Far East. The easternmost region of the Russian Federation, encompassing the Pacific coast, the Amur River basin (in the southeast), the Kolyma River basin, the Khabarovsk krai and Primore krai, and the Amur oblast, Sakhalin oblast, Kamchatka oblast, and Magadan oblast. Its southern boundary with China and North Korea is formed by the Amur River and Ussuri River and Lake Khanka. The region has an area of 3,112,700 sq km. In 1979, 446,687 Ukrainians lived there, constituting about 8 percent of the population (total 6 million). Hence, this land can be regarded as a major territory of settlement by Ukrainians (the second such territory in Asia after the central Asian steppe). Since 1900 the territory settled initially by Ukrainians—the Amur oblast and Primore (Maritime) oblast—has been known as Zelenyi Klyn (the Green Wedge). It has an area of 2,500,000 sq km and a population of 4,000,000.
In the Far East the ancient Oriental cultures of China and Japan and the younger Slavic culture have clashed, as have interests of such great powers as Russia, China, Japan, and, more recently, the United States. For the former Russian Empire, the later Soviet Union, and the present Russian Federation the Far East has provided access to the Sea of Japan, which in the Primore krai freezes for only a brief period each year, and from there to the world shipping routes of the Pacific Ocean. It has also served as a base of expansion into Southeast Asia. Its remoteness (9,300 km by railway from Moscow to Vladivostok) makes it difficult to defend the region. For this reason the Soviet and Russian governments have promoted its settlement and economic development.
The Far East is very distant from Ukraine: Vladivostok is 10,070 km from Kyiv, and Blagoveshchensk is 8,750 km by rail. It is also quite far from the central Asian steppe (5,300 km from Blagoveshchensk to Omsk).
Relief. The Far East is a region of old uplands, plateaus, and mountains. Low plains cover only a small part of the area. The northern part is occupied by the Siberian Platform, which consists of high plateaus and gentle, broad ranges, usually 1,000–1,500 m in altitude. The land is deeply dissected by rivers and covered with taiga. On the border with Yakutiia lies the longitudinal Stanovoi range (maximum altitude 2,412 m), which forms a watershed between the Amur River basin and Lena River basin. East of it lies the southern part of the Dzhugdzhur range. The Stanovoi range is separated from the Yankan-Tukuringra ranges (maximum altitude 1,840 m) in the south by the valleys of the Zeia River and Gilui River. Farther south lies the large Amur-Zeia Plateau at an altitude of 200–500 m. It is a gently undulating plain dissected by the tributaries of the Amur River and the Zeia River. East of the lower Zeia River the plateau merges with the Zeia-Bureia Lowland, the largest plain of the Amur region. This lowland has fertile soil and a warm summer and is densely settled with Ukrainians. It is enclosed in the east by the Khingan-Bureia mountain massif, which reaches an altitude of 2,070 m and is deeply dissected by valleys and small lowlands, of which the largest lies along the lower Amur River. A lowland 800 km long stretches between the Khingan-Burei range in the west and the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in the east along the Amur River (from Komsomolsk to Khabarovsk), its right-bank tributary the Ussuri River to Lake Khanka, and along the Suifun River as far south as Peter the Great Bay. This tectonic depression, like the Zeia-Bureia Lowland, is fertile though quite marshy. It has hot summers and is densely populated, mostly by Ukrainians.
The Sikhote-Alin Mountains extend for 1,200 km parallel to the coast of the Sea of Japan. They consist of sedimentary, crystalline, metamorphosed, and volcanic rock that was folded in the Cretaceous period. The mountains are divided into several parallel ranges, which are on the average 800–1,200 m in altitude. The highest peaks reach 2,078 m. River valleys cut deeply into the ranges. The coastline runs parallel to the ranges; hence, there are practically no natural harbors on it. The coastline cuts across the ranges only in the north and the south and is frequently dissected, particularly at the southern end (Peter the Great Bay).
