Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

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Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Чукотский автономный округ (Russian)
—  Autonomous okrug  —


Coat of arms
Anthem: Anthem of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug[1]
Coordinates: Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Political status
Country Russia
Federal district Far Eastern[2]
Economic region Far Eastern[3]
Established December 10, 1930[4]
Administrative center Anadyr[5]
Government (as of April 2015)
 • Governor[7] Roman Kopin[6]
 • Legislature Duma[8]
Area (as of the 2002 Census)[9]
 • Total 737,700 km2 (284,800 sq mi)
Area rank 7th
Population (2010 Census)[10]
 • Total 50,526
 • Rank 82nd
 • Density[11] 0.07/km2 (0.18/sq mi)
 • Urban 64.8%
 • Rural 35.2%
Population (January 2015 est.)
 • Total 50,540[12]
Time zone(s) PETT (UTC+12:00)[13]
ISO 3166-2 RU-CHU
License plates 87
Official languages Russian[14]
Official website

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Russian: Чуко́тский автоно́мный о́круг, tr. Chukotsky avtonomny okrug; IPA: [tɕʊˈkotskʲɪj ɐftɐˈnomnɨj ˈokrʊk]; Chukchi: Чукоткакэн автономныкэн округ, Chukotkaken avtonomnyken okrug) or Chukotka (Чуко́тка) is a federal subject of Russia (an autonomous okrug) located in the Russian Far East. The population was recorded at 50,526 in the 2010 Census.[10]

The autonomous okrug's surface area is 737,700 square kilometers (284,800 sq mi). The principal town and the administrative center is Anadyr. The region is the most northeasterly region of Russia and, since the sale of Alaska to the United States, has been the only part of Russia lying partially in the Western Hemisphere (east of the 180th meridian).

Elgygytgyn Lake, an impact crater lake, is located in Chukotka, as is the village of Uelen, the closest substantial Russian settlement to the United States.


Desolate wilderness of far northern Chukotka

Chukotka is bordered in the north by the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea, which are part of the Arctic Ocean; in the east by the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean; in the south by Kamchatka Krai and Magadan Oblast; and in the west by the Sakha Republic. The Chukchi Peninsula projects eastward forming the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, and encloses the north side of the Gulf of Anadyr. The peninsula's easternmost point, Cape Dezhnev, is also the easternmost point of mainland Russia.

Ecologically, Chukotka can be divided into three distinct areas: the northern Arctic desert, the central tundra, and the taiga in the south. About half of its area is above the Arctic Circle. This area is very mountainous, containing the Chukotsky Mountains and the Anadyr Range.

Chukotka's rivers spring from its northern and central mountains. The major rivers are:

The largest lakes are Lake Krasnoye, west of Anadyr, and El'gygytgyn Lake in central Chukotka.

Large parts of Chukotka are covered with moss, lichen, and arctic plants, similar to western Alaska. Surrounding the Gulf of Anadyr and in the river valleys grow small larch, pine, birch, poplar, and willow trees. More than 900 species of plants grow in Chukotka, including 400 species of moss and lichen. It is home to 220 bird species and 30 fresh water fish species.[15]


Chukotka's climate is influenced by its location on the three neighboring seas: the Bering Sea, the East Siberian Sea, and the Chukchi Sea. The weather is characterized by cold northerly winds that can quickly change to wet southern winds. Cape Navarin has the highest number of hurricanes and storms in Russia. The coastal areas are windy with little precipitation, between 200 and 400 mm per year. Temperature varies from −15 °C (5 °F) to −35 °C (−31 °F) in January and from +5 °C (41 °F) to +14 °C (57 °F) in July. Growing season is short, only 80 to 100 days per year.


The first inhabitants were Paleo-Siberian hunters who came to Chukotka from Central and East Asia. The area was then part of the Beringia land bridge that is believed to have enabled human migration to the Americas.

Traditionally Chukotka was the home of the native Chukchi people, Siberian Yupiks, Koryaks, Chuvans, Evens/Lamuts, Yukaghirs, and Russian Old Settlers.

Russian exploration and conquest

After the Russians conquered the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates in the 16th century, the trade routes to the Urals, Siberia, and Central Asia opened for travel and traders and Cossacks moved eastwards. The Cossacks built forts in strategic locations and subjected the indigenous people to the Tsar.

An early (1773) map of Chukotka, showing the route of Dezhnyov expedition of 1648

During the first half of the 17th century, Russians reached the far north-east. In 1641, the first reference to Chukchi people was made by the Cossacks. In 1649, Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnyov explored the far north-eastern coast and established winter quarters on the upstream portion of the Anadyr River that became the fortified settlement of Anadyrsk. Dezhnyov tried to subjugate the Chukchi and exact tribute during the next ten years, but was mostly unsuccessful. Eventually the fort was abandoned because of the harsh northern conditions and lack of game animals for food.

