|This article is outdated. (March 2014)|
The Crimean peninsula (highlighted) within Ukraine.
|Adjacent bodies of water||Black Sea
Sea of Azov
|Area||27,000 km2 (10,000 sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||ethnic Russians
The Crimean peninsula (Ukrainian: Кримський півострів, Russian: Крымский полуостров, Crimean Tatar: Qırım yarımadası) is a major land mass near the Black Sea that is almost completely surrounded by water. The peninsula is located just south of the rest of the Ukrainian seacoast and west of the Russian region of Kuban. It is surrounded by two seas, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and only connects with the Ukrainian mainland through the Perekop isthmus.
The Autonomous Republic of Crimea composes most of the peninsula; politically separated only by a smaller area in the southwestern region consisting of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol. The Arabat Spit is located to the north east; a narrow strip of land that separates a system of lagoons named Sivash from the Sea of Azov.
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). Russian Krym is a Russified form of Qırım. The ancient Greeks called Crimea Tauris (later Taurica, Ταυρική in Ancient Greek), 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. Herodotus also refers to a nearby region called "cremni or 'the Cliffs'" which may also refer to the Crimean peninsula, notable for its cliffs along what is otherwise a flat northern coastline of the Black Sea.
In English, much as with Ukraine itself, Crimea is sometimes referred to with the definite article, the Crimea, as in the Netherlands, the Gambia, etc., but usage without the article has become more frequent in journalism since the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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. There are two rural communities of Henichesk Raion (Kherson Oblast) that are physically located on the peninsula, on the smaller peninsula Arabat Spit, Shchaslyvtseve and Strilkove. Although located in the southwestern part of the Crimean peninsula, the city of Sevastopol has a special but separate municipality status within Ukraine. The total land area of whole peninsula is 27,000 km2 (10,425 sq mi).
Crimea is connected to the mainland by the 5–7 kilometres (3.1–4.3 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 kilometres (1.9–8.1 mi) wide Strait of Kerch, which connects the waters of the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. Peninsula consists of many other smaller peninsulas such as the mentioned Arabat Spit, Kerch peninsula, Herakles peninsula, Tarhan Qut peninsula and many others. Crimea also possesses lots of headlands such as Cape Priboiny, Cape Tarhan Qut, Sarych, Nicholas Cape, Cape Fonar, Cape Fiolent, Qazan Tip, Cape Aq Burun, and many others. Geographically, the peninsula is generally divided into three zones: steppes, mountains and southern coast. The southeast coast is flanked at a distance of 8–12 kilometres (5.0–7.5 mi) from the sea by a parallel range of mountains, the Crimean Mountains. 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 (1,969–2,461 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. Uchan-su waterfall on the south slope of the mountains is the highest in Ukraine.
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 capes Fiolente and Aya, in the 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.why here? and ref? 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.
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;(not Sevastopol) on the north by the Bay of Arabat of the Isthmus(nonsense) of Yenikale or Kerch; and on the south by the Bay of Caffa(name?) or Feodosiya, with the port of Feodosiya. The natural borders between Crimean peninsula and the Ukrainian mainland serves the saline Lake Syvash (a unique shallow system of estuaries and bays).
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 and the high ground of the Crimean Mountains, which has a humid continental climate. Summers can be hot (28 °C / 82.4 °F Jul average) and winters are cool (−0.3 °C / 31.5 °F Jan average) in the interior, on the south coast winters are milder (4 °C / 39.2 °F Jan average) and temperatures much below freezing are exceptional. On the high ground, freezing weather is common in winter. Precipitation throughout Crimea is low, averaging only 400 mm (15.7 in) a year. Because of its climate, the southern Crimean coast is a popular beach and sun resort for Ukrainian and Russian tourists.