Bilibino, Russia


Bilibino is a city (since 1993) in Russia, the administrative center of the Bilibino region of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug.



The city is located at the confluence of the Karalveem River with the Bolshoi Keperveem River (Kolyma basin) on the left side, 653 km from Anadyr. The distance to Magadan is 1160 km, to Moscow - 6500 km.



Bilibino is one of the largest settlements in Chukotka. Its population is about 5,500 people, by Chukchi standards, this is a large figure, about 10% of the total population of the ChAO. Against the background of other settlements of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, it is distinguished by two features: the first, it has the status of a city, and the second is that Bilibino is located in the depths of the mainland. All major cities and towns of Chukotka are located on the shores of the Arctic or Pacific Oceans. There are only three cities in Chukotka, these are the aforementioned Bilibino, as well as Pevek and the capital Anadyr. Pevek is the northernmost city in Russia and is an important port on the Northern Sea Route in the eastern sector of the Russian Arctic, while Anadyr is located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Along the ocean coast are the largest Chukotka urban settlements and settlements: Egvekinot, Coal Mines, Providence, Lavrentia, Beringovsky. The coastal location makes these settlements more accessible for the delivery of goods, therefore, in comparison with them, it is not so easy to deliver goods and consumer goods to Bilibino, located in the depths of the mainland.

It is the remoteness from the main transport routes that makes Bilibino one of the most expensive cities in Russia to live in. Why do 5,500 people live in such a "backwoods"? The city was founded in 1955, when the first placer gold of industrial concentration was discovered in the valley of the Karalvaam River, and since then the flywheel of construction and industrial development has only been gaining momentum. By 1989, 15,558 people already lived in Bilibino. By the way, 1989 was the year of the greatest prosperity for the entire Russian Arctic, then, at the end of the 1980s, the maximum number of people was concentrated there in the entire history of the development of the North. During Soviet times, new settlements were built throughout the Far North-East of our country, new deposits were developed, people moved here from central Russia to live and work.

In 1991, the country fell apart, but hunger, devastation and general impoverishment did not reach Chukotka immediately. A wave of nationwide disaster reached the easternmost part of Russia by the year 1995, and in just 5 years an apartment in Bilibino cost some 5,000 rubles, and this at a salary of local gold miners of 10-15 thousand rubles and with the price of a Bilibino-Moscow plane about 4 -6 thousand rubles (an apartment for the price of a plane ticket!). At that strange time, the population of Chukotka and the neighboring Magadan region decreased by two-thirds (60%!). In Chukotka, entire villages were closed, people were resettled to the mainland, for example, to Voronezh and Belgorod. So in Bilibino, from the former 15,558 inhabitants, about 5,500 remained.


Bilibino in our time, or the life of an ordinary person

Due to the fact that Bilibino has lost two-thirds of the population, two-thirds of the houses in the city are abandoned. Those who decided to stay in the north were relocated to several neighborhoods in which life is supported, the rest of the microdistricts are slowly falling apart - they can no longer be restored. Since all abandoned houses stand apart from residential ones, there is no feeling of general devastation and hopelessness in Bilibino. Some houses have recently been painted with multi-colored paints, and now they do not look as dull as their gray counterparts, which have not yet reached the turn of painting.

As I wrote above, the specific location of Bilibino in the depths of the mainland, far from land and sea transport routes, makes it difficult to access, but not for people (you can almost always fly here without much difficulty by plane, though for fabulous money), but for goods . Imagine for yourself that a resident of Bilibino buys a car (if he does not buy one of those that are already in Bilibino), he needs to do the following. Somehow get out to Vladivostok or another major city in Russia, buy a car and then send the car to Bilibino. The car will make the following long journey: first, on the train platform to Vladivostok, then it will be reloaded onto a ship and sent to Magadan, then from there, with the help of a truck, it will be transported along the Kolyma highway to Seimchan (a port in the upper reaches of the Kolyma River), in Seimchan the car will be reloaded on a river boat and sent down the river to the village of Anyuisk, and only there the owner will be able to receive his vehicle. At the same time, from Anyuisk, the car will need to be driven 250 km along a gravel (year-round) road to Bilibino. Compare this with how an ordinary resident of a metropolis like Moscow or Novosibirsk buys a car in a car dealership.

