Kherson (khĕrsônˈ) [key], city (1989 pop. 355,000), capital of Kherson region, S Ukraine, on the Dnieper River near its mouth on the Black Sea. It is a rail junction and a sea and river port, exporting grain, timber, and manganese ore and importing oil from the Caucasus. Kherson has one of Ukraine's largest cotton textile mills; the city's other industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, and food processing. Kherson was founded in 1778 by Potemkin as a naval station, fortress, and shipbuilding center. Its name derives from its location on the probable site of the Greek colony Chersonesus Heracleotica. The city became the administrative and defense center for Russia's newly acquired holdings along the Black Sea. By the late 19th cent. it was an important export center. The dredging of a deepwater canal along an arm of the Dnieper to the sea in 1901 further stimulated Kherson's growth as a port. The city's importance was enhanced still more with the building of the Dniprohes power station in 1932 and the development of navigation on the Dnieper. Kherson's landmarks include the fortress with earthen ramparts and stone gates and the 18th-century cathedral that contains Potemkin's tomb.
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