Sakhalin

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Sakhalin

(səkhəlyēn`), formerly

Saghalien

(sägälyĕn`), island (c.29,500 sq mi/76,400 sq km), off the coast of Asian Russia, between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan; separated from the Russian mainland on the west by the Tatar Strait and from Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, by the Soya Strait. With the Kuril IslandsKuril Islands
or Kuriles
, Jap. Chishima-Retto, Rus. Kurilskiye Ostrova, island chain, c.6,020 sq mi (15,590 sq km), Sakhalin region, E Russia. They stretch c.
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 it forms the Sakhalin region (1995 est. pop. 673,100) of the Russian Far EastRussian Far East,
formerly Soviet Far East,
federal district (1989 est. pop. 7,941,000), c.2,400,000 sq mi (6,216,000 sq km), encompassing the entire northeast coast of Asia and including the Sakha Republic, Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Khabarovsk Territory,
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. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, near the S end of Sakhalin, is the oblast's capital.

Two parallel mountain ranges, separated by a central valley, run the length of this elongated and forested island. The climate is severe, but grains, beets, and potatoes are successfully grown in the south. Lumbering, offshore gas production, herring fishing, and paper milling are the principal industries. There are oil fields in the northeast and pipelines run to Nikolayevsk and Komsomolsk Amur on the mainland; offshore oil and gas fields are being developed, and liquefied natural gas is shipped from Prigorodnoye, SE of the capital. Despite their small size, the coal and iron deposits are vital to Asian Russia, where these minerals are scarce. Coastal shipping is also important to Sakhalin's economy. The island's population is predominantly Russian, with the indigenous tribe of Gilyaks the largest minority.

Sakhalin was explored by Russians in the 17th cent. and subsequently colonized by Russia and Japan in the 18th and 19th cent. It was under joint Russo-Japanese control (formalized by the Treaty of Shimoda, 1855) until it passed entirely to Russia in 1875, when Japan obtained the Kuril Islands in return. Sakhalin became a czarist place of exile. By the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905), Russia retained the portion of Sakhalin north of lat. 50° N and Japan obtained the remainder. The Japanese territory was named Karafuto, and this name was sometimes applied to the whole island. Both countries colonized extensively and reduced the native population to a minority.

After World War II the Japanese holdings were transferred to the USSR and nearly all the Japanese population was repatriated. In an agreement signed in 1951 with the USSR, Japan renounced all claims to Sakhalin. In the hope of attracting foreign investment, the island's parliament declared the island a free trade zone in 1990, and Sakhalin residents began trading with the Japanese. In 1995 the northern city of Neftegorsk was leveled by an earthquake; nearly 2,000 people died. The beginning of the 21st cent. brought the development of offshore oil and gas fields and a consequent economic boom.

Sakhalin

 

an island off the east coast of Asia, part of Sakhalin Oblast of the RSFSR. Surrounded by the Seas of Okhotsk and Japan, Sakhalin is separated from the continent by the Tatar Strait, which is 7.3 km wide at its narrowest section, called Nevel’skii Strait. La Pérouse Strait separates the island from the Japanese island of Hokkaido in the south. Sakhalin stretches for 948 km in a meridional direction from Cape Kril’on in the south to Cape Elizaveta in the north. With an average width of 100 km, the island narrows to 6 km at Okha Isthmus and 2 km at Poiasok Isthmus. Area, 76,400 sq km.

The shores of Sakhalin are comparatively little indented; the only large bays, Aniva and Terpeniia (both opening southward), are found in the southern and central parts of the island. The Shmidt, Terpeniia, Tonino-Aniva, and Kril’on peninsulas protrude sharply into the seas. Whereas the mountainous coastal sectors are straight and steep, the coast of the lowlands is generally low and fringed by bars and lagoons, the largest of which occur in the northeast.

The topography includes medium-elevation mountains, low mountains, and low-lying plains. The largest plain, the Northern Sakhalin Plain, occupies the northern part of the island excluding the Shmidt Peninsula. The coastal areas are occupied by swampy lowlands with ancient sea terraces and shore ridges. Southward from the plain stretch the Tym’-Poronai and Susu-nai intermontane axial troughs, each formed by a pair of broad valleys extending in opposite directions. The bottoms of the troughs are composed of low plains and rolling terraces.

