Sakhalin Region


Sakhalin Region is the only region which is entirely located on islands (Sakhalin Island and Kuril Islands). The region borders Japan by sea. The basis of the region's economy is formed by oil and gas production, fishing, and fish processing. Flora is rich and diverse; many plants are used for production of medicines.

The administrative center is the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Area 87 100 km².

Population 490 200 people (2018).

Population density 5,6 people per km² (2018)

Web site:

Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Chukotka Autonomous Region Magadan Region Kamchatka Krai Sakhalin Region Khabarovsk Krai Amur Region Primorsky Krai Jewish Autonomous Region Republic of Buryatia Zabaykalsky KraiRussian Far East


Russian development of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands began in the middle of XVII beginning of XVIII centuries, with campaigns of Russian explorers and sailors. In 1869-1906, Sakhalin was the largest exile penal colony in Russia. In 1909, the Sakhalin region was formed as part of Amur Governorate General.

During the Civil War and the foreign intervention, Japan occupied Russia's northern part of Sakhalin in April 1920 and withdrew its troops from this territory only five years later. In 1925, Sakhalin Region was formed within the Northern Sakhalin; in 1932 Sakhalin Region became a part of the Far East Krai (since 1938 Khabarovsk).

In 1945, following the victory in the World War II, the USSR recovered the Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

Within its modern borders, Sakhalin Region was established and became an independent region of the Russian Federation in 1947.

Geographical location

Sakhalin Region is a border and the only one subject of the Russian Federation that is completely located on the islands washed by the waters of the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan, and the Pacific Ocean. Its structure includes Sakhalin, Moneron, Tyuleny islands and the Kuril archipelago consisting of the Big and the Small island ranges.

Sakhalin Island is the largest island in Russia (76.6 thousand sq. km), stretched along the meridian by 948 km, with the greatest width of 160 km and the smallest width of 26 km; it is separated from the mainland by the Tatar Strait of the Sea of Japan, the Strait of Nevelsky, the Amur estuary, and the Sakhalin Gulf. In the south, it is separated from the Japanese island of Hokkaido by La Perouse Strait; from the east it is washed by the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Kuril Islands extend from the southern tip of Kamchatka to the southwest to Hokkaido Island (Japan) and are the natural boundary between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean.

Time zone

The distance from the region's center, the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, to the city of Moscow makes 10417 km; the difference in time zones between these cities makes 8 hours.

Physical and geographical characteristics

The coast of Sakhalin is poorly cut; there are large bays only in the southern and middle parts of the island. The eastern borderlands have a smooth coastline and numerous hollows formed in the mouths of rivers flowing into the sea.

The Kuril archipelago stretched for 1200 km from north to south, between Kamchatka and Hokkaido.

The surface of Sakhalin is very mountainous. Most of its territory is covered by medium-high mountains. In the eastern part of the island, there are the East-Sakhalin Mountains, stretching from the lower reaches of the Tym River to Terpeniya Peninsula; with the highest peak of Sakhalin - Mount Lopatina (1609 meters).

The western part of the island is taken by the lower Western Sakhalin Mountains (the highest peak is Mount Vozvrasheniya, 1325 meters) which stretch from Cape Krillon to Khunmakta River. Susunai and Tonino-Anivsky ranges lie in the south of Sakhalin.

Mountain formations of the island are separated by lowlands (Tym-Poronayskaya, Susunayskaya, Muravievskaya) that are often swampy and cut by numerous rivers.

Schmidt Peninsula is occupied by two low-mountain ridges separated by the hilly Pil-Dianovskaya lowland; along the western coast, there is a strip of low sea terraces with dunes, bay bars, and swamps.

Natural resources

Reserves of the mineral resources in the region are diverse and quite large. Sakhalin alone has more than 50 kinds of mineral raw materials of which oil, gas, coal and brown coal, building materials, peat, fresh groundwater have industrial importance and are being actively developed. In addition, there are placers of titanium magnetite, mineral and thermal waters, shows of ore gold, mercury, manganese, tungsten, silver, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, nickel, cobalt, titanium, strontium, talc, asbestos.

Non-metallic minerals include native sulfur, cement raw materials, and building materials. Building materials include various rocks of stone, clay, sands, gravel and pebble deposits, pumice. There are asphalt lakes in the areas of oil fields.


Great length of the territory of Sakhalin region predetermines significant variety of climatic conditions.

The climate of Sakhalin Island is formed under the influence of monsoon moderate latitudes, the system of sea currents, and relief specifics. The climate features cold dry winters and warm humid summers.

The winter in the Kuril Islands is accompanied by intense precipitation and heavy blizzards that worsen the visibility. In summer, south-eastern and southern currents from the Pacific Ocean bring calmer weather with frequent fogs.

The average duration of sunshine per year varies across the territory of Sakhalin from 1800 to 1900 in the south and from 1500 to 1600 hours in the north of the island. The duration of sunshine in the South Kuril makes 1500-1600 hours, in the North Kuril 1000-1200 hours.

The mean January temperature in Sakhalin varies from -23 C in the north-west and inland to -8 C in the south-east. The mean August temperatures range from +13 C in the north to + 18 C in the south of the island. In the Kuril Islands, the average temperature in January makes -5.1C, the average temperature in August makes +10.7C.

