Kuril Islands (aka Kurile Islands) are part of Sakhalin (Russia). This is an archipelago of volcanic isles stretching nearly 1300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido Island (Japan) to Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia). This large island group consists of 56 main islands plus many small-sized islets and rocks and separates Sea of Okhotsk from the northern Pacific Ocean.
The archipelago is divided into 2 main groups - Lesser Kuril Ridge (South Kurils, Shikotan, Habomai Islands) and Greater Kuril Ridg (North Kurils, Iturup, Kunashir). The whole group has a total land area of 10,500 km2 (4,055 mi2) and total population of around 20,000.
- Lesser (south) Kuril isles are separated from Greater (north) Kuril isles by South Kuril Strait. The lesser chain's length is approx 100 km (62 mi), with a total land area of 361 km2 (139 mi2), including 6 large-sized and several smaller isles. The largest among those are named Shikotan (264 km2), Zeleny (59 km2), Tanfilyev (13 km2), Polonsky (12 km2), Yuri (10 km2), Anuchin (2 km2).
- Greater (north) Kuril islands' chain has length of 1200 km (746 mi) and a total land area of 10,100 km2 (3,900 mi2).
Lovyshki Islands are a group (within the Kurils) consisting of several small-sized rocky islets. They are in the archipelago's center, between the islands Shiashkotan and Raikoke. Lovyshki Islands (actually, clustered rocks) are home to large populations of sea mammals and seabirds, including northern fur seals, sea lions, crested auklets.
All Kuril isles are under the Russian Federation's jurisdiction. However, Japan currently claims the 2 southernmost big-sized islands (Kunashir and Iturup), as well as the Habomai and Shikotan groups as the "Northern Territories" of Japan. The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is over the sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands. These (former Japanese) territories, like the rest (undisputed) Islands were annexed by USSR at the end of WWII. They are still claimed by Japan and include Iturup (Etorofu), Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai Islands.
Kuril Islands cruise terminal
Most cruise ships to Kuril Islands dock (anchor) at Severo-Kurilsk - port town in the northern part of the islands, on Paramushir island. Among the most visited by (mainly small-sized and luxury) cruise vessels Kuril Isles are:
- Atlasov (Latitude 50.86925, Longitude 155.56356, area 150 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Alaidskaya Bay) - Greater Ridge, west of Paramushir Island
- Chirpoy (Latitude 46.52646, Longitude 150.86373, area 21 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Peschanaya Bay) - Lesser Ridge, northeast of Iturup Island
- Iturup (area 3280 km2, population around 7,000) - port/landing point: Kurilsk
- Kunashir (area 1499 km2, population around 8,000) - port/landing point: Yuzhno-Kurilsk
- Makanrushi (Latitude 49.79870, Longitude 154.43724, area 50 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Zakat) - Greater Ridge, northwest of Onekotan Island
- Matua (area 52 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Sarychevo
- Onekotan (area 425 km2, uninhabited) - port/landing point: Mussel
- Paramushir (area 2053 km2, population around 2,500) - port/landing point: Severo-Kurilsk
- Simushir (Latitude 46.965, Longitude 152.04583, area 360 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Kraternyy) - Greater Ridge, southwest of Ketoy Island
- Shiashkotan (area 122 km2, uninhabited) - port/landing point: Makarovka
- Shikotan (area 255 km2, population around 2,500) - port/landing point: Malokurilskoye
- Shumshu (Latitude 50.81950, Longitude 156.44629, area 388 km2, population 20, port/landing point: Baikovo) - Greater Ridge, northeast of Paramushir Island
- Urup (area 1450 km2, uninhabited) - port/landing point: Mys Kastrikum
- Ushishir (Latitude 47.52, Longitude 152.8, area 5 km2, uninhabited, port/landing point: Kraternya) - Greater Ridge, between Ketoy (to the southwest) and Rasshua (to the northeast)
Port Kuril Islands cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Kuril Islands, Russia. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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