Sevastopol is an important and historical port on the Black Sea. It was founded in 1783 as the base of the Black Sea Navy of Russia. In the 20th century it was the home port of the Soviet Navy's Black Sea Fleet, and the city retains a significant Russian naval presence.

The population is still largely ethnically Russian and the population's sympathies still lie largely with Moscow rather than Kiev. City residents have strongly protested the visit of American naval ships and Ukrainian interest in joining the NATO alliance. Russian politicians, including the Mayor of Moscow, have even suggested Crimea and specifically, Sevastopol, joining the Russian Federation. While peaceful and stable, the political orientation towards Moscow continues to define Crimea and Sevastopol.

The major features of the city are on two streets, Street Lenina and Street Bolshoya Morskaya; there is a hill between them, on which is Street Sovietska; there are numerous steps to get up and across the hill.