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Sakhalin (Russian: Сахали́н, IPA: [səxʌˈlʲin]; Japanese: 樺太, romaji: karafuto; Traditional Chinese: 庫頁島; Simplified Chinese: 库页岛; pinyin: Kùyè Dǎo; Korean: 사할린), also Saghalien, is a large elongated island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N. It is part of Russia and is its largest island, administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast. Southern Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and northern Japan were the indigenous lands of the Ainu peoples before they were displaced by force.
The European names derived from misinterpretation of a Manchu name sahaliyan ula angga hada (peak of the mouth of Amur River). Sahaliyan means black in Manchu and refers to Amur River (sahaliyan ula). Its Japanese name, Karafuto (樺太) comes from Ainu Kamuy-Kara-Puto-Ya-Mosir (Kara Puto), which means "God of mouth of water land". The name was restored to the island by the Japanese during their possession of its southern part (1905-1945).
Sakhalin was inhabited in the Neolithic Stone Age. Flint implements, like those found in Siberia, have been found at Dui and Kusunai in great numbers, as well as polished stone hatchets, like European examples, primitive pottery with decorations like those of the Olonets, and stone weights for nets. Afterwards a population to whom bronze was known left traces in earthen walls and kitchen-middens on the Aniva Bay.
Among the indigenous people of Sakhalin are the Ainu and the Nivkh, as well as others. Chinese chronicled the Xianbei and Hezhe tribes, who had a way of life based on fishing. The Chinese in the Ming dynasty knew the island as Kuyi (Chinese: �<�夷; pinyin: K�"yí), and later as Kuye (Chinese: 庫頁; pinyin: Kùyè). According to Wei Yuan's work Military history of the Qing Dynasty (Chinese: �-武記; pinyin: Shèngw�"jì), the Ming sent 400 troops to Sakhalin in 1616, after a newfound interest because of northern Japanese contacts with the area, but later withdrew as it was considered there was no threat to China from the island. A Ming boundary stone still exists on the island.
A Japanese settlement in the southern end of Sakhalin of Ootomari was established in 1679 in a colonialization attempt. Cartographers of the Matsumae clan created a map of the island and called it "Kita-Ezo" (Northern Ezo, Ezo is the old name of Hokkaido). The 1686 Nerchinsk Treaty between Russia and China, which defined the Stanovoy Mountains as the border, made no explicit mention of the island. Nevertheless Russia started occupying the island, with an army made up of convicts, from the 18th century onwards. The Qing Empire also claimed sovereignty over the island. However, as the Chinese governments did not have a military presence on the island, people from both Japan and Russia attempted to colonise the island, albeit from different ends.Sakhalin became known to Europeans from the travels of Ivan Moskvitin and Martin Gerritz de Vries in the 17th century, and still better from those of Jean-François de La Pérouse (1787) and Ivan Krusenstern (1805). Both, however, regarded it as a peninsula, and were unaware of the existence of the Mamiya Strait or Strait of Tartary, which was discovered in 1809 by Mamiya Rinzo.
On the basis of it being an extension of Hokkaido, geographically and culturally, Japan unilaterally proclaimed sovereignty over the whole island in 1845, as well as the Kuril Islands, as there were competing claims from Russia. However, the Russian navigator Gennady Nevelskoy in 1849 definitively recorded the existence and navigability of this strait and - in defiance of the Qing and Japanese claims; Russian settlers established coal mines, administration facilities, schools, prisons, churches on the island. The indigenous people were killed or forced to move elsewhere.
In 1855, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimoda, which declared that both nationals could inhabit the island: Russians in the north, and Japanese in the south, without a clear boundary between. Russia also agreed to dismantle its military base at Ootomari. Following the Opium War, Russia forced the Qing to sign the unequal Treaty of Aigun and Convention of Peking, under which China lost claim to all territories north of Heilongjiang (Amur) and east of Ussuri, including Sakhalin, to Russia. A katorga (penal colony) was established by Russia on Sakhalin in 1857, but the southern part of the island was held by the Japanese until the 1875 Treaty of Saint Petersburg, when they ceded it to Russia in exchange for the Kuril Islands. After the Russo-Japanese War, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Portsmouth of 1905, which resulted in the southern part of the island below 50° N reverting to Japan; the Russians retained the other three-fifths of the area. South Sakhalin was administrated by Japan as Karafuto-chō (樺太庁), with the capital Toyohara, today's Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and had quite a large number of migrants from Japan and Korea.
