Kuril Islands

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Kuril Islands
Disputed islands
Native name: Курильские острова
Kuril Island.jpg
A coastline along one of the Kuril Islands
Location of the Kuril Islands in the Western Pacific between Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia
Location of the Kuril Islands in the Western Pacific between Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates46°30′N 151°30′E / 46.500°N 151.500°E / 46.500; 151.500Coordinates: 46°30′N 151°30′E / 46.500°N 151.500°E / 46.500; 151.500
Total islands56
Area10,503.2 km2 (2,595,400 acres; 4,055.3 sq mi)
Length1,150 km (715 miles)
Highest point
  • Alaid
  • 2,339 metres (7,674 ft)
Administered by
Federal subjectSakhalin Oblast
DistrictsSevero-Kurilsky, Kurilsky, Yuzhno-Kurilsky
Claimed by
(partial claim, southernmost islands)
Population19,434 (as of 2010)
Ethnic groupsmajority Russians
Composite map of the islands between Kamchatka Peninsula and Nemuro Peninsula, combining twelve US Army Map Service maps compiled in the early 1950s

The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands[a] is a volcanic archipelago part of Sakhalin Oblast in the Russian Far East.[1] It stretches approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido in Japan to Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the north Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many minor rocks. The Kuril Islands consist of the Greater Kuril Chain and the Lesser Kuril Chain.[2] They cover an area of around 10,503.2 square kilometres (4,055.3 sq mi),[3] with a population of roughly 20,000.[4]

Though all of the islands lie under Russian administration, Japan claims the four southernmost islands, including two of the three largest ones (Iturup and Kunashir), as part of its territory as well as Shikotan and the Habomai islets, which has led to the ongoing Kuril Islands dispute. The disputed islands are known in Japan as the country's "Northern Territories".[5] In 2018, Russo-Japanese talks on resolving the dispute resumed.[6]


The name Kuril originates from the autonym of the aboriginal Ainu, the islands' original inhabitants: kur, meaning "man".[7] It may also be related to names for other islands that have traditionally been inhabited by the Ainu people, such as Kuyi or Kuye for Sakhalin and Kai for Hokkaidō. In Japanese, the Kuril Islands are known as the Chishima Islands (Kanji: 千島列島 Chishima Rettō pronounced [tɕiɕima ɾeꜜttoː], literally, Thousand Islands Archipelago), also known as the Kuriru Islands (Katakana: クリル列島 Kuriru Rettō [kɯɾiɾɯ ɾeꜜttoː], literally, Kuril Archipelago). Once the Russians reached the islands in the 18th century they found a pseudo-etymology from Russian kurit' (курить – "to smoke") due to the continual fumes and steam above the islands from volcanoes.

Geography and climate[edit]

Caldera of the island Ushishir

The Kuril Islands form part of the ring of tectonic instability encircling the Pacific Ocean referred to as the Ring of Fire. The islands themselves are summits of stratovolcanoes that are a direct result of the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate, which forms the Kuril Trench some 200 kilometres (124 mi) east of the islands. The chain has around 100 volcanoes, some 40 of which are active, and many hot springs and fumaroles. There is frequent seismic activity, including a magnitude 8.5 earthquake in 1963 and one of magnitude 8.3 recorded on November 15, 2006, which resulted in tsunami waves up to 1.5 metres (5 ft) reaching the California coast.[8] Raikoke Island, near the centre of the archipelago, has an active volcano which erupted again in June 2019, with emissions reaching 13,000 m (42,651 ft).

The climate on the islands is generally severe, with long, cold, stormy winters and short and notoriously foggy summers. The average annual precipitation is 40 to 50 inches (1,020 to 1,270 mm), a large portion of which falls as snow. The Köppen climate classification of most of the Kurils is subarctic (Dfc), although Kunashir is humid continental (Dfb). However, the Kuril Islands’ climate resembles the subpolar oceanic climate of southwest Alaska much more than the hypercontinental climate of Manchuria and interior Siberia, as precipitation is heavy and permafrost completely absent. It is characterized by mild summers with only 1 to 3 months above 10 °C or 50 °F and cold, snowy, extremely windy winters below −3 °C or 26.6 °F, although usually above −10 °C or 14 °F.

The chain ranges from temperate to sub-Arctic climate types, and the vegetative cover consequently ranges from tundra in the north to dense spruce and larch forests on the larger southern islands. The highest elevations on the islands are Alaid volcano (highest point: 2,339 m or 7,674 ft) on Atlasov Island at the northern end of the chain and Tyatya volcano (1,819 m or 5,968 ft) on Kunashir Island at the southern end.

Landscape types and habitats on the islands include many kinds of beach and rocky shores, cliffs, wide rivers and fast gravelly streams, forests, grasslands, alpine tundra, crater lakes and peat bogs. The soils are generally productive, owing to the periodic influxes of volcanic ash and, in certain places, owing to significant enrichment by seabird guano. However, many of the steep, unconsolidated slopes are susceptible to landslides and newer volcanic activity can entirely denude a landscape. Only the southernmost island has large areas covered by trees, while more northerly islands have no trees, or spotty tree cover.

Stratovolcano Mt. Ruruy; view from Yuzhno-Kurilsk

The northernmost, Atlasov Island (Oyakoba in Japanese), is an almost-perfect volcanic cone rising sheer out of the sea; it has been praised by the Japanese in haiku, wood-block prints, and other forms, in much the same way as the better-known Mount Fuji. Its summit is the highest point in Sakhalin Oblast.



Owing to their location along the Pacific shelf edge and the confluence of Okhotsk Sea gyre and the southward Oyashio Current, the Kuril islands are surrounded by waters that are among the most productive in the North Pacific, supporting a wide range and high abundance of marine life.

Invertebrates: Extensive kelp beds surrounding almost every island provide crucial habitat for sea urchins, various mollusks and countless other invertebrates and their associated predators. Many species of squid provide a principal component of the diet of many of the smaller marine mammals and birds along the chain.

Fish: Further offshore, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, several species of flatfish are of the greatest commercial importance. During the 1980s, migratory Japanese sardine was one of the most abundant fish in the summer.

Pinniped: The main pinnipeds were a significant object of harvest for the indigenous populations of the Kuril islands, both for food and materials such as skin and bone. The long-term fluctuations in the range and distribution of human settlements along the Kuril island presumably tracked the pinniped ranges. In historical times, fur seals were heavily exploited for their fur in the 19th and early 20th centuries and several of the largest reproductive rookeries, as on Raykoke island, were extirpated. In contrast, commercial harvest of the true seals and Steller sea lions has been relatively insignificant on the Kuril islands proper. Since the 1960s there has been essentially no additional harvest and the pinniped populations in the Kuril islands appear to be fairly healthy and in some cases expanding. The notable exception is the now extinct Japanese sea lion, which was known to occasionally haul out on the Kuril islands.

Sea otters: Sea otters were exploited very heavily for their pelts in the 19th century, as shown by 19th- and 20th-century whaling catch and sighting records.[9]

Seabirds: The Kuril islands are home to many millions of seabirds, including northern fulmars, tufted puffins, murres, kittiwakes, guillemots, auklets, petrels, gulls and cormorants. On many of the smaller islands in summer, where terrestrial predators are absent, virtually every possibly hummock, cliff niche or underneath of boulder is occupied by a nesting bird. Several of the islands, including Kunashir and the Lesser Kuril Chain in the South Kurils, and the northern Kurils from Urup to Paramushir, have been recognised as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) by BirdLife International because they support populations of various threatened bird species, including many waterbirds, seabirds and waders.[10]


The composition of terrestrial species on the Kuril islands is dominated by Asian mainland taxa via migration from Hokkaido and Sakhalin Islands and by Kamchatkan taxa from the North. While highly diverse, there is a relatively low level of endemism.

The WWF divides the Kuril Islands into two ecoregions. The southern Kurils, along with southwestern Sakhalin, comprise the South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests ecoregion. The northern islands are part of the Kamchatka-Kurile meadows and sparse forests, a larger ecoregion that extends onto the Kamchatka Peninsula and Commander Islands.

Because of the generally smaller size and isolation of the central islands, few major terrestrial mammals have colonized these, though red and Arctic foxes were introduced for the sake of the fur trade in the 1880s. The bulk of the terrestrial mammal biomass is taken up by rodents, many introduced in historical times. The largest southernmost and northernmost islands are inhabited by brown bear, foxes, and martens. Some species of deer are found on the more southerly islands. It is claimed that a wild cat, the Kurilian Bobtail, originates from the Kuril Islands. The bobtail is due to the mutation of a dominant gene. The cat has been domesticated and exported to nearby Russia and bred there, becoming a popular domestic cat.

Among terrestrial birds, ravens, peregrine falcons, some wrens and wagtails are common.


Kuril Ainu people next to their traditional dwelling.
A map of Kuril Islands from Gisuke Sasamori's 1893 book Chishima Tanken

Early history[edit]

Historical extent of the Ainu

The Ainu people inhabited the Kuril Islands from early times, although few records predate the 17th century. The Japanese administration first took nominal control of the islands during the Edo period (1603-1868) in the form of claims by the Matsumae clan. It is claimed[by whom?] that the Japanese knew of the northern islands 370 years[timeframe?] ago.[11][need quotation to verify] The Shōhō Era Map of Japan (Shōhō kuni ezu (正保国絵図)), a map of Japan made by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1644, shows 39 large and small islands northeast of Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula and Cape Nosappu. A Dutch expedition under Maarten Gerritsz Vries explored the islands in 1643. Russian popular legend has Fedot Alekseyevich Popov sailing into the area c.  1649.[12] Russian Cossacks landed on Shumshu in 1711.[13]

The Ainu people seem to have used the name Choka for Paramushir and its neighbouring islands. Then Rakkoshima ("sea-otter isles") extended from Onnekotan to Simushir. Urup, Iturup and Kunashir are the three southern islands.[citation needed]

In 1811 the Golovnin Incident occurred: retainers of the Nambu clan captured the Russian captain Vasily Golovnin and his crew - who had stopped at Kunashir during their hydrographic survey - and sent them to the Matsumae authorities. Because Petr Rikord, the captain of a Russian vessel, also captured a Japanese trader, Takadaya Kahei, near Kunashir in 1812, Japan and Russia entered into negotiations to establish the border between the two countries.[citation needed]

American whaleships caught right whales off the islands between 1847 and 1892.[14] Three of the ships were wrecked on the islands: two on Urup in 1855[15][16] and one on Makanrushi in 1856.[17] In September 1892, north of Kunashir Island, a Russian schooner seized the bark Cape Horn Pigeon, of New Bedford and escorted it to Vladivostok, where it was detained for nearly two weeks.[18]

Japanese administration[edit]

Shana Village in Etorofu (Shōwa period): a village hospital in the foreground, a factory in the left background with a fishery and a central radio tower (before 1945).

The Russian Empire and Japan concluded the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation in 1855, establishing their border between Iturup and Urup. This treaty confirmed that Japanese territory stretched south from Iturup and Russian territory stretched north from Urup. Sakhalin remained a place where people from both countries could live.

In 1869, in the context of the Boshin War of 1868-1869, Japan's Meiji government established the Colonization Commission in Sapporo to aid in the development of the northern area. Ezo was renamed "Hokkaidō" and Kita Ezo (South Sakhalin) later received the name of "Karafuto". Eleven provinces[which?] and 86 districts founded by the Meiji government were put under the control of feudal clans. Because the Meiji government could not sufficiently cope with Russians moving to south Sakhalin, Japan negotiated with Russia over control of the Kuril Islands, resulting in the Treaty of Saint Petersburg, which ceded the eighteen islands north of Uruppu to Japan and all of Sakhalin to Russia.

Road networks and post offices were established[by whom?] on Kunashiri and Etorofu. Life on the islands became more stable when a regular sea-route connecting the islands with Hokkaidō opened and a telegraphic system began. At the end of the Taishō period of 1912 to 1926, towns and villages were organized[by whom?] in the northern territories and village offices were established on each island. The Habomai island towns were all part of Habomai Village for example. In other cases the town and village system was not adopted on islands north of Uruppu, which came under direct control of the Nemuro Subprefectural office of the Hokkaidō government.

Each village had a district forestry system, a marine-product examination center, salmon hatchery, post office, police station, elementary school, Shinto temple, and other public facilities. As of 1930, 8,300 people lived on Kunashiri island and 6,000 on Etorofu island - most of them engaged in coastal and high-sea fishing.

At the very end of the 19th century, the Japanese administration started the forced assimilation of the native Ainu people.[19][20] Also at this time the Ainu were granted automatic Japanese citizenship, effectively denying them the status of an indigenous group. Many Japanese moved onto former Ainu lands, including the Kuril islands. The Ainu were forced to learn Japanese, required to adopt Japanese names, and ordered to cease religious practices such as animal sacrifice and the custom of tattooing.[20] Prior to Japanese colonization[21] (in 1868) about 100 Ainu reportedly lived on the Kuril islands.[22]

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, Gunji, a retired Japanese military man and local settler in Shumshu, led an invading party to the Kamchatka coast. Russia sent reinforcements to the area to capture and intern this group. After the end of the war, Japan received fishing rights in Russian waters as part of the Russo-Japanese Fisheries Agreement until 1945.

During their armed intervention in Siberia 1918–1925, Japanese forces from the northern Kurils, along with United States and European forces, occupied southern Kamchatka. Japanese vessels carried out naval strikes against Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

  • In 1941 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto ordered the assembly of the Imperial Japanese Navy strike-force for the Hawaii Operation attack on Pearl Harbor in Tankan or Hitokappu Bay, Iturup Island, South Kurils. The territory was chosen[by whom?] for its sparse population, lack of foreigners, and constant fog-coverage. The Admiral ordered the move to Hawaii on the morning of 26 November.
  • On 10 July 1943 the first bombardment against the Japanese bases in Shumshu and Paramushir by American forces occurred. From Alexai airfield 8 B-25 Mitchells from the 77th Bombardment Squadron took off, led by Capt James L. Hudelson. This mission principally struck Paramushir.
  • Another mission was flown during 11 September 1943 when the Eleventh Air Force dispatched eight B-24 Liberators and 12 B-25s. Facing reinforced Japanese defenses, 74 crew members in three B-24s and seven B-25 failed to return. 22 men were killed in action, one taken prisoner and 51 interned[by whom?] in Kamchatka.
  • The Eleventh Air Force implemented other bombing missions against the northern Kurils, including a strike by six B-24s from the 404th Bombardment Squadron and 16 P-38s from the 54th Fighter Squadron on 5 February 1944.
  • Japanese sources[which?] report that the Matsuwa military installations were subject to American air-strikes between 1943–44.
  • The Americans' fictional "Operation Wedlock" diverted Japanese attention north and misled them about the U.S. strategy in the Pacific.[23] The plan included air strikes by the USAAF and U.S. Navy bombers which included U.S. Navy shore bombardment and submarine operations. The Japanese increased their garrison in the north Kurils from 8,000 in 1943 to 41,000 in 1944 and maintained more than 400 aircraft in the Kurils and Hokkaidō area in anticipation that the Americans might invade from Alaska.
  • American planners had briefly contemplated an invasion of northern Japan from the Aleutian Islands during the autumn of 1943 but rejected that idea as too risky and impractical. They considered the use of Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, on Amchitka and Shemya bases, but rejected the idea. The U.S. military maintained interest in these plans when they ordered the expansion of bases in the western Aleutians, and major construction began on Shemya. In 1945, plans for a possible invasion of Japan via the northern route were shelved[by whom?].
  • Between 18 August and 31 August 1945 Soviet forces invaded the North and South Kurils.
  • The Soviets expelled the entire Japanese civilian population of roughly 17,000 by 1946.
  • Between 24 August and 4 September 1945 the Eleventh Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces sent two B-24s on reconnaissance missions over the North Kuril Islands with the intention of taking photos of the Soviet occupation in the area. Soviet fighters intercepted and forced them away.[citation needed]

In February 1945 the Yalta Agreement[24] promised to the Soviet Union South Sakhalin and the Kuril islands in return for entering the Pacific War against the Japanese during World War II. In August 1945 the Soviet Union mounted an armed invasion of South Sakhalin at the cost of over 5,000 Soviet and Japanese lives.[citation needed]

Russian administration[edit]

The Kuril Islands are split into three administrative districts (raions) part of Sakhalin Oblast:

Japan maintains a claim to the four southernmost islands of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan, and the Habomai rocks, together called the Northern Territories.