Climate. The Far East lies in the moderate monsoon belt and has the belt’s characteristic bitterly cold, dry winters and hot, wet summers. The most pleasant season is the dry, warm, and sunny autumn. In general the climate is harsher than Ukraine’s climate. Variations can be quite large, depending on the latitude, distance from the sea, and the altitude. In the warmest month the average temperature can range from 12° to 22°C and in the coldest month from –12° to –30°C. The average annual temperature ranges from –2° to 4.5°C, and the maximum temperature ranges from 31° to 46°C, depending on the location. Annual precipitation varies from 450 mm to 800 mm, and the growing season varies from 140 to 190 days. The coast has a cooler summer than the interior, a warmer winter (although still severe), and more precipitation. The centers of Ukrainian settlement—the Zeia-Bureia Lowland and Ussuri-Khanka Lowland—have cold winters and hot summers; 92 percent of the rainfall occurs in the summer (the three warmest months get 65 percent). The excessive precipitation in the summer turns the lowlands into marshland and makes farming difficult.
Soil. The most common soils in the Far East are gley-podzol and peat-bog soils. Their nature depends on the climate and relief. The best soils of the forest-steppe belt in the Zeia-Bureia Lowland and the Ussuri-Khanka Lowland are gray forest soils. Along the rivers the best soils are rich meadow chernozems and alluvial soils.
Rivers. A large part of the Far East lies in the Amur River basin, which has an area of 1,855,000 sq km and a length of 4,440 km. The Amur’s main tributaries are the Zeia River (1,242 km, 230,000 sq km), the Bureia River (623 km, 70,000 sq km), and the Ussuri River (588 km, 187,000 sq km). All these rivers, but particularly the Amur River, are important communication routes and are well stocked with fish. Because of the seasonal nature of the rainfall, the water level in the rivers varies: it is low in winter and very high in the second half of the summer. The rivers are frozen over for 180–210 days a year. The area of the 95 km-long, shallow Lake Khanka (maximum depth, 10 m) varies with the season from 4,000 to 4,400 sq km.
Vegetation. The Far East lies within three floral zones with unnoticeable transitions between them: the East Siberian zone, Okhotsk zone, and Manchurian zone. The northern part of the Far East is covered by the East Siberian taiga (Dahurian larch), and the wet seacoast by the Okhotsk taiga (silver fir, rock birch, white spruce). At the lower altitudes and in the south the taiga changes into mixed and finally into mixed and broad-leaved forests (Amur linden, Mongol oak, elm, maple, hazelnut) with a thick undergrowth. In the southern part of the Far East typical Manchurian flora, rich in Tertiary species, predominates. Besides the above-mentioned deciduous trees, species of Korean and Japanese vegetation flourish there. Lianas twine around trees. Wetlands (the ‘Amur forest-steppe’ of the middle Amur River) with brush and forests (mainly willow and poplar) are common.
Animal life. The animal world is rich in species, which fall into three sectors—European Siberian, Manchurian Chinese, and Central Asian. Because the southern part of the Far East did not undergo glaciation, there are many traces of the old fauna of the Tertiary period and numerous endemic species. Among the northern species are the elk, musk deer, sable, brown bear, ermine, alpine hare, and reindeer. Among the southern species are the Siberian tiger, Himalayan black bear, leopard, spotted deer, and wild pig. Of the bird species, the pheasant and Japanese ibis flourish. Among the steppe and forest species that are found are the marmot, Manchurian hare, and steppe polecat. The animal species, particularly the fur-bearing animals, have been mercilessly slaughtered. Many species have survived only in inaccessible forests, and some, like the Siberian tiger, only on reserves.
History of settlement. Zelenyi Klyn became a part of the Russian Empire later than Siberia or the other parts of the Far East, which came under Russian control in the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century. The first attempts to gain control of Zelenyi Klyn were made in the mid-17th century when Cossack explorers reached the Amur River from the north and from the west (Transbaikal region). In 1651 E. Khabarov built a defensive outpost on the Amur River and named it Albazin. The Cossacks engaged in constant skirmishes with the indigenous peoples, the Tungusic Daghur, and eventually with the Manchu troops of China, which controlled the Amur region. The first phase of the struggle for Zelenyi Klyn ended with the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689, with Russia retaining only the upper Amur Basin (Transbaikal region) and China getting the Amur region itself up to the watershed between the Amur River and the Lena River in the north.
