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Vulkannaya [Vulkannyy]  
5225'40"N  15803'20"E  

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy-50 Vilyuchinsk 5255'50"N 15824'10"E

Located on the far-eastern frontier of Russia and the former Soviet Union, Kamchatka has always been of strategic importance. Home to the Pacific nuclear submarine fleet at the secret Rybachy base, the Peninsula was a closed region for many decades, until the early 1990s. Even today, a decade after the Cold War's end, Russia continues to maintain a heavy military presence on the Peninsula, and many areas of Kamchatka remain off-limits. Located across Avacha Bay, the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the industrial, scientific and cultural center of Kamchatka.

With an area of 470,000 sq. km, Kamchatka oblast in northeastern Russia is comprised of a peninsula roughly the size of California and two nearby islands. Separateing the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean, Kamchatka is a major fishing center in the Russian Far East. Once open only to senior Soviet officials for recreation, Kamchatka still has a relatively unspoiled natural environment. The oblast's natural resources include various minerals and metals and substantial timber reserves.

The main settlement of the peninsula and the capital of Kamchatka Region is the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (PK), located on the south-eastern shore of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Avachinskaya Bay is large and deep, with a narrow opening which keeps out foul weather and ice. The harbor is open to shipping year round, it is well protected from tsunami waves.

During and after World War II, Kamchatka began to develop as a military region. Submarine bases and boarder patrols stretched along its borders. This is one of the reasons why Kamchatka was long closed to foreigners and Russians alike. The numerous military installations make Petropavlovsk difficult to visit, despite Yeltsin's decree in 1991 opening the peninsula to foreign visitors. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is among a few places in Russia where the main street and the local legislative council have kept their Soviet-style names - "Lenin Street" and "Soviet of People's Deputies". Kamchatka's population, gradually decreasing, totaled 387,100 people in July 1999. While it has three towns and a number of settlements, more than half live in PK. Many work for seasonal fishing and fish-processing industries.

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25 December 2001 07 February 2004

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:20:16 ZULU