At the end of the 17th century, the fort regained some importance when the sea route from Anadyrsk to Kamchatka was discovered. It was used as the staging base for expeditions to Kamchatka and all other forts and settlements were made subject to Anadyrsk. When the wealth of Kamchatka's natural resources was discovered, the Russian government started to give the far north-eastern region more serious attention. In 1725, Tsar Peter the Great ordered Vitus Bering to explore Kamchatka and Afanasy Shestakov to lead a military expedition to subjugate the Chukchi. This expedition failed when the fleet suffered shipwreck and the survivors, including Shestakov, were killed by the Chukchi.

In 1731, Dmitry Pavlutsky tried again, aided by Cossacks, Yukaghirs, and Koryaks (indigenous Siberian tribes that were subjugated earlier). Pavlutsky sailed up the Anadyr River and destroyed the Chukchi garrison on the Arctic Ocean. His ruthless methods had some limited success in forcing tribute from some Chukchi. But in 1747, the Chukchi defeated the Russian regiment and killed Pavlutsky.

Realizing that the Chukchi could not easily be subjugated by military means, the Russians changed tactics and offered the Chukchi citizenship in the Russian Empire. A peace treaty was concluded in 1778 in which the Chukchi were exempted from paying yasak.

That same year, British Captain James Cook made an exploration of Cape North (now Cape Schmidt) and Providence Bay. Anxious that European powers would occupy the area, Tsaritsa Catherine II ordered to explore and map the area. Starting in 1785, an expedition led by Joseph Billings and Gavril Sarychev mapped the Chukchi Peninsula, the west coast of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands. Then from 1821 to 1825, Ferdinand von Wrangel and Fyodor Matyushkin led expeditions along the coast of the East Siberian Sea and explored the Kolyma, Great Anyuy, and Little Anyuy Rivers.

Western influence

Painting of Chukchi by Louis Choris, 1816

Chukotka remained mostly outside the control of the Russian Empire and consequently other foreign powers (American, British, Norwegian) began to hunt and trade in the area from about 1820 onwards. After the sale of Alaska to the United States, American whalers and traders especially extended their activities into Chukotka and foreign influence reached its peak. By 1880, the Russians reacted by setting up coastal patrols to stop American ships and confiscate their property. And in 1888, the administrative region of Anadyr was created. Yet Russian control diminished again and around 1900, a large stream of foreigners entered Chukotka, lured to the region by the Yukon gold rush in 1898.

In 1909, in order to keep the region within Russian control, two districts were created within the Anadyr Region: the districts of Anadyr and Chukotka. The Russian government granted concessions to foreign companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company and the US Northeast Siberia Company, which was granted gold, iron, and graphite mining rights in the entire Chukotka between 1902 and 1912.

Wrangel Island in particular was subject to claims by the United States and Canada. In 1916, the Russians officially claimed the uninhabited island. But in 1921, Canadian Vilhjalmur Stefansson made a serious attempt to claim it for Canada by populating it and building a small settlement. Another contingent arrived in 1923 but a year later, the Soviets permanently conquered the island, removing the remaining inhabitants, and thereby ending all foreign influence.

Soviet period

From 1919 onwards, the region was subject to collectivization and resettlement of the indigenous people.

When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, everything was done to start tin production as quickly as possible in Chukotka. Mining rapidly developed, and this industry would become its economic base. Also during the war, geologists discovered large reserves of gold that would be mined in the 1950s.

In 1977, Chukotka became administratively subordinated to Magadan Oblast.

Post-Soviet period

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Chukotka, 2008

In 1991, Chukotka declared its separation to become a subject of the Russian Federation in its own right, a move that was confirmed by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in 1993.

From 2001 to 2008, Roman Abramovich was the Governor of Chukotka. He invested billions of rubles, including his own money, into the Chukotka economy by developing its infrastructure, schools, and housing. This has helped to double the GDP of the region and to more than triple the income of its residents.[16] In 2004, Abramovich tried to resign from this position but was reappointed governor for another term by Vladimir Putin. In early July 2008 it was announced that President Dmitry Medvedev had accepted Abramovich's latest request to resign as governor of Chukotka, although his various charitable activities in the region would continue. In the period 2000–2006 the average salaries in Chukotka increased from about US$165 (€117/£100) per month in 2000 to US$826 (€588/£500) per month in 2006.[17]

On July 11, Dmitry Medvedev nominated Roman Kopin to be the governor. On 13 July the local legislators unanimously confirmed Kopin as the next governor of Chukotka.[18]


Chukotka has large reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, gold, and tungsten, which are slowly being exploited, but much of the rural population survives on subsistence reindeer herding, whale hunting, and fishing. The urban population is employed in mining, administration, construction, cultural work, education, medicine, and other occupations.


