Okhotsk (Russia)

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59.37281 N, 143.21928 E

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Okhotsk (aka Охотск in Russian) is an urban locality (work settlement) located at the mouth of Okhota River on Sea of Okhotsk, as well as an administrative center of Okhotsky District (Khabarovsk Krai, Russia). It has a population of around 4,220 people (2010 census).

  • Okhotsk was the main base of Russia on the Pacific coast between 1650-1860, but lost importance after Amur Acquisition (1860). It is situated at the east end of Siberian River Routes on Sea of Okhotsk where Okhota and Kukhtuy Rivers join forming a poor but usable harbor.
  • The Russians first reached the Pacific in 1639, 105 km (65 ml) southeast at the mouth of Ulya River. Semyon Shelkovnikov created winter quarters at Okhotsk in 1647. Two years later, a fort was erected (Kosoy Ostrozhok). Okhotsk was burnt in 1653 by the local Lamuts. Despite the fact that the Russian pioneers were trained builders of river boats they did not have the equipment and knowledge to build seagoing ships which meant that Okhotsk stayed a coastal settlement, not a port. 
  • In 1714, Peter the Great (1672-1725) sent to Okhotsk a party of shipbuilders to allow faster access to Kamchatka's furs. In 1715, they built Vostok and in 1716–1717 Kozma Sokolov sailed on it to Kamchatka. During the next 145 years the main Russian seaport on the Pacific Ocean was Okhotsk, supplying Kamchatka as well as other coastal settlements.
  • Between 1849-1866, American whaleships sailed for bowhead whales in Okhotsk's waters. Some visited the town itself while others caught whales within view of the settlement. They also fished for salmon in Okhota River.
  • Okhotsk was of military importance during the Civil War in Russia, when White army generals Anatoly Pepelyayev and Vasily Rakitin used it as the place of arms in the Far East. It was also a sounding rockets' launch site between 1981-2005. The rockets reached up to 1,000 km (621 ml) altitudes.
  • The population and  importance of Okhotsk declined sharply after the demise of Soviet Union.

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