From Peace Corps Wiki
Odessa (Ukrainian: Одеса; Russian: Одесса; also known as Odesa) is the fourth largest city in Ukraine. Population: 1,029,000 (2001 Ukrainian Census), 1,012,500 (est. 2004).
The city is a major seaport on the Black Sea, the largest port in Ukraine.
From 1819–1858 Odessa was a free port (porto franco). During the Soviet period it was the most important port of trade in the U.S.S.R. and a Soviet naval base. On January 1, 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was declared a free port and free economic zone for a term of 25 years.
In the 19th century it was the fourth city of Imperial Russia, after Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Warsaw. Its historical architecture has a flavor more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles.
Odessa is a warm water port, but of limited military value. Turkey's control of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus has enabled NATO to control water traffic between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea. The city of Odessa hosts two important ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny (also an internationally important oil terminal), situated in the city's suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs'k (or Ilyichyovsk), is located in the same oblast, to the south-west of Odessa. Together they represent a major transportation junction integrated with railways. Odessa's oil- and chemical-processing facilities are connected to Russia's and EU's respective networks by strategic pipelines.