In August 1945, according to Yalta Conference agreements, the Soviet Union took over the control of Sakhalin. The Soviet attack on South Sakhalin started on 11 August 1945, as a part of Operation August Storm, four days before the Surrender of Japan, after the bombing of Hiroshima. The 56th Rifle Corps consisting of the 79th Rifle Division, the 2nd Rifle Brigade, the 5th Rifle Brigade and the 214 Armored Brigade attacked the Japanese 88th Division. Although the Red Army outnumbered the Japanese by a factor of three, they were unable to advance due to strong Japanese resistance. (Japan had quite a presence here, and developed much infrastructure.) It was not until the 113th Rifle Brigade and the 365th Independent Naval Infantry Rifle Battalion from Sovietskaya Gavan (Сове�,ская �"аван�Oe) landed on Tōrō (�"路), a seashore village of western Sakhalin on 16 August, that the Soviets broke the Japanese defence line. Japanese resistance grew weaker after this landing. Actual fighting, mostly petty skirmishes, continued until 21 August. From 22 August to 23 August, most of the remaining Japanese units announced a truce. The Soviets completed the conquest of Sakhalin on 25 August 1945 by occupying the capital, Toyohara. Japanese sources claim that 20,000 civilians were killed during the invasion.
No final peace treaty has been signed and the status of four neighbouring islands remains disputed. Japan renounced its claims of sovereignty over southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in the Treaty of San Francisco (1951), but claims that four islands currently administered by Russia were not subject to this renunciation. However, Japan has granted mutual exchange visas for Japanese and Ainu families divided due to Russian occupation. Recently, economic and political cooperation has gradually improved between the two nations in spite of it.
Sakhalin is separated from the mainland by the narrow and shallow Mamiya Strait or Strait of Tartary, which often freezes in winter in its narrower part, and from Hokkaido (Japan) by the Soya Strait or Strait of La Pérouse. Sakhalin is the largest island of Russia, being 948 km (589 miles) long, and 25 to 170 km (16 to 105 miles) wide, with an area of 78,000 km² (30,100 mi²).
Its orography and geological structure are imperfectly known. Nearly two-thirds of Sakhalin is mountainous. Two parallel ranges of mountains traverse it from north to south, reaching 600–1500 m (2000–5000 ft). The Western Sakhalin Mountains peak in Mount Ichara, 1481 m (4860 ft), while the Eastern Sakhalin Mountains's highest peak is Mount Lopatin 1609 m (5279 ft) is also the island's highest mountain. Tym-Poronaiskaya Valley separates the two ranges. Susuanaisky and Tonino-Anivsky ranges traverse the island in the south, while the swampy Northern-Sakhalin plain occupies most of its north.
Crystalline rocks crop out at several capes; Cretaceous limestones, containing an abundant and specific fauna of gigantic ammonites, occur at Dui on the west coast, and Tertiary conglomerates, sandstones, marls and clays, folded by subsequent upheavals, in many parts of the island. The clays, which contain layers of good coal and an abundant fossil vegetation, show that during the Miocene period Sakhalin formed part of a continent which comprised north Asia, Alaska and Japan, and enjoyed a comparatively warm climate. The Pliocene deposits contain a mollusc fauna more arctic than that which exists at the present time, indicating probably that the connection between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans was broader than it is now.
Main rivers: the Tym, 400 km (250 miles) long and navigable by rafts and light boats for 80 km (50 miles), flows north and north-east with numerous rapids and shallows, and enters the Sea of Okhotsk. The Poronai flows south-south-east to the Gulf of Patience or Shichiro Bay, on the south-east coast. Three other small streams enter the wide semicircular Gulf of Aniva or Higashifushimi Bay at the southern extremity of the island.
