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Zaporizhia

Currently the sixth-largest city in Ukraine by population numbers, Zaporizhia (alternative spelling: Zaporizhzhya; Zaporozhye in Russian) is located at the banks of the Dnieper river in the southeastern part of the country, only about 85 kilometers south of Dnipropetrovsk. The river plays an important role for everyday life, as well as for culture, economy and history of Zaporizhia, whose name translates into “beyond the rapids”.

One part of the city area is the river island of Khortytsia, a historically significant place with unique fauna and flora that is being preserved as a national reserve. Not far from the island, the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station, constructed in 1932, is situated. The dam, responsible for creating up to 1570 megawatts of power, is more than 800 meters long and stands 61 meters high. As the dammed water behind the building has flooded the previously dangerous rapids that gave the city its name, the entire river has become navigable. 

Not at least thanks to the abundant energy generated by the dam and a nearby nuclear plant, Zaporizhia is a major industrial base for Ukraine’s economy. The city is home to the aircraft engine company Motor Sich as well as to steel works, chemical industry and others.

Zaporizhia

Quick facts Zaporizhia

Location

Southeastern Ukraine

Zaporizhia

Population

770,700

Founding year

952

Zaporizhia is well connected to national traffic through a small airport, waterways and two main railway stations. In town, there are several attractions apart from Khortytsia, including several theaters and art galleries. A local association of artists and craftsmen named Kolorit holds public workshops and exhibitions at the Fountain of Life located at the central Square of Mayakovskoho. Additionally, there are a number of museums worth visiting, including the National Museum of Zaporizhzhian Cossacks. Between Khortytsia and the hydroelectric dam, there are a few smaller islands in the river and there is also a popular beach on the right side of the Dnieper.

There were close to 900,000 residents in the city around 1990, but since then population numbers have shrinked to under 780,000, some 20% of which are ethnic Russians. Russian is also the most common language used in town. While this location was important to the Cossacks from the 16th century on, the modern settlement was founded in 1770 when a fortress was erected to prevent Turkish attacks on the southern lands. Populated by Mennonites from Prussia, a city named Alexandrovsk developed, but significant development only occurred from the 1920s on, when the dam was planned and industries were built here according to a master plan. In World War II, the city suffered greatly. When the Germans moved on Zaporizhia in 1941, the Red Army damaged the dam on purpose, causing a flood that killed thousands of people downstream. The town became a local headquarter for the Germans who held Zaporizhia for about two years, also causing many deliberate damages when they retreated in 1943.

Zaporizhia also saw anti-government protests during the Euromaidan revolution of 2014 and experienced clashes between Ukrainians and pro-Russians in the ensuing conflict.

 

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