Administratively, it has been the centre of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the larger economic and cultural Donets Basin (Donbass) region. Donetsk is adjacent to another major city of Makiivka and along with other surrounding cities forms a major urban sprawl and conurbation in the region. Donetsk has been a major economic, industrial and scientific centre of Ukraine with a high concentration of companies and a skilled workforce.
The original settlement in the south of the European part of the Russian Empire was first mentioned as Aleksandrovka in 1779, under the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. In 1869, Welsh businessman, John Hughes, built a steel plant and several coal mines in the region; the town was named Yuzovka (Юзовка) in recognition of his role ("Yuz" being a Russian-language approximation of Hughes). During Soviet times, the city's steel industry was expanded. In 1924, it was renamed Stalino, and in 1932 the city became the centre of the Donetsk region. Renamed Donetsk in 1961, the city today remains the centre for coal mining and steel industry. Since April 2014, Donetsk and its surrounding areas have been one of the major sites of fighting in the War in Donbass.
The city was founded in 1869 when the Welsh businessman John Hughes built a steel plant and several coal mines at Aleksandrovka, in the south of European part of Russia. It was initially named Hughesovka (Russian: Юзовка). In its early period, it received immigrants from Wales, especially the town of Merthyr Tydfil. By the beginning of the 20th century, Yuzivka had approximately 50,000 inhabitants, and had attained the status of a city in 1917. The main district of "Hughezovka" is named English Colony, and the British origin of the city is reflected in its layout and architecture.
When the Russian Civil War broke out, on 12 February 1918 Yuzovka was part of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic. The Republic was disbanded at the 2nd All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets on 20 March 1918 when the independence of the Soviet Ukraine was announced. It failed to achieve recognition, either internationally or by the Russian SFSR, and, in accordance with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, was abolished.
In 1924, under the Soviet rule, the city's name was changed to Stalin. In that year, the city's population totaled 63,708, and in the next year, 80,085. In 1929–31 the city's name was changed to Stalino. The city did not have a drinking water system until 1931, when a 55.3 km (34.4 mi) system was laid underground. In July 1933, the city became the administrative center of the Donetsk Oblast of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1933, the first 12 km (7 mi) sewer system was installed, and next year the first exploitation of gas was conducted within the city. In addition, some sources state that the city was briefly called Trotsk—after Leon Trotsky—for a few months in 1923.
At the beginning of World War II, the population of Stalino consisted of 507,000, and after the war, only 175,000. The German invasion during World War II almost completely destroyed the city, which was mostly rebuilt on a large scale at the war's end. It was occupied by German forces as part of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine between 16 October 1941 and 5 September 1943. The Italians actually took Stalino
In 1945, young men and women aged 17 to 35, from the Danube Swabian (Schwowe) communities of Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania (the Batschka and Banat), were forcibly sent to Russia as Allied "war reparations", being put to work as slave labour to rebuild Stalino and to work in its mines. The conditions were so poor that many died from disease and malnutrition.
During Nikita Khrushchev's second wave of destalinization in November 1961, the city was renamed Donetsk, after the Seversky Donets River, a tributary of the Don in order to distance it from the former leader Joseph Stalin.
In 1965, the Donetsk Academy of Sciences was established as part of the Academy of Science of the Ukrainian SSR.
After experiencing a tough time in the 1990s, when it was the center of gang wars for control over industrial enterprises, Donetsk has modernised quickly in recent years, largely under the influence of big companies.
In 1994 a referendum took place in the Donetsk Oblast and the Luhansk Oblast, with around 90% supporting the Russian language gaining status of an official language alongside Ukrainian, and for the Russian language to be an official language on a regional level; however, the referendum was annulled by the Kiev government.
In the 90s and the 00s coal mine collapses took place in Donetsk and the region, taking the lives of hundreds; those included the 2008 Ukraine coal mine collapse, the 2007 Zasyadko mine disaster, and the 2015 Zasyadko mine disaster. Ukraine has had a series of mining accidents since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and one reason being given is the linking of miners' pay to production, which serves as an incentive to ignore safety procedures that would slow production.
In a summit in Moscow in 2008, Donetsk was recognised as the best city in the Commonwealth of Independent States for its implemented development strategies; in 2012 and 2013 Donetsk was recognised as the best place for business in Ukraine.
Whilst getting praise for its business potential, Donetsk also received criticism for the strong mafia connection of its business magnates, and for the increasing poverty rate (alongside a growing number of oligarchs) Some analysts warned of a long-term collapse of the Donetsk economy, and that it could share Detroit's gloomy fate, due to its failure to combat crime and poverty
After the Euromaidan, and influenced by the Supreme Council of Crimea announcing the Crimean referendum, 2014 about the future of Crimea, the council of the Donetsk Oblast voted to have a referendum to decide the future of the oblast. On 3 March, a number of people started storming the Donetsk Oblast administrative building, waving Russian flags and shouting ″Russia!″ and ″Berkut are heroes!″. The police did not offer resistance. Later in the week the authorities of Donetsk denounced the referendum on the status of the region and the police retook the Donetsk Oblast administrative building. Donetsk became one of the centers of the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine.
On 7 April 2014, pro-Russian activists seized control of Donetsk's government building and declared the "Donetsk People's Republic", asking for Russian intervention.
On 11 May 2014, a controversial referendum was held in Donetsk in which voters could choose political independence. It was stated by the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic election commission, Roman Lyagin, that almost 90 percent of those who voted in the Donetsk Region endorsed political independence from Kyiv. Ukraine does not recognize the referendum, while the EU and US said the polls were illegal.
Heavy shelling by the Ukrainian Army and paramilitary units have caused civilian fatalities in Donetsk. Human Rights Watch has called on both warring factions to cease using BM-21 Grad in populated areas, and has said the use of these weapons systems may be a violation of international humanitarian laws and could constitute war crimes.
The 2015 IIHF World Championship Division I was scheduled for 18 to 24 April 2015 in Donetsk, but Ukraine withdrew as the tournament hosts due to the ongoing issues in the country.
To celebrate the "independence" of the Donetsk People's Republic, in 2015 Donetsk became the place of a major rock concert called Novorossiya-Rock, attracting such notable Russian language artists as Vadim Vadim Samoylov (ex-Agatha Christie), Chicherina, and 7B
Donetsk lies in the steppe landscape of Ukraine, surrounded by scattered woodland, hills (spoil tips), rivers and lakes. The northern outskirts are mainly used for agriculture. The Kalmius River links the city with the Sea of Azov, which is 95 km (59 mi) to the south, and a popular recreational area for those living in Donetsk. A wide belt of farmlands surrounds the city.
The city stretches 28 km (17 mi) from north to south and 55 km (34 mi) from east to west. There are 2 nearby reservoirs: Nyzhnekalmius (60 ha), and the "Donetsk Sea" (206 ha). 5 rivers flow through the city, including the Kalmius, Asmolivka (13 km), Cherepashkyna (23 km), Skomoroshka and Bakhmutka. The city also contains a total of 125 spoil tips.
Donetsk's climate is moderate continental (Köppen: Dfb). The average temperatures are−4.1 °C (25 °F) in January and 21.6 °C (71 °F) in July. The average number of rainfall per year totals 162 days and up to 556 millimetres per year.
While Donetsk is the administrative centre of the Donetsk Oblast (province), the city is the capital of the Donetsk City Municipality. However, Donetsk is a city of oblast subordinance, thus being subject directly to the oblast authorities rather to the Donetsk City Municipality housed in the city itself.
Since 7 April 2014 Donetsk is de facto governed by the Donetsk People's Republic, even though it has only been recognized by the Republic of South Ossetia as of October 2014.
The territory of Donetsk is divided into 9 administrative raions (districts). In addition, every raion consists of raion councils, which are subordinate to the Donetsk City Council.
See article: Russians in Ukraine
Donetsk had a population of over 985,000 inhabitants in 2009 and over 1,566,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2004. It is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine.
