Kamchatka's mineral resources include coal, gold, mica, pyrites, sulfur, and tufa. Fishing, sealing, hunting, and lumbering are the main occupations. The seas surrounding the peninsula are a rich Russian fishing area (notably for crabs, which are exported worldwide), and fur trapping on the peninsula yields most of the furs of the Russian Far East. Some cattle raising is carried on in the south and farming (rye, oats, potatoes, vegetables) in the Kamchatka valley and around Petropavlovsk. Reindeer are also raised on the peninsula. Industries include fish processing, shipbuilding, and woodworking. Russia's only geothermal power station is on the peninsula. There is some tourism, particularly in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, noted for its geysers.
The majority of the population is Russian, with large minorities of Koryak peoples. The northern part of the peninsula was formerly administered as the Koryak Autonomous Area, but it was merged with the Kamchatka region to form the Kamchatka Territory in 2007. Its capital was Palana.
The Russian explorer Atlasov visited Kamchatka in 1697. The region's exploration and development continued in the early 18th cent. under Czar Peter I, and Russian conquest was complete by 1732. Heavy Russian colonization occurred in the early 19th cent. From 1926 to 1938, Kamchatka formed part of the Far Eastern Territory. The peninsula, subsequently part of the larger Kamchatka oblast [region], now is part of Kamchatka Territory, which includes offshore islands and areas of the mainland bordering the penisula. Petropavlovsk is the territory's capital.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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