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Kharkiv ( , ), also spelt Kharkov (from ) is the second largest city in Ukrainemarker.It was the first capital of Soviet Ukraine, now the administrative centre of the Kharkiv Oblast (province), as well as the administrative centre of the surrounding Kharkivskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city is located in the northeast of the country. As of 2006, its population is 1,461,300.

Kharkiv is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial centre of Ukraine. Its industry specializes mostly in machinery. There are hundreds of industrial companies in the city. Among them are world famous giants like the Morozov Design Bureau and the Malyshev Tank Factory, leaders in tank production since the 1930s; Hartron (aerospace and nuclear electronics); and the Turboatom turbines producer.

There is an underground rapid-transit system (metro) with about of track and 28 stations. A well-known landmark of Kharkiv is the Freedom Squaremarker (Maidan Svobody formally formerly known as Dzerzhinsky Square), which is currently the third largest city square in Europe, and the 7th largest square in the world.


Vintage view of Kharkiv in the 1890s.
Archeological evidence discovered in the area of present-day Kharkiv indicates that a local population has existed in that area since the 2nd millennium BC. Cultural artifacts date back to the Bronze Age, as well as those of later Scythian and Sarmatian settlers. There is also evidence that the Chernyakhov culture flourished in the area from the 2nd to the 6th century.

Founded in the middle of 17th century by a Ukrainian cossack called Kharko, the city has had a universitymarker since 1805. During the early years of the Soviet Unionmarker, Bolsheviks established Kharkiv as the capital of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (from 1917–1934) in opposition to the Ukrainian Peoples Republicmarker with its capital of Kievmarker.

In the 1920s a 150 metres tall wooden radio tower was built in Kharkiv. It was destroyed in World War II.

In 1928 the SVU (Union for the Freedom of Ukraine) process was initiated and court sessions were staged in the Kharkiv Opera (now the Philharmonia) building. Hundreds of Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and deported.

In the early 1930s, a famine drove many people off the land into the cities, and to Kharkiv in particular, in search of food. Many people died and were secretly buried in mass graves in the city's cemeteries.

In 1934 hundreds of Ukrainian writers, intellectuals and cultural workers were arrested and executed. The purges continued into 1938. Blind street musicians were also gathered in Kharkiv and murdered by the NKVD.

During April and May 1940 about 3,800 Polish prisoners of Starobelsk camp were executed in the Kharkiv NKVD building, later secretly buried on the grounds of an NKVD pansionat in Pyatykhatky forest (part of the Katyn massacremarker). The site also contains the numerous bodies of Ukrainian cultural workers who were arrested and shot in the 1937-38 Stalinist purges.

23 August Memorial
During World War II, Kharkiv was the site of several military engagements. The city was captured by Nazi Germany and its military allies on 24 October 1941; there was disastrous Red Army offensive that failed to capture the city in May 1942; the city was successfully retaken by the Soviets on 16 February 1943, captured for a second time by the Germans on 16 March 1943 and then finally liberated on 23 August 1943. Seventy percent of the city was destroyed and tens of thousands of the inhabitants were killed.Kharkiv, the third largest city in the Soviet Union, was the most populous city in the Soviet Union captured by Nazis, since in the years preceding World War II, Kievmarker was by population the smaller of the two.

Between December 1941 and January 1942, an estimated 30,000 people (slightly more than half Jewish) were killed and buried in a mass grave by the Germans in a ravine outside of town named Dobytsky Yarmarker.

During World War II, four battles took place for control of the city:

Before the occupation, Kharkiv's tank industries were evacuated to the Uralsmarker with all their equipment, and became the heart of Red Army's tank programs (particularly, producing the legendary T-34 tank earlier designed in Kharkiv). These enterprises were returned after the war, and continue to produce some of the world's best tanks.

Kharkiv was the third largest scientific-industrial center in the former USSR (after Moscowmarker and Leningradmarker).

Geography and climate

Kharkiv is located in the northeastern region of Ukraine at around . Historically, Kharkiv lies in the Sloboda Ukraine region (Slobozhanshchyna also known as Slobidshchyna), in which it is considered the main city. The city rests at the confluence of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers, where they flow into the Siversky Donetsmarker watershed.

Kharkiv's climate is moderate continental: cold and snowy winters, and hot summers. The seasonal average temperatures are not too cold in winter, not too hot in summer: in January, and in July. The average rainfall totals per year, with the most in June and July.

Government and administrative divisions

While Kharkiv is the administrative centre of the Kharkiv Oblast (province), the city affairs are managed by the Kharkiv Municipality. Kharkiv is a city of oblast subordinance.

The territory of Kharkiv is divided into 9 administrative raions (districts):

  1. Dzerzhynsky ( )
  2. Zhovtnevy ( )
  3. Kyivsky ( )
  4. Kominternіvsky ( )
  5. Leninsky ( )
  6. Moskovsky ( )
  7. Frunzensky ( )
  8. Ordzhonikidzevsky ( )
  9. Chervonozavodsky ( )


According to the 1989 Soviet Union Census, the population of the city was 1,593,970. In 1991, the population decreased to 1,510,200, including 1,494,200 permanent city residents. Kharkiv is currently the second-largest city in Ukraine after the capital, Kievmarker.

The nationality structure of Kharkiv as of the 1989 census is: Ukrainians 50.38%, Russians 43.63%, Jews 3%, Belarusians 0.75%, and all others (more than 25 minorities) 2.24%.

The nationality structure of Kharkiv as of the 2001 census is: Ukrainians 70.7%, Russians 25.6%, Jews 0.4%, Belarusians 0.5%.


  • 1660 year - approximated estimation
  • 1788 year - without the account of children
  • 1920 year - times of the Russian Civil War
  • 1941 year - estimation on May 1, right before the WWII
  • 1941 year - next estimation in September varies between 1,400,000 and 1,450,000
  • 1941 year - another estimation in December during the occupation without the account of children
  • 1943 year - August 23, liberation of the city; estimation varied 170,000 and 220,000
  • 1976 year - estimation on June 1
  • 1982 year - estimation in March


During the Soviet era Kharkiv was the capital of industrial production in Ukraine and one of the largest centres of industry and commerce in the USSRmarker. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the largely defence-systems-oriented industrial production of the city decreased significantly. In the early 2000s the industry started to recover and adapt to market economy needs. Now there are more than 380 industrial enterprises concentrated in the city, which have a total number of 150,000 employees. The enterprises form machine-building, electrotechnical, instrument-making, and energy clusters.

State-owned industrial giants, such as Turboatom and Elektrotyazhmash occupy 17% of the heavy power equipment construction (e.g., turbines) market worldwide. Multipurpose aircraft are produced by the Antonov aircraft manufacturing plant. The Malyshev factory produces not only armoured fighting vehicles, but also harvesters. Hartron is the leading designer of space and commercial control systems in Ukraine and the former CIS.

Science and Education

Kharkiv is one of the most prolific centres of higher education and research of Eastern Europe.The city has 13 national universities and numerous professional, technical and private higher education institutions, offering its students a wide range of disciplines. Kharkiv National Universitymarker (12,000 students), National Technical University “KhPI” (10,000 students), Kharkiv National Aerospace University "KhAI" are the leading universities in Ukraine. A total number of 150,000 students attend the universities and other institutions of higher education in Kharkiv. About 9,000 foreign students from 96 countries study in the city. More than 17,000 faculty and research stuff are employed in the institutions of higher education in Kharkov.

The city has a high concentration of research institutions, which are independent or loosely connected with the universities. Among them are three national science centers: Kharkіv Institute of Physics and Technology, Institute of Metrology, Institute for Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine and 20 national research institutions of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, such as Institute for Low Temperature Physics and Engineering. A total number of 26,000 scientists are working in research and development. A number of world renowned scientific schools appeared in Kharkiv such as the theoretical physics school and the mathematical school.

In addition to the libraries affiliated with the various universities and research institutions, the Kharkiv State Scientific V. Korolenko-library is a major research library. Kharkiv has 212 (secondary education) schools, including 10 lyceums and 20 gymnasiums.

Modern Kharkiv

Of the many attractions of the Kharkiv city are the: Derzhprommarker building, Memorial Complex, Freedom Squaremarker, Taras Shevchenko Monument, Mirror Stream, Dormition Cathedral, Militia Museum, Intercession Cathedral, T. Shevchenko Gardens, funicular, Annunciation Cathedral, Children's narrow-gauge railroad and many more.
A Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) in Kharkov.


Kharkiv is Ukraine's second largest city and as in the whole country sports are taken seriously. The most popular sport is football. The city has several football clubs playing in the Ukrainian National competitions. The most successful is Metalist that also participated in international competitions on numerous occasions.

Kharkiv also has a hockey club and a female football club Zhytlobud-1. The last one represented Ukraine in the European competitions and constantly is the main contender for the national title.



Kharkov is the unofficial capital of Ukrainian Science fiction and Fantasy. It is the home to popular writers like H. L. Oldie, Alexander Zorich, Yuri Nikitin and Andrey Valentinov. Annual science fiction convention "Star Bridge" (Звёздный Мост) is held in Kharkiv since 1999.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Kharkiv is currently twinned with:

Nobel and Fields prize winners

Famous people from Kharkiv


Kharkiv's railway station building "Pivdenny vokzal".

The city of Kharkiv is one of the largest transportation centres in Ukraine, which is connected to numerous cities of the world by air, rail and road traffic. The city has many transportation methods, including: public transport, taxis, railways, and air traffic.

Local transport

Being an important transportation center of Ukraine, Kharkiv itself contains many different transportation methods. Kharkiv's Metro is the city's rapid transit system, operating since 1975, it includes three different lines with 28 stations in total. The Kharkiv buses carry about 12 million passengers annually, trolleybuses, tramways (which celebrated 100 years of service in 2006), and marshrutkas (private minibuses).


The first railway connection of Kharkiv was opened in 1869. The first train to arrive in Kharkiv came from the north on 22 May 1869, and on 6 June 1869, traffic was opened on the Kursk–Kharkiv–Azov line. Kharkiv's passenger railway station was reconstructed and expanded in 1901, to be later destroyed in the Second World War. A new railway station was built in 1952.

Various railway transportation methods available in the city are the: inter-city railway trains, and elektrichkas (regional electric trains).

Air travel

Kharkiv is served by an international airport which used to have about 200 flights a day, almost all of them being passenger flights. The Kharkiv International Airportmarker was only recently granted international status. The airport itself is not large and is situated within the city boundaries, south from the city centre. Flights to Kievmarker and Moscowmarker are scheduled daily. There are regular flights to Viennamarker and Istanbulmarker, and several other destinations. Charter flights are also available. The former largest carrier of the Kharkiv Airport — Aeromost-Kharkiv — is not serving any regular destinations as of 2007. The Kharkiv North Airportmarker is a factory airfield and was a major production facility for Antonov aircraft company.

Footnotes and references

  1. Kharkiv on Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. Ukrainian minstrels: and the blind shall sing by Natalie Kononenko, M.E. Sharp, ISBN 0765601443/ISBN 978-0765601445, page 116
  3. Fischer, Benjamin B., " The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field", Studies in Intelligence, Winter 1999–2000, last accessed on 10 December, 2005
  4. The Red Army committed 765,300 men to this offensive, suffering 277,190 casualties (170,958 killed/missing/PoW, 106,232 wounded) and losing 652 tanks, and 4,924 guns and mortars. Glantz, David M., Kharkov 1942, anatomy of a military disaster through Soviet eyes, pub Ian Allan, 1998, ISBN 0-7110-2562-2 page 218.
  5. per Robert M. Citino, author of "Death of the Wehrmacht", and other sources, the Red Army came to within a few miles of Kharkiv on 14 May 1942 by Soviet forces under Marshall Timoshenko before being driven back by German forces under Field Marshall Fedor von Bock, p. 100
  6. Census 2001

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