KAMCHATKA TRAVEL AND TOURISM
Kamchatka is regarded as one of the world's last truly unspoiled wildernesses. Sometimes called the "the land of fire and ice," it is a large peninsula with with 29 active volcanos, 100,000 lakes, 14,000 wild rivers, floating boulders, a wealth of oil and gold, the world's largest population of grizzly bears, the world's largest eagles, geyser fields that rival those in Yellowstone, birch forests, blueberry bushes, and snowcapped mountains. Website: Kamchatka Tourist Portal: visitkamchatka.ru
Kamchatka is a 1,200-kilometer-long (750-mile-long), 470,00-square-kilometer (82,000-square-mile) peninsula that drops off of eastern Siberia like the foot of a swimming duck, with the Sea of Okhosk to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east . Larger than California and twice the size of England, Scotland and Wales, it is located ten time zones away from St. Petersburg and so far east of Moscow it is almost to the west. There are 24 wildlife sanctuaries, parks and a UNESCO World Heritage site that covers 27 percent of the peninsula.
Two thirds of Kamchatka is covered by mountains. It is rich in rivers. The climate is maritime and monsoonal. It can be very cold and there are frequent storms, winds and blizzards in the winter. The summer is short and cool. The average annual temperature is below 0 degrees C. Days with temperatures above 20°C are incredibly rare. Snow covers much of the landscape for nine months of the year. The first half of autumn has the most sunny days.
Kamchatka Krai — the state-like political entity which contains Kamchatka peninsula — covers 472,300 square kilometers (182,400 square miles), is home to only about 322,000 million people and has a population density of .68 people per square kilometer. About 77 percent of the population live in urban areas.Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the capital and largest city, with about 180,000 people.
Kamchatka embraces thousands of square kilometers of virgin taiga and alpine tundra. Pure ice-cold mountain rivers flow through and volcanic peaks from it. The Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk wash its shores of Kamchatka. A 125-kilometer wide of land is only thing that keeps Kamchatka peninsula connected to the Russian mainland.
Over 100 nationalities and ethnic groups live here. The locals take pride in the natural splendor of their homeland. They can spend hours talking about fishing, bears, hot springs, small nations culture, unique food and, of course, volcanoes. People move around in all-terrain buses and trucks equipped to carry people. If those won’t get you where you want there’s always dog sleds and snow shoes, but watch out for the bears and the mountain passes covered with snow even in mid summer.
History of Kamchatka
Kamchatka was originally occupied by Eskimo-like and Lapplike tribes like the Koryak, Chukchi, Itelmen and Kamchdales. The Russian credited with discovering it, in 1697, was a Cossack named Vladimir Atlasov. The first settlers were Cossack fur traders who built stockades and reduced the numbers of local people, mostly trough introducing disease.
Kamchatka was largely ignored by the Russians. Some historians have suggested that the Russians would have sold to the United States in package deal with Alaska if the Americans had shown any interest in it. During the Cold War, its nearness to the United States became of strategic importance. Airfields, submarine bases and early warning systems were set up. The entire peninsula became a closed area and only opened up in the 1990s.
The Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky submarine base on Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East was regarded as strategically important with an important mission. The personnel that worked there were highly paid. The base was deemed so secretive that the main reason the the Korean Air 747 was shot down in 1983— killing 269 people— was because it thought it might take reconnaissance photographs of the base.
Kamchatka, the Ring of Fire and Risk
Kamchatka is the only part of Russia located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. It boasts 300 conical volcanos, crater lakes and natural hot springs and has more volcanic earthquakes and eruptions than almost anywhere on earth. It is home to Asia's largest and most active volcano. The lava fields that surround many of the volcanos served as training areas for the Soviet Union's planned missions to the moon. Life is found in the boiling springs on Kamchatka Peninsula. The springs are not just hot. Some are as acidic as battery acid. Some are alkaline. Some have high concentrations of arsenic. [Sources: Bryan Hodgson, National Geographic, April 1994; Jeremy Schmidt, National Geographic, August 2001.
Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “Six hundred miles east of Sakhalin, the peninsula of Kamchatka descends from the Siberian mainland, dividing the Sea of Okhotsk from the Bering Sea. Kamchatka lies within the Pacific Rim’s “Ring of Fire” and has active volcanoes. Kamchatka’s Klyuchevskaya volcano, at fifteen thousand five hundred and eighty feet, is the highest point in Siberia. Among Russians, Kamchatka has served as a shorthand term for remoteness. Boris Pasternak’s memoir, “Safe Conduct,” says that for Russian schoolchildren the far back of the class where the worst students sat was called Kamchatka. When the teacher had not yet heard the correct answer, he would cry to the back bench, as a last resort, “To the rescue, Kamchatka!” [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 3, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]
“Coincidentally, Kamchatka was the first geographic fact that many people my age in America knew about Siberia. I am of the baby-boom generation, who grew up during the Cold War. In our childhood, a new board game came out called Risk, which was played on a map representing the world. The object of Risk was to multiply your own armies, move them from one global region to the next while eliminating the armies of your opponents, and eventually take over the world. This required luck, ruthlessness, and intercontinental strategizing, Cold War style. The armies were little plastic counters colored red, blue, yellow, brown, black, and green. Of the major global powers, you basically understood which color was supposed to stand for whom. The Kamchatka Peninsula controlled the only crossing of the game board’s narrow sea between Asia and North America, so gaining Kamchatka was key.
Volcanoes of Kamchatka: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Volcanoes of Kamchatka was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and because volcanoes occupy a good portion of the Kamchatka peninsula, almost the whole peninsula was implicitly named a World Heritage Site. According to UNESCO: “ This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together the majority of volcanic features of the Kamchatka peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world's largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar's sea eagle. [Source: UNESCO]
The six sites included in the serial designation are: 1) Kronotsky Strict Nature Reserve; 2) Southern Kamchatka Wildlife Reserve; 3) Nalychevo Regional Nature Park; 4) Bystrinsky Regional Nature Park; 5) Southern Kamchatka Regional Nature Park; and 6) Kluchevskoy Regional Nature Park
The Kamchatka Volcanoes is a landscape of exceptional natural beauty with its large symmetrical volcanoes, lakes, wild rivers and spectacular coastline. The Peninsula location between a large continental landmass and the Pacific Ocean also exhibits unique characteristics with major concentrations of wildlife. It contains superlative natural phenomena in the form of salmon spawning areas and major concentrations of wildlife (e.g. seabird colonies) along the coastal zone of the Bering Sea.
The Kamchatka Volcanoes contain an especially diverse range of palearctic flora (including a number of nationally threatened species and at least 16 endemics), and bird species such as the Stellar’s Sea Eagle (50 percent of world population), white tailed eagle, gyr falcon and peregrine falcon, which are attracted to the availability of spawning salmon. The rivers inside and adjacent to the site contain the world’s greatest known diversity of salmonid fish. All 11 species coexist in several of Kamchatka’s rivers.
Animal and Plant Life in the Kamchatka
Unusual plant life found on Kamchatka includes a kind of dropwort that can grow 13 centimeters (five inches) in 24 hours. Among the fumaroles and volcanic waters are plants that are found nowhere else in the world. Kamchatka’s unique flora is due to several important factors: geographical location of the territory, exposure to humid oceanic climate, predominantly mountainous terrain, landscape development history, the strong influence of volcanism and concomitant phenomena.
Kamchatka is covered by large areas of mixed forest and plains of tall grasses. Most of it is covered with forests of stone birch. In the upper reaches of the mountain slopes alder and elfin cedar are common. In the central part of the peninsula, especially in the Kamchatka River valley, larch and Kuril Ajan spruce predominate. In floodplains, fragrant poplar, alder, hairy Chosenia and Sakhalin willow are common. Among the common bushes and undergrowth plants are common hawthorn zelenomyakotny, Asian cherry, rowan Kamchatka, shrubs, Kamchatka elderberries, rosehips tupoushkovy, rowan buzinolistnaya, honeysuckle Kamchatka, meadowsweet, willow shrubs, and many other species. Kamchatka, especially coastal areas, features tall species such as Kamchatka shelamaynik, bearish angelica and sweet parsnip, which can reach heights of three to four meters.
