Vladivostok - city in the Russian Far East
Vladivostok ("Lord of the East" in Russian) is located less than 100 km East the Chinese border, and just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu. Home base of the Russian Pacific Fleet, the city was closed to all non-Soviets from 1958 until 1991.
Between its founding in 1860 and closing to foreigners in 1958, Vladivostok was a fairly international city. In the early part of the 20th century, Russians were actually outnumbered by Chinese in Vladivostok, and during the years following the Revolution, there were large Japanese and US populations. The US maintained a consulate in Vladivostok until 1948.
Vladivostok became Russia's main naval base in the East after Port Arthur (located in Chinese territory and ceded to Russia in 1898) fell in January 1905, during the Russo-Japanese war.
Modern Vladivostok has been compared to the American West during the Gold Rush years. Businesses from all over the world have flooded in to take advantage of the city's position as a crossroads of Northeast Asia.
Vladivostok's crime rate and cost of living are among the highest in Russia, and the city is reported to be a hotbed of mafia activity.