Marioupoli) is a city of regional significance in south eastern Ukraine, situated on the north coast of the Sea of Azov at the mouth of the Kalmius river, in the Pryazovia region. The city is largely and traditionally Russophone, while ethnically the population is divided about evenly between Russians and Ukrainians.

Mariupol was founded on the site of a former Cossack encampment named Kalmius and granted city rights in 1778.

They were also permitted to build a new stockade on the Dnieper River (called New Sich), though the terms prohibited them from erecting fortifications, allowing only for living quarters (kureni).

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The isolation of the region was increased further by the Treaty of Constantinople (1700), which provided that there should be no settlements or fortifications on the coast of the Azov Sea to the mouth of the Mius River.

Moreover, in 1709 in response to a Cossack alliance with Sweden against Russia, Tsar Peter the Great ordered the destruction of the Zaporozhian central stockade (Sich) and their complete expulsion from the area, without allowance for their return.

It has been a centre for the grain trade, metallurgy, and heavy engineering, including the Illich Steel & Iron Works and Azovstal.

Mariupol has played a key role in the industrialization of Ukraine.

For the Russian authorities the city was named after the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna; but the city was named de facto after the Greek settlement of Mariampol, a suburb of Bakhchisaray.

The name was derived from the Hodegetria icon of the Holy Theotokos and Virgin Mary.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and capture of Donetsk city by pro-Russian insurgents associated with the Donetsk People's Republic in 2014, Mariupol was made the provisional administrative centre of the Donetsk Oblast.

The city was secured on June 13, 2014 by Ukrainian troops and pro-Ukrainian insurgents, and has been under attack several times since.

East of the Dnieper river marked a desolate steppe, stretching to the sea of Azov, where the lack of water made early settlement precarious.