Primorsky Krai (Примо́рский край) also known as Primorye (Примо́рье), is a federal subject of Russia (a krai). Primorsky means "maritime" in Russian, hence the region is sometimes referred to as Maritime Province.
Primorsky Krai, bordered by China, North Korea, and warm, but freezing in winter waters of the Sea of Japan, is the extreme South-Eastern region of Russia, located between 42° and 48° North Latitude and 130° and 139° East Longitude. It is stretched in the meridianal direction, the distance from its extreme Northern point to the extreme Southern point totals about . Highlands dominate the territory of the krai. Most of the territory is mountainous, and almost 80% is forested. The average elevation is about . Sikhote-Alin is a mountainous formation, extending for the most part of the Krai. It consists of a number of parallel ranges: the Partizansky, the Siny (Blue), the Kholodny (Cold), and others. There are many karst caves in the South of Primorye. The relatively accessible Spyashchaya Krasavitsa cave (the Sleeping Beauty) in the Ussuriysky Nature Preserve could be recommended for tourists. There are comparatively well-preserved fragments of the ancient volcanoes in the area. The ranges are cut by the picturesque narrow and deep valleys of the rivers and by large brooks, such as the Partizanskaya, the Kiyevka, the Zerkalnaya, the Cheryomukhovaya, the Yedinka, the Samarga, the Bikin, and the Bolshaya Ussurka. Most rivers in the Krai have rocky bottoms and limpid water. The largest among them is the Ussuri, with a length of . The head of the Ussuri River originates to the East of Oblachnaya Mountain. The vast Prikhankayskaya Lowland extends into the West and the South-West of Primorye, carpeted by coniferous-deciduous forests. A part of the Lowland surrounding the largest lake in the Russian Far East, Khanka Lake, is occupied by a forest-steppe.
The geographic location of Primorye accounts for the variety of its flora - there are the mountainous tundra areas, conifers and coniferous-deciduous forests, forest-steppe, which is sometimes called the Far Eastern Prairie, where the ancient plant species have been preserved: the ferns, the lotus, the Chozenia Willow, etc. The fauna of Primorye is also diverse, the following animals are found in the Krai: the Ussuri black bear (Ursus thibetanis), the Amur tiger, the leopard, the lynx, the wild boar, the Manchurian deer (Cervus elaphus xanthopygos), the roe deer, the musk deer, the goral (Nemorhaedus goral), the sika deer, the sable, the mandarinka duck (Aix galericulata), the black stork (Ciconia nigra), the scaly goosander (Mergus squamatus), the Japanese starling (Sturnia philippensis), the black griffon (Aegypius monachus), the large-winged cuckoo (Cuculidae family), and others. Among 690 species of birds inhabiting the territory of the former USSR, 350 are found in Primorye.
Primorye is one of the few places where the forests are still pristine, comparable in terms of passability to a tropical jungle. The climate conditions of the Krai are also extraordinary. All this makes Primorye one of the unique regions of the Earth, and it undoubtedly must excite the interest of all lovers of nature and those willing to test their strength.
According to archaeological data, the first inhabitants of Primorsky Krai were the Palaeasiatic and Tungus peoples. They probably appeared in this area 50-60 thousand years ago in the Paleolithic period. The descendants of the Tungus-speaking tribes are still inhabiting Primorye and Priamurye. These are the Nanai, the Orochs and the Udege.
From 698 to 926, the Korean kingdom of Balhae occupied northern Korea and parts of Manchuria and Primorsky Krai, consisting of the above-mentioned people and the people of the recently fallen Goguryeo kingdom of Korea. Balhae was an early feudal medieval state of Eastern Asia, which developed its industry, agriculture, animal husbandry, and had its own cultural traditions and art. People of Balhae maintained political, economic and cultural contacts with the Chinese Tang dynasty, as well as Japan.
From 1115 to 1234, the southern area of the modern Russian Far East was occupied by a more powerful state — The Jurchen Empire, also called the Jin Dynasty. The Jurchen were a Tungusic people. Nomadic stock raising and common agriculture formed their economic basis. They also developed a metallurgical industry, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of luxury articles. The Jin Dynasty conducted independent foreign and domestic policies. The Jurchen established close contacts with the southern Chinese Song dynasty, Korea and Japan. Having conquered northern China, the Jurchens dominated the territory for a long time.
The Jin Dynasty crumbled as a result of the Genghis Khan invasion. The Mongols destroyed all cities, ports, and the fleet of the Jurchens. They killed, or turned into slaves most of the country's population. The survivors hid themselves from the Mongols in the forests, river valleys, and the remote reas of the Amur and Zabaykalye, the Okhotsky coast and parts of Sakhalin island. As time went on, the people forgot the trades developed by the Balhae people and the Jurchen. They got used to collecting the taiga's gifts, fishing and hunting wild animals.
For many centuries these rich lands, unique in the structure of flora and fauna, had not been cultivated. In the beginning of the 17th century, when the Russians first appeared in this land, the forefathers of today's small ethnic groups of the Far East were a primitive society. It should be noted that the Mongols, the invaders of the Mongol Empire, did not settle in Primorye, but left for China and the Central Asian steppes.
