Before the Tsarist establishment of Odessa, an ancient Greek settlement existed at its location as elsewhere along the northwestern Black Sea coast. A relatively more recent Tatar settlement was also founded at the location by Hacı I Giray, the Khan of Crimea in 1440 that was named after him as "Hacıbey". After a period of Lithuanian Grand Duchy control, Hacibey and surroundings became part of the domain of the Ottomans in 1529 and remained there until the empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792.
Odessa is a warm-water port. The city of Odessa hosts both the Port of Odessa and Port Yuzhne, a significant oil terminal situated in the city's suburbs. Another notable port, Chornomorsk, is located in the same oblast, to the south-west of Odessa. Together they represent a major transport hub integrating with railways. Odessa's oil and chemical processing facilities are connected to Russian and European networks by strategic pipelines.
The city was named in compliance with the Greek Plan of Catherine the Great. It was named after the ancient Greek city of Odessos, which was mistakenly believed to have been located here. Odessa is located in between the ancient Greek cities of Tyras and Olbia, different from the ancient Odessos's location further west along the coast, which is at present day Varna, Bulgaria.
Catherine's secretary of state
Adrian Gribovsky [ru] claimed in his memoirs that the name was his suggestion. Some expressed doubts about this claim, while others noted the reputation of Gribovsky as an honest and modest man.