Poltava is a city located on the Vorskla River in central Ukraine. It is the capital city of the Poltava Oblast (province) and of the surrounding Poltava Raion (district) of the oblast. Poltava is administratively incorporated as a city of oblast significance and does not belong to the raion. Population: 294,020 (2015 est.)
It is still unknown when Poltava was founded, although the town was not attested before 1174. However, for reasons unknown, municipal authorities chose to celebrate the city's 1100th anniversary in 1999. The settlement is indeed an old one, as archeologists unearthed a Paleolithic dwelling as well as Scythian remains within the city limits.
The present name of the city is traditionally connected to the settlement Ltava which is mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle in 1174. According to the chronicle, on Saint Peter's Day (12 July) of 1182, Igor Sviatoslavich, chasing hordes of the Cuman khans Konchak and Kobiak, crossed the Vorskla River near Ltava and moved towards Pereyaslav (presumably the modern Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi), where Igor's army was victorious over the Cumans. During the Mongol invasion of Rus' in 1238–39 many cities of the middle Dnieper region were destroyed, possibly including Ltava.
During the events of 1917–1920, Poltava was under the rule of a number of governments, including the Central Rada, Hetmanate, Ukrainian People's Republic, White Movement and Bolsheviks. After becoming a part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Poltava experienced accelerated industrial growth, and its population increased to 130,000 by 1939.
In World War II, the Wehrmacht occupied Poltava from late October 1941 until 23 September 1943, when it was retaken during the Chernigov-Poltava Strategic Offensive of the battle of the Dnieper. During the Nazi occupation the Jewish population (9.9% of the total population in 1939) was imprisoned in a ghetto before being murdered during mass executions perpetrated by an Einsatzgruppe. By the summer of 1944 the USAAF conducted a number of shuttle bombing raids against the Third Reich under the name of Operation Frantic. Poltava Air Base, as well as Myrhorod Air Base, were used as eastern locations for landing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers involved in those operations.
The post-war restoration of Poltava continued in the 1950s and 1960s. The city became an important center of military education in the Soviet Union, where missile and communications officers were prepared, and was also home to a Soviet Air Force division of heavy bombers.
The centre of the old city is a semicircular Neoclassical square with the Tuscan column of cast iron (1805–11), commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Poltava and featuring 18 Swedish cannons captured in that battle. As Peter the Great celebrated his victory in the Saviour church, this 17th-century wooden shrine was carefully preserved to this day. The five-domed city cathedral, dedicated to the Exaltation of the Cross, is a superb monument of Cossack Baroque, built between 1699 and 1709. As a whole, the cathedral presents a unity which even the Neoclassical belltower has failed to mar. Another frothy Baroque church, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, was destroyed in 1934 and rebuilt in the 1990s.
Poltava's transportation infrastructure consists of two major train stations with railway links to Kiev, Kharkiv, and Kremenchuk. Poltava's Kiev line is electrified and is used by the Poltava Express. The electrification of the Poltava-Kharkiv line was completed in August 2008.
The Avtovokzal serves as the city's intercity bus station. Buses for local municipal routes depart from "AC-2" (autostation No. 2 – along Shevchenko street) and "AC-3" (Zinkivska street). Local municipal routes are parked along the Taras Shevchenko Street. Marshrutka minibuses serve areas where regular bus access is unavailable; however, they are privately owned and cost more per ride. In addition, a 15-route trolleybus network of 72.6 kilometres (45.1 mi) runs throughout the city.
Poltava is also served by a domestic airport, situated outside the city limits near the village of Ivashky. The international highway M03, linking Poltava with Kiev and Kharkiv, passes through the southern outskirts of the city. There is also a regional highway P-17 crossing Poltava and linking it with Kremenchuk and Sumy.