The Kuril Islands are well-known as being at the center of the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. However, only a few people know what everyday life on the Islands is actually like.

Japan andRussia have never signed a permanent peace treaty after World War II due to adisagreement over four islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils andJapan the Northern Territories. The disputed islands, located in the Sea ofOkhotsk, were claimed by Soviet forces at the end of the war.

The prepared some interesting facts about these territories, some of whichmight prove to be very surprising.

Fact 1.

In order to visit the Kuril Islands,one needs special authorization issued by the border department of Russia'sFederal Security Service (FSB) in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. One can visitthe government agency on weekdays from 9:30 am to 10:30 am and receiveauthorization the next day. In any case, the visitor will have to stay in thecity for at least one day.

Fact 2.

© FLICKR/MARTIN EHRENSVÄRD Is Japan Ready for a Compromise on Russia's Kuril Islands?When one finally arrives in the Kuril Islands, one could get stuck there for along time. The reason is simple: visitors won't be able to return to themainland because of poor weather conditions. During storms or heavy snowfallsthere are no boats or airplanes in service. The sad thing is that a flight or aboat trip might be delayed not for a couple of hours, but for an extra week ortwo.

Fact 3.

All in all,there are only five hotels on the Kuril Islands with 70 available rooms. So onemight be caught by surprise, when discovering that all of them are alreadybooked.

Fact 4.

The mainsymbols of the Kuril Islands are the volcanoes! All in all, there are about 160volcanoes, 40 of which are active.

Fact 5.

Whiletravelling on the Kuril Islands, one could easily run into a bear. One of themost likely places to encounter the animal is the territory near the volcano ofTyatya on the island of Kunashir.

Fact 6.

Almost allresidents of the Kuril Islands have a car, usually a Japanese jeep.Surprisingly, there is not a single filling station! Residents buy barrels offuel from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Vladivostok. Only this year did localauthorities promise to organize the first station by October.

Fact 7.

Residentsof the islands are open and friendly, they like talking to travelers, askingthem about their life and telling them about their own. The local peoplerecommend unique places to visit and sometimes they even offer to drive youthere.


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