Yuzhno-Kurilsk is an urban-type settlement
Urban-type settlement
Urban-type settlement ; , selyshche mis'koho typu ) is an official designation for a type of locality used in some of the countries of the former Soviet Union...

 in 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...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. It is the largest settlement on the Kunashir Island
Kunashir Island
Kunashir Island , possibly meaning Black Island or Grass Island in Ainu, is the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan ....

 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...

. Population: 5,751 (2002 Census
Russian Census (2002)
Russian Census of 2002 was the first census of the Russian Federation carried out on October 9 through October 16, 2002. It was carried out by the Russian Federal Service of State Statistics .-Resident population:...

); 6,344 (1989 Census
Soviet Census (1989)
The 1989 Soviet census, conducted between January 12-19 of that year, was the last one conducted in the former USSR. It resulted in a total population of 286,730,819 inhabitants...


The history of Yuzhno-Kurilsk is connected with the history of the Kuril Islands as a whole. In Russia, the Kurile Islands first became known after an expedition by Russian explorer Ivan Moskvitin
Ivan Moskvitin
Ivan Yuryevich Moskvitin was a Russian explorer, presumably a native of Moscow, who led a Russian reconnaissance party to the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Russian to reach the Sea of Okhotsk....

 and his companions, after which another explorer Kolobov in 1646 talked of the Ainus - the indiginous inhabitants of the Kuriles. According to some Japanese sources, Kunashir became known to the Russians later than the other islands of the Kuril chain.

After that, the Kuriles, Sakhalin and Hokkaido were explored ans settled both by the Russians and Japanese. By the end of the XVIII century first settlements of Russian exiles and volunteers appeared on the Kuriles. Also, along with Ainu settlemets, the islands had a Japanese trading post and fortified settlements with military garrisons. In 1769, Lieutenant Ivan Cherny received was informed that the Japanese lived on Kunashir where they were had founded a settlement with a fortress and a permanent garrison.

Japanese settlement

Weakened by the Crimean War, in 1855 Russia signed Simodsky treatise and ceded a part of the South Kuril Islands to Japan, including the island of Kunashir. The Japanese predecessor of Yuzhno-Kurilsk - Furukamappu village Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

: - was located in the northeast corner of the bay of the same name. Furukamappu with the neighboring villages of Okinokotan and Isoyanbetsu had 50 houses. There was a post office with the telegraph and shops. When the island was administered by Japan (1855–1945), other settlements were founded as well.

The founding of Yuzhno-Kurilsk

Kunashir came back under the Russian rule on September 1, 1945 as a result of the Kuril landing operation. A Platoon of the Machine Gun Battalion of the 113th Infantry Brigade of the 87th Infantry Corps of the 2nd Far Eastern Front landed near Furukamappu. On the shore there was a Japanese battalion commander waiting for them with a white flag in hands. The Japanese garrison surrendered without a fight. On February 2, 1946 the island was included in the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin) Oblast of the USSR, and the village of Yuzhno-Kurilsk was founded. The first Yuzhno-Kurilsk City Council and all the services of civil authority were formed from members of the 113th Infantry Brigade. Captain Babukhadiya, an artillery division battery commander, became the first chairman of the regional executive committee.

After WWII, active construction was launched using Soviet military forces. Japanese prisoners of war who were kept on Kunashir in a separate camp were also used for the construction. Japanese prisoners of war were given the same rations as Soviet soldiers. The Japanese wore their uniform with their own insignia, were divided into platoons and companies with their commanders in the lead. They moved around in formation, abode by strict discipline and order according to the statutes of the Japanese army (if it posed no harm to the Soviet side).

According to the decision of the Soviet Government, in the summer of 1947 all the Japanese people were repatriated from the Kuril Islands to Hokkaido, Japan. By that time Kunashir was settled by many immigrants and seasonal workers from various regions of the Soviet Union. Fisheries based on Kunashir and Shikotan began to increase their production output and revenues.

After the 1953 tsunami, many Yuzhno-Kurilsk public facilities had to be rebuilt 30m above the previous level, the new settlement was named "the New District". After the 1994 earthquake in the open sea to the east of the island of Hokkaido, New District buildings sustained extensive damage and were rebuilt at a new location.

After a period of uncertainty and decline in the 90's, largely caused by the fears that the island was going to be ceded to Japan, Yuzhno-Kurilsk gradually began to revive. A Federal Program for the Development of the Kuril Islands involves a significant investment to build a new airport, roads and other facilities on the island.


Yuzhno-Kurilsk has a borderline humid continental climate
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Dfb) that is almost cold enough to be a subarctic climate
Subarctic climate
The subarctic climate is a climate characterized by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates...

. Precipitation, however, is much heavier than most climates of its type owing to the presence of strong onshore winds from the Pacific Ocean. These, however, make the whole archipelago extremely cloudy, especially in the summer when fog
Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated...

 from the Oyashio current produces near-saturation humidity and extremely high cloudiness. However, Yuzhno-Kurilsk itself is less affected than places to the north because it is somewhat shielded from fog by the Shiretoko
Shiretoko Peninsula
is located on the easternmost portion of the Japanese island of Hokkaidō, protruding into the Sea of Okhotsk. It is separated from the Kunashir Island of Russia by the Nemuro Strait. The name Shiretoko is derived from the Ainu language word sir etok, meaning the end of the Earth or the place where...

 and Nemuro Peninsula
Nemuro Peninsula
The Nemuro Peninsula is a peninsula which extends from the east coast of Hokkaidō, Japan. It is some 30km long and 8km, and forms part of Nemuro City. Cape Nosappu at its tip is the easternmost point of Hokkaidō. The northern coastline is on Nemuro Bay, while the south faces the Pacific Ocean...

s and actually receives more sunshine than Wakkanai and only marginally less than Sapporo. Maritime influences are also reflected in summer temperatures being much lower than in comparable latitudes in the interior of Asia; for example, the warmest month at Yuzhno-Kurilsk is 5˚C (9˚F) cooler than at Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 and 9˚C (16˚F) cooler than in Harbin
Harbin ; Manchu language: , Harbin; Russian: Харби́н Kharbin ), is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, lying on the southern bank of the Songhua River...


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