The second phase of expansion into the Far East began in the mid-19th century, particularly after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War (1853–6). The key figure in this expansion was the governor general of Siberia, Count N. Muravev (later known as Amursky). Following his instructions, G. Nevelskoi explored the Amur River all the way to its mouth in 1849–55. A number of settlements and Cossack outposts were built along the river. China, which was weak at the time, had to renounce its territorial claims to the Amur region in Russia’s favor (Treaty of Aigun, 1858). Later China also dropped its claims to the Primore krai (Treaty of Peking, 1860). The new boundary—along the Amur River, its tributary the Ussuri River, Lake Khanka, and then south to the territory on Peter the Great Bay bordering on Korea—remains unchanged to this day.
To secure the new territories for Russia, Muravev began to colonize them by force. In 1855–62, 14,000 Cossacks from the Transbaikalian Cossack Host and 2,500 soldiers were settled on the frontier between the Amur River and the Ussuri River and were granted large tracts of land for farming. The Far East was divided into two oblasts—Amur oblast and Primore oblast. In 1881 all of the Russian Far East became part of Vladivostok general gubernia. The main cities arose at this time—the ports Nikolaevsk at the mouth of the Amur River (1850) and Vladivostok (1860), as well as Blagoveshchensk (1856) and Khabarovsk (1858) at the intersection of the river routes.
But the Cossacks, whose primary task was to defend the frontiers, were too few in number (18,000 men in 1876) to settle the interior of the country and to bring large land areas under cultivation. Because of the distance from Europe peasant settlement of the Far East proceeded slowly, in spite of the law of 1861 that granted settlers long-term aid. In 1859–82 only 14,000 peasants arrived.
When General P. Unterberger, the governor of Primore oblast, obtained free transportation for the settlers from the central government in 1882, the settlement of the Far East became more rapid. In 1883–96, 68,600 peasants settled in the Far East (44,500 in Primore oblast), almost all of them Ukrainians who left their homeland at Odesa by sea. They obtained the best land in the Ussuri-Khanka Lowland. At the same time Koreans settled the southern part of Primore oblast near the Korean frontier, and the Chinese settled in various parts of the oblast, particularly in the towns.
Large-scale settlement of the Far East expanded after the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railroad between Moscow and Vladivostok (1891–1905) and the construction of the additional Ussuri and Amur lines. New lands were opened up to the settlers. In 1901–3, 14,000 settlers on the average arrived in the Far East per year. During the Russo-Japanese War colonization ceased almost completely. It reached a peak of 70,600 people per year in 1907 and fell to 36,000 per year in 1908–10, to 21,000 in 1911–12, and to 12,000 in 1913–14. Altogether, in 1907–13 about 250,000 peasants came to the Far East. Most of them (85 percent in 1907) settled in the Primore oblast, but a small number settled in the Amur oblast. The majority of the settlers were Ukrainians; for example, in 1907, 74 percent of the settlers came from Ukraine. Ukrainians made up 75–80 percent of the settlers in the Primore oblast and 60–65 percent of the settlers in the Amur oblast. Hence, on the eve of the First World War Ukrainians constituted the nucleus of the Far East’s population. They settled primarily on the fertile lands of the Zeia-Bureia Lowland and Ussuri-Khanka Lowland. Koreans continued to settle in the southern part of the Primore oblast, and the Chinese continued to migrate into the towns in spite of the restrictions that the Russian government imposed on them. The government encouraged not only peasants to immigrate to the East. In order to develop industry, communication routes, and the region’s economy generally, particularly after the unsuccessful war with Japan, European workers were attracted to the Far East. In 1911–13 almost 150,000 arrived. As a result of these migratory processes the population of the Far East increased to 940,000 by 1913. In spite of this the population density was still relatively low, and the region’s development proceeded at a slow rate.
