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Matua Island,

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Matua is home to one of the Kuril’s most active volcanoes, with more than 14 documented eruptions in the past 250 years. Singing Eurasian Bullfinches, Siberian Rubythroats, ravens, Eye-browed Thrushes and some very active Peregrine Falcons are among the birds that can be spotted from the upper plateau of Matua either along dirt roads, or in dense thickets of alders. Disappearing into the vegetation of Matua is a Japanese military base that was set up here during WWII. The Japanese inhabitants captured geothermal heat from the volcano to keep the runway open during winter. The newest building on uninhabited Matua is a tiny Russian Orthodox Church with room for four or five people inside. The expertly crafted wooden structure stands on the island’s edge above a cliff and commands a marvelous view of the bay below.

Matua Island,

Matua Island,