Crimean peculiarities — geographical location, landscape, historical fate — have for have for a long time distinguished it from other regions. The natural conditions of Crimea are rather various. The seaside looks like the landscapes of Greece, Italy, Spain or Switzerland.
The Crimea’s mountain area occupies a quarter of the peninsula. It begins not far from Simferopol. The Crimean Mountains are a part of the Alpine-Himalayan belt. They are not very high — 1000–1,500 meters above sea level. They run from East to West for 150 km along the south coast. The relief of the Crimean mountains has three parallel ridges: Southern, Internal and External.
The Southern Ridge runs along the coastline. It is a climatic separation line. It protects the Southern Coast from cold winds from the North. It retains the warmth of the sea and creates a hotbed effect.
The Internal Ridge is lower than the Southern one. It begins near Sevastopol and runs through Bakhchisaray, Simferopol, up to Stariy Krym.
The External Ridge is low. Its northern slope gradually merges into the steppe land. It runs north of the railway linking Simferopol with Sevastopol.
The highest peak of the Crimean Mountains is Roman-Kosh. It is 1545 m high. The peak is situated in the central part of the mountainous Crimea. The top of the mount is woodless. On Roman-Kosh you can see one of the Crimean endemics — the Crimean edelweiss.
Other mountains are Eklizi-Burun on Chatyr-Dag, Kemal-Eqerek and Demir-Kapu on the crossroads of Nikita and Gurzuf mountain pastures, Zeitin-Kosh on Babugan.
Kara-Dag is the largest group of fossil volcanoes in Crimea. The fossil volcano Holy Mount and Khoba-Tepe. Ayu-Dug is the largest massive of the igneous rock. It is 2400 m long and 577 m high. The largest mud volcano in Crimea is Dzhau-Tepe on the Kerch peninsula; it is 119 m high. The volcano was active in 1914, 1925, 1927 and 1942.
The Great Canyon of Crimea is 320 m deep. It is the largest canyon of Ukraine. The Chernorechensky canyon is the longest in Crimea; it is 16 km long.
The longest Red Cave in Crimea is 16,000 m. The deepest cave is the Soldatskaya Mine /517 m/.
The largest fossil reef in Crimea is the Sokol Mount /472 m/ near Novyi Svet.
Demerdzhy /1239 m/ is the largest boulder chaos. Some boulders are up to 3000 tons. They are the results of land-slide.
Iphigenia is the most “poetic” cliff in Crimea. It towers 120 m above the Black Sea.
Forests and Plants
Most of the peninsula mountains are covered with forests. The principal are pine, beech and oak. The Pine of Sudak is a Crimean endemic.
The beech woods grow best at height of 800–1200 m. Here the beech groves make a really delightful sight. Most of the trees are 200 years old and have a dense foliage.
Three species of oak grow in Crimea: the stone oak, the pubescent oak and common oak. Most widespread is the stone oak, nearly half of the total area of oak woods. All the oak trees are young. Only in the Crimean Reserve there are trees of 25 m of height and 1 m in diameter. The oldest and largest oak of Crimea grows in the village of Vysokoye in Bakhchisaray district. It is 1000 years old and 8 m round.
Besides pine and oak in the Crimean forests grow larch-trees, elms, firtrees, ash-trees, maples, cornel-trees, hornbeams and lindens.
The relic plants also grow in Crimea. In the upper reaches of the Alma and the Kacha Rivers the black alder and willows are found.
The oldest yew in Crimea grows on Ai-Petri. The tree is over 1000 years old.
The Crimea’ vegetation is determined by its climate. Hot and wet climate supports forests; a drier climate supports grasses.
Vegetation in Crimea is rich. There are more than 3,000 species of plants. In the steppe Crimea short grasses, sagebrush, and feather grass grow. Trees, such as willows and spruce grow in river valleys. There are many beautiful flowers in the Crimean steppe.
In May and June mountains slopes are like a carpet of many colours. This land has many wild flowers: bluebells, dandelions, poppies, geraniums and periwinkles. Some of the flowers grow in remote places. To these belongs the Crimean edelweiss. It is listed in the Red Data Book.
The first flowers in spring, are primroses, snowdrops, and violets. In summer there are many white and pink clovers, chicory, yellow lilies, and ox-eye daisies.
The higher plants number 2400 species. 240 of them are endemics, they grow only in Crimea.