At the beginning of the 20th century, some 32,000 Russians (of whom over 22,150 were convicts) inhabited Sakhalin along with several thousand native inhabitants. The island's population has grown to 673,100 today, 83 percent of whom are ethnic Russians and followed by Koreans at about 30,000 (5.5%). The native inhabitants consist of some 2,000 Nivkhs, 750 Oroks, 200 Evenks and some Yakuts. The Nivkhs in the north support themselves by fishing and hunting.
The capital Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, a city of about 200,000, has a large Korean minority, typically referred to as Sakhalin Koreans, who were forcibly brought by the Japanese during World War II to work in the coal mines. Most of the population lives in the southern half of the island, centered mainly around Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and two ports, Kholmsk and Korsakov (population 50,000 each).
The 400,000 Japanese inhabitants of Sakhalin were deported following the conquest of the southern portion of the island by the Soviet Union in 1945 at the end of World War II.
Owing to the influence of the raw, foggy Sea of Okhotsk, the climate is very cold. At Dui the average yearly temperature is only 0.5 °C (January -15.9 °C; July 16.1 °C), 1.7 °C at Kusunai and 3.1 °C at Aniva (January, −12.5 °C; July, 15.7 °C). At Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky near Dui the annual range is from 27 °C in July to −39 °C in January, while at Rykovsk in the interior the minimum is −45 °C. The rainfall averages 570 mm. Thick clouds for the most part shut out the sun; while the cold current from the Sea of Okhotsk, aided by north-east winds, brings immense ice-floes to the east coast in summer.
 Flora and fauna
The whole of the island is covered with dense forests, mostly coniferous. The Yezo (or Yeddo) spruce (Picea jezoensis), the Sakhalin fir (Abies sachalinsis) and the Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii) are the chief trees; on the upper parts of the mountains are the Siberian dwarf pine (Pinus pumila) and the Kurile bamboo (Arundinaria kurilei). Birches, both Siberian silver birch (Betula platyphylla) and Erman's birch (B. ermanii), poplar, elm, Bird cherry (Prunus padus), Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) and several willows are mixed with the conifers; while farther south the maple, rowan and oak, as also the Japanese Panax ricinifolium, the Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense), the Spindle (Euonymus macropterus) and the vine (Vitis thunbergii) make their appearance. The underwoods abound in berry-bearing plants (e.g. cloudberry, cranberry, crowberry, red whortleberry), Red-berried elder (Sambucus racemosa), wild raspberry and Spiraea.
Bears, foxes, otters and sables are numerous, as also the reindeer in the north, and the musk deer, hares, squirrels, rats and mice everywhere. The bird fauna is mostly the common east Siberian, but there are some endemic or near-endemic breeding species, notably the endangered Spotted Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) and the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus borealoides). The rivers swarm with fish, especially species of salmon (Oncorhynchus). Numerous whales visit the sea-coast.
Transport, especially by sea, is an important segment of the economy. Nearly all the cargo arriving for Sakhalin (and the Kuril Islands) is delivered by cargo boats, or by ferries, in railway wagons, through a sea ferry passage at Vanino-Kholmsk. The ports of Korsakov and Kholmsk are the largest and handle all kinds of goods, while coal and timber shipments often go through other ports. In 1999, a ferry service was opened between the ports of Korsakov and Wakkanai, Japan.
About 30% of all inland transport volume is realized through railways. Sakhalin has railway lines stretching from Nogliki in the north to Korsakov in the south. There is also a departmental narrow-gauge line at Nogliki-Okha, extending 228 km. With the existence of a ferry serving Vanino-Kholmsk, Sakhalin has railway connection with the railway network of the rest of Russia.
Sakhalin is connected by regular flights to Moscow, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and other cities of Russia. The airport of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has regularly scheduled international flights to Hakodate, Japan and Seoul and Busan, Korea. There are also charter flights to the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Niigata, and Sapporo and the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Dalian, and Harbin.
The idea of building a fixed link between Sakhalin and the Russian mainland was first mooted in the 1930s. In the 1940s, an abortive attempt was made to link the island via a 10 km long undersea tunnel. The workers supposedly made it almost to the half-way point before the project was abandoned under Nikita Khrushchev. In 2000, the Russian government revived the idea, adding a suggestion that a 40 km long bridge could be constructed between Sakhalin and the Japanese island of Hokkaido, providing Japan with a direct connection to the Euro-Asian railway network. It was claimed that construction work could begin as early as 2001. The idea was received skeptically by the Japanese government and appears to have been shelved, probably permanently, after the cost was estimated at as much as US$50 billion.
