The city of Okhotsk is located on the banks of the Okhota River that gives its name to both the town and the surrounding sea. For many years Okhotsk was the most important port in the Russian Far East. It was from here that Vitus Bering left for his two expeditions in the early 18th century, but the town had lost its importance in the 19th century and today counts only about 4,000 inhabitants. The puddled, unpaved streets give visitors the feeling of having stepped back in time. There are few signs of any 21st-century conveniences, but monuments honoring Russia’s Communist past, including a large statue of Lenin, tower over the town.