History of Crimea

The recorded history of the Crimean Peninsula, historically known as Tauris (Greek: Ταυρική), Taurica, and the Tauric Chersonese (Greek: Χερσόνησος Ταυρική, "Tauric Peninsula"), begins around the 5th century BC when several Greek colonies were established along its coast. The southern coast remained Greek in culture for almost two thousand years as part of the Roman Empire (47 BC – 330 AD), and its successor states, the Byzantine Empire (330 AD – 1204 AD), the Empire of Trebizond (1204 AD – 1461 AD), and the independent Principality of Theodoro (ended 1475 AD). In the 13th century, some port cities were controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese. The Crimean interior was much less stable, enduring a long series of conquests and invasions; by the early medieval period it had been settled by Scythians (Scytho-Cimmerians), Tauri, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Kipchaks and Khazars. In the medieval period, it was acquired partly by Kievan Rus', but fell to the Mongol invasions as part of the Golden Horde. They were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the coastal areas as well, in the 15th to 18th centuries.

Satellite image of the Black Sea, with the lighter-colored Sea of Azov and the Crimean peninsula in the center of the picture.

In 1774, the Ottoman Empire was defeated by Catherine the Great. Crimea was traded to Russia by the Ottoman Empire as part of the treaty provisions and annexed in 1783. After two centuries of conflict, the Russian fleet had destroyed the Ottoman navy and the Russian army had inflicted heavy defeats on the Ottoman land forces. The ensuing Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca forced the Sublime Porte to recognize the Tatars of the Crimea as politically independent. Catherine the Great's incorporation of the Crimea in 1783 from the defeated Ottoman Empire into the Russian Empire increased Russia's power in the Black Sea area. The Crimea was the first Muslim territory to slip from the sultan's suzerainty. The Ottoman Empire's frontiers would gradually shrink, and Russia would proceed to push her frontier westwards to the Dniester.

In 1921 the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created. This republic was dissolved in 1945, and the Crimea became an oblast first of the Russian SSR (1945–1954) and then the Ukrainian SSR (1954–1991). From 1991 the territory was covered by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City within independent Ukraine. However, during the 2014 Crimean crisis, the peninsula was taken over by Russia and a referendum on whether to rejoin Russia was held. Shortly after the result in favour of joining Russia was announced, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation as two federal subjects: the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.