The ancient city is located on the shore of the Black Sea at the outskirts of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, where it is referred to as Khersones. It has been nicknamed the "Ukrainian Pompeii" and "Russian Troy". The name "Chersonesos" in Greek means simply "peninsula", and aptly describes the site on which the colony was established. It should not be confused with the Tauric Chersonese, the name often applied to the whole of the southern Crimea along with "Taurica".
During much of the classical period the town was a democracy ruled by a group of elected archons and a council called the Damiorgi. As time went on the government grew more oligarchic, with power concentrated in the hands of the archons. A form of oath sworn by all the citizens in the 3rd century BC has survived to the present day.