Donetsk was founded in 1869 as the Russian government drew up plans for the establishment of major industrial infrastructure which needed the coal and iron ore from Ukraine. The main mines and steel works were run by a Welsh businessman, John Hughes, and as a result the city was originally known as Yuzovka (or Hughesovka).
Renamed Stalino in 1924, it was captured by the Germans in World War II, and then liberated by the Red Army two years later. By 1949 the coal and steel output had reached pre-World War II levels, and Donetsk, as it was renamed in 1961, became one of the major industrial cities of the Soviet Union.
As well as its heavy industry, Donetsk was well-known on account of its football team, and from 1991 has been the fifth largest city in Ukraine. In 2014 following the overthrow of the Yanukovych government in Kiev, the Donetsk People’s Republic was proclaimed but has never been internationally recognized. Since then, there has been fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.