Large mining and industrial region, southeastern Ukraine and southwestern Russia. Notable for its coal and iron reserves, the exploited area of the coalfield covers nearly 9,000 sq mi (23,300 sq km) south of the Donets River. First mined in the early 19th century, by 1913 the Donets Basin was producing 87percnt of Russian coal. The coalfields adjoin the rich ironfield of Krivoi Rog, where an ironworks was set up in 1872 in Donetsk; by 1913 it was making 74percnt of all Russian pig iron. The area today is the largest single producing area of iron and steel in Ukraine and one of the world's major heavy-industrial complexes.
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Donets Basin, also known as Donbas or Donbass (Донецький басейн, usually abbreviated to Донбас; translit. Donetskyi basein or Donbas; Донецкий бассейн, likewise usually shortened to Донбасс; translit. Donetskiy bassein or Donbass), is a historical, economic and cultural region located on the territory of present-day Ukraine.
It combines two oblasts (provinces) in the east of the country: northern and central part of Donetsk Oblast (southern part belongs to Pryazovia) and southern part of Luhansk Oblast (northern part belongs to Slobozhanschyna). The city of Donetsk is considered the unofficial capital of Donbass.
In 1676, the first town of the Donbass emerged: Solanoye (now Slavyansk) which was built for the high-profit business of extracting newly-discovered rock-salt reserves. In 1721, vast and rich coal fields were found, which started the "industrial boom" which led to the flourish of the region in 18th–first half of 20th century.
Donbas may sometimes be refer to a larger supranational region also consisting a part of neighbouring Rostov Oblast in Russia. This is explained by the fact that Donets' coal basin geographically extends to that area (also specializing in coal mining), which sometimes called a "Russian Donbass". But lesser economical and, most of all, sociopolitical significance of that Russian area (compared with the Ukrainian part) leads to gradual abandonment of such generic usage of the Donbas term.
Ukrainian scholar Grigory Nemiria said:
For the Donbas, the real economic and political centre was the Soviet one, in Moscow. Kiev was just the regional administrative centre, not of great importance. So when we became independent, there had to be a major and very difficult re-evaluation of which centre to look to. It was made even more complicated by the fact that for us here, regional identity was always more important than national identity. The fact that you came from the Donbas was more important than that you were Russian or Ukrainian; so of course the break-up of the Soviet Union also meant a raising of this regional identity and loyalty... In any case, most people here honestly couldn't say what they are ethnically, because most families, like mine, are mixed.