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Information about Kamchatka

You could think that Kamchatka was the Earth’s unofficial magnetic pole: it draws people in. And having once drawn you in, it never stops enthralling you, and neither those who saw its beaconing shimmer from far away nor those who lived there all their lives are exempt.

Kamchatka is a veritable laboratory of Nature, flabbergasting with its unique, primeval character. Active volcanoes; hot and cold mineral springs; rivers and lakes teeming with salmon; endless forests and emerald tundra; brown bears; reindeer: all these natural wonders hold visitors in continual awe.

Kamchatka is an amazing work of nature 30 percent of whose territory is listed as UNESCO heritage. Whoever stepped on its hot ground once will cringe at the prospect of being separated from those towering snow-covered summits, steel-coloured expanses of the Pacific, and the world’s cleanest waters.

Kamchatka has been compared to an irresistible, unfathomable savage girl whose love and beauty ever call out to you. She beacons you with her wild temper; she promises to be now sweet, now rough; she mesmerises you with dancing colours and frightens you with omnipresent, enigmatic fogs. And she can overwhelm anyone with her magnetism, untamed and unstoppable.

As an administrative region, Kamchatka accounts for 2.8% of Russian territory and includes the Commander Islands. Surrounded by the Bering Sea, the Okhotsk Sea, and the Pacific Ocean, it is about two-thirds mountainous with some peaks standing tall at over 2,000m. Kamchatka is larger than any of many major European countries such as the UK, Italy, Norway, Sweden, or Finland. The peninsula’s south-eastern part ranks among the most earthquake-prone regions of the world.

Kamchatka’s characteristic geography defines its unique climate. Coastal areas are noted for fogs, frequent strong winds, and abundant precipitation leading to the forming of snow blankets up to five (up to 15 or 20 in mountainous areas) metres thick. Kamchatka’s geographical diversity owes greatly to it being prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and also somewhat to its location where arctic wastes and tundra meet temperate, boreal forests. The peninsula extends 1,600km from N to S, January temperatures average at -16,4°C and July temperatures at +13°C.

With population density less than one person per square kilometer, the peninsula is populated extremely sparsely and unevenly with over 90% residents concentrated in its southern portion and over 70% in the sole urbanised area centred on Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Yelizovo both of which arose in immediate proximity of one the world’s largest and most conveniently located bays, the Bay of Avacha. The entire peninsula’s population stands at about 345,000.

The aboriginal populations include Koryaks, Itelmens, Chukchi, Evens, and Aleuts, most of whom are concentrated in the northern part of the peninsula. The most numerous group, the Koryaks, are traditionally divided into nomadic and sedentary tribesmen. Hunting, fishing, wild plant gathering, and reindeer herding are traditional economic activities characteristic of the indigenous peoples.

Many call Kamchatka the end of the world. Well, it may be where the world ends, but it is also where the day begins.

Yevgeny Kostyukov​

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