Kuril Islands

Last updated
Kuril Islands
Disputed islands
Native name: Курильские острова
Kuril Island.jpg
Kuril Island Coastline
Sea of Okhotsk map with state labels.png
Location of the Kuril Islands in the Western Pacific between Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates 46°30′N151°30′E / 46.500°N 151.500°E / 46.500; 151.500 Coordinates: 46°30′N151°30′E / 46.500°N 151.500°E / 46.500; 151.500
Total islands56
Area10,503.2 km2 (2,595,400 acres; 4,055.3 sq mi)
Length1,150 km (715 miles)
Highest point
  • Alaid
  • 2,339 metres (7,674 ft)
Administered by
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia
Federal subject Sakhalin Oblast
Districts Severo-Kurilsky, Kurilsky, Yuzhno-Kurilsky
Claimed by
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan
(partial claim, southernmost islands)
Prefecture Hokkaido
Subprefecture Nemuro
Population19,434 (as of 2010)

The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands ( /ˈkʊərɪl,ˈkjʊərɪl,kjʊˈrl/ ; Russian :Кури́льские острова́, tr. Kurilskiye ostrova,IPA:  [kʊˈrʲilʲskʲɪjə ɐstrɐˈva] or Russian :островá Тисима, tr. ostrova Tisima; Japanese: Kuriru rettō (クリル列島, "Kuril Islands") or Chishima rettō (千島列島, "Chishima Islands")) is a volcanic archipelago in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast that stretches approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido, Japan to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the north Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many minor rocks. It consists of the Greater Kuril Chain and the Lesser Kuril Chain. [1] The total land area is 10,503.2 square kilometres (4,055.3 sq mi), [2] and the total population is 19,434. [3]


All the islands are under Russian administration. Japan claims the four southernmost islands, including two of the three largest ones (Iturup and Kunashir), as part of its territory as well as Shikotan and the Habomai islets, which has led to the ongoing Kuril Islands dispute. The disputed islands are known in Japan as the country's "Northern Territories". [4] In 2018, Russo-Japanese talks on reunification of islands with Japan resumed. [5]


The name Kuril originates from the autonym of the aboriginal Ainu, the islands' original inhabitants: kur, meaning "man". It may also be related to names for other islands that have traditionally been inhabited by the Ainu people, such as Kuyi or Kuye for Sakhalin and Kai for Hokkaidō. In Japanese, the Kuril Islands are known as the Chishima Islands (Kanji: 千島列島Chishima Rettōpronounced  [tɕiɕima ɾeꜜttoː] , literally, Thousand Islands Archipelago), also known as the Kuriru Islands (Katakana: クリル列島Kuriru Rettō [kɯɾiɾɯ ɾeꜜttoː] , literally, Kuril Archipelago). Once the Russians reached the islands in the 18th century they found a pseudo-etymology from Russian kurit' (курить – "to smoke") due to the continual fumes and steam above the islands from volcanoes.


Caldera of the island Ushishir Yankicha.jpg
Caldera of the island Ushishir

The Kuril Islands form part of the ring of tectonic instability encircling the Pacific Ocean referred to as the Ring of Fire. The islands themselves are summits of stratovolcanoes that are a direct result of the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate, which forms the Kuril Trench some 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of the islands. The chain has around 100 volcanoes, some 40 of which are active, and many hot springs and fumaroles. There is frequent seismic activity, including a magnitude 8.5 earthquake in 1963 and one of magnitude 8.3 recorded on November 15, 2006, which resulted in tsunami waves up to 1.5 metres (5 ft) reaching the California coast. [6] Raikoke Island, near the centre of the archipelago, has an active volcano which erupted again in June 2019, with emissions reaching 13,000 m.

The climate on the islands is generally severe, with long, cold, stormy winters and short and notoriously foggy summers. The average annual precipitation is 30–40 inches (760–1,020 mm), most of which falls as snow.

The chain ranges from temperate to sub-Arctic climate types, and the vegetative cover consequently ranges from tundra in the north to dense spruce and larch forests on the larger southern islands. The highest elevations on the islands are Alaid volcano (highest point: 2,339 m or 7,674 ft) on Atlasov Island at the northern end of the chain and Tyatya volcano (1,819 m or 5,968 ft) on Kunashir Island at the southern end.

Landscape types and habitats on the islands include many kinds of beach and rocky shores, cliffs, wide rivers and fast gravelly streams, forests, grasslands, alpine tundra, crater lakes and peat bogs. The soils are generally productive, owing to the periodic influxes of volcanic ash and, in certain places, owing to significant enrichment by seabird guano. However, many of the steep, unconsolidated slopes are susceptible to landslides and newer volcanic activity can entirely denude a landscape. Only the southernmost island has large areas covered by trees, while more northerly islands have no trees, or spotty tree cover.



Owing to their location along the Pacific shelf edge and the confluence of Okhotsk Sea gyre and the southward Oyashio Current, the Kuril islands are surrounded by waters that are among the most productive in the North Pacific, supporting a wide range and high abundance of marine life.

Invertebrates : Extensive kelp beds surrounding almost every island provide crucial habitat for sea urchins, various mollusks and countless other invertebrates and their associated predators. Many species of squid provide a principal component of the diet of many of the smaller marine mammals and birds along the chain.

Fish : Further offshore, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, several species of flatfish are of the greatest commercial importance. During the 1980s, migratory Japanese sardine was one of the most abundant fish in the summer and the main pinnipeds were a significant object of harvest for the indigenous populations of the Kuril islands, both for food and materials such as skin and bone. The long term fluctuations in the range and distribution of human settlements along the Kuril island presumably tracked the pinniped ranges. In historical times, fur seals were heavily exploited for their fur in the 19th and early 20th centuries and several of the largest reproductive rookeries, as on Raykoke island, were extirpated. In contrast, commercial harvest of the true seals and Steller sea lions has been relatively insignificant on the Kuril islands proper. Since the 1960s there has been essentially no additional harvest and the pinniped populations in the Kuril islands appear to be fairly healthy and in some cases expanding. The notable exception is the now extinct Japanese sea lion which was known to occasionally haul out on the Kuril islands.

Sea otters were exploited very heavily for their pelts in the 19th century, as shown by 19th and 20th century whaling catch and sighting records. [7]

Seabirds : The Kuril islands are home to many millions of seabirds, including northern fulmars, tufted puffins, murres, kittiwakes, guillemots, auklets, petrels, gulls and cormorants. On many of the smaller islands in summer, where terrestrial predators are absent, virtually every possibly hummock, cliff niche or underneath of boulder is occupied by a nesting bird.


The composition of terrestrial species on the Kuril islands is dominated by Asian mainland taxa via migration from Hokkaido and Sakhalin Islands and by Kamchatkan taxa from the North. While highly diverse, there is a relatively low level of endemism.

The WWF divides the Kuril Islands into two ecoregions. The southern Kurils, along with southwestern Sakhalin, comprise the South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests ecoregion. The northern islands are part of the Kamchatka-Kurile meadows and sparse forests, a larger ecoregion that extends onto the Kamchatka Peninsula and Commander Islands.

Because of the generally smaller size and isolation of the central islands, few major terrestrial mammals have colonized these, though red and Arctic foxes were introduced for the sake of the fur trade in the 1880s. The bulk of the terrestrial mammal biomass is taken up by rodents, many introduced in historical times. The largest southernmost and northernmost islands are inhabited by brown bear, foxes, and martens. Some species of deer are found on the more southerly islands. It is claimed that a wild cat, the Kurilian Bobtail, originates from the Kuril Islands. The bobtail is due to the mutation of a dominant gene. The cat has been domesticated and exported to nearby Russia and bred there, becoming a popular domestic cat.

Among terrestrial birds, ravens, peregrine falcons, some wrens and wagtails are common.