The First World War, the Revolution of 1917, and civil war further slowed down the rate of population increase. In 1918 the civil war between the Reds and the Whites, who were backed strongly by the local Cossack population, broke out. After the seizure of the Trans-Siberian Railroad by Czech troops and the intervention of the Allied Powers in April 1918, power in the Far East fell into the hands of the Whites led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak. When this government collapsed and the Allies, except for the Japanese, departed, the Far Eastern Republic was formed in April 1920 on the territory of the Far East and Transbaikalia. It served as a buffer between Soviet Russia and Japan. When the Japanese withdrew, the Red Army occupied the Far East, and on 15 November 1922 the parliament of the Far Eastern Republic was forced to adopt a resolution of union with Russia. The Far East became part of the Russian SFSR as the so-called Far Eastern krai.
The Soviet government exerted greater effort than its tsarist predecessor to secure its control over the Far East, particularly after Japan occupied Manchuria in 1932 and the USSR had to renounce its rights to the Manchurian railway. The Soviet government strongly promoted the settlement of the territory and even offered the settlers some economic aid. Thousands of Jews were resettled; in 1934 they were granted a Jewish Autonomous oblast (in 1930–4 known as the Birobidzhan National Region). At the same time almost all the Koreans and Chinese were expelled for being supposedly politically unreliable elements. On the economic front the USSR tried to make the Far East less reliant on imports from the distant Soviet West and more self-sufficient, particularly in the event of war. For this reason it began to develop all the necessary branches of industry, including those that lacked any natural base. Ferrous metallurgy, for example, was established in the remote but strategically secure city of Komsomolsk on the Amur. Transport communications with the interior were also developed. Consequently, the population of the Far East, particularly the urban population, grew more rapidly than the population in other parts of the Soviet Union. By 1926 it reached 1,230,000 and, by 1939, two million.
The development of industry and transportation continued during the Second World War. After the war the Soviet government continued to develop the Far East at a rapid rate to secure its interests in the region in the face of American influence in the Pacific and the threat of Chinese expansion. Priority was given to colonizing the far north and southern Sakhalin Island, which was acquired from Japan in 1945.
Population. When Russia first annexed the Far East, it was very sparsely populated. After the first influx of Cossacks and European settlers the population, including the few indigenous peoples, was about 50,000. In 1880 it was about 100,000. As a result of immigration and natural growth the population increased as follows: 310,000 in 1897, 810,000 in 1911, 1,230,000 in 1926, about two million in 1939, and 3,200,000 in 1959. Growth was slower in time of the First World War, particularly in 1917–22.
The Far East’s population is distributed very unevenly. Much of the area is mountainous and unpopulated or almost unpopulated. The Zeia-Bureia Lowland and the Ussuri-Khanka Lowland and the Vladivostok region are the most densely populated and contain the largest number of cities (see map). The urban population constitutes a large proportion of the total population in the region and increased more rapidly than the urban population of the Soviet Union as a whole: in 1959 it was 3,860,100, and in 1979 it was 4,567,000. The population growth in the Far East has been more rapid than in Siberia. Almost all the growth occurs in the urban centers: the rural population increased from 1,022,000 in 1939 to 1,413,000 in 1979, while the urban population increased from 1,157,000 to 4,567,000 in the same period. Today approximately 76.4 per of the population is urban.
All the larger cities arose at the intersections of transportation routes. A few cities were built in mining areas. The larger cities date back to the period of Russia’s first occupation of the territory; others sprang up during the Soviet period. The largest cities of the Far East in 1979 were the following (the 1959 population is in parentheses): Vladivostok, 550,000 (291,000); Khabarovsk, 528,000 (323,000); Komsomolsk, 264,000 (177,000); Blagoveshchensk, 172,000 (94,000); and Ussuriisk, 147,000 (104,000).