According to the 2001 census, the Donetsk Oblast is inhabited by members of more than 130 ethnic groups. The Ukrainian ethnicity is 56.9% of the population (2,744,100 people); the Russian ethnicity is 38.2% of the population (1,844,400 people). The native language of 74.9% of the population of the Donetsk region is Russian, compared with 24.1% Ukrainian. 58.7% of people of Ukrainian ethnicity considered Russian to be their native language. Out of 4.5 million residents of the Donetsk region, 550 are Russian citizens.
In 1989 there were no Ukrainian language schools in Donetsk.
The structure of the Donetsk City Municipality by ethnicity is as follows:Total
: 1,024,678 people, 100.00%
In 1991 one-third of the population identified as Russian, one-third as Ukrainian while the majority of the rest declared themselves Slavs. Smaller minorities include in particular ethnic groups from the South Caucasus and northeast Anatolia region, including Armenians, Georgians, and Pontic Greeks (including those defined as Caucasus Greeks).
Native language of the population of the city of Donetsk as of the Ukrainian Census of 2001:Russian 87.8%
Donetsk and the surrounding territories are heavily urbanised and agglomerated into conurbation. The workforce is heavily involved with heavy industry, especially coal mining. The city is an important center of heavy industry and coal mines in the Donets Basin (Donbass) and Ukraine. Directly under the city lie coal mines, which have recently seen an increase in mining accidents, the most recent accident being at the Zasyadko mine, which killed over 100 workers.
Donetsk's economy consists of about 200 industrial organizations that have a total production output of more than 50 billion hryvnias per year and more than 20,000 medium-small sized organizations. The city's coal mining industry comprises 17 coal mines and two concentrating mills; the metallurgy industry comprises 5 large metallurgical plants located throughout the city; the engineering market comprises 67 organizations, and the food industry — 32 organizations.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Donetsk and other neighboring cities of the Donbass suffered heavily, as many factories were closed down and many inhabitants lost their jobs. About 412,000 square metres (4,434,731 sq ft) of living space, 7.9 km (4.9 mi) of gas networks, and 15.1 km (9.4 mi) of water supply networks were constructed in the city during 1998–2001.
The city also houses the "Donetsk" special economic zone. Donetsk currently has nine sister cities. The German city of Magdeburg had economic partnerships with Donetsk during 1962–1996.
In 2012, Donetsk was rated the best city for business in Ukraine by Forbes. Donetsk topped the rating in five indicators: human capital, the purchasing power of citizens, investment situation, economic stability, as well as infrastructure and comfort.
The shopping areas in the city include the enclosed shopping mall Donetsk City.
Donetsk is a large sports center, has a developed infrastructure, and has repeatedly held international competitions – Davis Cup, UEFA Champions League. Representatives of the city are state leaders sports such as football, hockey, basketball, boxing, tennis, athletics and others.
The most popular sport in Donetsk is football. Donetsk is the home to three major professional football clubs: Shakhtar Donetsk, which plays at the Donbass Arena (previously at the Shakhtar Stadium and the RSC Olimpiyskiy), Metalurh Donetsk, which plays at the Metalurh Stadium, and FC Olimpik Donetsk. All three play in the Ukraine Premier League. Shakhtar Donetsk won the Ukrainian Championship and Ukrainian Cup multiple times, and in 2009 they became the second team from Ukraine (after FC Dynamo Kyiv) to win a European competition, the UEFA Cup. Donetsk is also home to the women's football club WFC Donchanka, one of the most successful clubs in the history of the Ukrainian Women's League.
Donetsk is home to the football stadium Donbass Arena, which was opened in 2009. It became the first stadium in Eastern Europe designed and constructed according to the UEFA standards for stadiums of "Elite" category. When the joint bid for the UEFA Euro 2012 was won by Poland and Ukraine, Donetsk's Donbass Arena was chosen as the location for three Group D matches, one quarter-final match, and one semi-final match. The RSK Olimpiyskyi Stadium was chosen as a reserve stadium.
Donetsk, together with the nearby Mariupol, were the host towns of the 2009 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. The stadiums hosting the event on behalf of Donetsk were RSC Olimpiyskiy (which hosted the final) and the Metalurh Stadium.
