03/25/2011 12:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Crimea, A Jewel in Two Crowns: Amazing Photos Of Russia's Ukrainian Paradise From National Geographic

The April issue of National Geographic takes an in-depth look at Crimea. As writer Cathy Newman discovers, the beautiful peninsula may be a tourists' haven, but struggles with a dual political identity. As her report states:

The Crimean Peninsula is a diamond suspended from the south coast of Ukraine by the thin chain of the Perekop Isthmus, embraced by the Black Sea, on the same latitude as the south of France. Warm, lovely, lush, with a voluptuously curved coast of sparkling cliffs, it was a jewel of the Russian Empire, the retreat of Romanov tsars, and the playground of Politburo fat cats. Officially known as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, it has its own parliament and capital, Simferopol, but takes its orders from Kiev.

Physically, politically, Crimea is Ukraine; mentally and emotionally, it identifies with Russia and provides, a journalist wrote, "a unique opportunity for Ukrainians to feel like strangers on their own territory." Crimea speaks to the persistence of memory--how the past lingers and subverts.

Read the full article by Cathy Newman in the April 2011 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands March 29.

See the amazing full gallery by National Geographic's Gerd Ludwig here.

View a set of images from Ludwig's gallery below. All photos and captions are shown courtesy of National Geographic.

Crimea: A Jewel in Two Crowns