The influx of population from Soviet Europe continued: in 1960–9, 203,000 immigrants, 28,000 of whom came from the Ukrainian SSR, settled in the Far East.
The national composition of the population is quite varied. The earliest population, consisting of local peoples of the Tungusic-Manchurian language group, is insignificant in size. The Koreans and Chinese who immigrated to the Far East in tsarist times constituted at one time a large group. The Koreans practiced intensive farming (soya and rice) and lived mostly in the southern Primore oblast, where in 1926 they formed a majority. There were 26,000 Koreans in 1897, 60,000 in 1911, and 166,000 in 1926. Most of the Koreans were expelled by the Soviet government, so today there are practically none in the Far East. The same fate was suffered by the Chinese, who were even more numerous than the Koreans until 1914. There were 41,000 Chinese in 1897, 95,000 in 1911, and 63,000 in 1926, mostly in the Primore oblast; 22,000 Chinese lived in Vladivostok alone.
According to the 1926 census, 79.9 percent of the population of the Far East consisted of Europeans or their descendants (in 1897 the figure was 71.2 percent). Eastern Slavs—Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarusians—made up 77.8 percent of the population. Of the other national groups, the largest was the Jewish group, which in 1926 numbered only 3,000, but eventually grew to 50,000. Most Jews were settled in the Jewish Autonomous oblast. In 1926 there were officially 308,000 Ukrainians, 617,000 Russians, and 39,000 Belarusians in the Far East. In fact, however, the figure for the Russians was greatly inflated at the expense of the Ukrainians. Considering that Ukrainians accounted for over 70 percent of the immigrants during the most intense period of settlement (1900–14) and that, according to the 1926 census, most of the inhabitants of the Far East who were not born there came from Ukraine, the estimate for the Ukrainian population can be raised to 500,000, thus lowering the figure for the Russians (including the Cossacks) to 410,000. Table 1 presents the national composition of the Far East population according to the 1926 census and revised estimates. According to Tymish Olesiiuk, of every 1,000 inhabitants in 1926, there were 477 Ukrainians, 160 Russians, 100 Cossacks, 32 Belarusians, 48 Chinese, 135 Koreans, and 48 others.
A separate group, overlooked by government statistics, consisted of the Cossacks of the Amur Cossack Host and Ussuri Cossack Host. These were the descendants of Cossacks who had settled on the Chinese frontier in the 1850s–1860s. Their numbers had increased through the absorption of some peasants, a fresh influx of Cossacks, and natural growth. In 1912 the Amur Cossacks numbered 41,000, and the Ussuri Cossacks, 31,400. There were many Ukrainians among them. The Cossacks had a strong sense of being different from the Russians. In economic terms they were poor, for the adult males devoted themselves to military service and left the farming to the women, old folk, and children. The Cossacks suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Bolsheviks, because they had fought against them during the Civil War of 1918–22.
The Ukrainians and Russians inhabited different regions: the former constituted a majority in the best agricultural regions—the Zeia-Bureia Lowland and the Ussuri-Khanka Lowland—while the latter formed a majority in the western Amur region. The area around Khabarovsk was settled by both groups, but with a slight preponderance of Russians. Even in mixed regions the Ukrainians lived in separate settlements or at least in separate parts of settlements, which differed in appearance and daily life from the Cossack or Russian settlements.
In the 1920s and at the beginning of the 1930s many Ukrainians from Soviet Ukraine sought refuge from the Stalinist terror in the Far East, particularly during the campaign against the kulaks and collectivization. A period of forced resettlement followed. During the Second World War many evacuees from Ukraine were settled in the Far East. Yet, the influx of Russians, particularly into the cities, was larger than the influx of Ukrainians; hence, the proportion of Ukrainians in the population decreased. Furthermore, a certain number of Ukrainians, particularly in the cities and ethnically mixed regions, became Russified as a result of Soviet educational and cultural policies.
