|Arabat Spit (Arabat beli)|
No. 5 marks the Arabat Spit
|Regions||Crimea, Kherson Oblast|
|Districts||Henichesk, Nyzhnyohirsk, Sovyetsky, Kirovske, Leninske|
|Landmark||Azov-Syvash (Nature Preserve)|
The Arabat Spit (Ukrainian: Арабатська стрілка, Arabatska strilka; Russian: Арабатская стрелка, Arabatskaya strelka; Crimean Tatar: Arabat beli), also called Arabat Tongue or, literally, Arabat Pointer, is a spit (narrow strip of land) which separates a large, shallow and very salty system of lagoons named Sivash from the Sea of Azov. The spit is located between the town of Henichesk, Ukraine, on the north and the north-eastern shores of Crimea on the south. It is separated from Henichesk by the Henichesk Strait (Russian: Генический пролив). Another name of the strait is "Thin Strait" (Russian: Тонкий Пролив), which reflects the narrow geometry of the strait – it is about 4 km long, 80–150 m wide and 4.6 m deep.
The Arabat Spit is 112 km long, and from 270 m to 8 km wide; its surface area is 395 km2 and thus the average width is 3.5 km. The spit is low and straight on the Azov Sea side, whereas its Sivash side is curved. It contains two areas which are 7–8 km wide and have brown-clay hills; they are located 7.5 km and 32 km from the Henichesk Strait. The top layers of other parts of the spit are formed by sand and shells washed by the flows of the Azov Sea. Its vegetation mostly consists of various weed grasses, thorn, festuce grasses, spear grass, crambe, salsola, salicornia, Carex colchica, tamarisk, rose hip, liquorice, etc. Nowadays, the spit is a health resort and its Azov Sea side is used as a beach. Water is shallow with the depth reaching 2 meters only some 100–200 meters from the shore. Its temperature is around 0 °C in winter (near freezing), 10–15 °C in spring and autumn, and 25–30 °C in summer; air temperature is almost the same. About half of the Spit belongs to the Kherson Oblast, Ukraine and another half to Crimea.
The spit is very young and was created by sedimentation processes around 1100–1200 AD. It was wild until 1835 when a road and five stations spaced by 25–30 km were built along it for postal delivery. Later in the 19th century, 25 rural and 3 military settlements and one village named Arabat appeared on the spit. The rural population amounted to some 235 people whose occupation was mostly fishery, farming and salt production. The latter activity is traditional for the region due to the vast areas of shallow and very saline water in the Sivash lagoons. The salt production in 19th century was about 24,000 tonnes/year on the Arabat Spit alone.
The southernmost part of Arabat Spit hosts a deserted historical fortress named Arabat Fortress. Its name originates from either Arabic "rabat" meaning a "military post" or Turkic "arabat" meaning a "suburb" and is the origin of the name of the Arabat Spit. Its purpose was to guard the spit and Crimea from invasions. The fortress was built around 17th century by the Turkish army and was first mentioned by the French Engineer and cartographer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan in 1660 in his book "Description d'Ukranie".
The fortress had an advanced military design with octagonal shape and 3-meter thick stone walls surrounded by an earthen wall and a moat. It contained five towers and two gates. Several rows of arrowslits faced east, north and west and were designed for various artillery types. Whereas the fortress was hard to conquer when properly defended, due to its remote location from Turkey, its garrison was often understaffed and defended by the Russian army in 1737 and 1771. After Crimea became part of Russia the fortress was abandoned, but later refurbished and used by Russians during the Crimean War of 1853–1856 to defend the Crimean coast. After the war, the fortress was abandoned again and its walls were used by locals as a source of stone. The fortress was an area of heavy fighting between the Soviet Red Army and the White Army in 1920 and the German Army during the World War II in 1941–1944. In 1968, some scenes of a famous Soviet movie Two Comrades Were Serving was filmed there.
- Semenov, p.624
- Petrov, V.P. (1964). Geography of the Soviet Union: Physical features. p. 112.
- V. I. Borisov and E. I. Kapitonov (1973). Azov Sea (in Russian). KKI.
- "Sivash" (in Russian). Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
- Shutov, Introduction
- Shutov, Part 1
- Semenov, p.111
- Арабатская стрелка (in Russian)
- Shutov, Part 5
- Shutov, Part 4
- Arabat Foretress (in Russian)
- Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1660). Description d'Ukranie (in French).
- Semenov, Petr Petrovich (1862). Geografichesko-statisticheskìĭ slovar' Rossìĭskoĭ imperìi (Geographical-statistical disctionary of Russian Empire) (in Russian). Oxford University.
- Shutov, Yu. "Арабатская стрелка" (in Russian) Tavria, 1983
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