimea is an autonomous republic of the Ukraine.  It lies on the northern coast of the Black Sea, on the Crimean peninsula.  The region has a turbulent and violent history.

In its earliest years it was conquered by a series of warrior nations, from the Goths and Huns to the Golden Horde Tatars and the Ottoman Turks. These conquerors were followed by the Venetians and Genovese in the 13th century, the Turks again in the 15th to 18th centuries, and the Russian Empire from the 18th to 20th centuries. Germany invaded during World War II, after which the Russians wrested it back again.  Following the fall of the Soviet Union, it was finally declared an autonomous parliamentary republic, governed in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The capital and administrative seat of government is the city of Simferopol, at the center of the peninsula.

Today, Crimean Russians comprise the majority of the population, and Russian is an official language.  Crimean Tatars comprise a sizeable ethnic minority.  The latter have inhabited the peninsula since the early Middle Ages.  However, the entire population of the Crimean Tatars was forcibly expelled by Stalin in 1944, to Central Asia.  Almost half died, from hunger and disease. The Crimean Tatars were banned from legally returning to their homeland until the last days of the Soviet Union.