This paper briefly reviews the physical and human geography of the Kamchatka region and summarises previous research on Holocene climate dynamics. We provide context for the rest of the Special Issue of the Journal Global and Planetary Change entitled 'Holocene climate change in Kamchatka', the primary focus of which is the use of lake sediment records for palaeoclimatic inferences. In this paper an additional perspective from ongoing tree ring, ice core and borehole temperature reconstructions illustrates that the Kamchatka region is rich in paleoclimatic proxies. The period of the last 200 years is sufficiently covered by the proxy information, including reconstructions with annual resolution. In this period the tree-rings, ice cores, boreholes, and glacier fluctuations recorded a 1 °C warming and a general glacier retreat, i.e. the transition from the Little Ice Age climate to the modern one. Although the proxies have different resolution, accuracy and seasonality in general they demonstrate a coherent picture of environmental changes in the last two centuries. The tree ring and ice core records are up to four-six hundred years long and they provide information on annual to decadal variability of summer temperature, accumulation processes, volcanic eruptions and lahar activity.