Chukotka is mostly roadless and air travel is the main mode of passenger transport. There are local permanent roads between some settlements, for example Egvekinot-Iultin (200 km). When cold enough, winter roads are constructed on the frozen rivers to connect region settlements in a uniform network.

In 2009, replacement of the emergency bridge through Loren River on constantly operating local road from Lavrentiya to Lorino (40 km) became the main event of transport of Chukotka.

The main airport is Ugolny Airport near Anadyr. Coastal shipping also takes place, but the ice situation is too severe for at least half the year.

Administrative divisions

Districts of Chukotka. Chaunsky District and Anadyr town highlighted

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Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is administratively divided into the following districts:

Along the Arctic coast (from west to east): Bilibinsky District (northwest), Chaunsky District around Chaunskaya Bay, then Iultinsky District, and finally Chukotsky District at the eastern cape.

Along the Pacific coast (from north to south): Providensky District south of Chukotsky, southern Iultinsky District around Kresta Bay, and finally eastern Anadyrsky District at the Anadyr Estuary.

Interior: The western quarter of the Okrug is Bilibinsky District and the rest of the interior is Anadyrsky District.


View of Egvekinot

Population: 50,526 (2010 Census);[10] 53,824 (2002 Census);[19] 157,528 (1989 Census).[20]


Vital statistics

Average population (x 1000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1000) Crude death rate (per 1000) Natural change (per 1000) Fertility rates
1970 103 1,751 599 1,152 17.0 5.8 11.2
1975 124 2,113 627 1,486 17.0 5.1 12.0
1980 143 2,208 653 1,555 15.4 4.6 10.9
1985 154 2,659 627 2,032 17.3 4.1 13.2
1990 160 2,208 598 1,610 13.8 3.7 10.1
1991 153 1,912 631 1,281 12.5 4.1 8.4
1992 136 1,565 763 802 11.5 5.6 5.9
1993 118 1,191 907 284 10.1 7.7 2.4
1994 104 1,153 884 269 11.1 8.5 2.6
1995 90 935 816 119 10.4 9.1 1.3
1996 81 935 816 119 11.5 10.1 1.5
1997 75 818 598 220 10.9 8.0 2.9
1998 70 855 612 243 12.3 8.8 3.5
1999 64 672 530 142 10.4 8.2 2.2
2000 60 686 570 116 11.5 9.6 1.9
2001 56 719 701 18 12.7 12.4 0.3
2002 54 653 611 42 12.1 11.3 0.8
2003 53 679 562 117 12.8 10.6 2.2
2004 53 787 623 164 15.0 11.9 3.1
2005 52 795 597 198 15.2 11.4 3.8
2006 52 771 585 186 14.8 11.3 3.6
2007 52 801 595 206 15.5 11.5 4.0
2008 51 751 620 131 14.6 12.1 2.5
2009 51 695 640 55 13.6 12.5 1.1 1,67
2010 51 746 698 48 14.7 13.8 0.9 1,89
2011 51 688 560 128 13.6 11.1 2.5 1,81
2012 51 711 580 131 14.0 11.4 2.6 1,97
2013 51 662 533 129 13.1 10.5 2.6 1,91
2014 51 690 551 139 13.7 10.9 2.8 2,04
2015 50 683 485 198 13.5 9.6 3.9 2,10(e)

Ethnic groups

According to the 2010 Census, the ethnic composition was:[10]

Historical figures are given below:

1939 Census 1959 Census 1970 Census 1979 Census 1989 Census 2002 Census 2010 Census1
Number  % Number  % Number  % Number  % Number  % Number  % Number  %
Chukchis 12,111 56.2% 9,975 21.4% 11,001 10.9% 11,292 8.1% 11,914 7.3% 12,622 23.5% 12,772 26.7%
Chuvans 944 0.6% 951 1.8% 897 1.9%
Yupik 800 3.7% 1,064 2.3% 1,149 1.1% 1,278 0.9% 1,452 0.9% 1,534 2.9% 1,529 3.2%
Evens 817 3.8% 820 1.8% 1,061 1.0% 969 0.7% 1,336 0.8% 1,407 2.6% 1,392 2.9%
Russians 5,183 24.1% 28,318 60.7% 70,531 69.7% 96,424 68.9% 108,297 66.1% 27,918 51.9% 25,068 52.5%
Ukrainians 571 2.7% 3,543 7.6% 10,393 10.3% 20,122 14.4% 27,600 16.8% 4,960 9.2% 2,869 6.0%
Others 2,055 9.5% 2,969 6.4% 7,049 7.0% 9,859 7.0% 12,391 7.6% 4,432 8.2% 2,961 6.2%
All 21,537 46,689 101,194 139,944 163,934 53,824 50,526
1 2,770 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.[22]

