Balta – Industrial Centre in the Odessa Oblast

Balta is a relatively small city in comparison to most that are based in the province of the Odessa Oblast, which lies in the south-west of Ukraine. Presently it acts as the administrative center for the district of the Baltsky Raion located about 200 kilometers from the capital of Odessa with a population of over 20,000 people.

The town was established in the early 16th century. According to the many archeological findings scientists suggest that the first settlements to be founded in the territory may have existed up to five or six thousand years ago. Interestingly, along the Kodyma River, two unrelated towns came into existence during the 17th and 18th century. The first of these towns was a frontier settlement called Ottoman, which became renowned for its majestic fortress named ‘Balta’. The second town to be founded during this time period named for Prince Jozef Lubomirski, thus the Polish town became known as Jozefgrod.

Much time seemed to pass with no form of unrest taking place until March of 1768. It was at this time in Balta that the Russian General by the name of Mikhail Krechetnikov wrote his name in history along with many of the Cossack Haidamaka hordes after the massacre of a predominantly Jewish population, resulting in Krechetnikov’s maddened pursuit of the Polish Confederalists. Their past actions would have a strong effect on the Russo-Turkish War during 1768 to 1774, with many claiming that it could have even been the possible cause. By 1797 the land came under the Russian Empire’s rule, and Jozefgrod and Balta were finally amalgamated into one city.

By the early 19th and 20th century the Jewish population exploded, making up 55 to 82% of the general population. However, it is believed that the Jewish population basically diminished shortly thereafter and now makes up a small percentage of between 0.5 and 1% of the population in Balta. Interestingly, the opposite can be said of the Russian Orthodox believers who began with no more then 15 – 25% and are now between 85 – 90% of Balta’s population. It must also be noted that this does, however, include three of the main ethnic groups – the Ukrainians, Moldavians and the Russians. Other religions include the Roman Catholics, which are supported by the Polish, making up 4-9% and the Russian Old believers at between 4-12%.

Presently the city of Balta in Odessa Oblast supports an array of Industries from furniture and brick manufacture to the clothing and food industries.

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