Russia’s eastern port city of Vladivostok serves as Russia’s gateway to Asia and the home of its Pacific Fleet. Founded in the mid-19th century as an imperial outpost on the borders with China and Korea, Vladivostok’s name translates into English as “Ruler of the East.” But like much of Russia outside of Moscow, St. Petersburg and predominantly Muslim pockets such as Tatarstan, Vladivostok and the surrounding regions face an unrelenting demographic reality.
Russia’s population is shrinking, and Moscow has little hope of a demographic revival. Russia’s aging workforce is not being replaced by a younger generation of workers, and Russian culture and political realities do not easily accept immigrants. With both its domestic productive and consumer bases dwindling, the future does not bode well for the Russian economy – even with its energy and mineral resources.
Nowhere will this be more apparent than in locations like Vladivostok. Fully seven time zones removed from the Russian core, Vladivostok sits nearly alone. While Siberia makes up more than three quarters of Russia’s land mass, it accounts for less than 10% of its population.
For more on Russia’s role in the world to come, see Chapter 10 of The Accidental Superpower.