One of the summer transport routes is described above, through which various food and household goods can get to Bilibino. In the same way, on a passing ship along the Kolyma River, I ended up in Chukotka as part of my journey through the Russian Far East. Another way to Bilibino also starts from Vladivostok. The ship goes to Chukotka past the coast of Kamchatka, the destination may be the village of Egvekinot or Pevek. It is these two settlements that are connected with Bilibino through the summer road network of the fifth category (otherwise “just to drive”), this road network operates from mid-July (it is at this time that the flood ends on the rivers) until mid-September (rarely until the end of the month, in depending on when it snows). From Egvekinot to Bilibino more than 1000 km in one direction, the road is difficult and dangerous (local drivers would add that you can’t drive there sober), there are no bridges across most of the rivers and you have to wade them. They rarely travel alone on such roads, more often in columns. From Pevek to Bilibino, about 650 km along the summer road, it is also not easy, as it passes through the mountains. Pevek accepts ships not only from Vladivostok, but also those that came along the Northern Sea Route from Murmansk or Arkhangelsk.

Such complex logistics often double the price of durable goods such as buckwheat or potatoes. In a short summer, you need to bring goods for the whole year in advance, but prices in stores do not change throughout the year. But if something ends faster than planned, then in winter you have to use an airplane to deliver cargo, and this leads to a rise in the cost of goods at times. So, by the beginning of spring, potatoes can cost 300-400 rubles per kilo, a dozen eggs about 200, bananas 600-700 rubles per kilogram, greens about 2000 per kilo. In winter. in addition to the plane, you can bring goods along the winter road along the route Yakutsk - Ust-Nera - Zyryanka - Srednekolymsk - Anyuisk - Bilibino, but it also operates from mid-February to April (only two months!). And how much can you bring on KAMAZ for a city with a population of 5,500 people.

Of course, most of the inhabitants are engaged in fishing, hunting and gathering berries and mushrooms. If you do not make any stocks for the winter in the summer and eat only food from the store, then no money will be enough.

Another thing familiar to a resident of a metropolis, like fast unlimited Internet, also appeared quite recently, just a couple of years ago. Even 5 years ago, the inhabitants of Chukotka, as well as Magadan or Kamchatka, once every two years (due to preferential leave, i.e. when they pay for the flight for the whole family) flew to the mainland and there, with relatives or friends, downloaded films and music on portable hard drives for two years in advance.

Mobile communications in Chukotka appeared for the first time in 2008!

Life in the Far North-East of the country is completely different from life in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and even Siberia. On the other hand, how interesting it is when such reserved corners still remain in the globalized world.



Bilibino Museum of Local Lore G.S. Glazyrina.
In 1968, a monument to Yu. A. Bilibin was opened. The pedestal was a huge ice age boulder weighing about 20 tons. In the niche of the pedestal there is a bust of Yuri Alexandrovich Bilibin.
A metal composition dedicated to the 45th anniversary of Bilibino, on the square in front of the cinema building.
The observation deck on the Orbita hill offers a beautiful view of the entire city.



The tundra climate is very cold throughout the year. According to the Köppen climate classification - Arctic climate (ET index). The average annual temperature is −13.9 ° C, with about 198 mm of precipitation falling annually.



Bilibino is connected with the settlements of the region, mines and the city of Pevek by numerous dirt roads and winter roads. A wide pebble-and-earth highway was built connecting the regional center with the seaport on the Kolyma River - Cape Verde, from where the main supply of the city with everything necessary is carried out.

Air communication with the city is carried out through the Keperveyem airport, located in the village of the same name, where a 36-kilometer year-round road of IV category with a hard (unpaved) surface is laid.

There are two bus routes: one city and one suburban "Bilibino - Keperveem". They are serviced by the municipal auto transport enterprise of the Bilibino municipal district. Rolling stock: LAZ-695N, MAZ-103.