The city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was founded in 1740 by Vitus Bering on his first voyage exploring the North Pacific. He named the city for his two ships, Peter and Paul. Although few Koryaks live in Petropavlovsk (not to be confused with the Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan), it is the major port for the peninsula. It has a population of about 200,000, which is nearly half of the entire population of Kamchatka. The nearby city of Yelizovo (pop. 40,000) has the international air port, with twice-weekly flights to Anchorage, Alaska on Alaskan Airways. It is also accessible on Aeroflot from Khabarovsk, Vladivostock, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
In addition to being a major commercial port, Petropavlovsk also has the distinction of being home to Russia's Pacific nuclear submarine fleet. This and other military installations make Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka a difficult place to visit, despite Yeltsin's decree in 1991, opening the peninsula to all visitors. Foreign visitors should have local cities and towns listed directly on their visas, and be prepared for close scrutiny of all your documents the minute your plane lands. Don't let these inconveniences deter you, however. The people are friendly, and the landscape is wonderful!
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Page Date: March 27, 2002