On 8 February 2017 the Russian government gave names to five previously unnamed Kuril islands in Sakhalin Oblast: Derevyanko Island (after Kuzma Derevyanko, 43°22′8″N 146°1′3″E / 43.36889°N 146.01750°E / 43.36889; 146.01750), Gnechko Island (after Alexey Gnechko, 43°48′5″N 146°52′1″E / 43.80139°N 146.86694°E / 43.80139; 146.86694), Gromyko Island (after Andrei Gromyko, 46°14′1″N 150°36′1″E / 46.23361°N 150.60028°E / 46.23361; 150.60028), Farkhutdinov Island (after Igor Farkhutdinov, 43°48′5″N 146°53′2″E / 43.80139°N 146.88389°E / 43.80139; 146.88389) and Shchetinina Island (after Anna Shchetinina, 46°13′7″N 150°34′6″E / 46.21861°N 150.56833°E / 46.21861; 150.56833).[25]


Main village in Shikotan
Russian Orthodox church, Kunashir

As of 2013, 19,434 people inhabited the Kuril Islands. These include ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Tatars, Nivkhs, Oroch, and Ainus. Russian Orthodox Christianity is the main religion. Some of the villages are permanently manned by Russian soldiers (especially in Kunashir following recent tensions). Others are inhabited by civilians, which are mostly fishermen, workers of the fish factories, dockers, and social sphere workers (policemen, medics, teachers, etc.). Recent construction works on the islands attracts a lot of migrant workers from the rest of Russia and other post-Soviet states. As of 2014, there were only 8 inhabited islands out of a total of 56. Iturup Island is over 60% ethnically Ukrainian.[5]


Fishing is the primary occupation. The islands have strategic and economic value, in terms of fisheries and also mineral deposits of pyrite, sulfur, and various polymetallic ores. There are hopes that oil exploration will provide an economic boost to the islands.[26]

The economic rise of the Russian Federation has been seen on the Kurils too. The most visible sign of improvement is the new construction in infrastructure. In 2014, construction workers built a pier and a breakwater in Kitovy Bay, central Iturup, where barges are a major means of transport, sailing between the cove and ships anchored offshore. A new road has been carved through the woods near Kurilsk, the island's biggest village, going to the site of Yuzhno-Kurilsk Mendeleyevo Airport.[27]

Gidrostroy, the Kurils' biggest business group with interests in fishing, construction and real estate, built its second fish processing factory on Iturup island in 2006, introducing a state-of-the-art conveyor system.

To deal with a rise in the demand of electricity, the local government is also upgrading a state-run geothermal power plant at Mount Baransky, an active volcano, where steam and hot water can be found.[28]


The main Russian force stationed on the islands is the 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division, which has its headquarters in Goryachiye Klyuchi on Iturup Island. There are also Border Guard Service troops stationed on the islands. In February 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for substantial reinforcements of the Kuril Islands defences. Subsequently in 2015, additional anti-aircraft missile systems 'Tor', 'BUK' missile systems, coastal defence missile systems 'Bastion', combat helicopters Ka-52 'Alligator' and 1 'Varshavyanka' project submarine came on defence of Kuril Islands.[29]

List of main islands[edit]

Yuzhno-Kurilsk, Kunashir
Severo-Kurilsk, Paramushir
A view of the volcano Bogdan Khmelnitsky on Iturup Island
Mendeleyeva in the southern part of Kunashir
Yuzhno-Kurilsky District
Ebeko volcano, Paramushir
White Rocks, Iturup

While in Russian sources[citation needed] the islands are mentioned for the first time in 1646, the earliest detailed information about them was provided by the explorer Vladimir Atlasov in 1697. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Kuril Islands were explored by Danila Antsiferov, I. Kozyrevsky, Ivan Yevreinov, Fyodor Luzhin, Martin Shpanberg, Adam Johann von Krusenstern, Vasily Golovnin, and Henry James Snow.

The following table lists information on the main islands from north to south:

