Vladivostok (Владивосток) is situated in the extreme south-west of Russia on a peninsula that extends into the Sea of Japan (see map). With a population of roughly 650,000 inhabitants, Vladivostok serves as Russia's chief port on the Pacific, the terminus of the Trans-Siberian railway, plus the capital of the maritime territory, Primorsky Kray. Its port, which was off limits to foreign shipping from 1958 to 1991, is once again an important commercial port, as well as the home to Russia's Pacific fleet and a base for Russian fishing and whaling.
Founded as a military post in 1860, Vladivostok is relatively young compared with many Russian cities. Despite this fact, the city has seen an extremely colorful history. It served as an outpost for Russian expansion in the far east, a naval base for the Russian Empire, a supply depot for 2 world wars, a refuge for counterrevolutionaries, and a closed naval base of the Soviet Union.
In 1991 Vladivostok was officially reopened to foreigners and foreign shipping. Since this time it has quickly regained its title as a cosmopolitan city. Now there are foreign consulates, correspondent offices of international media, hundreds of foreign firms opening district offices and creating joint venture enterprises, plus scores of foreign students studying in the cities higher educational institutes.
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