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.