The Kuril Islands are a chain of 22 primary islands and 32 small islets in off the eastern coast of Russia, part of Sakhalinskaya Oblast (Сахалинская область). The 22 primary islands are: Antsiferova, Atlasova, Broutona, Chirinkotan, Chirpoy, Ekarma, Habomai Islands, Iturup, Ketoy, Kharimkotan, Kunashir, Makanrushi, Matua, Onekotan, Paramushir, Raikoke, Rasshua, Shiashkotan, Shumshu, Simushir, Urup & Ushishir. The official names of these big islands derived from both the Japanese and the Russians. These islands sits on top of two topographical compositions: the Greater Kuril Ridge and the Lesser Kuril Ridge. Both of these ridges parallel one another, one from the North end and the South. The deepest recorded depth from the Kuril Islands is a strait that measures 6,561 feet below sea level & the highest recorded peak is on an island named, Vulkan Alaid, that measures 7,673 feet above sea level. The largest gap of one strait recorded is 37 miles wide.
The Kurils once completely belonged to Russia, but Japan began to control parts of the islands from the South by 1855. During World War II the Japanese supposedly thought they overtook all of the islands. Russia then seized them from Japan after the end of WWII - but sovereignty over parts of the islands still remains in dispute. Japan refused to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia because of disputes over the territories, especially Sakhalin. The Kuril Islands were first occupied by the natives most of whom are the Russians that have lived there for more than a century under the once Soviet Union's rule. In time the islands came under the Japanese's radar as they first sought an opportunity to conquer the South end of the islands and began occupying it (the same towards the North). But the Russians did not back down. The Russians reoccupied the islands and Kuril Islands (as a whole) was added as part of the Yalta Agreement of 1945. The Japanese considers the Kuril Islands to be their most northern part of their territory, while the Russian sees Kuril Islands as a window of opportunity to expand their military bases towards the South.
1.http://oceandots.com/pacific/kuril/ Oceandots.com (The Island Encyclopedia). Kuril Islands. Copyright 2011. 2.http://www.fortunecity.com/olympia/ince/698/rurik/kuril.html Fortunecity.com. History of the Kuril Islands c1800-1945. Copyright 2011. 3.http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Kuril_Islands New World Encyclopedia. Kuril Islands. Copyright 04-17-2008.