To the west of the axial depression, the Western (Zapadnyi) Sakhalin Mountains, rising to 1,325 m (Zhuravlev Peak) in Mount Vozvrashcheniia, stretch along the coast of the Tatar Strait. To the east, along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, are the Eastern (Vostochnyi) Sakhalin Mountains (Mount Lopatin, 1,609 m) and the Susunai Range (Mount Chekhov, 1,047 m), separated by Terpeniia Bay. The Murav’ev Lowlands on the Murav’ev Isthmus separate the Tonino-Aniva Range (Mount Kurzenshtern, 670 m) from the Susunai Range in the southeast. The Shmidt Peninsula at the northern tip of Sakhalin also has two ranges, called the Eastern and Western ranges, separated by a low-lying valley. The Eastern Range rises to 623 m in Mount Vtoroi Brat of the Tri Brata Massif. The cones of extinct volcanoes (Krasnov, Ichar) are found in the Lamanon Mountains.

Geologically, Sakhalin is part of the Cenozoic folded region of the Pacific Geosynclinal Belt. Two meridional anti-clinoria—the East Sakhalin and West Sakhalin—are separated by the Central Sakhalin Synclinorium. Paleozoic rocks form the core of the East Sakhalin Anticlinorium, and Upper Cretaceous rocks, the core of the West Sakhalin Anticlinorium. The Central Sakhalin Synclinorium is composed of Neogene deposits. Strong seismic activity attests to continuing mountain-building processes.

Minerals of industrial importance include petroleum, gas, and coal. Petroleum and gas deposits are confined to the Neogene beds in the north (Ekhabi, Katangli). Coal is associated with Paleogene beds, which contain deposits of various types of coal (Vakhrushev, Novikovo). There are gold deposits near Langry, and ores of mercury and platinum are also known to occur.

Sakhalin has a temperate monsoonal climate. Winters are generally cold and wetter than on the continent, and summers are cool and rainy. The cooling effect of the continental Siberian monsoon in winter and the cold waters of the Sea of Okhotsk in summer makes the climate exceptionally severe for the latitude. Winter cyclones cause blizzards and heavy snowfalls. The nonfreezing parts of the Sea of Okhotsk and Tatar Strait mitigate and moisten the winter monsoon to some extent. The summer monsoon brings wet oceanic air to the north, causing maximum precipitation during the summer. Under the influence of ocean currents, the cold Sakhalin Current in the east and the warm Tsushima Current in the southwest, the east coast is colder than the west coast.

The mean January temperature ranges from - 17.7° to - 24.5°C in the north and from -6.2° to - 12°C in the south. Winter lasts from five to seven months and summer, two or three months. In August the mean temperature varies from 10.9° to 15.6°C in the north and from 16° to 19.6°C in the south. Fog envelops the coast in the summer, and typhoons with hurricane winds and heavy rainfall are common in the autumn. The west coast receives 600—850 mm of precipitation annually, the central part 500—750 mm, the north more than 400 mm, and the mountains 1,000–1,200 mm.

Most of the rivers of Sakhalin are full mountain rivers flowing into the Seas of Okhotsk or the Sea of Japan. Spring and early summer floods are caused by the melting of snow on the plain and in the mountains, and summer and autumn maximums are linked to monsoons and typhoons. The rivers are frozen from about November to April or May. The largest rivers, the Tym’ and Poronai, are navigable for small vessels along flat stretches. Many rivers are used for timber floating.

Sakhalin has many shallow lakes, most of them in the lowlands and plains. Lagoons cut off from the sea occur along the coast. There are numerous swamps, especially in the Poronai Lowlands (Tym’-Poronai Trough).

On the plains the soils are peaty-podzolic swamp loams and medium or weakly podzolized sandy loams. Marsh and alluvial soils, both meadow-soddy and meadow-gley, occur in the axial troughs. In the mountains there are brown taiga nonpodzolized or weakly podzolized soils. Mountain podzolic soils are found in the Eastern Sakhalin Mountains.

