Azov (əzôfˈ) [key], city (1990 est. pop. 82,000), SE European Russia, a port on the Don River delta near the Sea of Azov. It is a rail junction, a light industrial center, and a fishing center. Tourism supplements the economy. Founded as the Greek colony of Tanaïs (3d cent. B.C.), it was a trading center and fortress. It came under Kievan Rus in the 10th cent., was taken by the Cumans in the 11th cent., became a Genoese colony in the 13th cent., and passed to the Turks in 1471. The Don Cossacks held the city (1637–42), but were driven out by the Turks. Peter the Great won the city in 1696 and thus opened southern routes for Russia; he was forced to cede it back to Turkey in 1711. Russia took it again in 1736, but was forced by the Treaty of Belgrade to dismantle the fortress in 1739. Russia secured Azov definitively by the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774.
More on Azov from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography