The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

Far Eastern Region of the Russian Federation

Reference work entry
Far Eastern Region of the Russian Federation – situated in the eastern part of the Russian Federation, the area is 6.2 million km2 (36.4 % of Russia’s territory, the largest region). The population is 8.1 million people. The region includes nine subjects of the Russian Federation: the Sakha Republic (Yakutia); Primorskiy, Khabarovskiy, and Kamchatskiy Krai; Amur, Magadan, and Sakhalin Oblast; and Jewish Autonomous Okrug and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. It has a very favorable geographic location, being washed by the Arctic and Pacific Oceans and by the Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas in the north and the Bering and Okhotsk Seas and the Sea of Japan in the east. Has land borders with China and North Korea in the south and sea borders with Japan across the La Perouse Strait in the east and with the USA across the Bering Strait in the northeast.

Far Eastern Region of the Russian Federation (Source:

More than three fourths of the territory is covered with young mountains. Heavy earthquakes, active volcanism (active volcanoes and geysers in the Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands), and tsunami are not rare here. The Chersky Range (four to five times bigger in its area than the Caucasus) contains mountain ranges (Sikhote-Alin, Verkhoyansk, Stanovoy, Sredinnyi, Vostochny), uplands (Central Siberian Plateau, Yana Upland, Oymyakon Plateau, Kolyma Upland, Central Yakut Plain), and lowlands (Yana-Indigirka and Kolyma).

Water resources of the region include the main rivers: the Amur (the longest river in the Russian Federation, 4,440 km) and the Lena (the third longest river) with the tributaries the Vilyuy, the Aldan, the Kolyma, the Yana, the Indigirka, the Anadyr, the Kamchatka, the Ussuri, and the Poronay (Sakhalin Island). There is also the large Lake Khanka. The highest waterfall in the Russian Federation is Ilya Muromets (Iturup Island).

The climate is arctic in the north (Wrangel Island is an arctic desert), typical inland in the northern and central parts (the influence of arctic air mass manifests itself), and marine monsoon climate in the southeast (maximum rainfall in July and August). The average temperature in January around the Arctic Coast is −28 °C up to −40 °C, in the central part reaching −50 °C (−70 °C, “cold pole” in the area of Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon, Yakutia), in the south along the Amur ranging from −2 °C to −30 °C, at the coast of the Sea of Japan and the Chukchi and the Okhotsk Seas from −12 °C (Primorskiy Krai) to −19 °C (Magadan Oblast), in Kamchatka from −11 °C° to −24 °C, and in Sakhalin from −8 °C to −24 °C. The average July temperature in the abovementioned areas is, respectively, ranging from +2 °C to +8 °C, from +14 °C to +20 °C, from +17 °C to +21 °C, from +20 °C to +8 °C, from +10 °C to +16 °C, and from +10 °C to +19 °C. Rainfall amounts to 200 mm a year in the Arctic Coast, 300–700 mm in the central part of the region, 800–900 mm along the Amur and in Primorskiy Krai, in Sikhote-Alin up to 1,200 mm, in Kamchatka 600–1,100 mm, in Sakhalin 400–850 mm, and in the islands up to 1,000–1,200 mm a year.

Interaction of continental and marine air masses and a complicated relief result in great variation of vegetation. Zonal variability is very obvious as well as vertical zonality in the mountains. The main peculiarity of the nature is the presence of typically southern and northern representatives in the species composition of the flora and the fauna. There are tundra in the Arctic Ocean Coast and the Bering Sea; forest-tundra as far as Okhotsk (Magadan Oblast); taiga (Ussuri) in the south, in Primorye, Amur River region; light forests with stone birch and larch and along the slopes the tangle of cedar elfin wood with alder tree and lichen in Sakhalin Island, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and the coast of the Okhotsk Sea; and broad-leaved forests (a combination of flora and fauna of taiga and the zone of monsoon mingled forests) in the south of Primorskiy Krai.

Of the total area of the region, forest occupies 280.6 million ha or 45 % (predominantly coniferous forests). The stand of timber comprises 21,260 million m3, or 26.6 % of Russia’s stand of timber. Forest resources do not limit forest harvesting volume to a significant extent, but their development leads to serious expenses.

The soil covering is represented in the north by mountain and tundra and mountain and taiga soils and in the south by brown, gray forest, sod and podzolic, and mountain and forest soils. The northern part is covered by permafrost.

In terms of mineral deposit variety, the Far Eastern Region excels in the whole country, but many depositions are badly studied and need much geological work.

Biological resources in the 200-mile long sea zone are evaluated at 25.8 million tons, including 23 million tons of fish resources. The region is rich in hunting animals, especially furbearers, as well as in berries, mushrooms, and medical plants.

Free-trade zones are “Bolshoy Vladivostok,” “Nakhodka” and “Tumangan” (Primorskiy Krai), “Eva” (Jewish Autonomous Okrug), “Magadan,” and “Sakhalin.”

Coal mining: Lena coal-mining field (Yakutia) – Kangalassy (brown coal) and Sangar and Dzhebariki-Khaya (mineral coal); South Yakutian Coal Basin (crozzling coal, mostly exported to Japan), Neryungri; Nizhnezeyskiy Lignite Basin-Raychikhinsk (Amur Oblast); Bureinskiy Coal Basin-Urgalsk deposition (Sredniy Urgal, Khabarovskiy Krai); Primorskiy Krai-Partizansk (mineral coal), Artem and Bikinsk Basin (brown coal); Magadan Oblast-Arkagala, Galimy (mineral coal); Chukotka Autonomous Okrug-Beringovskiy Basin (mineral coal), Ugolnye Kopi (close to Anadyr, brown coal); Sakhalin-Mgachi, Boshnyakovo, Lopatino (mineral coal), Gornozavodsk, Vakhrushev (brown coal). Zyryanskiy Coal Basin (Yakutia) and a brown coal field in Kamchatka (Korf) are not under development.

Oil and gas production: Okha and Nogliki, the Sea of Okhotsk shelf (Sakhalin oil and gas development district). Gas production: Sredne-Vilyuysk and Talon-Maskachka Basins (Yakutia). Oil refinery plants: Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk, a mini-refinery in Sakhalin

Ironstone deposits: Yakutia, Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Okrug (not under development). Steelworks in Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Khabarovskiy Krai)

Deposits and development of polymetallic ore (Dalnegorsk (Primorskiy Krai)), of tungsten ore (Vostok (Primorskiy Krai)), of tin ore (Ese-Khaya, Deputatskiy (Yakutia), Pevek (Chukotka Autonomous Okrug), Omsukchan (Magadan Oblast), Solnechnoe (Khabarovskiy Krai), and Perevalnoe and Kavalerovo (Primorskiy Krai)), and of gold (Nezhdaninskoe, Allakh-Yun, and Ust-Nera (Yakutia), Zolotaya Gora (Amur Oblast), and Dukat (Magadan Oblast)). Mercury deposits – Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Yakutia, Khabarovskiy Krai. Lead production – Dalnegorsk (Primorskiy Krai).

Diamond mining – Mirny (Yakutia).

Huge supplies of waterpower: Zeya Dam, Vilyuysk, and Kolyma Hydroelectric Power Stations. Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant (Chukotka Autonomous Okrug). Supplies of geothermal energy are significant – Pauzhet Geothermal Power Station, the only of its kind in Russia (Kamchatskiy Krai).

The population is 8.1 million people (5 % of the whole population of the Russian Federation). The ethnic composition is very diverse, but the Russians prevail everywhere. Their proportion reaches 88 %, about 7 % are the Ukrainians and 4.5 % are the Yakuts and the Nivkhs (Sakhalin Island), Belorussians, and Tatars – 1 % each. In recent years there has been a huge influx of the Chinese. Indigenous peoples are presented by the Yakuts (380,000 people); the Dolgans, the Evenkis, and the Evens live in the north; the Chukchi and the Eskimos occupy northeastern parts; the Aleutians live in the islands; the Koryaks and the Itelmens in Kamchatka; the Nanais, the Ulchis, the Orochis, the Udegeis, and the Nivkhs in the Amur Basin and to the east of it. Each people’s population does not exceed 10,000 people (except for the Evenkis, 24,000 people). Severe living conditions have stipulated the prevalence of town population over one village; the average rate in the region is 76 %. The average density of population is 1.3 people for 1 km2 (the lowest rate in the Russian Federation), ranging from 13.5 people for a km2 in Primorskiy Krai to 0.6 and 0.5 people for a km2 in Magadan Oblast and Yakutia, respectively.

In economy there prevail extractive industries. In the Soviet time, the South Yakutian Territorial Production Complex was founded.

