Russian Far East
The Far Eastern Federal District or Far Eastern Russia (Russian: Да́льный Восто́к Росси́и, DAHL'-nih vah-STOHK rah-SEE-ee) is the easternmost part of Russia or unofficial edge of the world, comprising a third of the country's land area, with 6.3 million in habitants.
Historically, this region was part of Siberia; today, the Siberian Federal District however excludes the Russian Far East.
Federal subjects are either oblasts or krais (counties), or autonomous republics or okrugs, which typically have a significant non-Russian population.
| Amur Oblast |
Rich in gold, freshwater, and wildlife.
| Chukotka |
The easternmost part of Russia.
| Jewish Autonomous Oblast |
Designated by Stalin; however, only 2 per cent of the population are Jews.
| Kamchatka |
Full of natural attractions, such as volcanoes and acidic lakes.
| Khabarovsk Krai |
2000 kilometres of coastline to the Pacific Ocean.
| Kuril Islands |
Islands between Kamchatka and Japan.
| Magadan Oblast |
A mining district, infamous for Gulag camps during the Soviet era.
| Primorsky Krai |
End of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, bordering North Korea.
| Sakhalin |
A pristine island in the Pacific Ocean
| Yakutia |
The world's largest sub-national entity, with the lowest recorded temperatures of the northern hemisphere
- Khabarovsk — the region's administrative center
- Birobidzhan — the capital of Soviet Zion
- Blagoveshchensk — one of the oldest cities in the Russian Far East
- Komsomolsk-on-Amur — a big steel city on the Baikal-Amur Mainline
- Magadan — in the heart of the Kolyma Gulag network
- Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky — gateway to nature lovers' paradise
- Vladivostok — the largest city and the Russian terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway
- Yakutsk — quite possibly Earth's coldest city
- Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk — the Russian Far East's island capital
- Atlasov Island — a volcanic island renowned for the pure beauty of its perfect conical shape
- The National Parks of Kamchatka — some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, full of volcanoes, geysers, and lakes of acid.
- Kolyma — the terrifying Soviet gulag system of Siberia's coldest, remotest, and most hopeless mining region
- Pole of Cold — the coldest place on earth outside Antarctica, in the heart of Yakutia
- The Sikhote-Alin mountain range — the region home to the famous Amur Tiger as well as an enormous meteorite crash site, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its diverse ecosystems ranging from Siberian to subtropical.
- Wrangel Island — an arctic island and UNESCO World Heritage site at the end of the earth, of dramatic mountainous tundra landscapes, biodiversity, walruses, grey whales, and the world's highest concentration of polar bear dens.
The Russian Far East is extraordinarily far from Russia's major population centers in Europe and is usually visited separately, unless by the Trans-Siberian Railway. The largest city in the region, Vladivostok, is a full seven time zones away from Moscow, with 9,300 km of railroad between them. The Far East is very different from popular conceptions of Russia—it is very mountainous and has an often spectacular Pacific coastline.
If time and money are not constraints, the highlights of this massive region include the city of Vladivostok, the beautiful Kuril Islands, the otherworldly National Parks of Kamchatka, cruising along the coast of Chukotka, and big game hunting in the wildlife paradise of Yakutia.
There are a good number of Tungusic and Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages spoken throughout the more northerly regions of the Far East. Korean is also widely spoken in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk by the Sakhalin Koreans. But, as in all of Russia, Russian is the principal language and is spoken by nearly everyone, regardless of their first language. Chinese and Japanese are common foreign languages as students learn them in the nearby border regions of Russia, but European languages are far less widespread than in European Russia and travelers should not expect to rely on them. However English is a major international language and expect it to be the most widespread among students and business people here.
The principal transit hubs, with good sized international airports, are Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and to a lesser extent Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In general, you will either arrive by plane or the Trans-Siberian Railway. But it is also possible to arrive by boat from Alaska and Japan to destinations on the Russian Pacific coast.
Distances between cities and towns in the Russian Far East are huge, and most of the region is roadless. A combination of using the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline, and for destinations off the rail system, domestic flights, reaches the majority, but not the entirety, of the region. In particular, Northeastern Russia is almost entirely without interregional transportation infrastructure and is off the Russian rail network—the one exception is the long, lonely, seasonal, and partially maintained country roads connecting Yakutsk to Magadan.
Kamchatka's road network is isolated from the rest of Russia; heading north from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by road will only take you as far as Esso, road tracks passable by half-track vehicles in March extend as far as Palana; from Palana onwards, overland travel becomes wilderness adventure.
This lack of roads and rail network makes travel by sea along the coast a much more accessible option, with expedition cruising companies (such as Heritage Expedition) operating their own ice-strengthened polar research vessels on several trips from Sakhalin in the south to Kamchatka and Kamchatka north into the Russian Arctic including Wrangel and Herald Islands, famous for the density of polar bears.
The Far East has some extraordinary natural attractions. The colcanoes of Kamchatka, the Lena Pillars, the central Sikhote-Alin and Wrangel Island are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are many sites for birdwatching and whale watching.
- Kolyma Highway — ultimate adventure in Russian taiga, connecting Magadan with Yakutsk and featuring lots of abandoned towns
The Russian Far East borders Mongolia and China to the south, North Korea and Japan to the southeast, and Alaska to the northeast, and there is transport available to all of them from nearby regions in the Far East.