Kuril Ainu people next to their traditional dwelling. Kuril Ainu dwelling.jpg
Kuril Ainu people next to their traditional dwelling.
A map of Kuril Islands from Gisuke Sasamori's 1893 book Chishima Tanken Map of Chishima by Gisuke Sasamori.jpg
A map of Kuril Islands from Gisuke Sasamori's 1893 book Chishima Tanken

The Ainu people were early inhabitants of Kuril Islands, although there are few records that predate the 17th century. The Japanese administration first took nominal control of the islands in the Edo period of Japan, in the form of claims by the Matsumae clan. It is claimed that the Japanese knew of the northern islands 370 years ago. [8] On the Shōhō Era Map of Japan (Shōhō kuni ezu ( 正保国絵図 )), a map of Japan made by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1644, there are 39 large and small islands shown northeast of the Shiretoko Peninsula and Cape Nosappu.

Choka seems to have been the Ainu name for Paramushir and its neighbouring islands. Then Rakkoshima ("sea-otter isles") extended from Onnekotan to Simushir. Urup, Iturup and Kunashir are the three southern islands.

In 1811, Russian Captain Vasily Golovnin and his crew, who stopped at Kunashir during their hydrographic survey, were captured by retainers of the Nambu clan, and sent to the Matsumae authorities. Because a Japanese trader, Takadaya Kahei, was also captured by Petr Rikord, Captain of a Russian vessel near Kunashir in 1812, Japan and Russia entered into negotiations to establish the border between the two countries.[ citation needed ]

American whaleships caught right whales off the islands between 1847 and 1892. [9] Three of the ships were wrecked on the islands: two on Urup in 1855 [10] [11] and one on Makanrushi in 1856. [12] In September 1892, the bark Cape Horn Pigeon, of New Bedford, was seized by a Russian schooner north of Kunashir Island and escorted to Vladivostok, where it was detained for nearly two weeks. [13]

The Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation was concluded in 1855, and the border was established between Iturup and Urup. This border confirmed that Japanese territory stretched south from Iturup and Russian territory stretched north of Urup. Sakhalin remained a place where people from both countries could live. The Treaty of Saint Petersburg in 1875 resulted in Japan relinquishing all rights over Sakhalin in exchange for Russia ceding all of the Kuril Islands south of Kamchatka.

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, Gunji, a retired Japanese military man and local settler in Shumshu, led an invading party to the Kamchatka coast. Russia sent reinforcements to the area to capture and intern this group. After the war was over, Japan received fishing rights in Russian waters as part of the Russo-Japanese Fisheries Agreement until 1945.

During their armed intervention in Siberia 1918–1925, Japanese forces from the northern Kurils, along with United States and European forces, occupied southern Kamchatka. Japanese vessels made naval strikes against Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

While in February 1945 the Yalta Agreement [14] had promised to the Soviet Union South Sakhalin and the Kuril islands in return for entering into World War II against the Japanese, the Soviet Union nevertheless mounted an armed invasion of South Sakhalin at the cost of over 5,000 lives. [15] Japan maintains a claim to the four southernmost islands of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan, and the Habomai rocks, together called the Northern Territories(see Kuril Islands dispute).

Japanese administration

Shana Village in Etorofu (Showa period). There's a village hospital in the front, a factory in the left back with a fishery and a central radio tower (before 1945). Shana Village in Etorofu Island.JPG
Shana Village in Etorofu (Shōwa period). There's a village hospital in the front, a factory in the left back with a fishery and a central radio tower (before 1945).

In 1869, the Meiji government established the Colonization Commission in Sapporo to aid in the development of the northern area. Ezo was renamed Hokkaidō and Kita Ezo later received the name of Karafuto. Eleven provinces[ which? ] and 86 districts were founded by Meiji government and were put under the control of feudal clans. Because the Meiji government could not sufficiently cope with Russians moving to south Sakhalin, Japan negotiated with Russia over control of the Kuril Islands, resulting in the Treaty of Saint Petersburg that ceded the eighteen islands north of Uruppu to Japan and all of Sakhalin to Russia.

Road networks and post offices were established on Kunashiri and Etorofu. Life on the islands became more stable when a regular sea route connecting islands with Hokkaidō was opened and a telegraphic system began. At the end of the Taishō period, towns and villages were organized in the northern territories and village offices were established on each island. The Habomai island towns were all part of Habomai Village for example. In other cases the town and village system was not adopted on islands north of Uruppu, which were under direct control of the Nemuro Subprefectural office of the Hokkaidō government.

Each village had a district forestry system, a marine product examination center, salmon hatchery, post office, police station, elementary school, Shinto temple, and other public facilities. In 1930, 8,300 people lived on Kunashiri island and 6,000 on Etorofu island, and most of them were engaged in coastal and high sea fishing.

Since the very end of 19th century, Japanese administration started the forced assimilation of native Ainu people. [16] [17] Also at this time, the Ainu were granted automatic Japanese citizenship, effectively denying them the status of an indigenous group. Many Japanese moved over to former Ainu lands, including Kuril islands. The Ainu were forced to learn Japanese, required to adopt Japanese names, and ordered to cease religious practices such as animal sacrifice and the custom of tattooing. [17] Prior to Japanese colonization [18] (in 1868) there were reportedly just about 100 Ainu living in the Kuril islands. [19]

World War II

Russian administration

Current situation

Main village in Shikotan Shikotan 008.jpg
Main village in Shikotan
Russian Orthodox church, Kunashir Kunashir hram.jpg
Russian Orthodox church, Kunashir

As of 2013, 19,434 people inhabited the Kuril Islands. These include ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Tatars, Nivkhs, Oroch, and Ainus. Russian Orthodoxy and Islam are the only religions with significant following among the population.[ citation needed ] Some of the villages are permanently manned by Russian soldiers (especially in Kunashir following recent tensions). Others are inhabited by civilians, which are mostly fishermen, workers of the fish factories, dockers, and social sphere workers (policemen, medics, teachers, etc.). Recent construction works on the islands attracts a lot of migrant workers from the rest of Russia and other Post-Soviet states. As of 2014, there were only 8 inhabited islands out of a total of 56. Iturup Island is over 60% ethnically Ukrainian. [4] On 8 February 2017 the Russian government gave names to five previously unnamed Kuril islands in Sakhalin Oblast: Derevyanko Island (after Kuzma Derevyanko, 43°22′8″N146°1′3″E / 43.36889°N 146.01750°E / 43.36889; 146.01750 ), Gnechko Island (after Alexey Gnechko, 43°48′5″N146°52′1″E / 43.80139°N 146.86694°E / 43.80139; 146.86694 ), Gromyko Island (after Andrei Gromyko, 46°14′1″N150°36′1″E / 46.23361°N 150.60028°E / 46.23361; 150.60028 ), Farkhutdinov Island (after Igor Farkhutdinov, 43°48′5″N146°53′2″E / 43.80139°N 146.88389°E / 43.80139; 146.88389 ) and Shchetinina Island (after Anna Shchetinina, 46°13′7″N150°34′6″E / 46.21861°N 150.56833°E / 46.21861; 150.56833 ). [20]


Fishing is the primary occupation. The islands have strategic and economic value, in terms of fisheries and also mineral deposits of pyrite, sulfur, and various polymetallic ores. There are hopes that oil exploration will provide an economic boost to the islands. [21]

The economic rise of the Russian Federation has been seen on the Kurils too. The most visible sign of improvement is the new construction in infrastructure. In 2014, construction workers built a pier and a breakwater in Kitovy Bay, central Iturup, where barges are a major means of transport, sailing between the cove and ships anchored offshore. A new road has been carved through the woods near Kurilsk, the island's biggest village, going to the site of Yuzhno-Kurilsk Mendeleyevo Airport. [22]

Gidrostroy, the Kurils' biggest business group with interests in fishing, construction and real estate, built its second fish processing factory on Iturup island in 2006, introducing a state-of-the-art conveyor system.

To deal with a rise in the demand of electricity, the local government is also upgrading a state-run geothermal power plant at Mount Baransky, an active volcano, where steam and hot water can be found. [23]


The main Russian force stationed on the islands is the 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division, which has its headquarters in Goryachiye Klyuchi on Iturup Island. There are also Border Guard Service troops stationed on the islands. In February 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for substantial reinforcements of the Kuril Islands defences. Subsequently in 2015, additional anti-aircraft missile systems 'Tor', 'BUK' missile systems, coastal defence missile systems 'Bastion', combat helicopters Ka-52 'Alligator' and 1 'Varshavyanka' project submarine came on defence of Kuril Islands. [24]

Atlasov Island

Atlasov Atlasov.jpg

The northernmost, Atlasov Island (Oyakoba in Japanese), is an almost-perfect volcanic cone rising sheer out of the sea; it has been praised by the Japanese in haiku, wood-block prints, and other forms, in much the same way as the better-known Mt. Fuji.

List of main islands

Yuzhno-Kurilsk, Kunashir Yuzhno-Kurilsk anchor.jpg
Yuzhno-Kurilsk, Kunashir
Severo-Kurilsk, Paramushir 214 1426 Sev Kur main street wiki.jpg
Severo-Kurilsk, Paramushir
Signalny Rock, viewed from Cape Nosappu, Japan Signalny Rock.jpg
Signalny Rock, viewed from Cape Nosappu, Japan

While in Russian sources[ citation needed ] the islands are mentioned for the first time in 1646, the earliest detailed information about them was provided by the explorer Vladimir Atlasov in 1697. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Kuril Islands were explored by Danila Antsiferov, I. Kozyrevsky, Ivan Yevreinov, Fyodor Luzhin, Martin Shpanberg, Adam Johann von Krusenstern, Vasily Golovnin, and Henry James Snow.

The following table lists information on the main islands from north to south:

Island Russian : Name Japanese : NameAlternative
Island GroupCapital / Landing pointOther
Severo-Kurilsky District North Kurils North Kurils (北千島きたちしま) Severo-Kurilsk Shelikovo, Podgorny, Baikovo 3,504.002,560
Shumshu Шумшу占守島しゅむしゅとうShumushuNorth Kurils Baikovo 388.020
Atlasov Атласова阿頼度島あらいどとうOyakoba, AraidoNorth KurilsAlaidskaya Bay150.00
Paramushir Парамушир幌筵島ぱらむしるとうParamushiru, HoromushiroNorth Kurils Severo-Kurilsk Shelikovo, Podgorny 2,053.02,540
Antsiferov Анциферова志林規島しりんきとうShirinkiNorth KurilsAntsiferov beachCape Terkut7.00
Makanrushi Маканруши磨勘留島まかんるとうMakanruNorth KurilsZakat50.00
Awos Авось帆掛岩ほかけいわHokake, HainokoNorth Kurils0.10
Onekotan Онекотан温禰古丹島おんねこたんとうNorth KurilsMusselKuroisi, Nemo, Shestakov425.00
Kharimkotan Харимкотан志林規島しりんきとう春牟古丹島Harimukotan, HarumukotanNorth KurilsSunazhmaSevergin Bay70.00
Ekarma Экарма越渇磨島えかるまとうEkarumaNorth KurilsKruglyy30.00
Chirinkotan Чиринкотан知林古丹島ちりんこたんとうNorth KurilsCape Ptichy6.00
Shiashkotan Шиашкотан捨子古丹島しゃすこたんとうShasukotanNorth KurilsMakarovka122.00
Lowuschki Rocks Ловушки牟知列岩むしるれつがんMushiruNorth Kurils1.50
Raikoke Райкоке雷公計島らいこけとうNorth KurilsRaikoke4.60
Matua Матуа松輪島まつわとうMatsuwaNorth KurilsSarychevo52.00
Rasshua Расшуа羅処和島らしょわとうRashowa, RasutsuaNorth KurilsArches Point67.00
Srednego Среднего摺手岩すりでいわSurideNorth Kurils0
Ushishir Ушишир宇志知島うししるとうUshishiruNorth KurilsKraternyaRyponkicha5.00
Ketoy Кетой計吐夷島けといとうKetoiNorth KurilsStorozheva73.00
Kurilsky District Middle Kurils (Naka-chishima / 中千島)split between both Japanese groups Kurilsk Reidovo, Kitovyi, Rybaki, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Kasatka, Burevestnik, Shumi-Gorodok, Gornyy 5,138.46,606
Simushir Симушир新知島しむしるとうShimushiru, ShinshiruNorth Kurils Kraternyy Srednaya bay360.00
Broutona Броутона武魯頓島ぶろとんとうBuroton, MakanruruNorth KurilsNedostupnyy7.00
Chirpoy Чирпой知理保以島ちりほいとうChirihoi, ChierupoiNorth KurilsPeschanaya Bay21.00
Brat Chirpoyev Брат Чирпоев知理保以南島ChirihoinanNorth KurilsGarovnikovaSemenova16.00
Urup Уруп得撫島うるっぷとうUruppuNorth KurilsMys Kastrikum Mys Van-der-Lind1,450.00
OtherNorth Kurils4.40
