Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Crimea (Lat. Chersonesus Taurica, Russ. Krym), a peninsula jutting from the S. coast of Russia into the Black Sea, which it divides from the Sea of Azov to the E. It is connected with the mainland by the Isthmus of Perekop, about 6 miles wide, and is separated from the Caucasian provinces by the narrow straits of Kertch and Yenikaleh. Rhomboidal in form, with an irregular projection, the promontory of Kertch, it measures 125 miles N. to S. by 200 miles E. to W., and has an area of about 10,000 square miles. The northern portion is a continuation of the Russian steppes, but to the S. volcanic mountains rise to 4,000 or 5,000 feet. The few rivers are mere torrents. The climate on the whole is favourable, though droughts prevail in summer, and the winters bring rain and wind. Cereals grow, but not extensively, the chief products being wine, fruits, flax, tobacco, and timber. The excellent pastures support numbers of cattle, horses, and merino sheep. Wild-fowl and fish are abundant. Salt is the most valuable export. The population consists mainly of Tatar Mohammedans. but Greeks, Russians, Armenians, Gypsies, Karaim Jews, and Germans monopolise the trade. The peninsula forms part of the Taurida government, and Simferopol is the capital, a well-built and fairly prosperous town. Sebastopol possesses a magnificent harbour, fortified by Catherine II., destroyed by the allies in 1855, and since reconstructed as a great arsenal and military port. It is now connected by railway with Simferopol and the mainland. Kertch, strongly fortified, is the centre of the cattle and grain trade; Eupatoria exports most of the salt; Yalta is a favourite watering-place; Baghtchascrai and Kara-son-Bazar are reserved for Tatars. The Tsar has an oriental palace near the former town, and a fine marine palace at Yalta. The Crimea was occupied in prehistoric times by a Cimmerian race, who in the seventh century B.C. were driven out by the Scythians, a remnant only under the name Tauri being left among the caves and mountain fastnesses. These were the worshippers of Artemis referred to in the Homeric legends. Heracleote Greeks founded in 658 B.C. a colony almost on the site of Sebastopol, which existed until 1363 A.D. Other Greeks settled in the land, and ultimately established the kingdom of the Bosphorus, which was ceded to Mithridates, and held under Roman protection by his son Pharnaces. The Alans, Goths, Huns, Khozars, and Kiptchaks, successively overran the country, and Venice and Genoa had-settlements there. Then a Tatar Khanate was founded in the fifteenth century, but was speedily made tributary to the Sultan, and was finally annexed by Russia in 1783. The Crimea is specially interesting to Englishmen as having been the scene of the war of 1853-56, in which so much blood and treasure were wasted. The localities made memorable by that struggle, Alma, Tchernaya. Balaklava, and Inkerman, are treated of under their respective heads.