Shiashkotan ; is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

 chain in the Sea of Okhotsk
Sea of Okhotsk
The Sea of Okhotsk is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, lying between the Kamchatka Peninsula on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, the island of Hokkaidō to the far south, the island of Sakhalin along the west, and a long stretch of eastern Siberian coast along the west and...

 in the northwest Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, separated from Ekarma
Ekarma is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, separated from Shiashkotan by the Ekarma Strait...

 by the Ekarma Strait
Ekarma Strait
Ekarma Strait is a stretch of water that separates Ekarma in the southeast and Shiashkotan in the northwest in the Kuril Islands, Russia. At its narrowest point, it is 8 km wide....

. Its name is derived from the Ainu language
Ainu language
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages, spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō....

, from “Konbu village”.


Shiashkotan is roughly dumbbell shaped, formed by two volcanic islands joined together by a narrow landspit
Spit (landform)
A spit or sandspit is a deposition landform found off coasts. At one end, spits connect to land, and extend into the sea. A spit is a type of bar or beach that develops where a re-entrant occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift...

. The island has a total length of 25 kilometres (15.5 mi) with a width ranging from 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) at its widest point to 0.9 kilometre (0.559235462984826 mi) at its narrowest, and an area of 122 square kilometres (47.1 sq mi). Both ends of the island are complex stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

s, and landing is possible only on the sandy isthmus.
  • Pik Sinarka , which rises to 934 m (3,064 ft) above sea level occupies the northern end of the island, and is the island’s highest point. Historical eruptions have occurred at Sinarka during 1825–1750, 1846, 1855, and the last and largest from 1872 to 1878.

  • Pik Kuntomintar -, occupies the southern end of the island. A central cone fills a 4-4.5 kilometer diameter caldera, and there is a second caldera on the west side which is breached to the west. The only known postglacial activity of Kuntomintar is continuous fulmarole activity near the east wall of the inner caldera and a nearby hot sulfur spring.


Shiashkotan was inhabited by the Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

, who subsided off of hunting and fishing at the time of European contact. The island appears on an official map showing the territories of Matsumae Domain
Matsumae clan
The was a Japanese clan which was granted the area around Matsumae, Hokkaidō as a march fief in 1590 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and charged with defending it, and by extension all of Japan, from the Ainu 'barbarians' to the north. The clan was originally known as the Kakizaki clan who settled...

, a feudal domain of Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 dated 1644, and these holdings were officially confirmed by the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 in 1715. Subsequently claimed by the Empire of Russia, sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 initially passed to Russia under the terms of the Treaty of Shimoda
Treaty of Shimoda
The Treaty of Shimoda of 1855, formally Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia , was signed between the Russian Vice-Admiral Euphimy Vasil'evich Putiatin and Toshiakira Kawaji of Japan in the city of Shimoda, Izu Province, Japan, on February 7, 1855...

. During an eruption of 1872, Russian authorities recorded that 13 inhabitants died; however, when the island was returned to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 per the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875) along with the rest of the Kurile islands, no inhabitants remained. The island was formerly administered as part of Shimushu District of Nemuro Subprefecture
Nemuro Subprefecture
is a subprefecture of Hokkaidō, Japan. The Japanese claim the disputed Southern Kurile Islands as part of this subprefecture....

 of Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

. In 1893, a settlement was attempted by nine members of the Chishima Protective Society led by Gunji Shigetada; however, when a ship called on the island a year later, five of the colonists had already died, and the remaining four were critically ill with beri-beri.
After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the island came under the control of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and is now administered as part of the Sakhalin Oblast
Sakhalin Oblast
Sakhalin Oblast is a federal subject of Russia comprising the island of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.The oblast has an area of 87,100 km² and a population of 546,695...

 of the Russian Federation.

Further reading

  • 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.

External links

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