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    T H E   R U S S I A N   F A R   E A S T



PRIMORS

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Lazo

Olga


Amgu

Lazo


Agzu

Rudny


Gorny

Tamga


Ternei

Vostok


Samarka

Plastun


Samarga

Zarubino


Kraskino

Valentin


Anuchino

Lipovtsy


Kirovsky

Ariadnoe


Tury Rog

Rakitnoe


Guberovo

Svetlaya


Primorsky

Sergeevka

Chuguevka

Zharikovo

Dvoryanka

Dalny Kut

Roshchino

Glubinnoe

Maximovka

Ignatevka

Terekhovka

Arkhipovka

Yakovlevka

Melnichnoe

Kuznetsovo

Margaritovo

Mikhailovka

Malaya Kema

Novopokrovka

Kamen-Rybolov

Velikaya Kema

Novokachalinsk

Gornye Klyuchi

Nikolo-Lvovskoe

Rudnaya Pristan

Yaroslavsky

Pogranichny

Preobrazhenie

Artem

Nakhodka


Ussuriisk

Dalnegorsk

Lesozavodsk

Spassk-Dalny

VLADIVOSTOK

Arsenev


Partizansk

Dalnerechensk

Bolshoi Kamen

Uglovoe


Slavyanka

Sibirtsevo

Kavalerovo

Smolyaninovo

Russky

Khorol


Ilinka

Kamenka


Pokrovka

Vesely Yar

Khrustalny

Pozharskoe

Luchegorsk

Popova


Mikhailovka

Koksharovka

Cheremshany

Krasnorechensky



T E R N E I S K Y

P O Z H A R S K Y



K R A S N O A R M E I S K Y

C H U

G U E

V S K Y

K

H

A

S

A

N

S

K

Y

O L G I N S K Y

L A

Z O

V S

K Y

S P A S S K Y

D A

L N

E R

E C

H E

N S

K Y

D A

L N

E G

O R

S K

Y

K I R O V S K Y

P

A

R

T

I Z

A

N

S

K

Y

ANUCHINSKY

K A V A

L E R O

V S K Y

P

O

G

R

A

N

I C

H

N

Y

S

H

K

O

T

O

V

S

K

Y

K H

A N

K A

I S

K Y

L E S O Z A

V O D S K

Y

Y A

K O

L E

V S

K Y

M

I K

H A

I L

O

V S

K Y

K

H

O

R

O

L S

K

Y

O K T Y A B R S K Y

C H E R N I G O V S K Y

N A D E Z H D I N S K Y

Ulunga


Verkhne Pereval

Edinka


Krasny Yar

Khasan


Poset

¯

100



km

K

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A

B

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R

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S

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A

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A

Lake

Khanka

Amur

River

Tr

ans-Si

berian

R

a

ilroad

By Newell and Zhou / Sources: Ministry of Natural Resources, 2002; ESRI, 2002.



P O Z H A R S K Y

U S S U R I I S K Y

P

Trans-Siberian Railroad

Map 2.1

Primorsky Krai



165,900 sq. km

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Russian Far East



Newell, J. 2004. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and 

Development.  McKinleyville, CA:  Daniel & Daniel. 466 pages

PRIMORS

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C H A P T E R   2

Primorsky Krai

Location 

Situated along the southeastern border of the rfe, Primorsky Krai, or Primorie, shares a 

common border with China in the west and Khabarovsk Krai in the north. To the east lies 

the Sea of Japan, which separates Primorsky from Japan by only 400 km. In the far south 

of the krai, Russia, China, and North Korea share a border on the Tumen River Delta. 

The region’s coast, which extends 1,350 km, is washed by the Sea of Japan. 

Size 


Primorsky Krai covers 165,900 sq. km, approximately 2.67 percent of the rfe, and is larger 

than the entire Korean Peninsula.

Climate

In winter, cold Siberian air blows east creating consistently dry and sunny weather with 



little precipitation. January temperatures average –10°c in the south and –30°c in the 

north, and reach –45°c in the mountains. Winter snows begin to thaw in the middle of 

March in the south and toward the middle of April in the north and in the mountains. In 

summer, masses of humid air fl ow up from the south across the Sea of Japan creating hot, 

rainy weather, especially along the coast. Flooding is a yearly event. July, with an average 

temperature of 22°c, is the warmest time in the inland regions. August brings the warmest 

temperatures (averaging 20°c) to the coastal regions. Residents consider fall, or zolotaya 

osen, the best season, with clear dry weather lasting from mid-September to late Novem-

ber, when snow begins to fall. 