Among the marquee animal species found in Kamchatka are Stellar sea eagles, brown and black bears, sables, wolves, foxes, beavers, white-fronted geese, reindeer, bean geese, sea otters, seals, Stellar's sea lions, tufted puffins, thin-billed murees, and snow sheep. Kamchatka is particularly famous for it massive brown bears. The bears are generally more concerned with looking for berries than people. Occasionally they charge. And although attacks are rare they occur and people have been killed, even eaten.. From June to August king salmon and red salmon swim up rivers and streams to spawn. The salmon found here are among the world's biggest. Their spawning grounds are among the richest. The trout reach a size of two feet.
On the Kamchatka Peninsula, there are 37 species of mammals, including 30 native species, 4 four acclimatized species and three commensal species (house mouse, gray and black rats). The vast Parapolsky dale grasslands is is a low-lying area, which occupies the isthmus and is occupied by tundra with numerous lakes serves as a natural barrier dividing animal populations into those that live north of the dale and those living south of it. Certain animals are associated with certain ecosystems such as 1): sable, bear, lynx with the taiga; 2) reindeer and arctic fox, with the tundra; and bighorn sheep, black-capped marmot, and northern pika, with the the highlands.. Some animals hat are found in Siberia and elsewhere in the Russian Far East such a flying squirrel and musk deer are not found in Kamchatka.
Bears in Kamchatka
Kamchatka is the home to between 10,000 and 20,000 bears. About 8,000 of them are brown bears, one of the largest populations in the world. The brown bears found in Kamchatka are slightly larger than American grizzly bears. They grow fat on eating the plentiful supplies of char and salmon and berries that grow in the tundra meadows.
Large numbers of bear live around Kambalnoya Lake in South Kamchatka Sanctuary. A Canadian named Charlie Russell had a cabin in the area and became quite friendly with the about 20 bears in area, raising three orphaned bears himself and writing a popular book about them, Grizzly Heart. One spring he returned and found none of the bears but found a bear gall bladder pinned up in side his cabin. He suspects the bears were killed by poachers. It wasn’t clear whether the gall bladder was a message or an oversight. Russell worried that being friendly with the bears might lead to their demise (the bears might have been too trustful of humans and allowed the poachers to approach them).
During the spring the bears around Kurilskoye Lake emerge from hibernation "hungry, sex-starved and irritable" and wander through settlements on the lake as they approach the shore to fish. They often tear up gardens and root through garbage, Over the years more than 100 problem bears have been killed. In the summer of 1993 one pulled a camper from a tent and mauled him. Local residents later tracked and shot the bear. In 1996, the Japanese-American bear photographer Michio Hoshimo was pulled form his tent and eaten by a bear at Kronotsky Nature Reserve.
In Kamchatka, about a thousand bears are killed each year legally by hunters—300 by foreign hunters who pay US$10,000 for the privilege—and the remainder by professional hunters. No one knows how many of the animals are poached, but with bear gall bladders selling for hundreds, even thousands of dollars in China there is certainly incentive enough.
Officials in Kamchatka banned helicopter hunting after half the population of brown bears was killed in five years. Now the population has stabilized at around 5,000. Many of the hunters were old men in their 70s and even 80s who could barely see. In some cases helicopters were used to drive the bears into killing zones where the elderly hunters could easily pick them off. Some even shot them from the helicopters. Traditional sportsmen consider this kind of hunting very unsporting and some of these tactics are illegal.
People and Life on Kamchatka
More than half of Kamchatka's of 325,000 residents live in a single city: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. There are about 10,000 indigenous people left in Kamchatka. They belong to the Evenski, Koryak, and Chukchi ethnic groups. The Alyutors are an ethnic group with less than 500 members that live in Kamchatka. Reindeer herders in the north have suffered and since there is not enough money to pay bounty hunters and population explosion of wolves has devastated their reindeer herds. Some reindeer herderss are so desperate they have been forced to kill reindeer to feed themselves. Some groups eat psychedelic mushrooms
After spending three years on a scientific journey in Kamchatka, an 18th century Russian wrote, "Only in their power of speech do [these natives] differ from animals. Nonetheless...they believe that the earth, sky, air, water, land, mountains and forest are inhabited by spirits whom they fear and honor more than their god... [and are] convinced that there is no way of life happier and more agreeable than their own."