According to the Nerchinsk Treaty of 1689 between Russia and China, lands south of the Stanovoy Mountains, including Primorye, were Chinese territory. However, with the weakening of the Qing Empire in the second half of the 19th century, Russia began its expansion into the area. In 1858 the towns of Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk were founded.
In 1858, Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky signed the Aigun Treaty with China, which was followed by the Beijing Treaty two years later. Under these treaties, the Russian-Chinese border was moved south to the Amur and Ussuri rivers. This granted Russia possession of Primorye.
In the period from 1859 to 1882 ninety five settlements had been established in Primorye, including Vladivostok, Ussuriysk, Razdolnoye, Vladimiro-Aleksandrovskoye, Shkotovo, Pokrovka, Tury Rog, and Kamen-Rybolov. The major occupations of the population were the agricultural, hunting and fishing trades, involving more than two-thirds of the territory's inhabitants.
At the end of the 19th century, the coal-mining industry started developing. The territory also exported sea-kale, antlers of young Siberian stag, timber, crabs, dried fish, and trepangs. Thus, it took Primorye about half a century to enter into the all-Russian economic and cultural process, and to establish close contacts with the countries of the Asian Pacific region. This was accomplished through the efforts of the territory's population, and the Russian and foreign capital inflow to the area.
From 1922, after the Civil War in Primorye ended, economic, scientific, and cultural development of the territory followed the plans of the Bolsheviks who had won in Russia. During the first ten years of Soviet Power, the cultural sphere struggled against the "bourgeois ideology". As a result music, theater, fine arts, and literature in Primorye had to begin almost at the beginning, on the ruins of the pre-Revolutionary culture. The priority in economy was set on the primary industries - mining and fishing in particular. Railroad and sea transport was also being developed at the time, accompanied with the intensive ports construction works. By the early 1990s the once small enterprises had developed into large companies. These are Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO or DVMP), Dalmoreprodukt, Vladivostok base of Trawling and Refrigerating Fleet (VBTRF), Active Marine Fisheries Base of Nakhodka, Vostok Mining Company, Progress Arsenyev Aircraft Works, etc. The Fishing and Marine Transport Fleet of Primorye had worked in all regions of the world's oceans. Numerous enterprises of the Military Industrial Complex were established in Primorye. In the 1970s, Primorye witnessed an intensive development of science. Today Vladivostok boasts such worldwide known scientific-research institutions as Biology and Soil Institute, The Pacific Institute of Bio-organic Chemistry, Institute of Marine Biology, The Pacific Institute of Geography, The Pacific Oceanological Institute, a total of more than 10 Institutes of Far Eastern Division of Russian Academy of Sciences (DVO RAN). Vladivostok is also the home of the DVO RAN presidium.
The timber industry, though in recession, is still second only to Khabarovsk Krai's with an annual yield of about 3 million cubic meters of timber. Primorsky Krai is the largest coal producer in the Russian Far East and generates more electricity than any other Russian Far East administrative division, but power shortages are common. Agriculture is also important; the Krai produces rice, milk, eggs, and vegetables.
The Krai's proximity to Pacific Rim markets gives it an edge over most other Russian Far East administrative divisions in developing foreign trade. Major trade items are seafood products, timber products, and ferrous metals. Major trading partners are Japan, China, and Korea.
Primorsky Krai's compact territory is well endowed with infrastructure. Its railway density is twice the Russian average. Railroads connect it with China and North Korea. Vladivostok, the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian railway, was surpassed as a port by the nearby Nakhodka-Vostochny Port container, coal and timber terminals. Primorsky Krai-based shipping companies provide 80% of marine shipping services in the Russian Far East. All the Krai's significant ports are now open to international shipping.
Production of grain, soybeans, potatoes, and vegetables is the leading agricultural sector. The breeding of livestock, especially sheep, is well developed in Primorye; a fur farming industry is also being developed through the establishment of fur farms and animal nurseries.
Ethnic groups: There were thirteen recognised ethnic groups of more than two thousand persons each, and the national composition was • Russian 89.89% • Ukrainian 4.54% • Korean 0.86% • Tatar 0.70% • Belarusan 0.56% • Armenian 0.27%% • Azeri 0.21% • Mordovian 0.20% • Chinese 0.19% • German 0.17% • Chuvash 0.16% • Moldovan 0.11% • Bashkir 0.10% • Uzbek 0.08% • Kazakh 0.06% • Udmurt 0.06% • Polish 0.05% • Jewish 0.05% • Mari 0.05% • Udege 0.04% • Buriat 0.04 • Georgian 0.04% • Lezgin 0.04%, and many other ethnic groups of less than eight hundred persons each. Another 0.92% of the inhabitants declined to state their nationality on the census questionnaire.
In the first 11 months of 2007, there were 20,882 births compared to 19,674 in same period 2006. This returns a birth rate of 11.4 for the region, which is considerably higher than the national average. In total there were 22,304 births in 2007.