Simferopol or Symferopil [Сімферополь or Симферопіль; Simferopol' or Symferopil']. Map: IX-15. A city (2013 pop 337,285) on the Salhyr River and the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea within Ukraine. The vicinity has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Period. The Scythian capital of Neapolis (3rd century BC–4th century AD) occupied the southeastern part of present-day Simferopol. By the early 16th century the Tatar stronghold of Kermenchyk and settlement of Ak-Mechet had been established at the site. After annexing the Crimea, Catherine II set up the fortified town of Simferopol as the capital of Tavriia oblast (from 1802, Tavriia gubernia). The town developed slowly as a trading and manufacturing center. In the early 19th century it held two annual fairs. Its tobacco, brick, and lime factories and flour mills supplied the local demand. Its population increased from 7,000 in 1836 to 17,000 in 1864. The first school was opened in 1793, and a secondary school, by 1812. An amateur theater was formed in the 1820s, a printing press was set up in 1830, and the gubernia newspaper began to come out in 1838. The opening of the Kharkiv–Sevastopol railway line in 1874 ushered in rapid industrial growth. The city's population had increased to 38,000 by 1887, 49,000 by 1897, and 91,000 by 1914. New fruit- and vegetable-canning factories, a confectionery factory, two tobacco-processing factories, several steam flour mills, and a farming implements foundry were opened. The city expanded to the other bank of the river, where a fine residential district was developed. In the absence of a safe water supply and sewage system epidemics were frequent. A number of learned societies were established: the Tavriia Learned Archival Commission (1887) with a museum of antiquities and a library, and a natural history museum set up by the gubernia's zemstvo (1889).
Following the Revolution of 1917 Simferopol was occupied by various armies. On 24 April 1918 the Crimean Group of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic took the city. In 1921 it became the capital of the Crimean ASSR. In 1926 its population reached 88,000, 45.6 percent of whom were Russian, 23.5 percent, Jewish, 12.6 percent, Crimean Tatar, and 8.3 percent, Ukrainian. After the Second World War Simferopol was the capital of Crimea oblast, which in 1954 was transferred from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1959 the city's population was 186,000, about 70 percent of whom were Russian, and 20 percent, Ukrainian.
Today Simferopol is a transportation and industrial center. Its food industry includes two canning plants, an oil-manufacturing consortium, and a tobacco-curing complex. Its light industry manufactures leather goods, footwear, clothing, and knitwear. Its machine building plants produce food-processing equipment, television sets, and farm-machine parts. The chemical industry produces plastic products and household chemicals. The power to run the industries is supplied by a thermoelectric station.
The city supports 13 vocational schools and 12 specialized high schools. Higher education is provided by the Tavriia National University, and a medical and an agricultural universities. There are a number of research institutions, including a branch of the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and a seismic station. Among the city's cultural facilities are the theaters of Ukrainian music and drama and Russian drama, a puppet theater, a circus, a philharmonic orchestra, the Simferopol Art Museum, and a regional studies museum. The most interesting architectural monuments are the Taranov-Belozerov residence (1822–6) and the Vorontsov palace (1827). Some of the old Tatar quarter, with its winding, narrow streets and Oriental buildings, has been preserved.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]