The city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was founded in 1740 by Vitus Bering on his first voyage exploring the North Pacific. He named the city for his two ships, Peter and Paul. Although few Koryaks live in Petropavlovsk (not to be confused with the Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan), it is the major port for the peninsula.
It has a population of about 200,000, which is nearly half of the entire population of Kamchatka. The nearby city of Yelizovo (pop. 40,000) has the international air port, with twice-weekly flights to Anchorage, Alaska on Alaskan Airways. It is also accessible on Aeroflot from Khabarovsk, Vladivostock, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
In addition to being a major commercial port, Petropavlovsk also has the distinction of being home to Russia's Pacific nuclear submarine fleet. This and other military installations make Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka a difficult place to visit, despite Yeltsin's decree in 1991, opening the peninsula to all visitors. Foreign visitors should have local cities and towns listed directly on their visas, and be prepared for close scrutiny of all your documents the minute your plane lands. Don't let these inconveniences deter you, however. The people are friendly, and the landscape is wonderful!
Before the Soviets closed the region after World War II, Kamchatka was a regular stop for trading ships from the United States, Japan, Canada, and many European countries. Yeltsin opened the closed region in 1991, and it is quickly integrating into the Pacific Rim social and economic region.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is an important port as well as a centre of industry, science and adventure tourism.
There are no tall buildings in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky because of earthquake risks, the city consists mostly of Soviet-style 5-storey buildings and even its long-time residents make no claims about Petropavlovsk's beauty. Nevertheless, there are still many interesting things to see. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is a big sea port, a city with dramatic history and incredibly beautiful surroundings. Visit the fishing and trading ports, Lenin Square with most of the government buildings and the main theaters and museums, enjoy a magnificent view of the volcanoes surrounding the city - Avachinsky, Koryaksky and Kozelsky, learn about the city's past as a home-base for military submarine fleet. The 18 monuments of Petropavlovsk reflect the stages of the city's exciting history.