Geography and ecology 

The Sikhote-Alin Mountain Range covers much of the territory, stretching from the 

southwest to the northeast, parallel to the coastline. The mountains rise to a height of 

1,855 m (Mount Oblachnaya) and average about 1,000 m. The northern part of this range 

extends into Khabarovsk Krai. 

  Rivers on the western side of these mountains fl ow into the Ussuri River, a major tribu-

tary of the Amur River, which runs south to north and forms the Russian-Chinese border. 

One of these rivers, the Bikin, runs through the largest intact stands of Korean pine (Pinus 



koraiensis) and broadleaved forests remaining in the krai. Short swift rivers fl ow from the 

southeastern slopes of the Sikhote-Alin Mountains into the Sea of Japan. Generally no 

longer than 50 to 100 km, these rivers often fl ood after the intense summer rains. Agricul-

ture and logging over the past seventy to eighty years have increased the size and frequency 

of fl oods. Almost all of Primorsky’s rivers, especially those fl owing east, are spawning 

   


111

Newell, J. 2004. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and 

Development.  McKinleyville, CA:  Daniel & Daniel. 466 pages

112

   


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PRIMORS

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grounds for migratory fi sh, including many species of 

salmon. The Sea of Japan reaches the eastern coast, 

which has estuaries and lagoons, beautiful beaches, and 

a diversity of marine and shoreline wildlife.

  In the southwest, rare Manchurian fi r (Abies holo-



phylla) and broadleaved forests of the East Manchurian 

Mountains, which extend into North Korea and China, 

provide the last habitat for the endangered Far Eastern 

leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), a subspecies on the 

brink of extinction. The few marshes in the krai are 

mostly in the Khanka-Ussuri Plain, which borders Lake 

Khanka in the south and east and stretches north along 

the Ussuri River. The very shallow Lake Khanka (10 m 

at its average depth and covering about 4,000 sq. km) is 

the largest body of freshwater in the rfe. The lake’s wet-

lands, extremely valuable for migratory birds, have been 

degraded by agriculture. The Tumen River Delta in the 

far south and forming a border with China and North 

Korea also provides wetland habitat for migratory birds, 

marine mammals, and reptiles. 

 Forest 


covers 

80 percent of the krai. In the north 

and at higher elevations, Ayan spruce (Picea ajanensis), 

East Siberian fi r (Abies nefrolepis), and Dahurian larch 

(Larix gmelini) dominate. Further south, and in the river 

valleys, northern and southern tree species intermix to 

create unique forests that Russian ecologists call the 

Ussuri Taiga. The biological diversity of these forests, 

the wetlands, and the rich coastal waters is higher than it 

is almost anywhere else in Russia and rivals that of any temperate ecosystem in the world. 

Flora and fauna

Primorsky has about two thousand species of fl ora, many of which are endemic. There are 

more rare and endangered species and subspecies here than in any other region in the rfe. 

Critically endangered species include the Far Eastern leopard, the most northern subgroup 

of leopards, of which only about sixty remain in the wild (between thirty and thirty-six 

in southern Primorsky, fi fteen in Jilin Province, China, and perhaps fi ve or ten in North 

Korea).

1

 Most of the estimated four hundred Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) roam 



Primorsky’s forests. This subspecies of tiger is found only in the forests of Primorsky and 

southern Khabarovsk, China, and possibly North Korea. Rail lines and highway roads 

connecting Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, and the development of Razdolnaya and Ussuri 

River basins, have prevented genetic exchange among large predators and hoofed animals 

between populations living in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains and the southwestern part of 

Primorsky. 

  Rare cranes, including the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis, world population ap-

proximately 1,800) and the white-naped crane (G. vipio, world population estimated at 

5,500), migrate to Lake Khanka, the Tumen River Delta, and the Ussuri River, as well as 

Key issues and projects

Logging in the Samarga River basin

In the spring of 2001, the Primorsky administration 

announced that the Russian logging fi rm Terneiles 

had won rights to log almost all of the roadless 

forests in the Samarga River basin. The local com-

munity was not involved in the decision-making 

process, and studies show that other economic 

measures will be more benefi cial to those living in 

the region (see p. 126). 

Illegal harvest and export of natural resources

The region is one of the most corrupt in Russia.

Conservation of rare and endangered species

The conservation of habitat for the tigers and 

leopards remains a priority for the Russians and 

the international community. 

Infrastructure expansion 

The building of roads and expanding of ports is 

localizing and intensifying pressure on Primorsky’s 

largely unlogged northern forests (see p. 132).

