Vladivostok ("Lord of the East" in Russian) is located less than 100 km east of the Chinese border, and just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu. Vladivostok is the biggest city in the Russian Far East. It is a large industrial, transport, scientific and cultural centre and the biggest sea port on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Population: 700,000 people.
The city was founded in 1860. The area started to be explored by navigators in the 1850s. In 1860 the team of the Russian ship called “Manchur” founded a military post near the Golden Horn Bay (Bukhta Zolotoy Rog). By 1879 the post grew into a ship-building industrial and transport centre connecting the Russian Far East with Saint-Petersburg and Odessa. In 1880 Vladivostok gained the status of a city and in 1882 it became the centre of the Primorsky region. In 1897 the Khabarovsk-Vladivostok railway was built and in 1903 the trains started going between Vladivostok and Moscow.
By 1890 Vladivostok becomes the centre of Russian culture in the Far East. It was a basic location for many famous Russian travelers and scientists. In 1899 the Institute of East was opened in Vladivostok.
Prince Nikolai II came in 1891 to inaugurate the new Trans-Siberian rail line. By the early XXth century, Vladivostok was home to merchants, speculators and sailors and looked more like Shanghai and Hong Kong than Moscow. Korean and Chinese who had built the city accounted for four out of every five of the city’s citizens.
Vladivostok became Russia’s main naval base in the East after Port Arthur which was in Chinese territory ceded to Russia in 1898 fell to Japan in January 1905, during the Russo-Japanese war. Modern Vladivostok was compared to the American West during the Gold Rush years.
After the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917 the authorities in the city changed several times. At that time Japanese, American and British troops landed in Vladivostok. In the 1920s Vladivostok became the centre of the Far East Republic that existed about 2 years. In 1938 it became the centre of the Primorsky region.
Stalin deported or shot most of the foreign population of the city, and further developed it as a port and ship-building centre.
From 1958 to 1992 the city was entirely closed. During this period Trans-Siberian travelers began or ended their journey in Nakhodka, 220 km north-east of Vladivostok.
Home base of the Russian Pacific Fleet, the city was closed to all non-Soviets from 1958 until 1991.
Between its founding in 1860 and closing to foreigners in 1958, Vladivostok was a fairly international city. In the early part of the 20th century, Russians were actually outnumbered by Chinese in Vladivostok, and during the years following the Revolution, there were large Japanese and US populations. The US maintained a consulate in Vladivostok until 1948.
The City Today
The main industries of Vladivostok include fishing and machine building. Thousands of fishermen work on the ships. Ships from Vladivostok sail not only in the Pacific Ocean but in the Indian and Arctic Oceans as well. About 90% of fish is processed on the ships.
There are many ways of transportation in Vladivostok. It is the final destination in the world’s longest railway - the Trans-Siberian. The sea port is the centre of the city. It has 16 berths about 4190m long and also passenger services, but specializes in freight. The ships go to Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Magadan region and northern part of Sakha Republic.
Businesses from all over the world have flooded in to take advantage of the city’s position as the crossroads of Northeast Asia. Vladivostok’s crime rate and cost of living are among the highest in Russia, and the city is reported to be a hotbed of mafia activity.
The city has a rich scientific and cultural potential. There is a Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and 14 academic institutions including geology, automation, oceanology, biology and other institutes.
In the Academy of Sciences scientists study ocean and geological layers, develop ways to use and save natural resources.
Places To See
Primorskaya Art Gallery houses a large collection of paintings of foreign and Russian artists.
The Border Guards Museum houses different collections of weapons.
There is also Oceanaruim, a medium-sized aquarium with some interesting local species.
Gorky Theatre famous for it’s drama performances.
For classical music, try Philarmonic Hall.