Kamchatka – Russian nature in the raw

Have you ever wondered what the long peninsula is running north-south at the eastern end of Russia?

This is the Kamchatka peninsula, over 104 000 square miles of largely unpopulated land, separating the Sea of Okhotsk in the west from the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Extending around 750 miles in length, it terminates in the south at Cape Lopatka, beyond which lie the Kuril Islands. Its main city is Petropavlovsk.

The peninsula contains numerous rivers and lakes, and its eastern shore is deeply indented by gulfs and bays. Its central valley, drained by the Kamchatka River, is enclosed by two parallel volcanic ranges that extend north-south and contain around 120 volcanoes. The highest point is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (15 600 ft), itself an active volcano.

Kamchatka is covered with mountain vegetation, except in the central valley and on the west coast, which has peat marshes and tundra-like moss. There are numerous forests, mineral springs and geysers, and the climate is cold and humid.

Kamchatka is rich in mineral resources such as coal, gold, mica, pyrites, sulphur and tufa. Fishing, sealing, hunting and lumbering are the main occupations there. The seas surrounding the peninsula are a rich Russian fishing area (notably for crabs, which are exported worldwide), while fur trapping on the peninsula yields most of the furs of the Russian Far East. You’ll find cattle being raised in the south, with farming of rye, oats, potatoes and vegetables in the Kamchatka valley and around Petropavlovsk. Reindeer are also raised on the peninsula.

Industries include fish processing, shipbuilding and woodworking. Russia's only geothermal power station is on the peninsula. There is also some tourism, particularly in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, noted for its geysers.

The Russian explorer Atlasov visited Kamchatka in 1697. The region's exploration and development continued in the early 18th century under Tsar Peter I, while Russian conquest of the territory was complete by 1732. Heavy Russian colonisation occurred in the early 19th century.

From 1926 to 1938, Kamchatka formed part of the Far Eastern Territory. The peninsula, subsequently part of the larger Kamchatka oblast (region), now forms part of Kamchatka Territory, which includes offshore islands and areas of the mainland bordering the peninsula.

Few Russians ever visit Kamchatka, and many of us in the West wouldn’t know it exists. But if you’d like to visit the area yourself, we can make all the arrangements for you. Just give us a call on 0207 985 1234 today, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!