Newell, J. 2004. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and 

Development.  McKinleyville, CA:  Daniel & Daniel. 466 pages


PRIMORS

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P r i m o r s k y   K r a i    

   


113

to other wetland regions of Mongolia, China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan. Other rare 

and endangered species include Amur cat (Felis euptilura), dhole (Cuon alpinus), Sika deer 

(Cervus nippon hortulorum), Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), golden eagle (Aquila 



chrysaetos), Oriental white stork (Ciconia boyciana), Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes), 

scaly-sided merganser (Mergus squamatus, world population approximately 1,200 pairs), 

Himalayan bear (Ursus thibetanus), mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), Blakiston’s fi sh-owl 

(Ketupa blakistoni, fewer than fi ve hundred pairs exist), and Amur goral (Nemorhaedus 



caudatus amurensis). Over seven hundred fi sh species inhabit the coastal waters of the 

Sea of Japan. Now practically extinct in China and North Korea, Asian ginseng (Panax 



ginseng) is found in two main concentrations in the southern part of the Sikhote-Alin 

Mountains of Primorsky and in the East Manchurian Mountains along the Primorsky and 

Jilin border. Some of Primorsky’s other rare fl ora include the Manchurian apricot (Prunus 

mandshurica), Siberian kiwi (Actinidia arguta), Komarov’s lotus (Nelumbo nucifera var. 

komarovii), Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata), and Shlippenbach’s rhododendron (Rhododen-

dron schlippenbachii). 

Largest cities

Primorsky has 11 cities, 30 towns, 47 “company towns,” 221 villages, and 619 minor settle-

ments. Vladivostok (“Lord of the East”) (pop. 613,100, founded 1860) is the administrative 

center and has commercial and military ports. Most of the rfe’s premier universities and 

research centers are located in Vladivostok. It is also the eastern terminus of the Trans-

Siberian Railroad (9,302 km from its start in Moscow). Nakhodka (pop. 159,800, offi cially 

designated a city in 1950) is Russia’s most southeastern city, one of the rfe’s major timber 

and coal ports, and the site of a much-discussed Free Economic Zone. One of Russia’s 

largest fi sh canneries is also located here. Ussuriisk (pop. 158,400, founded 1866) is a 

center for agriculture and food processing, and serves as a regional transport hub. Known 

as an industrial center, in addition to producing electrical equipment and washing ma-

chines, Arsenev (pop. 67,100, founded 1885) produces military aircraft, particularly 

helicopters. Spassk-Dalny (pop. 57,800, founded 1885) is the center of the building and 

cement industry. 

Population

The krai, with 2,157,700 residents as of 2001, is home to about 30 percent of the rfe’s pop-

ulation.


2

 Most live in the cities and towns in the lowlands and along the coast of southern 

Primorsky. The population, as in other parts of the rfe, has declined steadily since the col-

lapse of the Soviet Union, with a loss of about 100,000 residents between 1994 and 2000. 

Predominantly Russian, Primorsky is home to Ukrainians, Belarussians, Germans, Tatars, 

Koreans, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Georgians, and Azeris. Indigenous peoples number about 2,000 

and include Nanai, Udege, Oroki, Orochi, and Taz.

Political status 

Primorsky Krai was formed as an individual administrative territory on September 20, 

1938. The krai’s ties with Moscow have been frequently strained, particularly when the 

former governor Evgeny Nazdratenko ruled the region as his personal fi efdom for most of 

the 1990s. A controversial leader, Nazdratenko was widely accused of political favoritism, 

mismanagement of the region’s resources for uncertain aims, and antipathy toward foreign 

Newell, J. 2004. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and 

Development.  McKinleyville, CA:  Daniel & Daniel. 466 pages


114

   


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PRIMORS

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investors. Primorsky governments have tradition-

ally viewed neighboring China and the many Chi-

nese visitors with circumspection, causing friction 

particularly on territorial issues between the two 

countries. 

Natural resources

Primorsky has abundant natural resources, includ-

ing more than 2 billion tons of coal (11 percent is 

coking coal and approximately 89 percent is lower 

quality brown coal or lignite) and 1.7 billion cu. 

m of timber (including the rfe’s largest stocks of 

Korean pine and ash). The forests in Primorsky, 

due to the warmer and wetter climate, are denser 

and grow more quickly than in any other region 

of the rfe. The krai holds 14 percent of the rfe’s 

tin resources, 40 percent of its known tungsten 

deposits, 79 percent of its zinc, 81 percent of its 

lead reserves, and large deposits of copper, sil-

ver, and bismuth. Gold can be found along the 

northern river basins. There are deposits of datolite 

and boron and large supplies of fl uorite, graphite, 

and both therapeutic and potable mineral waters. 