Sakhalin is a classic "resource economy" relying on oil and gas exports, coal mining, forestry, and fishing. There are also some coal deposits and limited quantities of rye, wheat, oats, barley and vegetables are grown, although the growing season averages less than 100 days.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and economic liberalization, Sakhalin has experienced an oil boom with extensive petroleum exploration and mining by most large oil multinationals. The oil and natural gas reserves contain an estimated 14 billion barrels (2.2 km³) of oil and 96 trillion cubic feet (2,700 km³) of gas and are strategically locked-in by long-term SPA-contracts controlled by globally dominant corporations like Exxon and Shell.
In 1996, two large consortiums signed contracts (pipeline lock-ins) to explore for oil and gas off the northeast coast of the island, Sakhalin-I and Sakhalin-II. The two consortiums were estimated to spend a combined $21 billion U.S. dollars on the two projects which almost doubled to $37 as of September 2006, triggering russian governmental opposition. This will include an estimated $1 billion (US) to upgrade the islands infrastructure: roads, bridges, waste management sites, airports, railways, communications systems, and ports. In addition, Sakhalin-III-through-VI are in various early stages of development.
The Sakhalin I project, managed by Exxon Neftgas Limited (ENL), completed a production-sharing agreement (PSA) between the Sakhalin I consortium, the Russian Federation, and the Sakhalin government. Russia is in the process of building a 136 mile (219 km) pipeline across the Tatar Strait from Sakhalin Island to De-Kastri on the Russian mainland. From De-Kastri it will be loaded onto tankers for transport to East Asian markets, namely Japan, South Korea, and China.
The second consortium, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. (Sakhalin Energy) is managing the Sakhalin II project. They completed the first ever production-sharing agreement (PSA) with the Russian Federation. Sakhalin Energy will build two 800 km pipelines running from the northeast of the island to Prigorodnoye (Prigorodnoe) in Aniva Bay at the southern end. The consortium will also build, at Prigorodnoye, the first ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant to be built in Russia. The oil and gas is also bound for East Asian markets.
Sakhalin II has come under fire from environmental groups, namely Sakhalin Environment Watch, for dumping dredging in Aniva Bay. The groups were also worried about the offshore pipelines interfering with the migration of whales off the island. The consortium has now (Jan 2006) re-routed the pipeline to avoid the whale migration. After a doubling in the projected cost, the Russian government threatened to halt the project for environmental reasons.  There have been suggestions that the Russian government is using the environmental issues as a pretext for obtaining a greater share of revenues from the project and/or forcing involvement by the state-controlled Gazprom. The cost overruns (at least partly due to Shell's response to environmental concerns), are reducing the share of profits flowing to the Russian treasury. 
In 2000, the oil and gas industry accounted for 57.5% of Sakhalin's industrial output. By 2006, it is expected to account for 80% of the island's industrial output. Sakhalin's economy is growing rapidly thanks to its oil and gas industry. By 2005, the island had become the largest recipient of foreign investment in Russia, followed by Moscow. Unemployment in 2002 was only 2%. However, all of the oil and gas is for export and none is available to the island's population.
 See also
 External links
- Sakhalin 2 project, ecological problems
- The Sakhalin Times (Weekly English Language newspaper published in Yuzhno Sakhalinsk)
- Map of the Sakhalin Hydrocarbon Region at Blackbourn Geoconsulting
- TransGlobal Highway - Proposed Sakhalin-Hokkaido Friendship Tunnel.
- Photos of Sakhalin @ Flickr
- Sakhalin Snowboarding Community
- "The Sakhalin II Phase 2 Project The New Energy Source for the Asia Pacific: Transforming the Vision into Reality" presentation by David J. Greer Дэйвид Дж. Гриер, OBE Eur. Ing., C. Eng., FIMechE, Sakhalin II Deputy CEO/Project Director, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. to Scottish Oil Club, October 2005.
- C. H. Hawes, In the Uttermost East (London, 1903). (P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)
- A Journey to Sakhalin (1895), by Anton Chekhov, including:
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