From Academic Kids

Modern emblem of Odesa
Modern emblem of Odesa

Odessa or Odesa (Ukrainian Одеса, Russian Одесса, Turkish Hacıbey) is a Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea and the center of country's Odes'ka oblast'. Population 1,012,500 (2004).



From 18191858 Odessa was a free port. In Soviet times it was the most important trade port and also a Soviet naval base. Since January 1, 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was declared a free port and free economic zone for 25 years.

Odessa is a warm water port, but of limited military value. Turkey's control of the Dardanelles and Bosporus has enabled NATO to control water traffic between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea. Actually, Odessa hosts two big ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny (also internationally important oil terminal), situated in the city's suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs'k, is located in the same oblast to the south-west of Odessa. Together they make a big transportation junction integrated with railways. Odessa's oil- and chemical-processing facilities connected to Russia's and EU's respective networks with strategic pipelines.

Odessa is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine and its most important trading city. In the 19th century it was the third city of Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg. Its historical architecture looks more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Odessa has always possessed a spirit of freedom and ironical humour, probably by virtue of its location and its willingness to accept many different peoples.


Foundation and early years

In the 14th century, Crimean Tatars traded in the Odessa region. The town was ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then known as Chadibėjus (local name - Khajibei). It came under the control of the Ottoman Empire after 1529. During the Russo-Turkish War, from 17871791, the Ukrainian Black Sea Cossacks conquered the Tartar settlement of Khadzhibei (Turkish: Hacıbey) and the Turkish fortress of Eni-Dunia, near the city's present-day location. The Spaniard in Russian service De Ribas helped lead this conquest.

Odessa was officially founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress on lands annexed from Turkey as a result of the Treaty of Iasi in 1792. The Empress Catherine II decided to name it after the ancient Graeco-Roman colony of Odessos in Thracia, principally for political reasons as a means of attracting foreign traders.

The new city quickly became a major success. Its early growth owed much to the work of the Duc de Richelieu, who served as the city's governor between 1803-1814. Having fled the French Revolution, he had served in Catherine's army against the Turks. He is credited with designing the city and organising its amenities and infrastructure, and is considered one of the founding fathers of Odessa.

In 1819 the city was made a free port, a status it retained until 1879. It became home to an extremely diverse population of Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Greeks and traders representing many other European nationalities. Its cosmopolitan nature was documented by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who lived in internal exile in Odessa between 1823-1824. In his letters he wrote that Odessa was a city where "you can smell Europe. French is spoken and there are European papers and magazines to read".

Odessa's growth was interrupted by the Crimean War of 1853-1856, during which it was bombarded by British and French naval forces. It soon recovered and the growth in trade made Odessa Russia's largest grain-exporting port. In 1866 the city was linked by rail with Kiev and Kharkov as well as Iasi, Romania.

The city became the home of a large Jewish community during the 19th century, and by 1897 Jews were estimated to comprise some 37% of the population. They were, however, repeatedly subjected to severe persecution. Pogroms were carried out in 1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, and 1905. Many Odessan Jews fled abroad, particularly to Palestine after 1882, and the city became an important base of support for Zionism.

20th century

In 1905 Odessa was the site of a workers' uprising supported by the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin (also see Battleship Potemkin uprising) and Lenin's Iskra. Sergei Eisenstein's famous motion picture The Battleship Potemkin commemorated the uprising and included a scene where hundreds of Russian citizens were murdered on the great stone staircase (now popularly known as the "Potemkin Steps"), in one of the most famous scenes in motion picture history. At the top of the steps, which lead down to the port, stands a statue of Richelieu. The actual massacre took place in streets nearby, not on the steps themselves, but the movie caused many to visit Odessa to see the site of the "slaughter". The "Odessa Steps" continue to be a tourist attraction in Odessa. The film was made at Odessa's Cinema Factory, one of the oldest cinema studios in the former Soviet Union.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 during World War I, Odessa was occupied by several groups, including the Ukrainian Tsentral'na Rada, the French Army, the Red Army and the White Army. Finally, in 1920, the Red Army took control of Odessa and united it with the Ukrainian SSR, which later became part of the USSR.

The people of Odessa suffered from a great famine that occurred in 1921-1922 as a result of the war. During World War II Odessa was occupied by Romanian and German forces from 1941-1944. The city suffered severe damage and many casualties.

Approximately 280,000 Odessans (mostly Jews) were either massacred or deported during the war (for more, see the Odessa Massacre). Many parts of Odessa were damaged during its fall and later recapture in April 1944, when the city was finally liberated by the Soviet Army. It was one of the first four Soviet cities to be awarded the title of "Hero City" in 1945.


During the 1960s and 1970s the city grew tremendously. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the majority of Odessa's Jews migrated to Israel, United States and other Western countries, abandoning entire apartment blocks. Domestic migration to Moscow and Leningrad also occurred on a large scale, forming large communities of Odessans there.

In 1991, after the collapse of Communism, the city became part of newly independent Ukraine. Today Odessa is a city of around 1.1 million people. The city's industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, chemicals, metalworking and food processing. Odessa is also a major Ukrainian naval base and home to a fishing fleet.

Geography and features

Odessa is situated on terraced hills overlooking a small harbor, approximately 31 km (19 mi.) north of the estuary of the Dniester river and some 443 km (275 mi.) south of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The city has a mild and dry climate with average temperatures in January of -2 C (29 F), and July of 22 C (73 F). It averages only 35 cm (14 in) of precipitation annually.

The primary language spoken is Russian, though Ukrainian is the official language. The city is a mix of many nationalities and ethnic groups, including Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Caucasian, Turkish, and Vietnamese, among others.


Odessa is a popular tourist destination, with many therapeutic resorts in and around the city.

The family of Leo Tolstoy owned a palace in Odessa which can still be visited.

The writer Isaac Babel was born in the city, which has also produced several famous musicians, including the violinists Nathan Milstein, Mischa Elman and David Oistrakh, and the pianists Benno Moiseiwitsch, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. The chess player Efim Geller was born in the city. (All listed, except for Richter, are representatives of the city's Jewish community.)

The most popular Russian show-businesspeople from Odessa are Mikhail Zhvanetskiy (legendary humorist writer, who began his career as port engineer) and Roman Kartzev (comic). Their success in 1970s contributed to Odessa's established status of a "capital of Soviet humour". Later a few humour festivals were established in the city.

Most of the city's 19th century houses were built of limestone mined in nearby construction sites. Abandoned mines were later used and broadened by local smugglers. This created a complicated labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Odessa, known as "catacombs". They are a now a great attraction for extreme tourists. Such tours, however, are not officially sanctioned and are dangerous because the layout of the catacombs has not been fully mapped and the tunnels themselves are unsafe.

External link

bg:Одеса da:Odessa de:Odessa es:Odesa fr:Odessa he:אודסה la:Odessus nl:Odessa ja:オデッサ (都市) no:Odessa pl:Odessa pt:Odessa ru:Одесса sl:Odesa fi:Odessa sv:Odessa uk:Одеса yi:Ades zh:敖德萨


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