Map of the Island of Sakhalin


This map of Sakhalin Island, located just off the Pacific coast in the Russian Far East, was published in 1885. Russia and Japan had maintained competing claims over Sakhalin (Karafuto in Japanese) since at least the 18th century, and effectively split the island after the Treaty of Shimoda of 1855. Before this, imperial China had exerted nominal sovereignty over the island as far back as the Yuan and Ming Dynasties in the 13th and 14th centuries. The name Sakhalin itself possibly derives from a Manchu term used extensively within the region. Following the Treaty of Saint Petersburg in 1875, Russia gained full control over Sakhalin in exchange for ceding all the Kurile Islands to Japan. This map reflects the 30-year period after 1875 when Russia ruled the entire island (up to the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, when, in the Treaty of Portsmouth, Japan regained southern Sakhalin as far north as the 50th parallel). The map scale is in versts, a tsarist-era unit of distance equal to 1.07 kilometers, and water depths in sazhens, (one sazhen = 2.13 meters). The map shows relief and underwater shoals by shading. Place-names are provided for towns, native communities (Gilyak or Nivkh, and Orokh), rivers, lakes, and larger bodies of water. Most of the place-names are in Russian, although several are transliterated from Japanese and local native languages, reflecting the multicultural history of the island. Two map insets magnify key parts of Sakhalin. One shows a southern peninsula and a west-central region around the town of Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinskiy. The second inset shows the location and layout of a penal colony in some detail. The Russian writer Anton Chekhov spent time in Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinskiy in the late 19th century and wrote a searing account of the penal colony there that became famous in literary circles across Russia and eventually in the wider world.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Карта острова Сахалин

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : color


  • Map scale approximately 1:1,680,000

Last updated: December 11, 2017