Shumshu Island, Russia
Shumshu sits off the tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, northernmost island in the Kuril chain. Unlike the other Kurils, Shumshu is not of volcanic origin — although its low-lying terrain gets coated in ash whenever an active volcano erupts on nearby Paramushir. Its name, which means “good island,” comes from the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan who originally settled here. Shumshu was the northern stronghold for Japanese forces during World War II, as well as the site of one of the war’s final battles when Soviet troops landed here in August 1945. Visitors can explore the Japanese airfield, planes, and tanks left abandoned to the elements. Only 100 or so people live on the island today, sharing its coastline with otters, seals, and myriad seabirds.