Russian Far East
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|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia. (June 2012)|
The Russian Far East (Russian: Дальний Восток России, tr. Dal’niy Vostok Rossii; IPA: [ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐˈstok rɐˈsʲii]) is the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., the extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean. The Far Eastern Federal District, which covers this area, borders with the Siberian Federal District in the west.
In Russia, the region is usually referred to as just "Far East" (Дальний Восток), creating potential confusion with the international meaning of Far East in translation. The latter is usually referred to in Russia as "the Asia-Pacific Region" (Азиатско-тихоокеанский регион, abbreviated to АТР), or "East Asia" (Восточная Азия).
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Russia reached the Pacific coast in 1647 with the establishment of Okhotsk, and consolidated its control over the Russian Far East in the 19th century. Primorskaya Oblast was established as a separate administrative division of the Russian Empire in 1856, with its administrative center at Khabarovsk.
Several entities with the name "Far East" had existed in the first half of the 20th century, all with rather different boundaries:
- 1920–1922: the Far Eastern Republic, which included Transbakal, Amur, Primorskaya, and Kamchatka Oblasts and northern Sakhalin;
- 1922–1926: Far-Eastern Oblast, which included Amur, Transbaikal, Kamchatka, and
- 1926–1938: Far-Eastern Krai, which included modern Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais).
Until 2000, the Russian Far East lacked officially defined boundaries. A single term "Siberia and the Far East" (Сибирь и Дальний Восток) was often used to refer to Russia's regions east of the Urals without drawing a clear distinction between "Siberia" and "the Far East."
In 2000, Russia's federal subjects were grouped into larger federal districts, and the Far Eastern Federal District was created, comprising Amur Oblast, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Kamchatka Oblast with Koryak Autonomous Okrug, Khabarovsk Krai, Magadan Oblast, Primorsky Krai, the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, and Sakhalin Oblast. Since 2000, the term "Far East" has been increasingly used in Russia to refer to the federal district, though it is often also used more loosely.
Defined by the boundaries of the federal district, the Far East has an area of 6.2 million square kilometers—over one-third of the Russia's total area.
Russia in the early 1900s persistently sought a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean for the navy as well as to facilitate maritime trade. The recently established Pacific seaport of Vladivostok was operational only during the summer season, but Port Arthur in Manchuria is operational all year. After the First Sino-Japanese War and the failure of the 1903 negotiations between Japan and the tsars's government, Japan chose war to protect its domination of Korea and adjacent territories. Russia, meanwhile, saw war as a means of distracting its populace from government repression and of rallying patriotism in the aftermath of several general strikes. Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904. However, three hours before Japan's declaration of war was received by the Russian Government, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur. Eight days later Russia declared war on Japan.
The war ended in September 1905 with a Japanese victory following the fall of Port Arthur and the failed Russian invasion of Japan through the Korean Peninsula and Northeast China; also, Japan had threatened to invade Primorsky Krai via Korea. The Treaty of Portsmouth was later signed and both Japan and Russia agreed to evacuate Manchuria and return its sovereignty to China, but Japan was allowed to lease the Liaodong Peninsula (containing Port Arthur and Talien), and the Russian rail system in southern Manchuria with its access to strategic resources. Japan also received the southern half of the Island of Sakhalin from Russia. Russia was also forced to confiscate land from Korean settlers who formed the majority of Primorsky Krai's population due to a fear of an invasion of Korea and ousting of Japanese troops by Korean guerrillas.
Between 1937 and 1939, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin deported over 200,000 Koreans to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, fearing that the Koreans might act as spies for Japan. About 100,000 Koreans died on the way in cattle trains due to starvation, illness, or freezing conditions. Many community leaders were purged and executed, Koryo-saram were not allowed to travel outside of Central Asia for the next 15 years. Koreans were also not allowed to use the Korean language and its use began to become lost with the involvement of Koryo-mar and the use of Russian.
Soviet–Japanese Border Wars
The Soviet–Japanese Border Wars were a series of border conflicts between the Soviet Union and Japan between 1938 and 1945.
After the occupation of Manchukuo and Korea, Japan turned its military interests to Soviet territories. Conflicts between the Japanese and the Soviets frequently happened on the border of Manchuria. The first confrontation occurred in Primorsky Krai, the Battle of Lake Khasan was an attempted military incursion of Manchukuo (Japanese) into the territory claimed by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the beliefs of the Japanese side that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Treaty of Peking between Imperial Russia and Manchu China. Primorsky Krai was always threatened by a Japanese invasion despite the fact that most of the remaining clashes occurred in Manchukuo. The clashes ended shortly before World War II's when a weakened Japan found its territories of Manchukuo, Mengjiang, Korea, and southern Sakhalin invaded by Soviet and Mongolian troops.
After the Soviet invasion, Manchukuo and Mengjiang were returned to China and Korea became liberated. All but the 4 southernmost Kuril Islands and southern Sakhalin were returned to the Soviet Union following the end of World War II. The Soviet Union soon established a sphere of influence and eventually took over the northern half of the Korean Peninsula in 1948 and established the communist state of North Korea, which sparked the Korean War.
World War II
Primorsky Krai was a strategic location in World War II for both the Soviet Union and Japan and clashes over the territory were common as Soviets and allies considered it a key location to invade Japan through Korea and Japan viewed it as a key location to begin a mass invasion of Eastern Russia. Between 1941 and 1945, Japanese and Soviet troops often clashed over the territory sometimes deep within Primorsky Krai or within Manchukuo. Primorsky Krai also served as the Soviet Union's Pacific headquarters in the war to plan an invasion for allied troops of Korea in order to reach Japan.
In September 1945, the Soviet Union invaded the northern half of the Korean Peninsula (down to the 38th parallel) from Primorsky Krai and the United States took over the southern half. This divided the peninsula into a Soviet-backed communist North Korea and a capitalist, pro-NATO South Korea which both became self-governing in 1948. On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops backed by Soviet troops who crossed into North Korea from Primorsky Krai and Northeast China crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea which caused the Korean War. After the war ended in a stalemate between North and South Korea and with the two nations' borders were roughly established back to the 38th parallel, Primorsky Krai became the site of extreme security concern for the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Vladivostok was the site of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in 1974. At the time, the Soviet Union and the United States decided quantitative limits on various nuclear weapons systems and banned the construction of new land-based ICBM launchers. Vladivostok and other cities in Primorsky Krai soon became closed cities because of the base of the Soviet Pacific Fleet.
According to the 2002 Census, Far Eastern Federal District had a population of 6,692,865. Most of it is concentrated in the southern parts. Given the vast territory of the Russian Far East, 6.7 million people translates to slightly more than one person per square kilometer, making the Russian Far East one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world. The population of the Russian Far East has been rapidly declining since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (even more so than for Russia in general), dropping by 14% in the last fifteen years. The Russian government has been discussing a range of re-population programs to avoid the forecast drop to 4.5 million people by 2015, hoping to attract in particular the remaining Russian population of the near abroad.
75% of the population is urban. The largest cities are (all population figures are as of the 2002 Census):
- Vladivostok (pop. 617,500)
- Khabarovsk (pop. 587,000)
- Komsomolsk-on-Amur (pop. 281,035)
- Blagoveshchensk (pop. 219,221)
- Yakutsk (pop. 210,642)
- Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (pop. 198,028)
- Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (pop. 177,682)
- Nakhodka (pop. 177,133)
- Ussuriysk (pop. 157,759)
Traditional ethnic groups
The original population groups of the Russian Far East include (grouped by language group):
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Russian Far East|
- Meeting of Frontiers: Siberia, Alaska, and the American West (includes materials on Russian Far East)
- Дальневосточный федеральный округ at WGEO