In recent times the Crimea has drawn attention to itself for the ongoing showdown between Russia and the Ukraine. Such conflict is no stranger to Crimea, it has been a prized asset for millennia and many empires have been attracted to call it their own. Today it is in Russian hands, but really this blog is not to dwell on the current political situation, it is essentially to delve into the reasons why it is so sought after. The simple answer is that the peninsula has a key geographic location, plus also its unique climate and stunning beaches. Here are the five important reasons why Emperors and First Ministers have coveted the Crimea for so long.
Climate & Geography
Crimea is located in the Black Sea and is roughly around 26,000 square kilometres large, it is connected to the Ukrainian mainland by the Isthmus of Perekop. The climate of the Crimea is steady throughout the year, it has an almost Mediterranean climate in the south which leads to mild winters and hot, dry summers. And the Black Sea is home to Russia’s only warm-water ports. Even whilst the Crimea was under Ukrainian rule, the Russian Navy has been based at Sevastopol since the early 1700’s. This was allowed in return for discounts on much needed gas for the Ukraine.
For hundreds of years the Ukraine has been labelled as “The breadbasket of Russia” as it produces so much grain. And this is true today, Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of wheat and corn in the world, a great deal of which passes through Crimean ports.
Crimea is still home to the ethnic group called the Tartars, and they still hold considerable power. The Tartars were responsible for making this part of the peninsula a centre for Islamic culture, and also raided as far north as Poland. Today the Tartars account for over ten percent of the Crimean population.
Because of the favourable climate and the abundance of beaches and incredible scenery, the Crimea has always been a popular holiday destination. Russians have always flocked to the Black Sea for their recreation, important political leaders and royal personages have frequented Crimea ever since its inception. And the tourist industry is the main source of the peninsula’s economy, although international tourism is down due to the current situation.
Since the early 1990’s Crimea has remained semi-autonomous from Ukraine, with close bonds to both Ukraine and Russia. It has its own legislative body and to all intents rules itself. The Crimea is not just a small peninsula that is being used as a political tool, it has real value. Value in a sense of worth, the tourism industry brings wealth to Crimea, but the strategic position of Crimea is its key.
Crimea gives access to the Black Sea and therefore trade and military power, empires have not coveted the Crimea purely for its nice beaches and beautiful scenery. Whoever controls the Crimea has access to all the countries and regions that surround the Black Sea, that is the real value of the Crimean Peninsula.