Sakhalin, a Russian island off the northeastern coast of Asia. It lies between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan, separated from Siberia by Tatar Strait and from Hokkaido, Japan, by La Perouse Strait. About 590 miles (950 km) long and 15 to 100 miles (24 to 160 km) wide, Sakhalin has an area of 28,597 square miles (74,066 km2). Mountain ranges, reaching nearly 5,300 feet (1,615 m), run the length of the island.
Many of the people live by fishing; the island is not well suited to farming, and only a few hardy crops are grown. Other economic activities include lumbering, coal-mining, and petroleum extracting. Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, the administrative center, and Aleksandrovsk Sakhalinskiy are the principal cities.
Sakhalin was explored by Russians in the 17th century and colonized by Russia and Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1875 Russia gained the entire island and established a penal colony on it. The southern part, called Karafuto by the Japanese, was granted to Japan in 1905 as a concession following the Russo-Japanese War. It was returned to Russia in 1947, after Japan's defeat in World War II.