There are only 150 miles of paves roads and most vehicles are right hand drive cars brought in from Japan. Many of the towns are grim places with pot-holed dirt streets, run-down houses and garbage and littler piled up everywhere.
In Kamchatka unemployment is rampant. Some people keep themselves from starving by subsisting on stray dogs and fish they catch illegally. Few crops can be grown. Most types of food have to be imported. Many people use trubas (20-foot pipes with a fishing net and floats attached). Many people are leaving because they can't find jobs. Some of the people are rumored to be assassins lying low until their next assignment.
The Itelmen are a small groups that live on Kamchatka. Also known as the Kamchadals, they are very close to extinction. There numbers in the late 17th century were estimated at around 12,000. Today there are round 1,500. They live in the Koryak National Area. Only about 20 percent speak the Itelmen language, which is similar to the languages spoken by the Chukchi and Koryak and is believed to have evolved into native American languages in North America.
Archeological evidence seems to indicate that the Itelmen occupied the Kamchatka peninsula before the Koryaks and Ainus. They survived from fishing, hunting and gathering of tundra roots and grasses and to a lesser extent hunting sea mammals. They used tools made from bone, wood and stone. Before they arrival of Russians they had no knowledge of metallurgy. Their was no word in their language for “war” or “enemy.” After coming into contact with the Russians the were incorporated into the fur trade and their population was devastated by smallpox and “rotten fever” (probably influenza). They were pushed out of some of their homeland areas by Russian settlers.
The Itelmen that still speak their language occupy only a small areas of Kamchatka between the Tigil and Icha rivers. Under the Soviets they were organized into collective farms that engaged in fishing and cutting hay in the summer, harvesting vegetables in the fall and raising fur animals in the winter.
The Itelmen traditionally lived in semi-subterranean houses in the winter and houses on stilts in the summer. They used sled dogs and later pack horses and later tractors for transport. They believed in a number of spirits and followed the raven cult. Their shaman were mainly elderly women. Many villages had a sacred area where sacrifices were hold. Seriously ill were sometimes taken from their house and placed in the tundra where they were left to die. Often they left themselves. Their bodies were neither cremated or buried. If someone died in a house that house had to be abandoned.
The Itelmen believed that volcanos were inhabited by gomuls—ghosts who roasted whales over huge bonfires, producing clouds of smoke and rivers of boiling fat.
Koryaks live on the west coast of the Kamchatka peninsula. Many retain their traditional methods of reindeer herding and fishing and hunting. Their language has largely been lost but their culture remains alive through storytelling, dance, mime and songs.
Anthropologist Waldemar Jochelson, who studied the Koryak in the 1890s described their homeland as "bogs, mountain torrents, rocky passes and thick forests." Of a Koryak village he wrote, "the odor of the blubber and the refuse is almost intolerable; and the inmates intoxicated with fly agaric [a psychedelic mushroom],...are infested with lice."
The Koryak language is similar to that of the Chukchis. Their culture is similar to that of Arctic people such as Eskimos. They have a long history of conflict with neighboring people such as the Even, Yukagir and Chukchi. The conflicts often involved reindeer herd raids and the taking of captives. They were usually defeated by the Even but held their own against the Yukadir. Most of their conflicts were resolved by the time the Russians arrived. They had some conflicts with the Russians and were devastated by smallpox.
Today there are around 9,000 Koryaks. They make up the majority of the native population of the Koryak Autonomous District of the Kamchatka Oblast. Their territorial capital is Palana. A small number live in Chukotka. The Kereks are an ethnic group with less than 500 members that live in the Chukotka Region. Many regard them as relatives of the Koryaks.
