• Contested territories
  • Area 10,503.2 km²
  • Population 19,434

The Kuril Islands (Russian: Кури́льские острова́, Japanese: Kuriru rettō (クリル列島)) form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300 km between Japan and Russia. They are under Russian jurisdiction, but Japan claims the four southernmost islands, which they call the ‘Northern Territories’. They were under Japanese control between 1855 and 1945 but were seized by Russia after World War II. The Japanese population living on the islands was forced to moved by Russia to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Ainu, the indigenous people who live on the lands surrounding the Sea of Okhotsk, also claim sovereignty over the islands. The disputed are Iturup/Etorofu, Kunashir /Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai Islands.