The flora of Sakhalin is basically of the southern Okhotsk type, with northern Japanese species predominating in the south and southwest. The northern part of the island is covered with a sparse larch taiga. South of 52°N lat. the forest consists chiefly of Yeddo spruce and Sakhalin fir. In the southwest the conifers are mixed with Amur cork (Phellodendron amurense), Manchurian mountain ash, Mongolian oak, and other broad-leaved trees. Lianas also appear here, including species of Actinidia, the woody vine Schizandra chinensis, and the grapevine Vitis thunbergii. On the upper mountain slopes are thickets of Erman’s birch and the dwarf stone pine Pinus pumila. Kuril bamboo thrives in the undergrowth on the slopes of the Western Sakhalin Mountains. High grasslands of giant ferns, sacaline, and other plants flourish under the forest canopy, especially in the valleys. Large treeless stretches resembling tundra and forest tundra occur on the swampy plains.

Most of Sakhalin has a typical Siberian taiga fauna, with somewhat fewer species than the mainland fauna. Mammals include bears, foxes, wolverines, sables, squirrels, burunduki (Eutamius), reindeer, and musk deer. Colonies of murres, tufted puffins, cormorants, and other birds are found on the rocky coast. Such marine mammals as sea lions, sea otters, and fur seals are encountered near the shore. Salmon ascend the rivers to spawn.

IU. K. EFREMOV

The island was first inhabited by the Ainu, Nivkh, and Evenki. It became known to Europeans in the 17th century, when it was visited by I. Iu. Moskvitin’s band of cossacks in 1640, by the Dutch seafarer M. de Vries in 1643, and by members of V. D. Poiarkov’s expedition in 1643–46. Subsequently, the island was explored by the French navigator Comte de La Pérouse in the late 18th century and by the Russian Admiral I. F. Kruzenshtern in the early 19th century. G. I. Nevel’skoi’s expedition in 1848–49 established that Sakhalin was an island. Under Russo-Japanese treaties and agreements Sakhalin was recognized as a joint possession in 1855 and ceded to Russia in 1875. Initially included in the Maritime Province, Sakhalin was governed independently from 1884; the administrative center was Aleksandrovskii Post. From the late 1860’s until 1906, Sakhalin was a penal colony and place of exile.

In the second half of the 19th century Russians began to explore the island and develop its resources. A. P. Chekhov visited the island in 1890. After the Russo-Japanese War, the area south of 50°N lat. was ceded to Japan in 1905 by the Treaty óf Portsmouth. In 1909 the northern part of the island was designated an oblast with Aleksandrovsk as its administrative center. Northern Sakhalin was held by White Guards from 1918 to 1920, and from 1920 to 1925 it was occupied by the Japanese. After becoming part of the RSFSR in May 1925, northern Sakhalin was an okrug of the Far East Krai from 1926 to 1930. Two years later it was reorganized as an oblast of the Far East Krai, renamed Khabarovsk Krai in 1938.

During the Sakhalin Operation of 1945, Soviet forces liberated southern Sakhalin. In accordance with the decisions of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, southern Sakhalin was returned to the USSR in 1945 and the next year the South Sakhalin Oblast was created as part of Khabarovsk Krai. On Jan. 2, 1947, the independent Sakhalin Oblast was formed, including all of Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and the islands of Moneron and Tiulenii.

REFERENCES

Ostrov Sakhalin. Khabarovsk, 1971.
Geologiia SSSR, vol. 33, part 1: Ostrov Sakhalin. Moscow, 1970.
Zemtsova, A. I. Klimat Sakhalina. Leningrad, 1968.
Ivlev, A. M. Pochvy Sakhalina. Moscow, 1965.
Naumenko, Z. M., and L. F. Barannikov. Lesa i lesnaia promyshlennost’ Sakhalina. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Atlas Sakhalinskoioblasti. Moscow, 1967.
Chekhov. A. P. Ostrov Sakhalin. In Sobr. soch., vol. 10. Moscow, 1963.
Sakhalinskaia obl.: Sb. st. Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk, 1960.
Senchenko, I. A. Revoliutsionery Rossii nasakhalinskoi katorge. Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk, 1963.

Sakhalin

, Saghalien
an island in the Sea of Okhotsk, off the SE coast of Russia north of Japan: fishing, forestry, and mineral resources (coal and petroleum). Capital: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Pop.: 546 500 (2002). Area: 76 000 sq. km (29 300 sq. miles)
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