Odesa or Odessa (Ukraine), city, south central Ukraine, capital of Odesa
Oblast. Located on the Black Sea, the city is the chief trade and fishing
port of the country, its harbor kept open in winter by icebreakers. It
also is a major manufacturing, railroad, and cultural center and, with
its mild climate, a popular resort. Products of the city include refined
petroleum, processed food, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and clothing. Institutions
of higher learning include a university, polytechnic and medical schools,
a marine academy, and a music conservatory. The city has several museums
and theaters and an opera house.
A colony from ancient Greece may have once occupied the site of the city, and Crimean Tatars traded there in the 14th century. Odesa itself was founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress on territory annexed from Turkey in 1792. By the early 19th century the Russian settlement had become an important grain-exporting port. During the Crimean War (1853-56), Odesa was bombarded by joint French and British naval forces. In 1905 the city was the site of a workers' uprising, supported by the crew of the Russian battleship Potëmkin. Odesa suffered heavy damage during World War II, when it was occupied from 1941 to 1944 by German and Romanian forces; many civilians were killed by the occupying armies. Population (1990 estimate) 1,106,000.