Yalta [Jalta]. Map: IX-15. A city (2001 pop 81,654) on the southern shore of the Crimea. The earliest recorded reference to settlement on the site is a reference to a Greek colony named Yalita (Halita) in the 1st century BC. Control of the area later passed to Byzantium. By the 12th century Yalta (called Dzhalita) had become an established port and fishing village. Genoese traders had control of the town (known as Etalita) in the 13th to 15th centuries, until they were succeeded by the Turks in 1475. Yalta fell under Russian control in 1783 with the annexation of the Crimea. At that time the region around it began to be colonized by estate owners. In 1823 the governor-general of the region, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, decided to cultivate Yalta as the major settlement on the Crimean southern shore. It was not until 1838, however, that it was established officially as a town. Yalta began to expand considerably in the later 19th century because of its growing popularity as a resort and sanatorium center. By 1885 its population was approx 5,000, and by 1895, nearly 10,000. The city came under Soviet control in 1920 and was the site of the Yalta Conference in 1945.
Yalta is nestled in a scenic location between the Black Sea and the Crimean Mountains. It is particularly noted for its Mediterranean climate, and the city and its surrounding environs have (1975) 65 sanatoriums, 18 health resorts, and 8 boarding hotels with a summer capacity of approx 39,000 beds. Yalta is also a wine-making center; other major economic activities include fish and food processing, tobacco fermentation, and the production of beer and nonalcoholic beverages. A number of notable architectural monuments are situated in and around the city, including the Tavrida Hotel, the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka, the Swallow's Nest castle in Miskhor, and the ruins of the medieval Isar fortifications and a Byzantine cave church. Also located in the city are a statue of Lesia Ukrainka and the grave of Stepan Rudansky. An exhibition in the city on ‘Lesia Ukrainka and the Crimea’ in 1991 provided the nucleus for what was to become a local Lesia Ukrainka Memorial Museum. The museum was extensively renovated and its holdings expanded in preparation for the celebration of the poetess' 130th anniversary.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]