Russian Far East

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Russian Far East,


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 TerritoryMaritime Territory
or Primorsky Kray
, administrative division (1992 pop. 2,309,000), c.64,900 sq mi (168,100 sq km), Russian Far East, between China (Manchuria or the Northeast) in the west and the Sea of Japan in the east. Vladivostok is the capital.
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 (Primorsky Kray), Khabarovsk TerritoryKhabarovsk Territory,
administrative division (1989 est. pop. 1,800,000), 305,000 sq mi (789,950 sq km), Russian Far East. Situated in the eastern and northeastern extremity of Siberia, the territory is bounded by the Sea of Okhotsk in the east, the Maritime Territory and China
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, Kamchatka Territory, the Amur, Magadan, and Sakhalin regions, the Jewish Autonomous RegionJewish Autonomous Region
or Birobidzhan
, autonomous region (1995 pop. 211,900), c.13,800 sq mi (35,700 sq km), Khabarovsk Territory, Russian Far East, in the basins of the Biro and Bidzhan rivers, tributaries of the Amur. The capital is Birobidzhan.
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, and the Chukotka autonomous area. Although much of the region is commonly considered a part of SiberiaSiberia
, Rus. Sibir, vast geographical region of Russia, covering c.2,900,000 sq mi (7,511,000 sq km) and having an estimated population (1992) of 32,459,000. Historically it has had no official standing as a political or territorial division, but it was generally
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, the Russian Far East has been treated separately in Soviet and Russian regional schemes. In 2000 the area, as the Far Eastern federal district, was made a Russian administrative federal districts; KhabarovskKhabarovsk
, city (1989 pop. 601,000), capital of Khabarovsk Territory and the administrative center of the Far Eastern federal district, Russian Far East, on the Amur River near its junction with the Ussuri.
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 is the district administrative center.

The Russian Far East is bounded on the NW by Krasnoyarsk Territory, on the N by the East Siberian Sea, on the NE by the Bering Sea, on the SE by the Sea of Japan, on the S by China (Manchuria), and on the SW by the Chita and Irkutsk regions and the Yablonovy Mts. Other ranges in this mountainous area include the Stanovoy, Dzhugdzhur, and Kolyma. Arctic tundratundra
, treeless plains of N North America and N Eurasia, lying principally along the Arctic Circle, on the coasts and islands of the Arctic Ocean, and to the north of the coniferous forest belt.
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 covers the far north of the region, and forest taigataiga
, northern coniferous-forest belt of Eurasia, bordered on the north by the treeless tundra and on the south by the steppe. This vast belt, comprising about one third of the forest land of the world, extends south from the tundra to about lat.
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 occupies the central section. In the south are the fertile Amur and Ussuri river valleys.

More than 25 ethnic groups inhabit the Russian Far East, among them Russians, Jews, Koryaks, Tungus, Chukchi, Yakuts, and Kamchatkans. Important urban centers include YakutskYakutsk
, city (1989 pop. 187,000), capital of the Sakha Republic, E Siberian Russia, a major port on the Lena River. It is also a highway center and has tanneries, sawmills, and brickworks. Yakutsk was founded in 1632.
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, VladivostokVladivostok
, city (1989 pop. 634,000), capital of Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Russian Far East, on a peninsula that extends between two bays of the Sea of Japan.
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, KomsomolskKomsomolsk
or Komsomolsk-on-Amur
, Rus. Komsomolsk-na-Amure, city (1989 pop. 315,000), Khabarovsk Territory, S Russian Far East, on the Amur River. It is a manufacturing center producing steel, machinery, refined oil, ships, aircraft, electrical goods, and wood
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, Khabarovsk, UssuriyskUssuriysk
, city (1989 pop. 158,000), Maritime Territory, Russian Far East, on the Suyfun River. It is a coal-mining center and a Trans-Siberian RR junction. A direct rail line to the Manchurian city of Harbin runs from Ussuriysk.
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, and Nikolayevsk.


Iron and steel manufacturing, oil refining, lumbering, and machine building are among the many industries. Large thermoelectric stations furnish industrial power. Coal is mined in the Buryea River basin and on SakhalinSakhalin
, formerly Saghalien
, 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
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, whose northern half also contains major oil fields. The Kolyma gold fields constitute the chief source of Russian gold, and there are rich deposits of iron ore, lignite, lead, zinc, and silver. The main crops are wheat, oats, soybeans, and sugar beets. Fishing, fur hunting, and trapping are important occupations. Major means of transport in the region include the Trans-Siberian RRTrans-Siberian Railroad,
rail line, linking European Russia with the Pacific coast. Its construction began in 1891, on the initiative of Count S. Y. Witte, and was completed in 1905.
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, the Baykal-Amur MainlineBaykal-Amur Mainline
(BAM), railroad line linking central Siberian Russia with the Pacific. The BAM parallels the Trans-Siberian RR but passes north rather than south of Lake Baykal. It is 1,928 mi (3,102 km) long, with 1,987 bridges.
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 (BAM), and the Amur River.


Russian colonization of the area began in the late 16th cent., when Cossacks built forts and settlements; Russian fur traders arrived soon afterward. In 1856–57 the Russians took advantage of a weak Chinese empire to occupy all of the territory N of the Amur, and in 1860 they seized the land E of the Ussuri; the People's Republic of China has denounced the "unequal treaties" by which Russia sought to legitimize these conquests. In 1875 the Russians took Sakhalin (formerly under joint Russo-Japanese control) from Japan. With completion of the Trans-Siberian RR, Russian settlement of the area accelerated. Russia retained N Sakhalin under the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905), but Japan was awarded the rest of the island.

After the Russian Revolution (1917), Japanese forces landed at Vladivostok and occupied large parts of the Russian territory. They were joined by a U.S., British, and French expeditionary force, which arrived in the apparent hope of preventing the Germans from using the area's resources during World War I. The interventionist forces gave considerable support to the anti-Bolshevik units of Admiral KolchakKolchak, Aleksandr Vasilyevich
, 1874–1920, Russian admiral, leader of the anti-Bolshevik forces in W Siberia during the civil war (1918–20). He distinguished himself in the Russo-Japanese War, and in World War I he commanded the Black Sea fleet.
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, which had occupied most of the region. By 1920, Bolshevik units had defeated Kolchak's troops, and the Allies withdrew. However, the Japanese remained, and in 1920 the Far Eastern Republic was formed as a buffer state between Japan and the Soviet Union. In 1922, the Japanese forces withdrew, the republic was dissolved, and the area was incorporated into the USSR as a region.

From 1926 to 1938 the whole area was called the Far Eastern Territory; it was then renamed the Soviet Far East. In the settlement following World War II, the USSR acquired the southern half of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The Japanese, however, subsequently disputed Soviet rights to the southern four islands in the Kuril chain. In 1969, Sino-Soviet clashes erupted along the Amur and Ussuri frontiers. Negotiations bogged down, and both sides reinforced their forces along the long border.

Glasnost and perestroika brought an opening of the Soviet Far East: Vladivostok was allowed to accept foreign ships, and air flights began between Alaska and various cities. The dissolution of the USSR brought renewed struggle for autonomy, particularly among the Yakut and Chukchi peoples, and the area also lost population due to Russian outmigration. The disagreement over the fate of the Kuriles prevented Japanese investment in the region, and in the 1990s there was friction between local officials and foreign investors. Since the late 1990s, however, trade with China and Chinese investment in the region, mainly in the south, has become increasingly important.

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References in periodicals archive ?
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