Vladivostok is the administrative, cultural, scientific, and economic center of Primorsky Krai (or "Maritime Province", which is one of the subjects of the Russian Federation) as well as the largest research and educational center of the Russian Far East region: Far Eastern Federal University and the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Science are located in the city.
At first look, Vladivostok is something like "Russia's San Francisco" with its mountains springing up above a network of bays with the most beautiful dock-lined Golden Horn Bay (named for its likeness to Istanbul's) and two huge cable-stayed bridges. Closer up, it can be a little grey, with Soviet housing blocks squeezed between new high-risers and century-old mansions. But the latter reminds of a great and tangled history of the city lying just a short boat ride from Japan, China, and the Korean peninsula.
Vladivostok is located on the Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula and surrounded by the Sea of Japan from three sides. The peninsula's namesake was Count Muravyov-Amursky, a naval admiral who led the settlement efforts and who is credited as personally founding Vladivostok. The name of the city often translated as "rule the east", indicating that the city was intended to establish Russia's military presence in the East.
Vladivostok has a monsoon climate with dry and cold winters, long springs, hot and humid summers, warm and colorful autumns, which are the best season in Vladivostok.
In June 1860, after the signing of the Treaty of Aigun between Russia and China, the Russian military port Vladivostok was created in Golden Horn bay of the Sea of Japan.
In May 1880, Vladivostok, with its population of 7,300 people, was assigned city status, comprising of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula and Russian Island.
In 1899, Vladivostok assigned Fortress status. The Oriental Institute was founded in Vladivostok at the same time.
By the beginning of XX century, a small city turned into the largest Russian port and naval base in the Far East with the Trans-Siberian Railroad constructed in 1891-1916, one of the longest railroads in the world (9288 km from Vladivostok to Moscow).
In the Soviet period, Vladivostok finally became the cultural, scientific, and industrial center of the Far East. It was actively developing engineering, shipbuilding and ship repair, production of building materials and fishing equipment, food, consumer goods, and wood processing industries. The city founded the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Far Eastern State and Technical Universities, three theaters, two museums, and an art gallery.
Later in 1958, Vladivostok was declared a "closed" city – meaning that those visiting the city (even Soviet citizens) had to obtain special permission to enter, and for the first time in 70 years, Vladivostok has become officially opened for foreigners only in 1991. In 1992, for the first time in 70 years, Vladivostok has become officially opened for foreigners. Today, there are 12 consulates, hundreds of representative offices of foreign firms and a lot of joint venture enterprises in Vladivostok. The city attracts more and more tourists every year.
Today, the city of Vladivostok has an official population of about 600,000, consisting mostly of ethnic Russians, with small minorities of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and indigenous peoples. However, there are a great number of illegal Chinese immigrants and immigrants from former Soviet Union republics in the city, so the population is estimated to be about 700,000.
Vladivostok is a big European city closest to the Asian and Pacific countries, its strategic location and its proximity to East Asian countries makes it a vital outpost for Russia and an extremely interesting experience for students and tourists. Historical center of the Vladivostok city is quite unusual, cause no building repeats another's architectural design: you can find classical, Gothic, modern and oriental styles in one place. Vladivostok is a special for its atmosphere and beautiful nature – wherever you are you always can enjoy various sea views and mountain scenes. Other points of interest include exploring the port's submarine museums, visiting the historic train station, trying the excellent local Chinese food and just strolling the hilly city streets. Visiting the taiga that lies just above the city is also popular for tourists, as the forest is home to tigers and other exotic and endangered species.
One of only four major seaports serving a gigantic country, Vladivostok has become a major commercial hub – mainly for goods brought from China, Japan, and Korea.
In September 2012, the APEC CEO Summit took place on Russian Island, and the heads of states and representatives of economies from more than 20 countries of the Asia-Pacific region visited the city during this international meeting. The city has also been the focus of investment because of APEC CEO Summit, including new construction and renovations. It has made itself more hospitable to business people and tourists – and several English-speaking, luxury hotels and casino have sprung up. The local train station and the airport have both been refurbished. Several foreign companies now have a presence there. In addition, to become more attractive for foreign traders, Vladivostok was assigned Free Port Status in 2016.