Komandorskie Islands

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Komandorskie Islands


(Commander Islands), a group of four islands on the boundary between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, 200 km east of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Part of Kamchatka Oblast, RSFSR, they include Bering Island (85 km long and approximately 40 km wide), Mednyi Island (56 km long and 5–7 km wide), and two small islands, Toporkov and the crag Arii Kamen’. The total area measures 1,848 sq km.

The islands, which are composed of basalts and andesites, are subject to earthquakes. The relief is mountainous, with elevations reaching 751 m. The coastlines are rocky and slightly indented. The climate is oceanic, with cool summers; the average August temperature is 10°C, and the average February temperature, about — 4°C. Annual precipitation totals approximately 500 mm. The islands are covered with oceanic meadows and mountain tundra. Thickets of willow shrubs, mountain ash, and Erman’s birch (1–2 m in height) grow in some valleys; aquatic plants (particularly kale) abound off the shores. There are bird colonies on the shores. The islands are the breeding ground for the fur seal and Steller’s sea lion; sea otters are also found.

The chief occupations of the island’s population are sea hunting and fishing, the protection and strictly regulated slaughter of fur seals, and fur farming (blue fox). The populated areas are Nikol’skoe (Bering Island) and Preobrazhenskoe (Mednyi Island). The islands were named in honor of V. Bering, who, at the time he discovered them in 1741, held the rank of commander (komandor).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.