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Native name: Парамушир
Paramushir, Atlasov, Shumshu - Landsat 7.jpg
Paramushir Island (Landsat 7 image)
Paramushir is located in Sakhalin Oblast
Paramushir (Sakhalin Oblast)
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 50°20′N 155°45′E / 50.333°N 155.75°E / 50.333; 155.75
Archipelago Kuril Island
Area 2,053 square kilometres (793 sq mi)
Length 100 kilometres (62 mi)
Width 20 kilometres (12 mi)
Highest point Chikurachki (1,816 metres (5,960 ft))
Oblast Sakhalin Oblast
District Severo-Kurilsky
Largest city Severo-Kurilsk (pop. 2592)

Paramushir (Russian: Парамушир) or Paramushiru, from the Ainu for "broad island") is a Russian island in the Kuril Island chain. At 100 km in length an average around 20 km across and with an area of 2,053 km², it is the largest of the Northern Group of islands and second only to Iturup in area. It is separated from Shumshu by the very narrow second Kuril strait in the northeast (2.5 km), from Antsiferov Island by the Luzhina strait (15 km) to the southwest, from Atlasov Island in the northwest by 20 km, and from Onnekotan Island in the south by the 40 km wide fourth Kuril strait. Its northern tip is 39 km from Cape Lopatka at the southern tip of the Kamchatka peninsula.

Paramushir belongs to the Severo-Kurilsky district of the Sakhalin Oblast. Severo-Kurilsk (population: 2592 in 2002 census, 5180 in the 1989 census), the administrative center of the Severo-Kurilsky district, is the only permanently populated settlement on Paramashir island. The town is the largest settlement on all the Kuril Islands, however it is followed closely by Kurilsk on Iturup (pop. approxuimately 2200 in 2005). Other villages that once lined the coast of Paramushir are now mainly ghost towns. This is due in part to the crash of the formerly lucrative herring fishery, to the extremely destructive Kamchatka peninsula tsunami of 1952, which claimed an estimated 2300 lives, and general economic hardships in the more remote reaches of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.


Geography and natural history

Chikurachki eruption, 2003 (MODIS image)

Geologically, Paramushir is a continuous chain of 23 volcanoes. At least five of them are active: Chikurachki (1,816m), Fuss Peak (1,772m), Tatarinova, Karpinsky Group (1,345m), and Ebeko (1,156m).

Chikurachki, the highest peak on Paramushir, erupted in 2003, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008. During the most recent eruption in August 2008, the volcanic ash reached the town of Severo-Kurilsk located 60km north-east [1]. The previous eruption took place on March 4, 2007, when a 1.5 km high plume of ash was emitted that trailed for several hundred kilometers into the neighboring waters.

Paramushir has a sub-arctic climate strongly modulated by the cooling effects of the North Pacific Oyashio Current. The arboreal flora of Paramushir is consequently limited to dense, stunted copses of Siberian dwarf pine and shrubby alder. The alpine tundra which dominates the landscape produces plentiful edible mushrooms and berries, especially lingonberry, Arctic raspberry, whortleberry and crowberry. Red fox, Arctic hare and ermine are notably abundant and hunted by the inhabitants. The island also supports a population of grizzly bears. The straits between Paramushir and Shumshu island support a notably dense population of sea otters and harbor seals are similarly common.

Several species of charr and Pacific salmon spawn in its rivers, notably in the Tukharka river, at 20 km the longest river on the island.


Paramushir, along with the rest of the Kuril (or Kurile) Islands, was claimed by Japan at the end of the 19th century. Paramushir was home to the northernmost Japanese military bases until the end of World War II. These bases were subject to sporadic air raids from the US Air Force and US Navy based in the Aleutian Islands from 1943 until the end of the war. It also hosted at least one POW camp. In August 1945, the Soviet Union invaded Paramushir. After the war, the Soviet Union took possession of Paramushir along with the rest of the Kuril Islands.

External links


Coordinates: 50°20′N 155°45′E / 50.333°N 155.75°E / 50.333; 155.75



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