Crimea: Popular tourist spot a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis
In the aftermath of the revolution in Ukraine - in which pro-Western and nationalist Ukrainians have taken power after the fall of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych - there are fears that the southern region of Crimea could become a battleground between forces loyal to Ukraine and Russia. Here are five things you need to know about Crimea.
1. Popular holiday destination
Crimea, a rugged strategic peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, has been a popular vacation spot for Ukrainians and Russians since the time of the tsars. Its balmy climate, vineyards, orchards and the “green riviera” along its southern coast make for some stunning scenery.
It is a centre of pro-Russian sentiment, which can spill into separatism. The region has 2.3 million inhabitants, most of whom identify themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian. The region voted heavily for Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election, and many people there believe he is the victim of a coup - leading to attempts by separatists in Crimea's parliament to push for a vote on whether it should leave Ukraine.
2. Historically Russian-ruled
Russia has been the dominant power in Crimea for most of the past 200 years, since it annexed the region in 1783. However, it was transferred by Moscow to Ukraine - then part of the Soviet Union - in 1954. Some ethnic Russians see that as a historical wrong.