Description: Chain of about 50 small islands belonging to Russia, stretching from the northeast of Hokkaido, Japan, to the south of Kamchatka, Russia, area 14,765 sq km/5,700 sq mi; population (1990 est) 25,000. The islands include many volcanoes, 35 of which are still active; there are also many hot springs. Offshore is the Kuril Trench, one of the deepest ocean areas in the world, which reaches a depth of 10.5 km/6.5 mi. Two of the Kurils (Etorofu and Kunashiri) are claimed by Japan for historical reasons; they are of strategic importance and have mineral deposits. The surrounding waters are rich in salmon and cod.