Annual precipitation rate ranges from 500-600 mm in the north to 800-900 mm in the valleys and 1000-1200 mm in the mountains in the south. One third of precipitation falls on the cold season, sometimes in the form of heavy snowfall and wet snow. Frequent and long blizzards with heavy snowdrift occur regularly.

Flora and fauna

Flora of Sakhalin and Kuril is rich and diverse and includes about 2000 species. Like in a huge botanical garden, larch and polar birch, spruce and virginia creeper, dwarf pine and Amur cork tree grow here in close proximity to each other. Herbal vegetation on Sakhalin Island is extremely lush, high, and very dense.

A rare combination of dark-coniferous forests with the thickets of the Kuril bamboo can be found only in the south of Sakhalin, South Kuril, and Hokkaido Island, and nowhere else in the world. Therefore, this nature treasure needs special protection.

Vegetation of the region is rich and diverse. Trees are used for production of timber raw materials and fuel (spruce, fir, larch). Many plants are used for production of medicines (lily-of-the-valley Keiske, Veratrum acutiloba, aralia herbaceous, eleutherococcus (eleuterococus), Chinese magnolia vine, chamomile, cowberries, Kamchatka Bilberry, celandine, valerian, etc.).

Sakhalin Region is covered with numerous forests. The main forest species of Sakhalin are spruce, fir, larch, stone birch.

Due to island position, fauna of Sakhalin is a bit impoverished compared to species inhabiting the mainland but is rich in sea coast animals. From the north, the island is penetrated by the Arctic species: white grouse, rough-legged buzzard, rustic bunting, and reindeer. In the south, the fauna is enriched by animals of Manchurian zoogeographic subregion: Japanese tree toad, Japanese small starling, Japanese snipe.

The island is populated by many mammals whose life is closely associated with the sea. These are sea bear, sea otter, several kinds of seals, toothed and baleen whales, as well as sea lion - the largest pinniped.

The indigenous inhabitants of the Sakhalin forests are: mountain hare, flying squirrel, chipmunk, fox, brown bear, ermine, least weasel, glutton, reindeer. Land mammals of Sakhalin include the following taiga species: sable, otter, brown bear, glutton, squirrel, flying squirrel, mountain hare, lynx, chipmunk, red fox and silver fox, ermine, least weasel.


The humid monsoon climate and mountain relief of the region caused some specific features of soils and vegetation cover of Sakhalin. Domination of taiga landscapes is one of such distinctive features.

Forests and woodlands prevail in the northern part of Sakhalin Island. There are many peat swamps with poorly developed grass cover and many lichens here. The North-Sakhalin plain is dominated by marsh, podzolic soils. Mountain-podzolic soils cover Schmidt Peninsula. To the south of Nysh village, spruce fir taiga with mountain-podzolic and mountain brown forest soils begins.


82% inhabitants of the Sakhalin region live in the cities, 18% - in the rural areas. About 65% of the population is concentrated in the southern part of the island, as it is the most comfortable and suitable for development area. The most numerous nationalities are: 86.5% Russians, 5.3% Koreans, 2.6% Ukrainians.

Administrative and territorial division

The territory of the Sakhalin region includes 18 municipalities with the status of an urban district.


Oil and gas sector, which accounts for more than 80% of the total volume of industrial production and more than 70% of tax revenues of the regional budget takes the leading position in the region's economy. The leading industries in the Sakhalin region are the oil and gas industry, coal mining, fishery, and power engineering.

Sakhalin region accounts for more than 80% of young salmon fishes of all Russian enterprises and 14% of the young salmon fishes produced by the countries in the North Pacific.

The main fishery targets are pollack, cod, herring, flounder, navaga, greenling, saury, Pacific salmon and crabs.

In the territory of Sakhalin Island, there are 70 coal deposits. The coal reserves of the Sakhalin basin, which are explored to various detail degrees, amount to about 2.5 billion tons. The volume of coal produced fully covers the needs of the enterprises of the housing and utility complex, the population, and the electric power generation facilities.


There are more than 427 educational institutions in the island which offer pre-school, general, vocational and supplementary education programs, including:

  • 162 schools (1 branch school);
  • 167 municipal kindergartens;
  • 20 vocational education establishments (4 branches);
  • 79 supplementary education establishments (5 branches).

More than 100 thousand children and young people of Sakhalin and Kuril learn and study there.

Special attention in the region is paid to personnel policy. The educational process is provided by almost 10,000 teachers.


The network of cultural and industry-specific educational establishments of Sakhalin Region consists of 343 units. Industry-specific education system in Sakhalin region includes 1 secondary vocational educational institution (Sakhalin College of Arts) and 33 children's arts schools, 5 of which are located in rural areas of the island. There are 13 cinemas in the region. Sakhalin Philharmonic Hall is pride and joy of the region.


More than 100 religious associations and organizations representing more than 15 various religious trends are registered in Sakhalin region.

The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest of the religious organizations; - it includes more than 60 groups and organizations, 45 Orthodox churches and chapels, which are subordinated to the Moscow eparchy.

Islam is represented by one organization in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk; it is a local Muslim religious organization Sakhalin of the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia.

The other faiths in Sakhalin region include Catholicism (1 organization), Buddhism (1 organization), other religions - about 60 places of worship.