POLAR EXPEDITION

KARTESH

Логотип проекта "Полярная экспедиция "Картеш"
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Expedition route

This page features and describes certain waypoints of the Kartesh Arctic Expeditions. Expedition participants have already visited several of these locations. We are planning to visit other waypoints during the upcoming expeditions. 

Rybachy Peninsula

Rybachy Peninsula is the most northerly point of the continental European Russia, and its visitors describe it as the edge of the world. This is a land of austerity, mystery and myth.


The history of the peninsula dates back to the dawn of times. The Pomor fishermen visited Rybachy since ancient times. Norwegians and Finns lived on the peninsula in XIX – early XX century. Rybachy Peninsula was an arena for stiff battles during the Great Patriotic war: being the Red Army outpost, Rybachy took a devastating strike of the Nazi invaders and heroically held out. There are several memorials and commemoration sites on the peninsula, and untouched WWII artefacts can be found among countless hills.

As Norway, a member of NATO, is in immediate vicinity if the peninsula, several military bases were set up right after WWII. Most of them are now non-operational.

The northernmost point of the peninsula is Cape Nemetsky (translated as German); it takes its name from Norwegians and Danes who lived there previously. One of the peninsula’s place of interest, a lighthouse, is situated there. Apart from that, there is a unique natural landmark – two 30m (100 ft) cliffs named Two Brothers – on Sredny (middle) peninsula, which is tied to Rybachy with an isthmus.

Kildin Island

Kildin is a small island in the Barents Sea about 1500 meters (0.9 miles) from the Murman coast of the Kola Peninsula. The island is 17,6 km (10 miles) long by 7 km (3.5 miles) wide. Kildin Island is a sandstone and slate plateau, up to 281 m (900 feet) in elevation; it drops sharply to the sea on the north and west, and broad terraces slide down to the south and east. The dominant vegetation is tundra flora. In the interior there is a relict lake, Lake Mogilnoe, inhabited by both marine and freshwater species. Kildin Strait, which separates it from the mainland, is 19 km (10 miles) long and varies in width from 4 km (2.4 miles) to 700 km (about half a mile). The depth ranges from 29 m (95 ft) to 142 m (466 ft). The coast is steep and cliffy.


Kildin strair is specified in Johan van Keulen’s 1682 atlas as well as in a 1790 Dutch atlas. It was explored by the 1822 Fyodor Litke expedition.

Teriberka

Teriberka is a small settlement located on the Barents Sea coast. The settlement has been well known among the Pomor since early 16th century, and the 1601 Flemish map indicated the settlement as Teribery. Teriberka was first mentioned in Russian historical records approximately in 1608. The settlement used to be an important waypoint for merchants, and the locals were engaged in fishery. By the end of 19th century, it was well developed, having two churches, a lighthouse, and the first ever weather station on the Murman coast. After the Great Patriotic war, Teriberka developed quickly: the population grew rapidly, reaching over 4500 inhabitants. Apart from fishing farms, there were a dairy farm and a reindeer herd. Unfortunately, the settlement began falling into decay in 1960s. As of today, the population of Teriberka is less than 1000 inhabitants. There are unique boulder beaches and the Teriberka waterfall in the vicinity of the settlement.

Dalniye Zelentsy

Rural locality Dalniye Zelentsy is located on the Barents Sea coast, and its history is directly linked with the efforts of Soviet scientists. During the 1930-s they founded the Murmansk biological station, later reorganized into one of the country’s best institutes, Murmansk Biological Institute. The USSR scientists first started deep submergence technology development in Dalniye Zelentsy. However, the institute was later moved to Murmansk, and the locality deteriorated.


Currently there are no residents in the locality, but the diving and fishing enthusiasts took fancy to the area and set up a holiday camp there. 

Rynda

During the first half of the XX century, fishing village Rynda was one of the largest on the Barents Sea coast, estimated up to 60 residential houses. The village is currently abandoned and is officially inexistent. Nevertheless, the only residents are a native of Rynda and his wife who visit Rynda in summer. Most of the buildings including a local church are dilapidated. The village is accessible only via a helicopter.

The only place of interest in Rynda is a lighthouse situated on an island nearby. Norwegian sailors erected it in 1905.


On the August 15, 1914 the ship, Svyatoy Muchenik Foka (Saint Martyr Foka), brought survivors of Georgy Sedov expedition, as well as Valerian Albanov and Alexander Konrad from Georgy Brusilov expedition, exactly to the village of Rynda.

Right at the site of 1914 expedition arrival, Polar Expedition Kartesh project fixed up a 3.4m (11ft) high larch cross and a Russian tricolored flag (identical to the one St. Foka was flying), as part of the 2015 Kartesh Arctic Expedition.

Kharlov Island

There is a picturesque archipelago Sem’ Ostrovov (Seven Islands) near the northern coast of Kola Peninsula. Kharlov Island is the largest one in the archipelago. Sami, Kola’s natives, angled here since XVI century. A lighthouse and a weather station were built on the island in the early XX century. The station recorded the highest wind speed in Russia, 187 kph (116 mph). The station was shut down in 2009, and on November 23, 2009 Ostrov Kharlov (Kharlov Island) locality ceased to be, as there were no standard residential population on the island any longer.


The island still attracts ornithologists from all over Russia, as thousands of polar birds (seagulls, guillemots, kittiwakes) nest on the cliffs of the islands. Despite this hard-to-reach polar station was closed, the scientists still use it as a base point. 

