Its orography and geological structure are imperfectly known. Two parallel ranges of mountains traverse it from north to south, reaching 2000 to 5000 ft. The Western-Sakhalin Mountains peak in Mt. Ichara, 4860 ft., while the Eastern-Sakhalin Mountains's highest peak is Mt. Lopatin (1609 m, 5279 ft.) is also the island's highest mountain. Tym-Poronaiskaya Valley separates the two ranges. Susuanaisky and Tonino-Anivsky ranges traverse the island in the south, while Northern-Sakhalin plain occupy most of its north. Crystalline rocks crop out at several capes; Cretaceous limestones, containing an abundant and specific fauna of gigantic ammonites, occur at Dui on the west coast, and Tertiary conglomerates, sandstones, marls and clays, folded by subsequent upheavals, in many parts of the island. The clays, which contain layers of good coal and an abundant fossil vegetation, show that during the Miocene period Sakhalin formed part of a continent which comprised north Asia, Alaska and Japan, and enjoyed a comparatively warm climate. The Pliocene deposits contain a mollusc fauna more arctic than that which exists at the present time, indicatin~ probably that the connexion between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans was broader than it is now. Only two rivers are worthy of mention. The Tym, 250 m. long and navigable by rafts and light boats for 50 m., flows north and north-east with numerous rapids and shallows, and enters the Sea of Okhotsk. The Poronai flows south-south-east to the Gulf of Patience or Shichiro Bay, on the south-east coast. Three other small streams enter the wide semicircular Gulf of Aniva or Higashifushimi Bay at the southern extremity of the island.
Owing to the influence of the raw, foggy Sea of Okhotsk, the climate is very cold. At Dui the average yearly temperature is only 33.0° F (January 3.4°; July 61.0°), 35.0° at Kusunai and 37.6° at Aniva (January, 9.5°; July, 60.2°). At Alexandrovsk near Dui the annual range is from 81 in July to -38° in January, while at Rykovsk in the interior the minimum is -49° Fahr. The rainfall averages 22 1/2 in. Thick clouds for the most part shut out the sun; while the cold current from the Sea of Okhotsk, aided by north-east winds, brings immense ice-floes to the east coast in summer. The whole of the island is covered with dense forests, mostly coniferous. The Ayan spruce[?] (Abies ayanensis), the Sakhalin fir[?] (Abies sachalensis) and the Daurian larch[?] are the chief trees; on the upper parts of the mountains are the Siberian rampant cedar[?] (Cembra pumila) and the Kurilian bamboo[?] (Arundinaria kurileif sc). Birch, both European[?] and Kamchatkan[?] (Betula elba and B. Ermani), elder, poplar, elm, wild cherry[?] (Prunus padus), Taxus baccata and several willows are mixed with the conifers; while farther south the maple, mountain ash and oak, as also the Japanese Panax ricinifolium, the Amur cork[?] (Philodendron amurense), the spindle tree[?] (Euonymus macropterus) and the vine (Vitis thunbergii) make their appearance. The underwoods abound in berry-bearing plants (e.g. cloudberry, cranberry, crowberry, red whortleberry), berried elder (Sambucus racemosa), wild raspberry and Spiraea. Bears, foxes, otters and sables are numerous, as also the reindeer in the north, and the musk deer, hares, squirrels, rats and mice everywhere. The avi-fauna is the common Siberian, and the rivers swarm with fish, especially species of salmon (Oncorhynchus). Numerous whales visit the sea-coast. Sea-lions, seals and dolphins are a source of profit.
Sakhalin was inhabited in the Neolithic Stone Age. Flint implements, exactly like those of Siberia and Russia, have been found at Dui and Kusunai in great numbers, as well as polished stone hatchets, like the European ones, primitive pottery with decorations like those of Olonets and stone weights for nets. Afterwards a population to whom bronze was known left traces in earthen walls and kitchen-middens on the Bay of Aniva. The native inhabitants consist of some 2000 Gilyaks, 1300 Ainus, with 750 Orochons[?], 200 Tunguses[?] and Some Yakuts. The Gilyaks in the north support themselves by fishing and hunting.
The Ainus inhabit the south part of the island. From the 32,000 Russians (of whom over 22,150 were convicts) at the beginning of 20th century, the population grew to 673,100 today, 83% from whom are Russians. The largest settlement on the island is Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk[?] (pop. 171,000). A little coal is mined and some rye, wheat, oats, barley and vegetables are grown, although the period during which vegetation can grow averages less than 100 days. Fishing is actively prosecuted.
History Sakhalin, whose natives made contact with the Manchu Empire until the 19th century, became known to Europeans from the travels of Martin Gerritz de Vries[?] in the 17th century, and still better from those of La Pérouse (1787) and Krusenstern (1805). Both, however, regarded it as a peninsula, and were unaware of the existence of the Strait of Tartary, which was discovered in 1809 by a Japanese, Mamiya Rinzo[?]. The Russian navigator Nevelskoi in 1849 definitively established the existence and navigability of this strait. The Russians made their first permanent settlement on Sakhalin in 1857 as a Czarist penal colony; but the southern part of the island was held by the Japanese until 1875, when they ceded it to Russia. By the Treaty of Portsmouth (U.S.A.) of 1905 the southern part of the island below 50° N was ceded to Japan, the Russians retaining the other three-fifths of the area. In August 1945, Russia again took over the control of Sakhalin. Since January 2, 1947, the Sakhalin Region, in its present form, was officially defined and integrated as a part of the Russian Federation.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sakhalin has experienced an oil boom with extensive petroleum exploration and mining by most large oil multinationals. Russia is in the process of building a pipeline from Sakhalin Island to China, and then onto Japan (resisting intense diplomatic lobbying from Japan to build a pipeline directly to Japan, at Japan's expense). In 2003, the island was the second largest recipient of foreign investment[?] in Russia after Moscow. Unemployment in 2002 is only 2%.
See C. H. Hawes, In the Uttermost East (London, 1903).
(P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)
Based on an article from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
See also on Wikipedia : Bronislaw Pilsudski.