Situated in central Ukraine on the Vorskla River, Poltava is a city in Poltava Oblast. It is easily accessible by road from the Kiev-Kharkiv highway as well as by train. The city is of a reasonable size and owes most of its industry to the rich black earth which characterizes the region. It is also involved in a number of other industries and exports a variety of goods.
Poltava is probably one of the oldest Ukrainian cities as it was a Slavic settlement in the 8th and 9th centuries. It is only really historically documented from about the 14th century when it was under Lithuanian control.
About two centuries later it was taken over by the Polish administration and in 1648 it was captured by Polish magnate Jeremi Wisniowiecki. By that time it was the base of a distinguished regiment of Ukrainian Cossacks. Poltava only became part of the Russian Empire in 1667.
The most memorable battle in Poltava’s history is the ‘Battle of Poltava’ which took place on the 27th of June, 1709. It was at this battle that the Russian tsar Peter the Great, with some 45 000 troops, easily defeated a Swedish army of some 29 000 troops.
The memorable battle has lived on in the expression ‘Like a Swede at Poltava’ (he is totally helpless), which continues to be uttered by both Russians and Ukrainians down to this day. The battle marked the decline of the Swedish power and the rise of Russia as a great power.
Today Poltava is mainly an industrial center and an important rail junction in the region. Besides food and tobacco which is grown in the rich, fertile soil, Poltava also exports items such as machinery, railroad equipment, building materials, tractors, automobiles, leather goods, textiles, wood products and footwear.
It is a bustling city and is also home to the gravitational observatory of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences – something well worth looking at if you have the opportunity to visit this busy little city.