The bulk of the Ukrainian settlers in the Far East prior to the Revolution of 1917 were peasants, who after a few years of hard work achieved a relatively high standard of living. They possessed the best land and were the wealthiest farmers. Besides farming they engaged, particularly in winter, in lumbering, fishing, and hunting. Ukrainians predominated on the railroads; many Ukrainians also worked as teachers or served in the army or navy. Few worked in government. There was a large Ukrainian colony in Harbin, China, consisting mostly of the employees of the Manchurian railroad.
According to the Soviet censuses the Ukrainian population in the Amur, Primore and Khabarovsk regions underwent the changes shown in table 2. Only a minority of Ukrainians considered Ukrainian to be their mother tongue in 1979—110,300 or 36 percent (145,000 or 41.3 percent in 1959)—and only 39,400 or 12.7 percent were still fluent in Ukrainian as their second language. In 1970, 42.7 percent of the Ukrainians lived in cities (in 1959, 35.6 percent). The distribution of Ukrainians in 1979 was as follows: Amur oblast, 56,669 (6.2 percent); Primore krai, 163,116 (8.3 percent); and Khabarovsk krai, 89,657 (5.8 percent). There are grounds for believing that the Russification of the Ukrainian population did not advance as far as Soviet statistics suggested, but it is not possible to determine the real situation.
Organized life. Ukrainian cultural activity developed slowly before the revolution and was centered mainly on the theater and educational groups. A Ukrainian club was established in Harbin in 1907 and in Blagoveshchensk in 1910. In 1907 a Ukrainian students’ club was organized at the Oriental Institute in Vladivostok, followed in 1909 by a theater group. Secret Ukrainian political groups existed in Iman and Vladivostok (organized by Dmytro Borovyk).
The Revolution of 1917 brought an end to restrictions on Ukrainian organized life. Several local organizations arose in the Far East—Ukrainian clubs, co-operatives, military associations, and so on. These organizations convoked the First Far Eastern Ukrainian Congress (see Far Eastern Ukrainian congresses), which took place in Nikolsk-Ussuriiskii (now Ussuriisk) on 11–14 June 1917. The 57 delegates present passed resolutions demanding recognition of Ukrainian autonomy in the Far East by the Provisional Government in Petrograd, organization of Ukrainian soldiers in the Russian army into separate Ukrainian units, and establishment of a permanent central agency representing the Ukrainians of the Far East—the Far Eastern Ukrainian Territorial Council.
As a result of the congress the Ukrainian movement gained momentum. District councils, which represented local communities (10 in all, including one in Harbin), arose. The Far Eastern Teachers' Association and a central co-operative association, Chumak, in Vladivostok were organized. Ukrainian newspapers and journals began to appear: Ukraïnets’ na Zelenomu Klyni in Vladivostok, Zasiv in Harbin, the daily Shchyre Slovo in Vladivostok, Ranok in Khabarovsk, and others. The Far Eastern Ukrainian Territorial Council and its executive—the Far Eastern Ukrainian Secretariat—began to function in Vladivostok at the end of 1918. The president of the secretariat was Yu. Mova, and the secretaries were Fedir Steshko, I. Osypenko, A. Radioniv, and Ya. Sytnytsky. In the spring of 1917 Ukrainian military units began to be organized with the purpose of returning to Ukraine for its defense. The first company left Vladivostok in June 1917, and the second left Harbin in the fall. Only at the end of 1918 were Ukrainian units formed to defend the interests of the Ukrainians in the Far East. During the intervention of the Allied Powers in Siberia and the Far East, representations were made to the Allied command to form a Ukrainian corps, but without success.
