300 Years of Embattled Crimea History in 6 Maps

Crimea has changed hands many times in its history.

Crimea has long been a strategic and geopolitical prize. Ancient Cimmerians and Greeks, followed by the Goths and Venetians, were just a few of the embattled peninsula's many occupiers over the centuries.

The origin of its name is debated, but may have come from the word qrïm, meaning fortress, when it served as a capital of the Golden Horde in the 13th century. Long under the protection of the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean Khanate ruled the area for more than 300 years until Catherine the Great annexed the peninsula in 1783, part of a broad expansion of the Russian Empire under the Tsarina's reign. The five maps that follow illustrate how Crimea continued to change hands from the 18th century to the present.

A vassal state of the Ottoman Empire since 1478, Crimea evolved into several political entities after the Russo-Turkish Treaty in 1774.

As a consequence of the Russian Revolution, Crimea changed hands and officially took on several new names over this three-year period.

After the reassertion of Soviet control in late 1920, Crimea became an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, until the territory was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1941, returning to Russian control in 1945.

During the late Soviet era, Crimea was transferred to Ukraine, with its administrative status being upgraded on the eve of the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of an independent Ukraine. Crimea's communist authorities proclaimed self-government in 1992, which ultimately led to the territory being granted expanded autonomous rights by Kiev.