The name "Zaporizhia" refers to the military and political organization of the Cossacks and to the location of their autonomous territory 'beyond the Rapids' (za porohamy) of the Dnieper River. The term "sich" is a noun related to the Eastern Slavic verb sech′ (сѣчь) – "to chop" or "cut"; it may have been associated with the usual wood sharp-spiked stockades around Cossack settlements.
Zaporizhia was located in the region around Kakhovka Reservoir in today's central Ukraine (much of its territory is now flooded by the reservoir). The area was also known under the historical term, Wild Fields.
A possible precursor of the Zaporozhian Sich was a fortification (sich) built on the Tomakivka island (Tomakivska Sich) in the middle of the Dnieper River in the present-day Zaporizhia region of Ukraine. However there is no direct evidence about the exact time of the existence of Tomakivska Sich, whereas indirect data suggest that at the time of Tomakivska Sich there was no Zaporozhian Sich yet.
The history of Zaporozhian Sich spans six time-periods: