The Far East is the largest part of the Siberian region. People can confuse the Russian “Far East” with the bigger area that includes several Asian countries. In regard to Siberian geography, the Far East is only the portions of the Russian territory.
The Far East is divided into two sub districts based on their economic and geographic position, economy specialization, natural resources and others. The Yakutia (Sakha Republic) and Magadan region belongs to the Northern district. The Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krai, Amur, Sakhalin and Kamchatka areas belongs to the South.
The Southern district has more favorable living conditions than the Northern district. The Southern district is only 40% of the Far East region, yet 80% of the population of the Far East reside there. The Northern district is a high contrast to the South, differing by a severe cold weather and small population. Winter can lasts up to 9 months although the people indigenous to the region can withstand the climate and life there. Their ability to survive in such an extreme climate comes from the lifestyle they have based on the old traditions handed down from each generation.
The remainder of the population prefers the monsoon-type climate of the southern regions. Winter there is also quite cold but less severe. Cyclones and heavy precipitation occur as a result of the warm sea air colliding with the cold land. During the summer time monsoonal rains and occasional flooding are common due to similar interactions of both air streams.
The Far East particularly differs by its remote distance from the most inhabited and developed areas of the country. In Soviet times the government used the Far East only as a raw material source and for national defense purposes. The Far East region was somewhat closed off because it served only these two
purposes during those times. This historical fact has affected the economic development of the region and its population. Today, the Far East only comprises about 5% of the Russian population with most of those residents living in the Southern district.
The total land area area of the Far East is 6215 thousand km²(2399 mi²) or 36% of Russian territory. Texas, the second largest American State, could fit in this region almost 9 times—amazing!
The vast Far East territory is more than a large land mass. It is also has a very beautiful landscape comprised of plateaus and low uplands. One of the biggest peninsulas in the world – Kamchatka (350 thousand km²=135 thousand mi²) has many geysers and 160 volcanoes, 28 of which are active. Klyuchevskaya hill – one of the world’s largest active volcanoes (4750 meters=2951 miles) is also located in Kamchatka. Many tourists are attracted to this place because of its unique qualities and fascinating geography. The Far East region also boasts the largest island in Russia-Sakhalin which measures 76.4 thousand km²(29.4 thousand mi²).
The Far East region defines its place in Russian economy based on its large stocks of mineral resources. For example the Far East is one of the major gold-bearing areas of Russia. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has the world’s largest diamond province. Ore and coal are also concentrated in the Republics of Sakha, Magadan, Khabarovsk, Kamchatka and the Amur areas.
The Far East regions has a tremendous stock of wood and water resources. The timber from this region contributes over 35 % of Russia’s tree resources. Two of Russia’s larger rivers, Lena and Amur, also run through the territory. Lakes also populate the area, the largest of them – Lake Khanka is located in Primorsky Krai with an area over 4 thousand km²(1.5 thousand mi²).
Fishing is another specialization of the region and is a big part of daily life. The Far East contributes more than 50% of Russia’s fishing production even though the area contains only 5% of the country’s population. While many regard the Far East as an undeveloped and frozen region, it actually has an important place Russia’s economy, diversity and national strategy.