The Ukrainian movement in the Far East was most evident in the cultural sphere. The low educational level of the peasantry and the small number of Ukrainian intelligentsia ruled out any widely based political activity and direct participation in the struggle for power. The political program of the Ukrainians and the Far Eastern Ukrainian Secretariat aimed at national territorial autonomy, but in practice the government was always in Russian hands. The Ukrainians in the Far East recognized the Ukrainian National Republic and considered themselves in theory to be its citizens. In practice their relations with Ukraine were limited to sending a special delegation to Kyiv, the appointment by the Ukrainian government of a consul (Petro Tverdovsky) in Harbin in 1918, and the granting of representational prerogatives to the agents of the Far Eastern Ukrainian Territorial Council in areas where Ukrainian consulates did not exist. The rapidly changing situation in both Ukraine and the Far East made closer relations impossible however. Political power in the Far East was in the hands of various Russian governments that were hostile to Ukrainian demands. Ukrainians played a role in the Far Eastern Republic (1920–2), which they actively helped organize. Of the 351 delegates to the constituent assembly of 2 March 1921, 41 were Ukrainian (not including the Primore oblast). The constitution of the Far Eastern Republic guaranteed all nationalities, including the Ukrainians, national autonomy. A separate ministry headed by P. Marchyshyn established a number of Ukrainian schools. The Far Eastern Ukrainian Secretariat planned to hold a Far Eastern congress, which was to proclaim a Ukrainian state in the Far East known as Zelena Ukraina (Green Ukraine), but in November 1922 the Far Eastern Republic was occupied by the Red Army.
The Soviet authorities abolished all Ukrainian organizations and arrested the key Ukrainian leaders; most of them were sentenced at a trial in Chita to long prison terms. But, faced with the strength and size of the Ukrainian element, the Soviet authorities were forced to carve out Ukrainian national regions—10 in the Primore oblast and 4 in the Amur oblast. In these regions Ukrainian became the language used in the schools and the administrative agencies. In the mid-1930s there were 17 such regions. The daily Sotsialistychna perebudova was published from 1932 to 1949 in Khabarovsk. In 1926–32 a Ukrainian pedagogical institute functioned in Blagoveshchensk. In 1935 the Soviet authorities began to abolish Ukrainian cultural autonomy and to introduce Russification measures. Some concessions were made during the Second World War, because many Ukrainians were evacuated to the Far East from the German-occupied parts of Ukraine. After the war these evacuees were not allowed to return home.
Ukrainian colonies in China, particularly in Manchuria (Harbin), maintained close links with Ukrainians in the Far East.
Economy. Besides the physical nature of the Far East, its peripheral location, remoteness from Europe, and sparse population have an influence on the region’s economic development. The natural resources of the country are still only partially exploited. However, military-defense considerations require that the Far East be self-sufficient. The economic policy of the tsarist government was designed to develop all branches of the economy simultaneously, even those that lack a natural base, and the Soviet government continued this policy.
For centuries, gold mining, fishing, and hunting have been important to the economy of the area. During the Soviet period the forest industry, the mining of ferrous metals, shipbuilding, and sea transport were established.
Today agriculture in the Far East has a secondary importance relative to other branches of the economy. Almost 60 percent of the country’s area is covered with forest. The area under cultivation is 2,500,000 ha, of which over 1,000,000 ha are devoted to grain such as spring wheat, oats, barley, and corn for silage. Soya is important among the industrial crops and is exported. Potatoes are a major crop. In 1975 there were over 1,000,000 head of cattle and 800,000 hogs in the Far East.
Mining, forestry, and fishing are the main industries. Gold and brown coal are mined in the Amur oblast; lead near Komsomolsk; lead, iron ore, zinc, and coal in the Primore krai. The lumber and woodworking industries are important exporters. Fishing has grown from a local, coastal industry to an ocean industry and supplies one-quarter of the Russian Federation’s demand for fish. The main port and center of the fishing industry is Vladivostok. The machine-building industry is concentrated in Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and Blagoveshchensk. There is an important metallurgical plant in Komsomolsk on the Amur.
The primary aim of the transport system is to connect the Far East with the Russian interior. Along with sea transportation, the Trans-Siberian Railroad with its branches, including the fairly recently built Baikal-Amur trunk line, and civil aviation serve this purpose. The most important river route is the Amur River.
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[This article was updated in 1993.]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine