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    Kamchatka Territory


Originally, the lands of the peninsula were inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East (Koryaki, Chukchi and Itelmeni). The Russian tsar Peter the Great signed a decree about the preparation of the first expedition through Siberia to Okhotsk and Kamchatka. There were 3 expeditions in total that helped to explore the Pacific Ocean and Kamchatka. In 1697 the Cossack Vladimir Atlasov who, like most explorers of the time, was out to find new lands, established two forts on the Kamchatka River. These forts became bases for the Russian traders who followed looking for firs.

In 1740 the explorer Vitus Bering reached Avacha Bay and laid the foundation stone for the port of Petropavlovsk, named after his two ships, the St. Peter and the St. Paul. PetropavlovskKamchatsky became the tsars major Pacific seaport and was used as the base for explorations, which turns up the Aleutian Islands and Alaska.

Such explorers as Charles Clark, James Cook and Francis de la Perouse have also been here. In 1779, Captain Clark sailing under the British flag entered Petropavlovsk harbour in command of two ships. Clark was continuing James Cooks work on with an intended expedition to the Arctic. Some 75 years later, in August 1854, more British sailed into Avalasha Bay, this time accompanied by the French, and intended to conquer a less benign nature. This invasion was successfully repulsed by the Petropavlovsk garrison.

On December 2, 1849 by the Law of the Russian Government a special Kamchatka Territory had been formed attaining the rights of a province.

During and after World War II, Kamchatka began to develop as a military region. Petropavlovsk became a sizable pacific Fleet submarine base, but its present prosperity is owed to the fishing industry. This is one of the reasons why Kamchatka was long closed to foreigners and Russians alike. The second reason was the Soviet Governments decision to preserve unique nature resources of the peninsula.

Now, Petropavlovsk is the administrative centre of the Kamchatka Territory and the only settlement of any size on the peninsula. Its a modern city with the population about 250 000 people.


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