Donetsk is home to the ice hockey club HC Donbass, playing at the Druzhba Arena since 2011, which won the 2011 Ukrainian national champion, and which is the only elite level team in the country. After playing a single season in the Russian Major League, the club upgraded its arena to Kontinental Hockey League regulations, and joined the league in 2012. When moving to the KHL, the club created a local farm club to play in the Ukrainian Championship under the name HC Donbass-2, which won the 2012 and 2013 national titles. In 2013 Donetsk was hosting the 2012–13 IIHF Continental Cup ice hockey Super Final, which HC Donbass won, and the 2013 IIHF World Championship Division I – Group B, where Ukraine finished 1st and earned promotion to Group A (both were hosted at the Druzhba Arena).
Donetsk is also home to the basketball club BC Donetsk, which plays in the Ukrainian Basketball Super League, and won the 2012 champion title. The club is playing at the Druzhba Arena. Donetsk was chosen as one of the 6 cities to host the FIBA EuroBasket 2015.
The city used to be the home of few notable at the time yet now defunct clubs. The MFC Shakhtar Donetsk club won the Ukrainian futsal championship five times, but was dissolved in January 2011 midway through the season due to financial problems (at the time – the most titled club in Ukraine). One of the top Soviet volleyball teams at the time, VC Shakhtar Donetsk, who were the last team to win the Soviet Volleyball Championship, in 1992. The team also won the first two championships in the independent Ukraine league, in 1992 and 1993 (the 1992 Ukraine championship was held in Donetsk), and won the Ukraine Cup in 1993, but after having financial issues, the club was relegated in 1997, and after one season in the second tear it was shut down.
Donetsk hosted the USSR Tennis Championship in 1978, 1979 and 1980, and hosted some tennis matches of the 2005 Davis Cup. Donetsk was home to the Alexander Kolyaskin Memorial, which was held between 2002–2008 and part of the ATP Challenger Series, and Donetsk is the home of the female Viccourt Cup, which is classified as an ITF Women's Circuit and started in 2012.
Donetsk was always an important athletics centre, and hosted various events. Donetsk was one of the host towns for the 1978 and 1980 Soviet Athletics Championships, and was the sole host town of the event in 1984. Donetsk also hosted the 1977 European Athletics Junior Championships. The stadium used for those athletics events was the RSC Olimpiyskiy (at the time called RSC Lokomotiv).
Among the different track and field sports, Donetsk especially has a big name in pole vaulting. Serhii Bubka, regarded by many as the greatest pole vaulter in history, grew up in the city, and also started in 1992 an annual pole vaulting event in Donetsk, called Pole Vault Stars. Bubka himself set the world indoor record at the event three times (1990, 1991, 1993). His indoor world pole vault record of 6.15m, set in the Donetsk Olympic Stadium on 21 February 1993, was not broken until 2014. The Russian female pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva set a new world record at the event every year between 2004–2009.
The 2015 IIHF World Championship Division I ice hockey tournament had been scheduled for 18 to 24 April 2015 in Donetsk but was later moved to Kraków, Poland due to the ongoing war.
The following is a list of existing professional sports teams, and notable (title-winning) defunct clubs:
First Line Avenue, also known as Artema Street, is considered to be the main part of Donetsk. It generally functions as the foremost place to start for any tourist trip around the city. The street hosts a mix of new and old architecture together with small parks, stylish hotels, shopping centres and restaurants. Noteworthy sites include Lenin Square, the Opera & Ballet Theatre, Monument to Coalminers and Donetsk Drama Theatre.
This imposing six-metre statue on Artema Street is a tribute to one of the most celebrated Soviet politicians. After his death in the Donets Basin in 1921, Joseph Stalin adopted his son.
Built in 1936, the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, is a gem of a theatre with an elegant exterior and world-class performances inside. Donetsk is the home to the Donetsk Ballet company since 1946.
This 5-star hotel in the center of Donetsk is the only Ukrainian hotel to join The Leading Hotels of The World and is Ukraine's leading business hotel according to the World Travel Awards Association. It was built in 1938 upon the project of Shuvalova and Rechanikov. During the Nazi occupation of Donetsk, the Gestapo headquartered in the former hotel; the building was partially destroyed during the war. The hotel was opened after the reconstruction in 2004.
