Crimea,a peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. It is part of Ukraine. On the north, the peninsula is connected with the mainland of Europe by the Perekop Isthmus. The Sea of Azov is to the northeast and Kerch Strait to the east. The Crimea extends 120 miles (190 km) southward into the Black Sea and is about 200 miles (320 km) wide at its broadest point. The total land area is 9,900 square miles (25,600 km2).

There are three natural regions: (1) the flat northern steppe lands, which make up about four-fifths of the total area; (2) the southern mountains; and (3) the subtropical coast.

Mineral resources include phosphorous iron ores on the Kerch Peninsula, low-grade coal north of Yalta, and some oil and natural gas near Kerch. Extensive salt deposits are worked in the north. Fisheries operate along the entire coast. High-grade wheat is grown in the north. Other crops include cotton, tobacco, and fruits and vegetables. There are also vineyards. Because of its temperate climate, especially in the south, the Crimea is a popular tourist area.

The majority of the people of the Crimea are Russians; most of the remainder are Ukrainians. The leading cities are the ports of Sevastopol and Kerch and the administrative center, Simferopol.

The Khanate of Crimea, a Tatar dependency of the Ottoman Turks, was conquered by Russia in 1783. Much of the region was then settled by Russians and Ukrainians. A dispute between Russia and the Ottoman Empire resulted in the Crimean War, 1853–56.

In 1921 the Crimea became an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union. During World War II the Crimean Tatars, who numbered some 200,000, were accused of collaboration with the Germans and deported to Central Asia. The republic was dissolved and the peninsula became a part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. The area was transferred to the Ukrainian S.S.R. in 1954. In 1967 the Tatars were cleared of the collaboration accusation. Several thousand Tatar families eventually returned to the Crimea.

After Ukraine became independent in 1991, many Crimeans wanted their region to become an independent country or unite with Russia. Also, ownership of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet, which was based in Sevastopol, became a source of conflict between Ukraine and Russia.