The Kamchatka Peninsula is known as the "land of fire and ice", is a 1,250-kilometre-long peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of about 270,000 sq km. It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west. There are many rivers and lakes, and the eastern shore of the peninsula is deeply indented by gulfs and bays. The central valley of the Kamchatka Peninsula, drained by the Kamchatka River, is enclosed by two parallel volcanic ranges consist of about 160 volcanoes, 19 of them are still active and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The highest point and active volcano of the Kamchatka is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4,755 m). The climate is cold and humid with moderately cool summers and winters that tend to be rather stormy though rarely producing lightning. Although Kamchatka is the most volcanic territory in the world, there are also numerous forests, mineral springs, and geysers in this area.
The Kamchatka Peninsula, the Commander Islands, and Karaginsky Island constitute the Kamchatka Krai of the Russian Federation, more than half of the territory's population lives in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Kamchatka Krai with population of about 179,000. The city is situated on high hills and surrounded by volcanoes, which are common for this territory. The city is located 6,766 kilometers from Moscow and about 2,220 kilometers from Vladivostok.
The Russian explorer Atlasov visited Kamchatka in 1697. The region's exploration and development continued in the early 18th century under the first Emperor of Russia Peter I, and Russian conquest was complete by 1732.
In 1740, Petropavlovsk was officially founded as a main city of the territory. It happened during the second Kamchatka expedition headed by Vitus Bering and Alexey Chirikov (1733-1743), who came there on two ships called "St. Apostle Peter" and "St. Apostle Paul", so the new settlement received the name Petropavlov.
In 1779, the harbor of Petropavlov was visited by two British military ships during the second round-the-world expedition of James Cook. Charles Clerke, who lead the expedition after Cook's death, was buried in this harbor.
Heavy Russian colonization occurred in the early 19th century. The Russian government encouraged the commercial activities of the Russian-American Company by granting land to newcomers on the peninsula. By 1812 the indigenous population had fallen to less than 3,200 while the Russian population had risen to 2,500.
In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States, making Petropavlovsk obsolete as a transit point for traders and explorers on their way to the American territories.
In 1860, a Primorsky (Maritime) Region was established and Kamchatka was placed under its jurisdiction.
During the 19th century, scientific exploration of the peninsula was continued.
World War II (1939–1945) hardly affected Kamchatka except for its role as a launch site for the invasion of the Kurils in August 1945. After the war, the Soviet authorities declared Kamchatka a military zone: it remained closed to Soviet citizens until 1989 and to foreigners until 1990.
The main occupations of the Kamchatka people is fishing, sealing, hunting, shipbuilding and lumbering. 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. Russia's only geothermal power station is on the peninsula. The vast majority of the inhabitants are ethnic Russians, but there are also about 13,000 Koryak peoples.
There is some tourism, particularly in the "Valley of Geysers", which stands among the greatest newly discovered destinations of the 20th century. Situated in a unique canyon, the Valley probably has the region's most breathtaking scenery attracting admirers from all over the world. The other sightseeing points and places that are worth visiting include Paratunka Resort with thermal springs situated in one of the most scenic valleys of Kamchatka Peninsula; several volcanoes – the Koryaksky, the Avachinsky, and the Koselsky, which are very close to the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky; Khodutkinsky Hot Springs and Timonovskye Hot Springs.
There is also Russia's largest submarine base – the Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base – across the Avacha Bay. It was established during the Soviet regime and still used by the Russian Navy.