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Geoposition and climate

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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES

LOCATION.

The peninsula of Kamchatka is situated in the north-east extremity of Asia and is joined to the mainland by a rather narrow isthmus. The peninsula stretches for 1600 km southward and its maximum width is about 470 km. Its irregular coastline forms a strange image on a map. It looks like a fish hung head down to be dried or huge ship heading for the Pacific. Kamchatka is bounded by the sea of Okhotsk in the west, the Bering Sea in the north-east and the Pacific Ocean in the south-east. Geologically it is based on a tectonic plate tending to shift eastward.

RELIEF AND LANDSCAPE.

Kamchatka is a typical mountainous country. Its mountain ranges occupy more than two thirds of the total territory. There are two main ridges - Sredinny (Middle) and Vostochny (Eastern). They stretch parallel along the peninsula and include much smaller ones: Malkinsky, Ganalsky, Valaginsky and others. The lowlands are mainly in the west and in the Kamchatka River basin. There are also picturesque valleys along the most of smaller rivers. The highest altitude is 4750 m above the sea level. It is the summit of the Kluchevskaya Sopka, the highest volcano in Asia.

SEISMIC ACTIVITY.

Seismic activity is one of the most specific features of Kamchatka. The peninsula belongs to a large seismically intensive and dangerous zone called the Pacific Rim (or the Fire Rim of the Pacific). It is dotted with about 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are active including Avachinsky, Koryak-sky and others. Volcano Kluchevskya Sopka has perfectly symmetrical slopes and represents a magnificent sight. It is comparatively young, about 5000 years old. It has been known to erupt some seven hundred times. Some extinct volcanoes sometimes wake up and come to life.

Most оf earthquakes which happen in Кamchatka are оf tectonic origin rather than volcanic because of the movement of the basic plate. The latest serious event in Petropavlovsk occurred to be in 1971. Its magnitude was determined as much as 7 points according to Richter Scale. Some zones along the eastern coast of the peninsula may potentially be exposed to the impact of tsunami, a large destructive sea wave.

MINERAL DEPOSITS.

Kamchatka is rich in mineral resources. Fundamental and thorough geological explorations began not long ago, but it has already yielded remarkable results. Deposits of gold, brown coal, copper ore, mercury, sulphur, polymetals, lime, peat, pumice, oil and gas have been discovered.

Semiprecious stones, such as agate and jasper, are also found here. Every year geological expeditions report discoveries of new deposits of minerals in our region. Kamchatka is known for its great source of hot thermal water (Paratunskie, Malkinskie, Bolshebannye, Pauzhetskie, Mumovskie hot springs).

CLIMATE.

The climate of the peninsula is influenced by a lot of factors: intensive cyclonic activity, vicinity of Arctic, surrounding seas, mountainous relief of the area and musson winds. The changeability of weather and high humidity are characteristic features of the Kamchatka climate.

In сoastal areas the climate is maritime: winter is long and relatively warm with heavy snowfalls and fog, and summer is often rainy. The climate in the northern and central parts, particularly in the valley of the Kamchatka River, is continental with hot summers and severe winters. The warmest months are July and August with the average temperature between 15-17 C. The absolute maximum temperature (35 C) was registered in the area of Dolinovka (Milkovsky district) and the absolute minimum ever registered was 52 below zero (Penzhinsky district). A considerable part of the territory is the permafrost zone.

WATER RESOURCES.

All Kamchatka rivers flowing either into the Okhotsk sea, one of the gulfs of the Bering Sea or the Pacific start in the highlands of the two main mountain ridges. The head of the Kamchatka River, the largest in the peninsula, is situated near the one of the Bystraya in the south. The river runs northward between the two ridges absorbing waters of lots of smaller streams. Its longest tributary is the Elovka, which originates from the slopes of Mountain Shishel and flows in the opposite direction (southward) to meet the Kamchatka at the place of its curve.

The largest lakes of the peninsula are Kurilskoye in the very south and Kronotskoye. The vicinity of the latter is the territory of the Kronotsky Reserve included into the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

WILDLIFE.

It is known that the abundance of vegetation depends on the climatic zone and weather conditions of the region. We can observe rather notable variability of trees and plants visiting different places of the peninsula. Thick forests and taiga replace tundra and forest-tundra of the northern and coastal parts in the continental ones.

The animal world of Kamchatka has a diverse range of numerous species: brown bear, fox, polar fox, hare, sable, mink, lynx, wolverine, squirrel, elk, northern reindeer, snow-ram, otter, musk-rat and others.

Among the sea animals we distinguish whales, seals, sea otters, and also crabs, clams, sea urchins and others.

Quite diverse is the order of birds on the peninsula. Some of them - partridges, capercaillies, swans, pigeons, crows, magpies stay on the peninsular throughout the year, while others - geese, ducks, for instance - come to this remote place every spring for nesting. On the coastal cliffs and little rocky islands there is an abundance of sea gulls, cormorants, puffins.

More than 30 species of fish can be found in Kamchatka rivers, lakes and seas, surrounding the peninsula. Among them are salmon, herring, navaga, flounder, halibut, cod, sea perch, crucian and others.

It is of special interest that some species of wild animals and birds, widely spread in similar natural zones on the mainland, are not found in Kamchatka at all. To this group belong, for instance, snakes and frogs. Neither dо we have starlings, storks, herons, and sw allows. This сan be partially explained by the isolation of the peninsula and also by the rigorous climate with its long snowy winters.