A beautiful green walkway that takes you away from Donetsk city life for a 2 km (1.24 mi) stroll. Here you can enjoy peaceful fountains, al fresco cafes and a number of interesting statues such as the monument to Taras Shevchenko.
Donetsk is home to the world's perhaps most famous plant forged out of steel, the intricate Mertsalov Palm, located on Pushkin Boulevard. Originally created for an exhibition in 1896 by Aleksei Mertsalov, a local blacksmith, out of a single rail, it represented the skills and power of the heavy industry in Czarist Russia.
This 2001 statue located in front of Donetsk National Technical University honours the hard work of Welsh city founder John James Hughes. He was responsible for the city's Yuzivka Steel Plant that gave Donetsk its industrial history.
Forged Figures Park was opened in 2001 and is one-in-a-kind object. International Smithcraft Festival takes place in the park every year. The most impressive masterworks remain in the city as a gift expanding the number of park's "residents"
Donetsk Aquapark "Royal Marine" was opened in Scherbakova Park in early winter 2012 and, according to experts' estimates, is one of the top aquaparks in Europe. The free-standing dome, made with OpenAire's exclusive, maintenance-free aluminium truss structure, will be 26 metres (85 ft) high with a diameter of 85 metres (279 ft), and feature a unique retractable design that slides open in a smooth rotating motion, opening up to 50% of the structure to sunlight and fresh air. The 5,700-square-metre (61,000 sq ft) Aquatoria, slated to become the largest retractable aluminium-domed indoor waterpark in the world, is being built by Canadian company OpenAire, Inc., a premier designer, manufacturer and installer of retractable roof enclosures and operable skylights.
Donetsk, at the time Yuzivka, was divided into two parts: north and south. In the southern part were the city's factories, railway stations, telegraph buildings, hospitals and schools. Not far from the factories was the English colony where the engineers and the management lived. After the construction of the residence of John Hughes and the various complexes for the foreign workers, the city's southern portion was constructed mainly in the English style.
These buildings used rectangular and triangular shaped façades, green rooftops, large windows, which occupied a large portion of the building, and balconies. In this part of the town, the streets were large and had pavements. A major influence on the formation of architecture in Donetsk was the official architect of a Novorossiya company — Moldingauyer. Preserved buildings of the southern part of Yuzivka consisted of the residences of John Hughes (1891, partially preserved), Bolfur (1889) and Bosse.
In the northern part of Yuzivka, Novyi Svet, lived traders, craftsmen and bureaucrats. Here were located the market hall, the police headquarters and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The central street of Novyi Svet and the neighbouring streets were mainly edged by one- or two-story residential buildings, as well as markets, restaurants, hotels, offices and banks. A famous preserved building in the northern part of Yuzivka was the Hotel Great Britain.
The first general plan of Stalino was made in 1932 in Odessa by the architect P. Golovchenko. In 1937, the project was partly reworked. These projects were the first in the city's construction bureau's history.
A large portion of the city's buildings from the second half of the 20th century were designed by the architect Pavel Vigdergauz, which was given the Government award of the USSR for architecture in the city of Donetsk in 1978.
Donetsk's residents belong to religious traditions including the Eastern Orthodox Church Eastern Catholic Churches, Protestantism, and the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Islam and Judaism. The religious body with the most members is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate.
In 2014, a leaflet "signed by Chairman of Donetsk's temporary government Denis Pushilin" was distributed to Jews on the festival of Passover. The leaflet informed Donetsk's Jewish citizen to register themselves, their property, and their family to the pro-Russian authorities. The leaflet claimed that failure to comply with its demands would result in the revocation of citizenship and confiscation of property. The leaflet prompted confusion and fear among Donetsk's Jewish population, who saw echoes of the Holocaust in the leaflet.
Five television stations operate within Donetsk:TRK Ukraina (Ukrainian: ТРК Україна)
KRT, Kyivska Rus' (Ukrainian: КРТ, Київська Русь)
First Municipal (Russian: Первый муниципальный)
Kanal 27 (Russian: 27 канал)
TRK Donbass (Russian: ТРК Донбасс)
In Donetsk, there is the 360-metre tall TV tower, one of the tallest structures in the city, completed in 1992.