Diamonds were discovered recently.

3

 About 10 per-



cent of Primorsky is arable, making the region an 

important agricultural area. Marine species fi shed 

include salmon, cod, fl ounder, herring, king crab 

(Paralithodes kamtschatica), shrimp, and mollusks. 

In Peter the Great Bay alone there are about 194 

species of fi sh, and in the 200 -mile strip along the 

northern Primorsky coast there are more than 160 

species. According to data acquired during benthic 

trawl surveys made between 1984 and 1989, the total biomass of fi sh on the shelf and the 

upper section of the slope in Peter the Great Bay is between 65,000 and 93,000 tons (6.5 

tons per sq. km); northern Primorsky is estimated to have between 101,000 and 378,000 

tons (3.1 tons per sq. km). The main varieties of benthic fi sh resources include fl ounder 

(36 percent), cod (26 percent), goby (17 percent), and two species of sea trout (13 percent). 

Salmon stocks, best preserved in the northern rivers of the eastern Sikhote-Alin Mountain 

slopes (Samarga, Kabanya, Edinka, and Venyukovka), are important for the local econo-

mies and for export; the annual catch of pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), the most 

common species, is about 35 tons in those regions. 

Main industries

After a steady decline since 1989, industrial production began to increase again in 1999 and 

2000. The fi shing industry is the most important sector of Primorsky’s economy, repre-

senting about 38 percent of total production. Primorsky is by far Russia’s largest producer 

The Blakiston’s fi sh-owl  (Ketupa blakistoni) , a globally endangered 

species, depends on old-growth valley forests, like those along the 

Bikin River, for survival.

Yu

ri

 S

h

ib

n

e

v

Newell, J. 2004. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and 

Development.  McKinleyville, CA:  Daniel & Daniel. 466 pages


PRIMORS

K

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P r i m o r s k y   K r a i    

   


115

of fi sh and fi sh products, harvesting approximately 1.5 million tons of fi sh and sea products 

a year in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone (eez) and outer Pacifi c Ocean waters. An-

other critical industry is transportation, by rail and sea. Eighty percent of the rfe’s ocean 

transport services and more than 40 percent of the rfe’s international trade are through 

Primorsky. The krai produces between 3 and 4 million cu. m of timber annually, and most 

of it is exported. Actual fi gures for both the fi shing and timber industries are not publicly 

known, owing to the widespread corruption within the industry. Primorsky— a crucial 

region with China, the Koreas, and Japan so close—serves as the center for the Far East 

military. Some sectors of the economy are growing, among them tourism (mainly from 

China), mining, and textiles. 

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is fairly well developed, with the Trans-Siberian Railroad running along 

the western part of the krai and single-track railroads to China and North Korea. A 

railroad line recently built from Hunchun, China, to Kraskino, Russia, will open a new 

China-Japan trade route. Khasansky Commercial Port at Zarubino and Poset Port are 

modernizing so as to accommodate all types of cargo. A military road from Chita (which 

is to end in Nakhodka) is being built through previously roadless wilderness in Primorsky 

and has reached about halfway through the krai. A logging road from Nelma to Sukpai 

in Khabarovsk Krai may be built across the Samarga River basin to expedite logging 

and shipment of logs to Japan. Several other logging roads are being built or planned in 

the northern region of the krai. Vladivostok has a number of ports, together capable of 

handling millions of tons of cargo, but the Vostochny-Nakhodka port complex, with its 

large container, coal, and timber terminals, has overtaken Vladivostok in importance and 

continues to expand. Bolshoi Kamen was recently 

transformed from a military to a commercial port and 

now handles numerous types of cargo. Other smaller 

coastal ports such as Olga, Plastun, and Ternei are 

also being modernized and reoriented toward timber 

and fi sh export. 

Foreign trade

In 2000, Primorsky offi cially exported almost u.s.$1 

billion in products, mostly marine products ($462 

million), timber ($157 million) and Korean pine nuts 

($13 million), metal scrap ($44 million), textiles ($40 

million), and coal (

N/A

).

4



 The major export markets 

are China (mainly timber and pine nuts), the United 

States (mainly fi sh products), South Korea (fi sh 

products, some timber, and metal scrap), and Japan 

(timber and fi sh products) (see fi g. 2.1). The offi cial 

fi gures for 2000, which are probably much higher 

when unoffi cial trade is factored in, are noticeably 

higher than the 1999 fi gure of $864 million. Pri-

morsky imported goods totaling u.s.$375 million in 

2000. Primorsky buys almost one-third of its total 



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