Native name: Kunashiri Island (Ainu)
Other names: Russian: Кунаши́р; Japanese: 国後島
|Kunashiri Island coastline on a photo taken by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in November 2010.|
|Location||Sea of Okhotsk|
|Area||1,490 square kilometres (370,000 acres)|
|Length||123 kilometres (76 mi)|
|Width||from 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to 30 kilometres (19 mi)|
1,819 metres (5,968 ft)
Kunashiri Island (Russian: Кунаши́р; Japanese: 国後島, Kunashiri-tō; Ainu: クナシㇼ or クナシㇽ, Kunasir), possibly meaning Black Island or Grass Island in Ainu, is the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia, but four of which (among them Kunashiri Island) are claimed by Japan (see Kuril Islands dispute).
It lies between the straits of Kunashiri Island, Catherine, Izmena, and South Kuril. Kunashiri Island is visible from the nearby Japanese island of Hokkaidō, from which it is separated by the Nemuro Strait.
Kunashiri Island is formed by four volcanoes which were separate islands but have since joined together by low-lying areas with lakes and hot springs. All these volcanoes are still active: Tyatya (1,819 m), Smirnov, Mendeleev (Rausu-yama), and Golovnin (Tomari-yama).
The island is made up of volcanic and crystalline rocks. The climate is humid continental with very heavy precipitation especially in the autumn and a strong seasonal lag with maximum temperatures in August and September. The vegetation mostly consists of spruce, pine, fir, and mixed deciduous forests with lianas and Kuril bamboo underbrush. The mountains are covered with birch and Siberian Dwarf Pine scrub, herbaceous flowers or bare rocks.
Tree cores of century-old oaks (Quercus crispula) were found in July 2001 on Kunashiri Island.
Russian navigator Vasily Golovnin attempted to map and explore the island in 1811, but was apprehended by Japanese authorities and spent two years in prison.
On September 1, 1945, or one day before the surrender documents of World War II were signed on September 2, 1945, in accordance with decisions made at the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union landed on and annexed the Kuril Islands and the disputed Northern territories. The Japanese government claims that the Northern Territories were not part of the Kuril Islands, due to historical reasons. This occurred after the Soviet Union renounced the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1945 and declared war on Japan on August 9, 1945 (formally, the pact itself remained in effect until April 13, 1946).
The primary economic activity is the fishing industry. The island has a port next to Yuzhno-Kurilsk.
The island is served by Mendeleyevo Airport.
After the 1994 earthquake, about one-third of Kunashiri Island's population left, and did not return. By 2002, the island's population was approximately 7,800. The total population of the disputed Kuril islands at that time was approximately 17,000.
- Geographic data at the Wayback Machine (archived December 23, 2010)
- Flights to Kunashiri Island banned