Far Eastern Russia (Russian: Да́льный Восто́к Росси́й, DAHL'-nih vah-STOHK rah-SEE) is the easternmost part of Russia, comprising its Pacific Ocean islands, coastline and a swathe of eastern Siberia. The northern part of the region is in the Arctic. The Russian Far East is extraordinarily far from Russia's major population centers in Europe and is usually visited separately, unless by the Trans-Siberian Railway. The largest city in the region, Vladivostok, is a full seven time zones away from Moscow, with 9,300 km of railroad between them. The Far East is very different from popular conceptions of Russia—the mountainous landscape has at places a spectacular Pacific coastline. The highlights of this massive region include the city of Vladivostok, the beautiful Kuril Islands, the otherworldly National Parks of Kamchatka, cruising along the coast of Chukotka, and big game hunting in the wildlife paradise of Yakutia. According to the 2002 Census, Far Eastern Federal District had a population of 6,692,865. Most of it is concentrated in the southern parts. Given the vast territory of the Russian Far East, 6.7 million people translates to slightly more than one person per square kilometer, making the Russian Far East one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world. There are a good number of Finnic and Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages spoken throughout the more northerly regions of the Far East. Korean is also widely spoken in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk by the Sakhalin Koreans. But, as in all of Russia, Russian is the principal language and is spoken by nearly everyone, regardless of their first language.
The original ethnic groups are:
Eskimo–Aleut: Aleuts, Siberian Yupiks (Yuits)
Chukotko-Kamchatkan: Chukchi, Koryaks, Alutors, Kereks, Itelmens
Tungusic: Evenks, Evens, Nanais, Orochs, Ul'ch, Udegey, Orok
Isolate: Yukaghirs, Nivkhs, Ainus
Chinese and Japanese are common foreign languages as students learn them in the nearby border regions of Russia, but European languages are far less widespread than in European Russia and travelers should not expect to rely on them.
Historically, Russia reached these areas only in the 17th century and until the turbulent times at the beginning of the 20th century, the major cities were home for a great variety of Far Eastern peoples. Vladivostok was a lively trading port and cross-roads between China, Korea, Japan and Russia.
Today the principal transit hubs, with good sized international airports, are Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and to a lesser extent Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In general, you will either arrive by plane or the Trans-Siberian Railway. But it is also possible to arrive by boat from Alaska and Japan to destinations on the Russian Pacific coast.
Distances between cities and towns in the Russian Far East are huge and the infrastructure leaves a lot to be wished for. A combination of using the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline, and for destinations off the rail system, domestic flights, will get you around the majority, but not the entirety, of the region. In particular, Northeastern Russia is almost entirely without interregional transportation infrastructure and is off the Russian rail network—the one exception is the long, lonely, seasonal, and partially maintained country roads connecting Yakutsk to Magadan. Heading north from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by road will only take you as far as Esso, road tracks passable by half-track vehicles in March extend as far as Palana; from Palana onwards, overland travel becomes wilderness adventure.
This lack of roads and rail network makes travel by sea along the coast a vitally important option, with expedition cruising companies (such as Heritage Expedition) operating their own ice-strengthened polar research vessels on several trips from Sakhalin in the south to Kamchatka and Kamchatka north into the Russian Arctic including Wrangel and Herald Islands, famous for the density of Polar Bears.