Zaporizhia is a city in southeastern Ukraine, situated on the banks of the Dnieper River. It is the administrative center of the Zaporizhia Oblast (province). Administratively, it is incorporated as a city of oblast significance and serves as an administrative center of Zaporizhia Raion, though it does not belong to the raion. Currently the city is the sixth largest in Ukraine.
Archaeological finds in the area indicate that Scythian nomads were living there two to three thousand years ago. After the Scythians the Khazars, Pechenegs, Cumans, Tatars, and Eastern Slavs came in the lands. The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks passed through Khortysia island in old times.
In 1552 Dmytro Vyshnevetsky erected wood-earth fortifications on the small island Little Khortytsia which is near the western shore of the Khortytsia island. The scientists consider that these fortifications were a prototype of the Zaporizhian Sich. The Sich was a stronghold of the Cossacks (the paramilitary persants) who lived to the south from the rapids of the Dnieper on the border of the Polish–Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita and the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
1770 is considered as a year of the foundation of Zaporozhia. This year the fortress of Aleksandrovskaya was erected. As a part of the Dnieper Defense Line the fortress should protect the southern territories of Russian Empire from Turkish invasions. It is uncertain in whom honor the fortress was named, some believe that it was the general Aleksander Golitsyn, others - Prince Aleksandr Vyazemskiy or Alexander Rumyantsev. In 1775 the Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed the Küçük Kaynarca peace treaty, according to which the southern lands of Russian Plain and Crimean peninsula became the Russian Empire governed territories. As a result, the Aleksandrovskaya Fortress lost its military significance and converted into a small provincial rural town, known from 1806 under the name Alexandrovsk.
In the early 20th century, Zaporizhia was a small unremarkable town of the Russian Empire, which acquired industrial importance during the socialist industrialization of the 1930s.
In the 1929–1932 master plan for city construction was developed. At 10 km from the old town Alexandrovsk at the narrowest part of the Dnieper river was planned to build the hydroelectric power station, the most powerful in Europe at that time. Close to the station should be a new modern city and a giant steel and aluminum plants. Later the station was named "DnieproHES", the steel plant – "Zaporizhstal'" (Zaporizhia Steel Plant), and the new part of the city – "Sotsgorod". Production of the aluminum plant ("DAZ"- Dnieper Aluminium Plant) according to the plan should exceed the overall production of the aluminum all over Europe at that time.
The cultural background of Zaporizhia is creating by philharmonic, a number of museums, theaters, libraries. Among them are:
- Magara Academic Drama Theatre
- Municipal Theatre Lab «VIE»
- Theatre for Young People
- Theatre of Horse Riding «Zaporizhzhian Cossacks»
- Zaporizhia Regional Museum
- National Museum of Zaporizhzhian Cossacks History
- Zaporizhia Regional Art Museum
- Zaporizhia Region Universal Scientific Library
There are a number of small amateur groups, folk music and song bands, art galleries in Zaporizhia. The city regularly holds festivals and feasts, competitions of the Cossack martial arts and art exhibitions.
Zaporizhia has an open-air exhibition-and-sale of Zaporizhzhia city association of artists «Kolorit» near the 'Fountain of Life' at the Mayakovskoho square. A daily exhibition of artists' organizations of the city is a unique place in Zaporizhzhia, where people can communicate with craftsmen and artists, watch classes of carving, embroidery, beading and other creative works, receive lessons from professional artists, designers, and cartoonists.
The city of Zaporizhia is an important transportation hub in Ukraine and has deeply developed transportation system that includes roadway, rail, river and air options for passenger, freight as well as public utilities transit. Public city transport includes buses, minivans, trams, trolleybuses and railways.
On the eastern outskirts of Zaporizhia passes a major national highway M-18 that connects Kharkiv with Simferopol. Three other national highways terminate in Zaporizhia, one H-23 which starts in Kropyvnytskyi and through Kryvyi Rih ends in Zaporizhia; the second H-08 which starts in Kiev and travels along Dnieper all the way south passing through number of important cities such as Kremenchuk, Kamianske, Dnipro, and others; and the other highway H-15 which arrives to Zaporizhia from Donetsk.
There are four road bridges over Dnieper and two rail bridges. All bridges but one connect the city with Khortytsia island. The other bridge goes over the river dam of DniproHES.
The Zaporizhia city has two railway stations, Zaporizhia-the-First and Zaporizhia-the-Second. The First is the central station. It is located in the southern part of the city and is a part of the "north-south" transit route Simferopol-Kharkiv. The line of the Zaporizhia-the-Second station connects the Donbas coalfield with Kryvyi Rih iron ore site.
The city's two river ports are part of the national water transportation infrastructure that connects Kiev to Kherson along Dnieper river and utilizes some freight ships as well as cutter boats to travel between Zaporizhia and nearby villages. The big Khortytsia island splits river Dnieper into two branches (channels) the main branch that passes the island on its eastern side and the alternative branch also known as Startyi Dnipro (Old Dnieper) that passes the island on its western side.
The city's sole airport that is located to the east of the city (left-bank of Dnieper) includes both domestic and international flights. To the west of the city (right-bank of Dnieper) is located smaller airfield Shyroke.