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(pəltä`və), city (1989 pop. 315,000), capital of Poltava region, E Ukraine, on the Kiev-Kharkiv highway and on the Vorskla River, a tributary of the Dnieper. It is an industrial center and important rail junction in the rich black-earth agricultural region. The city has railroad shops, food- and tobacco-processing plants, and factories that produce machinery, railroad equipment, automobiles, tractors, building materials, footwear, leather goods, textiles, and wood products. One of the oldest Ukrainian cities, Poltava was the site of a Slavic settlement in the 8th and 9th cent. It became part of Lithuania in 1430. In the 17th cent., under Bohdan ChmielnickiChmielnicki, Khmelnytskyy or Khmelnitsky, Bohdan
, c.1595–1657, hetman (leader) of Ukraine. An educated member of the Ukrainian gentry, he early joined the Ukrainian Cossacks.
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, it was the chief town of a Ukrainian Cossack regiment. Poltava was a flourishing commercial center in the 18th and 19th cent., a principal focus of the Ukrainian literary and national movement, and, under Czar Nicholas I, a place of exile. Nearby lies the battlefield where Czar Peter I defeated Charles XII of Sweden and the hetman Mazeppa of Ukraine in 1709 (see Northern WarNorthern War,
1700–1721, general European conflict, fought in N and E Europe at the same time that the War of the Spanish Succession was fought in the west and the south.
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) in a battle that marked Russia's emergence as a major European power. Poltava was the home of the writer Nikolai Gogol, many of whose stories are set in the nearby village of Dikanka. The city is the location of the gravitational observatory of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and administrative center of Poltava Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. Situated on the Vorskla River (a left tributary of the Dnieper), Poltava is a junction of railroad lines to Kiev, Kharkov, Lozovaia, and Kremenchug. The Kiev-Kharkov highway passes through Poltava. Poltava has an airport. It is divided into three administrative urban raions. Population, 254,000 (1974; 128,000 in 1939; 143,000 in 1959; 220,000 in 1970).

Poltava was first mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle for 1174 under the name of Ltava. The name “Poltava” first appeared in 1430. Under the Union of Lublin (1569), Poltava went to gentry Poland. From 1648 to 1775 it was the headquarters of the Poltava Cossack Regiment. The population of Poltava fought in the War of Liberation of the Ukrainian People of 1648–54, as a result of which the city was reunited with Russia. Poltava withstood a two-month siege by the Swedes during the Northern War of 1700–21. The battle of Poltava (1709), between Swedish and Russian forces, took place near the city.

Poltava was one of the handicraft and commercial centers of the Left-bank Ukraine during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a district capital of Novorossiia Province from 1775, of the Ekaterinoslav Namestnichestvo (Vicegerency) from 1784, and of Malorossiia Province from 1797. It was the administrative center of Poltava Province from 1802.

The first Marxist circles arose in Poltava in the 1890’s, and a Social Democratic organization appeared in 1901. The industrial and railroad workers of Poltava took part in the Revolution of 1905–07; at the same time, there were armed revolutionary actions by the soldiers of the 33rd Elets and 34th Sevsk infantry regiments.

Soviet power was established in Poltava on Jan. 6 (19), 1918. The city was captured by Austro-German and White Guard troops during the Civil War of 1918–20; it was liberated by the Red Army and partisans on Dec. 10, 1919. Poltava was the administrative center of Poltava Okrug from 1923 to 1930 and of Poltava Oblast from 1937. It was occupied by fascist German troops during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 from Sept. 18, 1941, to Sept. 22, 1943. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1974.

Today Poltava is one of the major industrial centers of the Ukraine. Machine building and metalworking are developed in the city, accounting for 41.2 percent of the city’s gross industrial product. There are plants engaged in diesel locomotive repair, an automobile equipment plant, a turbine works, the Elektromotor Plant, a foundry, a chemical-machine-building plant, a synthetic diamond and diamond-tools plants, and the Prodmash Plant. There is a food-processing industry, which accounts for 34.4 percent of the gross industrial product and is represented by a meat-packing plant and a fats and vegetable oil plant. Light industry is represented by a leather-footwear combine and cotton-spinning, garment, and baian factories. Poltava also has a building-materials industry, as well as wood-products and printing enterprises. Glass articles and objets d’art are produced in local enterprises.

Architectural monuments of the 17th and 18th centuries include the cathedral of the Krestovozdvizhenskii Monastery (1689–1709) with a campanile (1786), which is in the Ukrainian baroque style, and the wooden Church of the Saviour (1705; stone enclosure, 1845). In accordance with a general plan of 1803, a circular square with the Glory Column (bronze and granite, 1811, architect J. Tomas de Tomon, sculptor F. F. Shchedrin) and the public buildings surrounding it were built according to model (standard) designs.

The city has been reconstructed during Soviet times; blocks of multistory houses, a theater (1950–54, architects A. A. Krylova and O. A. Malyshenko), and a covered market (1969, architect G. V. Poliakov) have been built. There is a monument at the spot where Peter I vacationed (bronze and granite, 1849, architect A. P. Briullov), a complex of monuments dedicated to the heroes ofthe battle of Poltava of 1709 (1894), and a monument to T. G. Shevchenko (reinforced concrete, 1926; sculptor I. P. Kavale-ridze).

Poltava is a major cultural center. The city has five higher educational institutions—agricultural, pedagogical, medical-stomatological, civil-engineering, and cooperative institutes. There are 11 specialized secondary schools, including electrical engineering, geological oil exploration, machining processes planning, and building technicums in the city. A gravimetric observatory of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR is in Poltava. Poltava has an oblast theater of music and drama, a puppet theater, six museums—including the Museum of the History of the Battle of Poltava, a museum of local lore, and an art museum—and a philharmonic society.

Poltava was the birthplace of the writer I. P. Kotliarevskii, the artist N. A. Iaroshenko, and A. V. Lunacharskii. V. G. Korolenko and A. la. Rudchenko (Panas Mirnyi) lived and worked in Poltava, and N. V. Gogol studied there.


Pavlovskii, I. F. Poltava (1802–1856). Poltava, 1910.
Poltava. [Photographic album with text by O. S. Iurenko and L. S. Vainhort. Kiev, 1965.]
Ihnatkin, I. O., and L. S. Vainhort. Poltava. Kiev, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in E Ukraine: scene of the victory (1709) of the Russians under Peter the Great over the Swedes under Charles XII; centre of an agricultural region. Pop.: 319 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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