Island Russian: Name Japanese: Name Alternative
Island Group Capital /
Landing point
Other Cities Area Pop.
Severo-Kurilsky District North Kurils North Kurils (北千島きたちしま) Severo-Kurilsk Shelikovo, Podgorny, Baikovo 3,504 km2
(1,353 sq mi)
Shumshu Шумшу 占守島しゅむしゅとう Shumushu North Kurils Baikovo 388 km2
(150 sq mi)
Atlasov Атласова 阿頼度島あらいどとう Oyakoba, Araido North Kurils Alaidskaya Bay 150 km2
(58 sq mi)
Paramushir Парамушир 幌筵島ぱらむしるとう Paramushiru, Horomushiro North Kurils Severo-Kurilsk Shelikovo, Podgorny 2,053 km2
(793 sq mi)
Antsiferov Анциферова 志林規島しりんきとう Shirinki North Kurils Antsiferov beach Cape Terkut 7 km2
(2.7 sq mi)
Makanrushi Маканруши 磨勘留島まかんるとう Makanru North Kurils Zakat 50 km2
(19 sq mi)
Awos Авось 帆掛岩ほかけいわ Hokake, Hainoko North Kurils 0.1 km2
(0.039 sq mi)
Onekotan Онекотан 温禰古丹島おんねこたんとう North Kurils Mussel Kuroisi, Nemo, Shestakov 425 km2
(164 sq mi)
Kharimkotan Харимкотан 志林規島しりんきとう春牟古丹島 Harimukotan, Harumukotan North Kurils Sunazhma Severgin Bay 70 km2
(27 sq mi)
Ekarma Экарма 越渇磨島えかるまとう Ekaruma North Kurils Kruglyy 30 km2
(12 sq mi)
Chirinkotan Чиринкотан 知林古丹島ちりんこたんとう North Kurils Cape Ptichy 6 km2
(2.3 sq mi)
Shiashkotan Шиашкотан 捨子古丹島しゃすこたんとう Shasukotan North Kurils Makarovka 122 km2
(47 sq mi)
Lowuschki Rocks Ловушки 牟知列岩むしるれつがん Mushiru North Kurils 1.5 km2
(0.58 sq mi)
Raikoke Райкоке 雷公計島らいこけとう North Kurils Raikoke 4.6 km2
(1.8 sq mi)
Matua Матуа 松輪島まつわとう Matsuwa North Kurils Sarychevo 52 km2
(20 sq mi)
Rasshua Расшуа 羅処和島らしょわとう Rashowa, Rasutsua North Kurils Arches Point 67 km2
(26 sq mi)
Srednego Среднего 摺手岩すりでいわ Suride North Kurils Un­known 0
Ushishir Ушишир 宇志知島うししるとう Ushishiru North Kurils Kraternya Ryponkicha 5 km2
(1.9 sq mi)
Ketoy Кетой 計吐夷島けといとう Ketoi North Kurils Storozheva 73 km2
(28 sq mi)
Kurilsky District Middle Kurils (Naka-chishima / 中千島) split between both Japanese groups Kurilsk Reidovo, Kitovyi, Rybaki, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Kasatka, Burevestnik, Shumi-Gorodok, Gornyy 5,138 km2
(1,984 sq mi)
Simushir Симушир 新知島しむしるとう Shimushiru, Shinshiru North Kurils Kraternyy Srednaya bay 360 km2
(140 sq mi)
Broutona Броутона 武魯頓島ぶろとんとう Buroton, Makanruru North Kurils Nedostupnyy 7 km2
(2.7 sq mi)
Chirpoy Чирпой 知理保以島ちりほいとう Chirihoi, Chierupoi North Kurils Peschanaya Bay 21 km2
(8.1 sq mi)
Brat Chirpoyev Брат Чирпоев 知理保以南島 Chirihoinan North Kurils Garovnikova Semenova 16 km2
(6.2 sq mi)
Urup Уруп 得撫島うるっぷとう Uruppu North Kurils Mys Kastrikum Mys Van-der-Lind 1,450 km2
(560 sq mi)
Other North Kurils 4.4 km2
(1.7 sq mi)
Iturup Итуруп 択捉島えとろふとう Etorofu, Yetorup South Kurils (Minami-chishima / 南千島) Kurilsk Reidovo, Kitovyi, Rybaki, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Kasatka, Burevestnik, Shumi-Gorodok, Gornyy 3,280 km2
(1,270 sq mi)
Yuzhno-Kurilsky District South Kurils South Kurils Yuzhno-Kurilsk Malokurilskoye, Rudnaya, Lagunnoye, Otrada, Goryachiy Plyazh, Aliger, Mendeleyevo, Dubovoye, Polino, Golovnino 1,860.8 km2
(718.5 sq mi)
Kunashir Кунашир 国後島くなしりとう Kunashiri South Kurils Yuzhno-Kurilsk Rudnaya, Lagunnoye, Otrada, Goryachiy Plyazh, Aliger, Mendeleyevo, Dubovoye, Polino, Golovnino 1,499 km2
(579 sq mi)
Shikotan Group Шикотан 色丹列島しこたんれっとう South Kurils Malokurilskoye Dumnova, Otradnaya, Krabozavodskoye (formerly Anama), Zvezdnaya, Voloshina, Kray Sveta 264.13 km2
(101.98 sq mi)
Shikotan Island Шикотан 色丹島しこたんとう South Kurils Malokurilskoye Dumnova, Otradnaya, Krabozavodskoye (formerly Anama), Zvezdnaya, Voloshina, Kray Sveta 255 km2
(98 sq mi)
Other South Kurils Ayvazovskovo 9.1 km2
(3.5 sq mi)
Khabomai Хабомаи 歯舞群島はぼまいぐんとう Habomai South Kurils Zorkiy Zelyony, Polonskogo 97.7 km2
(37.7 sq mi)
Polonskogo Полонского 多楽島たらくとう Taraku South Kurils Moriakov Bay station 11.57 km2
(4.47 sq mi)
Oskolki Осколки 海馬島かいばとう Todo, Kaiba South Kurils Un­known 0
Zelyony Зелёный 志発島しぼつとう Shibotsu South Kurils Glushnevskyi station 58.72 km2
(22.67 sq mi)
Kharkar Харкар 春苅島はるかるとう Harukaru, Dyomina South Kurils Haruka 0.8 km2
(0.31 sq mi)
Yuri Юрий 勇留島ゆりとう Yuri South Kurils Kalernaya 10.32 km2
(3.98 sq mi)
Anuchina Анучина 秋勇留島あきゆりとう Akiyuri South Kurils Bolshoye Bay 2.35 km2
(0.91 sq mi)
Tanfilyeva Танфильева 水晶島すいしょうじま Suishō South Kurils Zorkiy Tanfilyevka Bay, Bolotnoye 12.92 km2
(4.99 sq mi)
Storozhevoy Сторожевой 萌茂尻島もえもしりとう Moemoshiri South Kurils 0.07 km2
(0.027 sq mi)
Rifovy Рифовый オドケ島 Odoke South Kurils Un­known 0
Signalny Сигнальный 貝殻島かいがらじま Kaigara South Kurils 0.02 km2
(0.0077 sq mi)
Other South Kurils Opasnaga, Udivitelnaya 1 km2
(0.39 sq mi)
Total: 10,503.2 km2
(4,055.3 sq mi)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ /ˈkʊərɪl, ˈkjʊərɪl, kjʊˈrl/; Russian: Кури́льские острова́, tr. Kurilskiye ostrova, IPA: [kʊˈrʲilʲskʲɪjə ɐstrɐˈva]; Japanese: Kuriru rettō (クリル列島, "Kuril Islands") or Chishima rettō (千島列島, "Thousand Islands")


  1. ^ "Kuril Islands". Britannica.com.
  2. ^ GSE Archived 2013-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-14. Retrieved 2011-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Kuril Islands: factfile". The Daily Telegraph. London. November 1, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Koike, Yuriko (31 March 2014). "Japan's Russian Dilemma".
  6. ^ "Kuril Islands: Russia and Japan push to resolve Kuril Islands dispute". FinTimes. USA. November 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Глава 26. Коренное население: айны
  8. ^ Central Kuril Island Tsunami in Crescent City, California Archived 2010-02-26 at the Wayback Machine University of Southern California
  9. ^ Clapham, P. J.; C. Good; S. E. Quinn; R. R. Reeves; J. E. Scarff; R.L. Brownell Jr (2004). "Distribution of North Pacific". Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 6 (1): 1–6.
  10. ^ "Kuril islands (between Urup and Paramushir)". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  11. ^ Stephan, John J (1974). The Kuril Islands. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 50–56. ISBN 978-0-19-821563-9.
  12. ^ Stephan, John J. (1974). The Kuril Islands: Russo-Japanese Frontier in the Pacific. Clarendon Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780198215639. Retrieved 27 January 2021. According to subsequent elaborations, a document in the Central State Archives [...] indicated that a merchant adventurer by the name of Fedot Alekseev Popov had reached the Kurils in 1649 after completing an odyssey from the Arctic [...] popular Soviet publications [...] have enshrined Popov as the discoverer of the Kurils.
  13. ^ Vysokov, Mikhail Stanislavovich (1996). A Brief History of Sakhalin and the Kurils. Sakhalin Book Publishing House. p. D-24. ISBN 9785884531222. Retrieved 27 January 2021. Russians first set foot on the Kuril islands in August 1711 , when a detachment of Kamchatka Cossacks under the leadership of Daniil Antsiferov and Ivan Kozyrevsky landed on Shumshu, the northernmost of the Greater Kurils.
  14. ^ Eliza Adams, of Fairhaven, May 29 – Jun 13, June 24-Aug. 1, 1847, Old Dartmouth Historical Society (ODHS); Splendid, of Edgartown, Aug. 12-Sep. 6, 1848, Nicholson Whaling Collection (NWC); Shepherdess, of Mystic, May 8–30, 1849, NWC; Hudson, of Fairhaven, Oct. 6, 1857, Kendall Whaling Museum (KWM); Sea Breeze, of New Bedford, Oct. 5–18, 1868, ODHS; Cape Horn Pigeon, of New Bedford, Aug. 23-Sep. 10, 1892, KWM.
  15. ^ Lexington, of Nantucket, May 31, 1855, Nantucket Historical Association.
  16. ^ Starbuck, Alexander (1878). History of the American Whale Fishery from Its Earliest Inception to the year 1876. Castle. ISBN 1-55521-537-8.
  17. ^ The Friend (Vol. V, No. 12, Dec. 11, 1856, p. 93, Honolulu).
  18. ^ Cape Horn Pigeon, of New Bedford, Sep. 10, Sep. 19-Oct. 1, 1892, KWM.
  19. ^ Loos, Noel; Osani, Takeshi, eds. (1993). Indigenous Minorities and Education: Australian and Japanese Perspectives on their Indigenous Peoples, the Ainu, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Tokyo: Sanyusha Publishing Co., Ltd. ISBN 978-4-88322-597-2.
  20. ^ a b Levinson, David (2002). Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. 1. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-684-80617-4.
  21. ^ Siddle, Richard (1996). Race, Resistance, and the Ainu of Japan. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-41513-228-2.
  22. ^ Howell, David (1997). "The Meiji State and the Logic of Ainu 'Protection'". In Hardacre, Helen (ed.). New Directions in the Study of Meiji Japan. Leiden: Brill Publishers. p. 614. ISBN 978-9-00410-735-9.
  23. ^ Gawne, Jonathan (2002). Ghosts of the ETO: American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theater, 1944–1945. Havertown, Pennsylvania: Casemate (published 2007). p. 10. ISBN 9781935149927. Retrieved 27 January 2021. Operation WEDLOCK in 1944 created a notional force in the northern Pacific that appeared ready to invade the Kurile Islands. This pinned down Japanese troops and equipment in an area the Americans had no intention of attacking.
  24. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945 - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  25. ^ "Распоряжение Правительства Российской Федерации от 08.02.2017 № 223-р" (in Russian). Publication.pravo.gov.ru. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  26. ^ "It was hoped that the proceeds from the ongoing projects would help to alleviate the high level of poverty in the region". Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, s.v. Sakhalin Oblast" (Europa Publications) 2003.
  27. ^ "Profile on Yuzhno-Kurilsk Mendeleyevo Airport". Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  28. ^ "Islands disputed with Japan feel Russia's boom". Archived from the original on 2007-10-29.
  29. ^ "Russia moves to defend Kuril Islands claim". RIA Novosti, 9 February 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gorshkov, G. S. Volcanism and the Upper Mantle Investigations in the Kurile Island Arc. Monographs in geoscience. New York: Plenum Press, 1970. ISBN 0-306-30407-4
  • Krasheninnikov, Stepan Petrovich, and James Greive. The History of Kamtschatka and the Kurilski Islands, with the Countries Adjacent. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1963.
  • Rees, David. The Soviet Seizure of the Kuriles. New York: Praeger, 1985. ISBN 0-03-002552-4
  • Takahashi, Hideki, and Masahiro Ōhara. Biodiversity and Biogeography of the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. Bulletin of the Hokkaido University Museum, no. 2-. Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Museum, 2004.
  • Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. 2006. ISBN 978-0-674-02241-6.
  • Alan Catharine and Denis Cleary. Unwelcome Company. A fiction thriller novel set in 1984 Tokyo and the Kuriles featuring a light aircraft crash and escape from Russian-held territory. On Kindle.

External links[edit]