Koryak Life and Culture
There are two main Koryak groups: the Chavchuvens (reindeer herders) and Nymylan (settled fishermen and sea mammal hunters). They traditionally used reindeer and dogs sledges to get around in the winter. To travel in rivers the used canoes dug out from tree logs. On the sea they used sealskin kayaks.
Settled Koryaks lived in semi-subterranean houses in the winter and huts on stilts in the summer. Their communities revolved around hunting parties that hunted together, often in a single boat. During the summer Koryak fisherman hunt 300-kilogram bearded seals to provide them with winter meat and oil. Inland Koryak of Northern Kamchatka chase reindeer with lariats and dispatch them with spears.
Koryak reindeer herders herded reindeer, which provided them with meat and skins, caught seemingly limitless supplies of salmon, and hunted bears, foxes and sables whose furs that kept them warm. They lived in portable frame houses that were covered in reindeer hides, One can not underestimate the importance of reindeers. Between 1987 and 1997 the number of reindeer in one Koryak village declined from 19,000 to less than 2,500. During the same period suicides and murders soared and the birthrate declined.
Koryak art includes whale-shaped wooden dishes that held holy water for the gods and funeral coats made with the white fur of reindeer fawns. Sometimes these were made by women who sewed them together while men played cards on the body.
Koryak use dance to tell stories about myths and legends and contemporary stories about fixing snowmobiles. During important Koryak festivals women perform sinuous dances inspired by whale hunts and reindeer migrations, beat deerskin drums while under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms and daub reindeer blood on their children's faces.∞
Koryak Religion and Families
Koryaks have traditionally lived in extended family households and communities. Not only were marriage between cousins common sometimes marriages between brothers and sisters occurred. The wedding process often includes bride service by the groom to the bride’s family that lasted from several weeks to several years. The central act of the wedding ceremony was “grabbing the bride” in which the groom tried to grab the bride’s genitals while here relatives tried to prevent him from doing so.
The cult of the Raven has traditionally been very strong. Sacrifices were made to both benevolent and evil spirits. Dogs were regarded as the ideal sacrifices. Ancestors were regarded as benevolent spirits. Sometimes families carried out sacrifices themselves. Other times they called in a shaman. Shamans could be men or women who inherited the ability from a relative or ancestor.
The Koryak have several methods of burial: cremation, burial in the ground or at sea or placement in a rock cleft. The methods is often determined by the way in which a person dies. Those who die of natural causes are cremated. Objects they needed in the next life were placed on the funeral pyre. Those who committed suicide were left unburied.
Economics of Kamchatka
In the Communist era, Kamchatka's main economic function was to supply the Soviet Union with fish and little else. Its waters are home to sone if the world's largest salmon spawning ground as well as huge amounts of herring, king crabs and haddock.
Kamchatka's lakes and seas account for nearly half of Russia's fish catch. In the 1990s the fishing industry was in a mess primarily because it couldn't find a good way to transport fish to the main population centers. Things were so bad that most of the fish caught in a record 1998 harvest of 50,000 tons of salmon were left to rot in a huge field because local factories could not process the fish.
There is an estimated 500 to 1,000 tons of gold in Kamchatka worth as much as US$10 billion as well as platinum and silver. There are concerns that mining these metal might cause considerable environmental damage.
Tourism in Kamchatka
Volcanoes are Kamchatka’s backbone. People climb them and ski and snowboard down their slopes, sometimes using helicopters to get to the best spots. The heat they generate fuels erupting geysers and outdoor hot springs, where one can bath among incredible scenery. The best places and times to see bears are when they feast on salmon in the rivers. Make time to visit Koryaks, Evens, Aleutians and Chukchi villages and sample frozen salted fish and try to catch a huge 100-kilogram halibut. Watching the sunrise on the Pacific, surrounded by snowy peaks, while your feet are warmed in volcanic black sand is the kind of thing you can only experience in Kamchatka. Website: Kamchatka travel guide: visitkamchatka.ru
Kamchatka was closed to foreigners until 1992 because of the presence of the Soviet Pacific fleet. In the 1990s and early 2000s, , fledgling adventure-tour businesses welcomed the first large groups of Western visitors — mostly hunters, fishermen, trekkers and adventurer tourists — to the peninsula since American whalers stopped there in the 19th century. And even though items in stores cost the equivalent of several week's salary for Russian workers, these people seem to be able to afford them.