Ethnographic maps shows the Yupik peoples as the indigenous population of some villages near Provideniya, Chuvans in the Chuvanskoye village some 100 km west of Markovo, the Evens in some inland areas, and the Chukchi throughout the rest of the region.[23]


The Russian Orthodox Church in Chukotka is represented by the Eparchy (Diocese) of Anadyr and Chukotka (Russian: Анадырская и Чукотская епархия). The controversial conservative Bishop of Anadyr and Chukotka, Diomid, who had occupied the Anadyr see since 2000 and had been instrumental in the development of the church in the peninsula, was removed by the Holy Synod in the summer of 2008. The diocese has been since run by the archbishop of Khabarovsk and the River, Mark (Tuzhikov) (ru).


The current governor of Chukotka is Roman Kopin. He replaced business oligarch Roman Abramovich in July 2008. Abramovich had spent over US$1 billion in the region (partly as normal tax payments) on developing infrastructure and providing direct aid to the inhabitants[24] during his time as governor from 2000. In 2004 there were also reports, however, that Chukotka gave Abramovich's company Sibneft tax breaks in excess of US$450 million.[25]

See also



  1. Law #45-OZ
  2. Президент Российской Федерации. Указ №849 от 13 мая 2000 г. «О полномочном представителе Президента Российской Федерации в федеральном округе». Вступил в силу 13 мая 2000 г. Опубликован: "Собрание законодательства РФ", №20, ст. 2112, 15 мая 2000 г. (President of the Russian Federation. Decree #849 of May 13, 2000 On the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in a Federal District. Effective as of May 13, 2000.).
  3. Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
  4. Resolution of December 10, 1930
  5. Charter of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Article 16
  6. Official website of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Roman Valentinovich Kopin, Governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Russian) Archived April 18, 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Charter of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Article 40
  8. Charter of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Article 27
  9. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  11. The density value was calculated by dividing the population reported by the 2010 Census by the area shown in the "Area" field. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox is not necessarily reported for the same year as the population.
  12. Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Territorial Branch of the Federal State Statistics Service. Численность населения Чукотского автономного округа (Russian)
  13. Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №248-ФЗ от 21 июля 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #248-FZ of July 21, 2014 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
  14. Official on the whole territory of Russia according to Article 68.1 of the Constitution of Russia.
  15. WWF International, The Bering Sea Ecoregion, Chukotka's Natural Heritage at a Glance (online version PDF)
  16. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  21. Каталог публикаций::Федеральная служба государственной статистики
  22. ВПН-2010
  23. Map 3.6 (Chukotskiy Avtonomnyi Okrug) from the series prepared for the INSROP (International Northern Sea Route Programme) Working Paper No. 90 in 1997.
  24. What Abramovich may do with his money BBC News, 29 September 2005
  25. Abramovich region found bankrupt BBC News, 21 May 2004


  • Дума Чукотского автономного округа. Закон №45-ОЗ от 4 октября 2000 г. «О гимне Чукотского автономного округа». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Крайний Север", №2 (1243), 12 января 2001 г. (Duma of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Law #45-OZ of October 4, 2000 On the Anthem of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Effective as of the day of official publication.).
  • Дума Чукотского автономного округа. №26-ОЗ 28 ноября 1997 г. «Устав Чукотского автономного округа», в ред. Закона №33-ОЗ от 5 мая 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в Устав Чукотского автономного округа». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Ведомости", №5, 19 декабря 1997 г. (Duma of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. #26-OZ November 28, 1997 Charter of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, as amended by the Law #33-OZ of May 5, 2015 On Amending the Charter of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Effective as of the day of the official publication.).
  • Всероссийский центральный исполнительный комитет. Постановление от 10 декабря 1930 г. «Об организации национальных объединений в районах расселения малых народностей Севера». (All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Resolution of December 10, 1930 On the Organization of the Ethnic Clusters in the Areas of Settlement of the Small-Numbered Peoples of the North. ).

Further reading

  • Josh Newell, The Russian Far East. A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development, 2004

External links