The most popular Crimean endemics are plants: the snowdrop, the crocus, the Crimean edelweiss, the Crimean peony, the pulsatilla and the Crimean cistus. The snowdrop is a small, plant, which bears one white flower. It is 25–30 cm high and has two leaves. It is in blossom since February till April. It grows in the forest.
The crocus tauricus has white lily flowers. It is in blossom till April. It grows on the Crimean yailas.
The Crimean edelweiss is 10–25 cm high, with large white flowers. It is in blossom in May-June. It is typical for the Crimean yailas. Sometimes it forms a white carpet of flowers. It is used in parks for decoration.
The Crimean peony is in blossom in May-June. The Crimean peony grows in the pine and oak forests of Crimea. It’s very ornamental. The Crimean peonies are registered in the Red Data Book of Ukraine.
The pulsatilla is in blossom from March to May. It is a medicinal and ornamental plant. The pulsatilla grows in the pine and oak forests and yailas.
The Crimean cistus has long leaves and big flowers. It is in blossom in May-June. In Crimea it grows only in the Southern Coast.
There are some very rare plants. The seaside thyme grows only on the Arabat Soit.
Our duty is to protect them in all their beauty for future generations.
Rivers, Waterfalls, Lakes, Seas
The Salghir /204 km/ is the longest river of Crimea. With its tributary the Biyuk-Karasu it is the largest water system on the Peninsula. Other tributaries of the Salghir are the Zuya, the Burulcha, and the Maly Salghir. In the basin of the Salghir there are some protected territories: the cave of Kizil Koba, the grotto of Chokurcha.
The Alma /Apple/ River is shorter than the Salghir. Its valley has been famous for apple-trees. The Alma’s tributary are the Sukhaya /Dry/ Alma, the Bodrak, the Kosa, the Mavlya and the Sablinka. The Kacha River is shorter than the Alma is but more full-flowing. Its riverhead is in the most picturesque parts of the mountain Crimea. The smaller rivers — the Marta, the Churuk-Su, the Yanyker and the Finares flow into the Kacha.
The Belbek is the most full-flowing river in Crimea. It begins in the Great Canyon. Crossing the mountains it created a canyon “The Albat Gate” 80 m deep and 300 m wide. In the riverhead of the Belbek there are three water reservoirs. The water from the reservoirs runs along the hydrotunnel 7216 m long to the Greater Yalta.
The Chernaya /Black/ is the strongest Crimean river. It runs 41 km in the Baidar /Beautiful/ valley through a magnificent canyon 16 km long. It flows into the Black Sea in the Northern Bay of Sevastopol.
Other rivers of Crimea are the Uchan-Su /Flying Water/, the Derekoika /Valley Village/, the Demerdzhi /Smith/, the Ulu-Uzen /Big River/, the Su-lndol /Water India Way/. Many of them are mud torrents.
The highest waterfall of Crimea and Ukraine is the Uchan-Su /98,5 m/. Many tourists visit this beautiful place. The strongest waterfall of Crimea is the Dzhur-dzhur /15 m/. It is situated in a picturesque canyon of Khapkhal. The water from the Dzur-dzhur waterfall runs to Alushta. The biggest lake of Crimea is the Sasyk-Sivash. It is 14 km long, up to 9 km wide and 1 m deep. The longest lake of Crimea is Donuzlav. It is 30 km long and 27 m deep. The most mineralized water is in the lake of Chokrak. It has about 28 percent of mineral substances. The deepest mineral water well /970 m/ is in Saki.
The Crimean rivers carry their waters to the Black Sea and the Sivash /Dead Sea/. The Sivash is a very salt lagoon of the Sea of Azov /Dark-blue/. Its area is 2560 sq. km. The Sivash is a fount of richest reserves of chemical raw materials. Its water is ten times saftier than that of the Black Sea. In the western part of Sivash there are protected islands Kitai, Kuchuk-Tuk, and Martyn, the nesting-place of birds of passage.
The Black Sea is an island sea, with the area of 423,000 sq. km. and the coastline of 4,090 km. Its depth is 2,258 m /near Sinop/. Waters of the Black Sea contain 4–5 million tons of phytoplankton and 20 million tons of zooplankton. The major fish species caught in the Black Sea waters are herring, tuna, shrimp, scallop, horse mackerel and khamsa. The Sea of Azov is connected with the Black Sea by the Kerch Strait. Its square is 38,000 sq. km. It is also rich in fish but it is very shallow (8–14 m). The Sea of Azov is rich of pike -perch, bream, herring and sturgeon.