Iturup Итуруп択捉島えとろふとうEtorofu, Yetorup South Kurils (Minami-chishima / 南千島) Kurilsk Reidovo, Kitovyi, Rybaki, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Kasatka, Burevestnik, Shumi-Gorodok, Gornyy 3,280.06,602
Yuzhno-Kurilsky District South KurilsSouth Kurils Yuzhno-Kurilsk Malokurilskoye, Rudnaya, Lagunnoye, Otrada, Goryachiy Plyazh, Aliger, Mendeleyevo, Dubovoye, Polino, Golovnino 1,860.810,268
Kunashir Кунашир国後島くなしりとうKunashiriSouth Kurils Yuzhno-Kurilsk Rudnaya, Lagunnoye, Otrada, Goryachiy Plyazh, Aliger, Mendeleyevo, Dubovoye, Polino, Golovnino 1,499.07,800
Shikotan GroupШикотан色丹列島しこたんれっとうSouth Kurils Malokurilskoye Dumnova, Otradnaya, Krabozavodskoye (formerly Anama), Zvezdnaya, Voloshina, Kray Sveta 264.132,440
Shikotan IslandШикотан色丹島しこたんとうSouth Kurils Malokurilskoye Dumnova, Otradnaya, Krabozavodskoye (formerly Anama), Zvezdnaya, Voloshina, Kray Sveta 255.002,440
OtherSouth Kurils Ayvazovskovo 9.10
Khabomai Хабомаи歯舞群島はぼまいぐんとうHabomaiSouth KurilsZorkiy Zelyony, Polonskogo 97.7028
** Polonskogo Полонского多楽島たらくとうTarakuSouth KurilsMoriakov Bay station11.572
** Oskolki Осколки海馬島かいばとうTodo, KaibaSouth Kurils0
** Zelyony Зелёный志発島しぼつとうShibotsuSouth KurilsGlushnevskyi station58.723
** Kharkar Харкар春苅島はるかるとうHarukaru, DyominaSouth KurilsHaruka0.80
** Yuri Юрий勇留島ゆりとうYuriSouth KurilsKalernaya10.320
** Anuchina Анучина秋勇留島あきゆりとうAkiyuriSouth KurilsBolshoye Bay2.350
** Tanfilyeva Танфильева水晶島すいしょうじまSuishōSouth KurilsZorkiyTanfilyevka Bay, Bolotnoye12.9223
** Storozhevoy Сторожевой萌茂尻島もえもしりとうMoemoshiriSouth Kurils0.070
** Rifovy Рифовыйオドケ島OdokeSouth Kurils0
** Signalny Сигнальный貝殻島かいがらじまKaigaraSouth Kurils0.020
** OtherSouth Kurils Opasnaga, Udivitelnaya 1.00

See also

Related Research Articles

Kuril Islands dispute Disagreement between Japan and Russia over sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands

The Kuril Islands dispute, also known in Japan as the Northern Territories dispute, is a disagreement between Japan and Russia and also some individuals of the Ainu people over sovereignty of the four southernmost Kuril Islands. The Kuril Islands is a chain of islands that stretch between the Japanese island of Hokkaido at the southern end and the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula at the northern end. The islands separate the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. The four disputed islands, like other islands in the Kuril chain that are not in dispute, were annexed by the Soviet Union following the Kuril Islands landing operation at the end of World War II. The disputed islands are under Russian administration as the South Kuril District of the Sakhalin Oblast. They are claimed by Japan, which refers to them as its Northern Territories or Southern Chishima, and considers them part of the Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture.

Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875) 1875 treaty between the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire

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Invasion of the Kuril Islands conflict

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Kunashir Island island in South Kuril Islands

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Iturup island in South Kuril Islands

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Urup island in Russia

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Habomai Islands island group in South Kuril Islands

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Paramushir island in Russia

Paramushir (Russian: Парамушир, romanized: Paramushir, Japanese: 幌筵島, romanized: Paramushiru-tō or Horomushiro-tō, Ainu: パラムシㇼ or パラムシㇽ, romanized: Para-mu-sir, is a volcanic island in the northern portion of Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is separated from Shumshu by the very narrow Second Kuril Strait in the northeast 2.5 km, from Antsiferov by the Luzhin Strait to the southwest, from Atlasov in the northwest by 20 kilometres, and from Onnekotan in the south by the 40 km wide Fourth Kuril Strait. Its northern tip is 39 kilometres from Cape Lopatka at the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “broad island” or “populous island”. Severo-Kurilsk, the administrative center of the Severo-Kurilsky district, is the only permanently populated settlement on Paramushir island.

Yuri (island) Sakhalin Oblast, Russia

Yuri (Iurii) is an uninhabited island in the Habomai Islands sub-group of the Kuril Islands chain in the south of the Sea of Okhotsk, northwest Pacific Ocean. Its name is derived from the Ainu language word for cormorant.

Ekarma island in Russia

Ekarma is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, separated from Shiashkotan by the Ekarma Strait. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “safe anchorage”.

Shiashkotan island in Russia

Shiashkotan ; is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, separated from Ekarma by the Ekarma Strait. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “Konbu village”.

Yuzhno-Kurilsk Urban-type settlement in Sakhalin Oblast, Russia

Yuzhno-Kurilsk is an urban locality and the administrative center of Yuzhno-Kurilsky District of Sakhalin Oblast, Russia. Population: 5,832 (2010 Census); 5,751 (2002 Census); 6,344 (1989 Census). It is the largest settlement on the Kunashir Island of the Kuril Islands.

Ainu in Russia

The Ainu in Russia are an indigenous people of Russia located in Sakhalin Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai and Kamchatka Krai. The Russian Ainu people, also called Kurile (Курилы), Kamchatka's Kurile or Ein (эйны), can be subdivided into six groups.

Anuchina island in the Habomai Islands

Anuchina is an uninhabited island in the Habomai Islands sub-group of the Kuril Islands chain in the south of the Sea of Okhotsk, northwest Pacific Ocean. Named after Dmitry Anuchin, Russian anthropologist, ethnographist and archaeologist. Island's Japanese name is derived from the Ainu language.

Kuril Ainu or Kuril, is an extinct and poorly attested Ainu language of the Kuril Islands, now part of Russia. The main inhabited islands were Kunashir, Iturup and Urup in the south, and Shumshu in the north. Other islands either had small populations or were visited for fishing or hunting. There may have been a small mixed Kuril–Itelmen population at the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Japan–Russia border Separates territories of border between Japan and Russia

The Japan–Russia border is the de facto maritime boundary that separates the territorial waters of the two countries. According to the Russia border agency, the border's length is 194.3 km.

Kurils Nature Reserve

Kurils Nature Reserve is a Russian 'zapovednik' covering the north and south portions of Kunashir Island, the largest and most southernmost of the Kuril Islands, which stretch between Hokkaido Island in Japan to the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russia Far East. It also covers two smaller islands nearby to the southeast. The area is one of the largest wintering sites for coastal seabirds. The reserve sits on a tectonically unstable location, and is one of two Russian national reserves that protects territory of active volcanoes. The reserve is situated in the Yuzhno-Kurilsky District of Sakhalin Oblast. The reserve was created in 1984, and covers an area of 65,364 ha (252.37 sq mi).

South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests

The South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests ecoregion is split between the southwest region of Sakhalin Island, and the southern three islands of the Kurile Islands chain in the Russian Far East. The ecoregion is in the Palearctic ecozone, with a Humid Continental climate. It covers 12,432 km2 (4,800 sq mi).


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Further reading