Kamchatka and the Kurile Islands are only in Russian regions of current volcanism. They are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. 30 active and approximately 300 extinct volcanoes are on the peninsula. The natural satellites of volcanic activity are mud volcanoes and hot springs, including geysers. 274 mineral springs are located on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Glaciers are another integral part of volcanoes. Altogether there are 414, with a total area of 871 km2 (541 mi2).
The peninsula is rich not only in volcanoes and geysers. Over 14 thousand rivers and streams are in the hydro system of Kamchatka. The biggest one is the Kamchatka River (758 km / 471 mi). There are more than 100 thousand lakes. The largest ones are Nerpichye, Kronotsky and Kurile lakes.
The flora and fauna of Kamchatka are quite diverse. The largest Eurasian brown bears, as well as mountain sheep, elk, deer, Steller's sea eagles, sea lions and killer whales are only a small list of wildlife that live on the peninsula and in its waters. In the rivers of Kamchatka, all kinds of Pacific Salmon spawn.
All of these make Kamchatka a unique place to recreate and travel. Kamchatka has always been a place that beckoned travelers for genuine emotions. It’s the realm one could study a lifetime.
The main types of tourism in Kamchatka:
- Trekking - hiking that includes climbing volcanoes;
- Auto-tourism with climbing volcanoes;
- Rafting - rafting on mountainous and lowland rivers accompanied by sports fishing;
- Fishing and hunting;
- Diving - underwater world of not so warm waters of Kamchatka will surprise even the most experienced divers and diving with sea lions will give indescribable delight;
- Ecological, ethnic and photo tourism - observation of brown bears, Steller's sea eagles, sea lions and killer whales. It also includes dog sled riding, visiting ethnic villages, herds of reindeer and much more.
- Winter tourism includes snowmobile, ski-tours, heliskiing (downhill skiing from volcanoes that are accessed by helicopters).
The area of Kamchatsky Krai is 472.3 thousand km2. This equals territories of such European countries as Germany, Austria and Switzerland combined. It is divided into 11 districts: Aleutsky, Bystrinsky, Yelizovsky, Karaginsky, Milkovsky, Olyutorsky, Penzhinsky, Sobolevsky, Tigilsky, Ust-Kamchatsky and Ust-Bolsheretsky.
The administrative center is Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. It is home to 182 thousand people. This is 56% of all residents of the peninsula. The total number of residents in Kamchatka is 320 thousand people (2014). Of these, 77% are urban residents. The population density is 0.69 persons per square kilometer.
The Indigenous Population.
The Kamchatka Peninsula is inhabited by several nationalities. Each ethnic group is concentrated in a particular part of Kamchatka. There are five of them. Koryaks are the most numerous. They live in the northern and central part of the peninsula. They are divided into settled (nymylans) and nomadic (chavchuvens). The name comes from the word «khora» (deer). Itelmen are the indigenous people of the peninsula. The word «itenmn» means local. Now it is a small ethnic group mainly living in Tigilsky District. Chukcha are the indigenous people of Chukotka and are divided into Chukcha-reindeer herders (chavchu) and shoreline Chukcha (ankalyn). The common name for all of Chukcha «louravetlan» (real man) did not stick and is not use. Some of them live in the north of Kamchatka. Aleutians, as a whole people, live on the territory of USA. The name of this ethnic group comes from the principal place of their residence - the Aleutian Islands. In Kamchatka, they live on Bering Island. Evens relocated to the peninsula relatively recently. Their unofficial name is «lamuts». They primarily live in Tigilsky and Bystrinsky districts.
Kamchatka territory’s 18% are specially protected areas.
Three nature reserves: Koryaksky, Kronotsky, Komandorsky.
One nature reserve of federal importance: Yuzhno-Kamchatsky.
Two recreational areas: Resort Paratunka, Malkinskiye Mineral Waters
Four nature parks: Nalychevo, Bystrinsky, Yuzhno-Kamchatsky, Klyuchevskoy.
There are 22 nature reserves of regional importance, 116 monuments of nature and four protected areas.
Six sites are inscribed into the UNESCO’s World Heritage List: Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve, Uzon Volcano, Bystrinsky Nature Park, Nalychevo Nature Park, Yuzhno-Kamchatsky Nature Park and Klyuchevskoy Nature Park.
Weather on the peninsula is whimsical. And it often brings changes in the routes of tourist groups. Kamchatka climate is diverse and unstable. Off the coast, there is a prevalence of marine temperatures of monsoon character. In the central regions it is closer to the continental climate. In the northern part it’s subarctic. And in the eastern regions the heat can rapidly replace rain or fog with the wind, and vice versa. Winter is long. The coldest area is the central lowland Kamchatka. The average temperatures -240 С (-11.20 F). The lowest recorded temperature was -640 С (-83.20 F). Summer is short. The number of warm days with temperatures higher than +200 С (+680 F) in Kamchatka is very limited: 20 to 55. The highest recorded temperature was +370 С (+98.60 F).
In the north, Kamchatka is separated from the nearest forests by the vast expanse of Parapolsky Dol, which is tundra with many lakes. It serves as a natural barrier for those animals that cannot exist without vegetation. Therefore, the fauna of Kamchatka can be classified as that of an island. On the peninsula, there are 37 species of animals:
Predators: sable, otter, wolverine, mink, ermine, weasel, wolf, fox, Arctic fox, lynx and brown bear.
Hoofed animals: reindeer, bighorn sheep and elk.
Rodents: squirrel, Kamchatka marmot, Bering gopher, Canadian beaver, muskrat, vole and lemming.
Lagomorphs: northern pika, hare.
Chiropterans: Daubenton's bat, Brandt's bat, northern bat.
Pinnipeds: walrus, sea lion, northern fur seal, ringed seal, bearded seal, spotted seal, harbour seal and northern sea otter.
And there are more than 240 species of birds. The following birds, like: osprey, white-tailed eagle, Steller's sea eagle, golden eagle, gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, yellow-billed loon, solitary snipe, glaucous-winged gull, Aleutian tern, long-billed murrelet and ancient murrelet are included in the «Red Data Book of Russia».
Kamchatka is washed by the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Their waters are rich with variety of shellfish: mussels, periwinkle, trumpeter, tunic; of crustaceans: shrimp, crab, and of sea mammals: seal, Steller sea lions, sea otters, walrus, fur seal and killer whale.
And a large number of fish species: in the Bering Sea there are 394 species and in the Sea of Okhotsk 270 species. In the Pacific, the species composition is more diverse.
The majority of Kamchatka's rivers originate in the foothills of the mountains and glaciers. This explains the purity of their waters. There are more than 14 thousand of rivers and streams create Kamchatka’s hydro system. These are the largest of them: the Kamchatka River (758 km), Penzhina River (713 km), the Talovka River (458 km), the Vyvenka River (395 km), the Enychavayam River (311 km), the Okla River (304 km), the Tigil River ( 300 km), the Bolshaya River (275 km), and the Avachinskaya River (122 km). The Kamchatka River, despite being shorter than most, is twice as deep as the rivers of European Russia. There are over 100 thousand lakes, the biggest one is the Nerpichye Lake (552 km2), the Kronotskoye Lake (245 km2) and the Kurile Lake (77.1 km2).
During spawning of fish, the rivers and lakes of Kamchatka attract great attention of tourists – fishing fans, as well as Kamchatka brown bears. In waters of Kamchatka all species of Pacific salmon spawn: pink salmon, chum salmon, sockeye salmon, coho salmon, masu salmon, chinook; Pacific noble salmon (genus salmo): rainbow trout, Kamchatka salmon; as well as char, whitespotted char and Kamchatka grayling.
There are 30 active and 300 extinct volcanoes in Kamchatka. Almost all existing giants are concentrated in the eastern volcanic belt. The second belt of volcanoes extends along Sredinny Hrebet (median ridge). All of the extinct volcanoes, except Ichinsky, are on this belt. The highest active volcano in Eurasia is quite naturally located on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4750 - 4900 m) is one of the frequently erupting volcanoes of the peninsula. Also, Kamchatka is the birthplace of the largest basaltic eruption of the twentieth century – one of the six largest eruptions in the historical time. Actually, volcanoes of Kamchatka are striking in their beauty and diversity. Perhaps only here they have their own unique character.
The history of exploration of Kamchatka is one of the brightest pages of the world science. Great contribution to the study of the peninsula in the XVII - XVIII centuries was made by Vladimir Atlas, Semen Dezhnev and Stepan Krasheninnikov. Krasheninnikov’s «Description of Kamchatka Land» has become one of the most important works in the history of the peninsula. Tsar Peter I organized two expeditions to Kamchatka. It was during the second expedition that Ivan Yelagin founded the port city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Thus, the birthday of the city is the day when the two packet-boats «St. Peter» and «St. Paul», under the leadership of Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikov, entered the harbor of the Avacha Bay.
All expeditions and voyages round the world passed through Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: James Cook, Charles Clerc, Jean-Francois La Perouse, Ivan Kruzenshtern and others. Some of them were buried in Kamchatka. All researchers noted the warm welcome of the local population and the willingness to help.
Another bright page in the history of Kamchatka is the defence of Petropavlovsky Port from the Anglo-French Naval Squadron in 1854. It lasted ten days. 988 local residents and Russian soldiers stood against 2540 Brits and the French, three frigates against six men-o’-war and steamships; 68 Russian cannons against 204 invading cannons. A rain of cannonballs, landing operation, melee, retreat, suicide of Rear Admiral David Price, chief of combined force and a crushing defeat followed. Petropavlovsky Port remained unconquered.