September is considered the best month to visit Kamchatka because the temperatures are too cold for mosquitos and it before the winter frosts. In the mountains areas the snow often doesn’t clear until July. In August it often rains a lot. Helicopters are about the only way of getting around. They operate like buses in some places but for the most part are prohibitively expensive for most travelers. Companies charge around US$500 to fly around in aging unsafe helicopters. Helicopters pilots charge a minimum of US$100 an hour. Most of the foreigners who use such services are rich hunters or adventure tourists. Travel is very expensive.
Hunters and Fishermen are typically taken to remote wilderness camps. There are two hunting seasons. Bear only is from mid-April through May and from the end of August to the end of October. Hunting permits can be obtained from the state government. Most everything is arranged by travel companies. There are guides and helicopters to take customers to the best hunting and fishing places.
Adventure Travelers visit volcanoes and places like the Valley of the Geysers and lakes and rivers with bears and Steller’s sea eagles. Arrangements are best made in advance or your could spend a lot for time of waiting around for transportation. Travel is generally done by helicopter. If the weather is bad sometimes people can be stranded for days before the weather is good enough for their helicopter to arrive.
Ethnic Group Tourism: Travel agencies offer and arrange visits to Even, Itelmen, Koryak villages and reindeer herding camps. The primary destinations are Pimchah Itelmen village and Menedek Even camp. At the latter, summer tourists are treated to the Even soup with salmon and Jukola. Winter delicacies include anavgayskoy shurpa venison. There are classes in birch bark weaving, bone carving, woodwork and tanning hides as as hiking and horseback riding in the picturesque surroundings camps. Visitors can try national games and sports such as tug of staff, throwing a chauta (lasso), jumping over sledges, jumping on a bearskin rug. In the center there is a special reindeer corral. Ethnic camp "Kaynyran" offers a retreat to a wilderness area where visitors visit or stay in a yaranga, sitting or sleeping on warm reindeer hides and are entertained Koryak stories, drink Koryak herbal tea with scones. Snowmobiling and dog sledding are offered in the winter.
Getting to and Traveling Around Kamchatka
Travel to Kamchatka (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky) is expensive. Kamchatka has no ground connection with the Russian mainland.No roads or railways connect the Kamchatka Peninsula to the rest of the world. Moscow is 6,773 kilometers away. The Russian Navy, freighters and fishermen mainly use the seaport of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. There are no regular passenger ferries to anywhere from this port. Occasionally cruise ships stop here for the day. The only way to get to Kamchatka or get out is by air.
The airport is located 20 kilometers from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky near the town of Yelizovo and is called both Yelizovo Airport and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Airport. There are flights from Moscow. The travel time is about 8.5 hours. There are also direct flights from Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Yakutia Airlines (Air Russia) has direct seasonal flights between Anchorage, Alaska, Petropavlovsk -Kamchatsky and Yakutsk in Siberia. The fights are run by Air Russia, a brand of InterPacific Aviation and Marketing, a travel distributor based in Seattle that sells the Alaska to Siberia flights. The flights, on Boeing 737-800 planes, run once a week between mid July and early September. Tickets are US$1,150 roundtrip.
It is hard to get around Kamchatka by yourself. There is virtually no public transport and permission is required to visit most places in Kamchatka, which the closed for security reasons or because they are in nature reserves. There are a handful of places can be reached by the independent traveler without permission but not many.Most of the volcanoes and geysers and other places of interest are in the nature reserves, for which you need permission to visit. To try and take care of the paperwork yourself to get the necessary permits can be quite formidable and thus it is pretty hard to avoid using the services of tour operator or travel company.
Public transport is poor. The only regular buses operate at the routes from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the nearest villages. Hitchhiking is unlikely to get you much of anywhere because there is so little traffic. Cycling or trekking without the guide is difficult due a lack of decent maps and dangers posed by wild animals, particularly bears. There are no rent-car companies. There are some taxies but they generally stick to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and nearby villages.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in September 2020