The citizens of Donetsk are commonly called Donchyani (Russian: Дончани). The following is a list of famous people that were born or brought up in the city:
Donetsk is home to about 140 museums. Among them, two large regional museums – Donetsk Region History Museum and Donetsk Regional Art Museum.
Donetsk Region History Museum reveals the city's true identity and covers to the entire local community, diverse as it is. Set up in 1924, it offers an extensive expo with 120,000 exhibits: from archeological findings dating back to pre-historic times to the founding of the city by John Hughes, development of industry and coal mining, World War II and the Soviet times. On 21 August 2014, the mayor of Donetsk reported that the roof and walls of the Donetsk Regional History Museum had been destroyed by shellfire early that morning.
FC Shaktar Museum was opened in 2010. This museum is the first Ukrainian museum to be nominated for a European Museum of the Year Award
The main forms of transport within Donetsk are: trams, electric trolley buses, buses and marshrutkas (private minibuses). The city's public transport system is controlled by the united Dongorpastrans municipal company. The city has 12 tram lines (~130 km), 17 trolley bus lines (~188 km), and about 115 bus lines. Both the tram and trolley bus systems in the city are served by 2 depots each. Another method of transport within the city is taxicab service, of which there are 32 in Donetsk.
The city also contains autostations located within the city and its suburbs: autostation Yuzhny (South), which serves mainly transport lines to the south, hence its name; autostation Tsentr (Centre), which serves transport in the direction of Marinka and Vuhledar as well as intercity transport; the autostation Krytyi rynok (Indoor market), which serves mainly transport in the north and east directions; and the autostation Putilovsky, which serves mainly the north and northwest transport directions.
The construction of the metro system in the city, begun in 1992, was recently abandoned due to the lack of funding. No lines or stations have been finished.
Donetsk's main railway station, which serves about 7 million passengers annually, is located in the northern part of the city. There is a museum near the main station, dealing with the history of the region's railways. Other railway stations are: Rutchenkovo, located in the Kyivskyi Raion; Mandrykino (Petrovskyi Raion), and Mushketovo (Budionivskyi Raion). Some passenger trains avoid Donetsk station and serve the Yasynuvata station, located outside the city limits. Although not used for regular transport, the city also has a children's railway. (As of September 2009) a new railway terminal facility that will comply with UEFA requirements (since Donetsk is one of the host city's for UEFA EURO 2012) is planned.
As the Donetsk Oblast is an important transport hub in Ukraine, so is its centre Donetsk. The Donetsk Railways, based in Donetsk, is one of the largest railway divisions in the country. It serves the farming and industrial businesses of the area, and the populations of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and parts of the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia and Kharkiv oblasts.
The highway, part of the International E-road network, runs through the city en route to Rostov-on-Don in Russia.
In addition, another international road runs through the city: the M 04. Also, three national Ukrainian roads (N 15, N 20, and N 21) pass through the city.
The construction of the fourth stage of a circular road bypassing Donetsk is to be completed in 2014.
In addition to public and rail transport, Donetsk has an international airport. It was constructed during the early 1940s and early 1950s. It was rebuilt in 1973 and again from 2011 to 2012. Because of fighting the airport has been closed as of 26 May 2014 and the airport has since then largely been destroyed. The airspace above Donetsk has also been closed since the MH17 disaster.
Donetsk has several universities, which include five state universities, 11 institutes, three academies, 14 technicums, five private universities, and six colleges.
The most important and prominent educational institutions include Donetsk National Technical University, founded in 1921 ("Donetsk Polytechnical Institute" in 1960–1993), as well as the Donetsk National University which was founded in 1937. The National Technical University held close contacts with the University in Magdeburg. Since 1970, more than 100 students from Germany (East Germany) have completed their higher education at either one of the two main universities in Donetsk. Donetsk is also the home of the Donetsk National Medical University, which was founded in 1930 and became one of the largest medical universities in the Soviet Union. There are also several scientific research institutes and an Islamic University within Donetsk.
Donetsk is also the home of the Prokofiev Donetsk State Music Academy, a music conservatory founded in 1960.
Donetsk participates in international town twinning schemes to foster good international relations. Partners include: