Sevastopol is a city located in the southwestern region of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. It is a federal city within the Crimean Federal District. Although relatively small at 864 square kilometres (334 sq mi), Sevastopol's unique naval and maritime features provide the basis for a robust economy. The city enjoys mild winters and moderate warm summers; characteristics that help make it a popular seaside resort and tourist destination. The city is also an important centre for marine biology; in particular, dolphins have been studied and trained in the city since the end of World War II.
Sevastopol was a heavily defended fortress on the Crimean peninsula. German and Romanian troops had advanced to the outskirts of the city from the north and launched their attack on 30 October 1941. Having failed to take the city, Axis forces began a siege and heavy bombardment, with such unusual pieces of ordnance as the Mörser Karl self-propelled mortar, and the gigantic Schwerer Gustav railroad cannon. A second Axis offensive against the city, launched in December 1941, failed as well, as the Soviet army and navy forces continued to fight fiercely. Eventually the city was taken in June 1942. It was liberated in bloody fighting in May 1944. Sevastopol was awarded the title Hero City in 1945.