Vladivostok (vlăˌdĭvŏˈstŏk, –vəstŏkˈ, Rus. vläˌdyēvəstôkˈ) [key], city (1989 pop. 634,000), capital of Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Russian Far East, on a peninsula that extends between two bays of the Sea of Japan. It is the chief Russian port on the Pacific (kept open in winter by icebreakers), the terminus of the Trans-Siberian RR and the Northern Sea Route (see Northeast Passage), the chief base of the Russian navy in the Pacific, and a base for fishing and whaling fleets. The city has large shipyards, railyards, chemical and engineering factories, fish canneries, and food plants. Valdivostok is connected to Russky Island, to the southwest, by a 1.9-mi (3.1-km) bridge (opened 2012). The city is the chief cultural center in the Russian Far East. Among its many educational institutions are the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Far Eastern Univ. (reopened 1956). Russians and Ukrainians comprise most of the city's population.
Russia founded a military post on the site in 1860, and it became an important outpost for Russian expansion in E Asia. Vladivostok became capital of the Maritime Territory in 1888 and grew rapidly after the completion (1903) of the Trans-Siberian RR. It developed as a naval base after the loss (1905) of Port Arthur (see Lüshun) to Japan. In World War I the Allies used the city as a major supply depot, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917 they occupied it. Most of the occupying forces were Japanese, but there were also about 7,500 Americans and contingents of British, Italian, and French troops. By 1920, when Vladivostok was included in the newly proclaimed Far Eastern Republic, the Japanese continued to occupy the region and installed a counterrevolutionary Russian puppet government. By 1922 all the interventionist forces had withdrawn and the city came under Soviet control. In World War II, Vladivostok was a major port for lend-lease supplies. After World War II, the port was closed to Western ships, forcing foreign traffic for the Trans-Siberian RR to off-load at Nakhodka. In 1990 it was reopened to foreign shipping.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Vladivostok from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography