The seven most interesting islands of Russia

Tour of the seven most interesting Russian islands would probably be one of the most exciting trips to imagine. These islands, mostly unknown to the world, cover the arctic coast above the Polar Circle, ancient forests in the Russian Far East, the mysterious monuments of the ancients built of bones and beautiful wooden island churches.


Olhon is the biggest and the only populated island in Siberian lake Baikal. In the Buryatian language Olhol means “dry”- because there is not a single river nor creek – even though it is surrounded by lake Baikal, which contains a fifth of unfrozen fresh water on the planet.

Huziri is the biggest resort on Olhon with the population of 1200 residents. The locals call it, for fun, “the capital city”. Resort has several food shops and restaurants, church and a night club. Not far from the east coast of Olkhon is the deepest place of Lake Baikal (1642 m).

Nature of the island is rich and diverse: steps, sandy beaches with dunes, coniferous forests along the coast, dense forests of larch and fir forests rare, marble walls covered with thick reddish moss and swamps.


Sahalin is with its 76,5 thousand square kilometers the longest Russian island. After Russian-Japanese war in 1905. it was divided between Japan and Russia, but after World war II completely went to the Soviet Union and later to Russia.

Sahalin has a population of half million, of whom one third lives in South Sahalin, the only major city on the island.

Over here winter lasts 7 to 8 months, and short summer is mostly chilly and windy. Sahalin is rich in oil, gas, gold and coal. Its most common visitors are lovers of eco tourism because it carries several major nature reserves with protected nature parks and numerous natural spas.


Iturup island is located near Japan and is the biggest on the Great Kuril ridge. Like other Kuril islands, Iturup has volcanic origin: on cape Inkito there is a “land of cool lava”, by which it can be assumed how the Kuril archipelago looked a million years ago.

Theer are nine active volcanoes over there, one of the biggest waterfalls of Russia Ilja Muromac (141 m), a lot of termal springs and lakes. The island now has more than 6000 people.

Like the rest of Kuril archipelago, until 1945. this island belonged to Japan. They became part of the Soviet Union after the Kuril landing operation. However, Japan still claims to this territory, which prevents the signing of the peace treaty between Russia and Japan.

Ratmanova island

Ratmanova island is on the very east of Russia. It is located on in middle of Bering Strait on just 3.7 kilometers away from Kruzenshterna island, which belongs to USA. Island Ratmanova administratively is part of the Chukchi autonomous district, but there are  no permanent residents on it, but only the base of Russian border guards. Until half century ago its residents were Eskimos, who moved to Chukchi island and the American Kruzenshterna island.

One of the largest bird colonies in the region is on this island, with over 4 million specimens. In June 1976. here is discovered and ocher-yellow hummingbird (selasphorus), the only species of hummingbirds that can be encountered on the territory of Russia.


The architectural ensemble Spaso- of the Kizhi Pogost (fenced cemetery with the parish church) is located on the island of Kizhi, one of the 1650 islands of the Onega lake, and is one of the most important sights of the Northwest Russia; more than 20 years ago it was listed in UNESCO World Heritage List. The church dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord, 37 meters high, with beautiful wooden domes presents a true example of Russian medieval wooden architecture. The legend says that all 22 of the domes,arranged on several levels were built without a single screw.

Kizhi Pogost is the central part of the first Russian open-air museum, the State Historical-Architectural and Ethnographic Museum.

Country of Franz Jozeph

Country of Franz Jozeph 1’st is archipelago with 192 islands and the total area of over 16,000 square kilometers. It is located in North polar ocean and is one of the most northern Russian and world territories. The island belongs to the Southern part of the Arkhangelsk region. There are no permanent residents on it, but is visited occasionally by the researchers, border guards and members of the unit in charge of missile defense of northern Russian borders. In 2005., the northernmost postal branch was opened on one of the islands. The name of post office is Arhangelsk 163100 and it is opened only on Wednesday from 10 till 11 o’clock. Over there you can find numerous bird summer colonies, polar bears and polar foxes, seals, walruses and white whales. 87% of territory of the island is covered with ice.


A small mountainous island Itigran is located in Bering strait, not far from the Bay of Providence. Therein lies the famous Whale Alley, a unique monument and sanctuary of ancient Eskimos, whale hunters. It is assumed that the Whale Alley was founded in the 14th century. This mysterious monument is unique not only in Chukotka, but also in the entire Arctic.

The Whale Alley is 300 meters long. It consists of two parallel rows of whale skulls and bones. Closer to the sea are arranged skulls of the Greenland whales, organized into 15 groups by 2-4 skulls. The front end of the bone is buried in the ground and rises up to five feet in height. Each one of these gigantic whale jaws weighs 250-300 kilograms.


Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines

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