Crimea[lower-alpha 1] is a peninsula along the northern coast of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe. It is almost entirely surrounded by both the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov to the northeast. Crimea is located south of Kherson Oblast in Ukraine, to which it is connected by the Isthmus of Perekop, and lies west of Krasnodar Krai in Russia, from which it is separated by the Strait of Kerch though linked by the Crimean Bridge since 2018. The Arabat Spit is located to its northeast, a narrow strip of land that separates a system of lagoons named Sivash from the Sea of Azov. To the peninsula's west, across the Black Sea, lies Romania, and to its south, Turkey.

Crimean Peninsula
May 2015 satellite image of the Crimean Peninsula
LocationEastern Europe
Coordinates45.3°N 34.4°E / 45.3; 34.4
Adjacent bodies of water
Largest citySevastopol
Area27,000 km2 (10,000 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,545 m (5069 ft)
Highest pointRoman-Kosh
StatusControlled and governed as part of the Russian Federation (except Ukrainian-controlled part of Arabat Spit), though internationally recognised as part of Ukraine
Ukraine (de jure)
RegionsKherson Oblast (northern part of Arabat Spit, Henichesk Raion)
Uncontrolled regionsAutonomous Republic of Crimea
Russia (de facto)
Federal districtSouthern Federal District
Federal subjectsRepublic of Crimea
Population 2,416,856[1] (2021)
Pop. density84.6/km2 (219.1/sq mi)
Ethnic groups65.3% Russians (1.492 mln)
15.1% Ukrainians (344.5 thousand)
10.8% Crimean Tatars (246.1 thousand)
0.9% Belarusians (21.7 thousand)
0.5% Armenians (11 thousand)
7.4% Others (169.1 thousand), including:
Pontic Greeks
Crimean Karaites
Ashkenazi Jews
Crimea Germans
Italians of Crimea (2014)[2][3][4]
Map of the Crimean Peninsula
The Flag of Crimea republic (de jure Autonomous Republic of Crimea or de facto Republic of Crimea, depending on jurisdiction) used under Russia and Ukraine

Crimea (or the Tauric Peninsula, as it was called from antiquity until the early modern period) has historically been at the boundary between the classical world and the Pontic–Caspian steppe. Its southern fringe was colonised by the Greeks and then ruled by the Persians followed by the Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, and finally successor states including the Empire of Trebizond and Principality of Theodoro. During the entirety of this period the urban areas were Greek-speaking and eventually eastern Christian (Eastern Orthodox). During the collapse of the Byzantine state some cities fell to its creditor, the Republic of Genoa, until eventually all were absorbed by the rapidly rising Ottoman Empire. Throughout this time the interior was occupied by a changing cast of invading steppe nomads and empires, such as the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Crimean Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Kipchaks, Mongols, and the Golden Horde. Crimea and adjacent territories were united in the Crimean Khanate, a sometime dependency of the Ottomans, during the 15th to 18th century.

In 1783, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire as the result of the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Crimea became an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR in the Soviet Union. During World War II, Crimea was downgraded to the Crimean Oblast and the entirety of one of its indigenous populations, the Crimean Tatars, were deported to Central Asia, an act recognized as a genocide by Ukraine and three other countries. In 1954, the Soviet Union transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR from the Russian SFSR.[5]

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was reestablished as an independent state in 1991, and most of the peninsula was reorganized as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and the city of Sevastopol retained its special status within Ukraine. The 1997 Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet partitioned the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet and allowed Russia to continue basing its fleet in Crimea: both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and Russia's Black Sea Fleet were to be headquartered in Sevastopol. Ukraine extended Russia's lease of the naval facilities under the 2010 Kharkiv Pact in exchange for further discounted natural gas.

The status of Crimea is disputed. It is claimed by Ukraine and recognized as Ukrainian by the United Nations[6] and most other countries, but it is governed by Russia. In February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ousted the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, Russia annexed Crimea after a military intervention by pro-Russian separatists and Russian Armed Forces.[7] A controversial Crimea-wide referendum, illegal under the Ukrainian and Crimean constitutions,[8][9][10] was held on the issue of reunification with Russia; its official results showed over 90% support for reunification; however, the vote was boycotted by many loyal to Ukraine[11][12] and declared illegitimate by Western governments and the United Nations. Russia formally annexed Crimea on 18 March 2014, incorporating the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol as the 84th and 85th federal subjects of Russia.[13]