KHARKOV, a town of southern Russia, capital of the above government, in 56° 37′ N. and 25° 5′ E., in the valley of the Donets, 152 m. by rail S.S.E. of Kursk. Oak forests bound it on two sides. Pop. (1867), 59,968; (1900), 197,405. Kharkov is an archiepiscopal see of the Orthodox Greek Church, and the headquarters of the X. army corps. The four annual fairs are among the busiest in Russia, more especially the Kreshchenskaya or Epiphany fair, which is opened on the 6th (19th) of January, and the Pokrovsky fair in the autumn. The turnover at the former is estimated at £3,000,000 to £4,000,000. Thousands of horses are bought and sold. At the Trinity (Troitsa) fair in June an extensive business (£800,000) is done in wool. A great variety of manufactured goods are produced in the town—linen, felt, beetroot sugar, tobacco, brandy, soap, candles, cast-iron. Kharkov is an educational centre for the higher and middle classes. Besides a flourishing university, instituted in 1805, and attended by from 1600 to 1700 students, it possesses a technological institute (400 students), a railway engineering school, an observatory, a veterinary college, a botanical garden, a theological seminary, and a commercial school. The university building was formerly a royal palace. The library contains 170,000 volumes; and the zoological collections are especially rich in the birds and fishes of southern Russia. Public gardens occupy the site of the ancient military works; and the government has a model farm in the neighbourhood. Of the Orthodox churches one has the rank of cathedral (1781). Among the public institutions are a people’s palace (1903) and an industrial museum.
The foundation of Kharkov is assigned to 1650, but there is archaeological evidence of a much earlier occupation of the district, if not of the site. The Cossacks of Kharkov remained faithful to the tsar during the rebellions of the latter part of the 17th century; in return they received numerous privileges, and continued to be a strong advance-guard of the Russian power, till the final subjugation of all the southern region. With other military settlements Kharkov was placed on a new footing in 1765; and at the same time it became the administrative centre of the Ukraine.