The region contains about three tenths of the Russia’s timber supplies. Timber processing complex (Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Khabarovskiy Krai)). Woodworking industry (Lesozavodsk (Primorskiy Krai), Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Amursk, and Bikin (Khabarovskiy Krai)). Plywood industry (Vladivostok, Birobidzhan). Furniture production (Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok). Match production (Blagoveshchensk). Pulp and paper production (Poronaysk, Uglegorsk, Kholmsk, Makarov, Tomari, Dolinsk (Sakhalin Oblast), Amursk (Khabarovskiy Krai)). Concrete production (Spassk-Dalniy (Primorskiy Krai), Teplozersk (Jewish Autonomous Okrug)). Heavy mechanical engineering (ore mining, lift handling, and foundry equipment) (Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Khabarovskiy Krai)). Power engineering (Khabarovsk). Aircraft engineering, war, and passenger plane production (“Su”) (Komsomolsk-on-Amur). Helicopter production (Arsenyev (Primorskiy Krai) and Ussuriysk (Primorskiy Krai)). Shipbuilding and ship repairing (Vladivostok, Nakhodka (Primorskiy Krai), Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Sovetskaya Gavan, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur (Khabarovskiy Krai), Blagoveshchensk (Amur Oblast), Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy (Kamchatskiy Krai), Kholmsk, Nevelsk (Sakhalin Oblast)). Utility supply production (Birobidzhan, Belogorsk, and Svobodnyi (Amur Oblast)). Diesel engine and metal-cutting equipment production (Khabarovsk)

The largest in the Russian Federation fish processing industry, providing more than 40 % of fish crop in the country. Salmon fishes, crabs, squid, shellfishes (scallops), sea cucumbers, and seaweed are harvested here.

Light and food manufacturing industries are not very well developed (except fish industry).

Agriculture is not developed as well, except for Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Okrug, and Primorskiy Krai. Polar agriculture type is prevailing here. Favorable agroclimatic resources provide stable agronomy in the extreme south. Here the grain crops are spring wheat, winter rye, barley, oats, and corn in the south of Primorskiy Krai. Soya planting is important on a national level (Amur Oblast). There are plantations of beets (Primorskiy Krai) and sunflowers (Primorskiy and Khabarovskiy Krai, Amur Oblast). Horticulture is also developed.

Reindeer (Yakutia, Magadan Oblast, the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and Kamchatskaya Oblast) and velvet antler breeding, cattle breeding, pig farming and beekeeping (in the south), animal breeding, and fur trade

Transport network is underdeveloped. Main railway lines are the Trans-Siberian Railway (Chelyabinsk-Vladivostok through Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Okrug, and Khabarovskiy Krai) with branches stretching up to Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Vanino (Sovetskaya Gavan, Khabarovskiy Krai); Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM, Ust-Kut, Irkutsk Oblast-Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovskiy Krai); and Malyi BAM-Berkakit (Yakutia)-Tynda (on BAM)-NAM (Trans-Siberian Railway). Sakhalin Railway (the longest narrow-gauge railway in the Russian Federation). Combined train-car ferry Vanino-Kholmsk (Sakhalin). There are construction projects for a railway tunnel from mainland to Sakhalin Island and for a railway through the Bering Strait. Automobile highways of federal significance “Amur” (Chita-Never-Svobodny-Arkhara-Birobidzhan-Khabarovsk), “Kolyma” (Yakutsk-Magadan), “Ussuri” (Khabarovsk-Vladivostok), and “Lena” (Never-Tynda-Yakutsk) connect Yakutia to the Trans-Siberian Railway

River navigation along the Lena lasts 120–180 days and along the Amur up to 9 months. Big river ports are Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Blagoveshchensk, and Yakutsk. Rather an isolated location away from the European part of Russia and access to the seas of the Pacific and the Arctic Oceans determine the status of the region as an outpost of Russia in the eastern borders. Foreign economic relations with many countries of the Pacific area are conducted through the Far Eastern ports. The largest seaports are Nakhodka (close to Vladivostok), Vladivostok, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. The ports of the Northern Sea Route are Tiksi (Yakutia), Pevek, and Provideniya (both are in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug). Air transportation. Gas pipeline Vilyuysk-Yakutsk. Petrol pipeline Okha (Sakhalin)-Komsomolsk-on-Amur

Space launch complex close to Svobodnyi (Amur Oblast)

The region has a significant tourism potential – unique (and rich in fish) rivers and lakes and volcanic regions – the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands

Art handicrafts: bone carving – Uelen (Chukotka Autonomous District).

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016