A Russian Orthodox Church on the Crimea Black Sea coast
Click on the extended post to see more photos and to read about the history of this seaside region.
Sunlight reflected on the Black Sea
Like Krasnodar Krai, the coastal region hosting the 2014 Summer Olympics, this beautiful peninsula in the Black Sea has a rich history dating back to its colonization by the ancient Greeks 2,600 years ago. Since then, the Crimea has been occupied at times by Scythians, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Huns, Goths, Bulgars, Kievan Rus, Mongols, Khazars, Italian Venetians and Genoese, Tartars, Ottoman Turks, and today, Russians and Ukrainians.
In February 1945, the region hosted the important Yalta conference between Stalin, Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt to decide the fate of postwar Europe. After the Soviets abolished the autonomous Crimean Oblast, Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev transferred administration of the Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. The region remained a popular holiday destination with the Soviet elite and with tourists from East Germany and other Soviet Bloc countries.
When the USSR collapsed in 1991, majorities of Crimeans voted to become an autonomous republic within the new democratic and independent Ukraine. Thousands of Crimean Tartars, who were forcibly deported by Stalin to Central Asia at the end of World War II, also began to return in the 1980s and 90s.
In recent weeks, this melting pot region has drawn some Western media attention as the host of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Russia and Ukraine signed a treaty of friendship in 1997 dividing the former Soviet Navy between them and granting the Russian Black Sea fleet a lease for basing rights through 2017. The fleet is currently headquartered in Sevastopol. Thanks to the presence of Russian sailors and their families, the city retains close relations with Moscow, and many residents hold Russian passports.
Most of the Crimean economy revolves around agriculture, shipping, fishing, and tourism. The Yalta area continues to be prized for its wines. Many of the Black Sea views in these photos were featured in the 2004 Russian film Voditel Dlya Very (A Driver for Vera), a historic drama set in the Crimea during the Cold War about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A banner on a church
Ruins on the Crimea coast
Cliffs of the Crimea
Another view of the cliffs
Dolphins swimming in the Black Sea
The Lost World