The island was discovered by Boris Vilkitsky in 1913, but its insularity wasn’t proven until 1931, when Georgy Ushakov and Nikolay Urvantsev charted the archipelago during their 1930–32 expedition.
The area of this island has been estimated at 11,312 km². The island is mountainous reaching a height of 935 m, and it houses an arctic base named Prima. About 30% of the island is covered by glaciers, while the coastal plains have a sparse vegetation of moss and lichen. Its northwestern shore has some fjords; the most important are: Fiord Tel'mana, Fiord Spartak and Fiord Partizan.
Bolshevik Island houses at least three glacier systems: Leningrad and Semenov-Tyan Shansky glaciers, as well as a smaller glacier, Kropotkin.
Ostrov Tash is a small island located on Bolshevik's southern shore. Lavrov Island is located off the NE shore and Ostrov Lishniy off its northern tip.
There has been a request to rename Bolshevik island Svyataya Olga (St. Olga).
The weather on the island is extremely cold; the annual average temperature is −16 °C.