Next to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine. With a population of 1.6 million, Kharkiv is a major industrial, cultural and educational center of Ukraine.
Originally founded in 1656 as a fortress protecting Moscow from the Tatars, the city grew as a trade and cultural center, and in 1765 it became the administrative center of Ukraine. With the development of the vast mineral wealth of the region in the late 19th century, Kharkiv developed into an industrial and rail transportation center.
During World War I Kharkiv was the scene of heavy fighting, first between German and Russian troops and later (1917-20) between opposing forces in the Russian Revolution. It was the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1920 to 1934, when it was replaced by Kyiv. During World War II Kharkiv was occupied (1941-43) by German troops and suffered severe damage.
Today, Kharkiv's industrial base includes major industries such as farm and mining machinery, electric and railroad equipment, chemicals, machine tools, and processed food. Kharkiv is the home of 23 institutions of higher education.
In addition, it is a major center for treating victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. In the cultural area it includes numerous theaters, museums, churches and cathedrals, parks and gardens.
In 1781, Kharkiv adopted its current city seal. Its horn of plenty symbolizes the richness and wealth of the Kharkiv province and the fruitfulness of its land.