Cape Svyatoy Nos

Cape Svyatoy Nos (Holy Nose) is located on the peninsula of the same name and is a conventional border between the Barents Sea and the White Sea. If an observer stands on the edge of the cape, he/she will see a color boundary: the seas’ colors are different.
The cape got its bizarre name due to the Novgorod merchants, who recognized a nose-shaped figure in the cape’s cliffs. The Norwegians called the cape Vegestad – the route rock – as when mariners reached the cape, they changed direction of sailing.
The cape has its own legend. It says that giant worms inhabited the coast and sank ships, but Saint Varlaam of Keret Lake rescued the cape from the evil by his prayers and ordeals. The locals started to call the cape Holy from that time on.


There are currently a lighthouse (one of the oldest in the Russian North) and a weather station on the cape. Several people are living there in Spartan conditions. A motor boat delivers groceries and other goods once or several times a year.
A memorial cross to “The Pomor who glorified the Russian land” is fixed up on the edge of the cape. 

Cape Orlovsko-Tersky

The major place of interest of the cape and the whole Tersky Coast is Orlovsky Lighthouse, the oldest stone lighthouse on the Kola Peninsula. The lighthouse is essential for the seamen, as there is a so-called The White Sea Throat in the close vicinity of the cape, which is a highly hazardous area, where tide-induced underwater currents are coupled with rocky shallow waters.
The Solovki monks built the lighthouse in 1841 as well as a stone house for the lighthouse keeper. Here we should mention that the life of a lighthouse keeper in severe conditions of the Far North was merciless; about 50 keepers died of scurvy in the XIX century.


Three generations of the Kukoverkov family have been the Orlovsko-Tersky lighthouse keepers for 45 years: Kuzma Kukoverkov worked as a lighthouse keeper from 1877 until 1889, then his son Alexander continued to work until 1920, and later his grandson Nikolay took over. Here, we should specifically mention Kuzma’s wife, Tatiana Kukoverkova. She was born in a family of merchants but became an orphan. Her relative, a pharmacy assistant, took her in and taught her the art of healing. Once married, she found herself at the edge of the world and could put her knowledge and experience into practice by helping the locals. She treated people and largely improved prosperity of the area by securing loans and welfares for the fishermen. Moreover, she dedicated time to the lifesaving society. The locals thought highly of Tatiana and worshipped her, calling her Mother of Sami and Sami Tsaritsa. Russian Emperor Alexander III heard about Kukoverkova from one of his officials and said, “It is so presumptuous to be called a Tsaritsa, even among the Laplanders. Let her be the Queen of Lapps.” This nickname stuck to her.


There are currently nine people living in the lighthouse. Their life is not much different from the XIX century existence. There is no TV, no cell phone coverage, they get mail once a month at best, and have to wait several weeks for a ship to get to the Mainland. 

Sosnovka Village

There is only one Sami settlement on the southeastern coast of the Kola Peninsula, Sosnovka village. Kanevsky and Lunbovsky settlements merged into Sosnovka in the early XIX century. It is known that during the Crimean War the British sacked the village.
There were 48 dwellers in 1914 living in the village. Apart from the Lapps' houses, it had a barn and a Church in the name of Alexy, the man of God. The locals were involved in salmon fishing, seal hunting and deer herding. A collective fishery as well as collective deer herd were established in the 1930s, and the church was turned into the local club.


As of today, the population of Sosnovka is approximately 50 people who are engaged into fishing, deer herding and mushroom and berries foraging, just like in old times.

Pyalitsa Village

The history of Pyalitsa village goes back generations; this Pomor settlement was founded no later than early XVI century. By XVIII century, the village had had 11 homesteads and a saltern. The Swedes sacked Pyalitsa in 1701. In XIX century, the locals erected a St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church, and the population was numbered at 170 people.
During Perestroika, the settlement sank into degradation: the collective fishery was merged with the neighbouring one, and as a result, the locals were deprived of cattle and equipment.


There are currently 14 people living in Pyalitsa. A brand new wind-diesel power station was fixed up here in 2014. 

Chapoma

A hard-to-reach populated locality Chapoma is one of the oldest Pomor settlements, which dates back to XVI century. The Pomor, the Karelians, the fled marksmen (Streltsy) and the Solovki monks lived there. The locals were engaged into salmon fishing and seal hunting. In 1873, Chapoma peasants erected an Orthodox church, and in 1878 they fixed up an iconostasis covered with gold foil. In 1930, the church was demolished, and the remained materials served for building the local community center. There were around 400 people in Chapoma during Soviet times.


There are currently 80 people living in Chapoma. The village celebrated its 400 anniversary in June 2013. The dwellers of Chapoma have a nickname – crows for acting assertively and loudly, and always together.


There is a local nature place of interest some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the village, Chapoma waterfall, the tallest waterfall on the Kola Peninsula. Water falls from a height of 20 meters (66 feet). Chapoma Waterfall is a state hydrologic natural monument since 1986. 

Tetrino Village

The village is first mentioned in the XVI century chronicles: Elder Yefrem from Nikolo-Korela monastery was making salt there. A small settlement emerged there afterwards; by 1785, Tetrino had had five houses. The settlement developed, and in the middle of XIX century there were 26 homesteads. The locals built a church of Holy Trinity in 1845. During the Crimean War Tetrino shared the fate of the local villages and was looted by the British.
Over 400 people lived in the village in the late XIX century. The locals built a school and was engaged into fishing and seal hunting. After the 1917 revolution Tetrino farms were turned into collective households - kolkhozes. As of now, there are 18 people living in the village.


The inhabitants of Tetrino have their own nickname – dogs for their 'loud and chopped, brisk voice'

Chavanga Village

Judging by chronicles, Chavanga is one of the youngest villages on the Kola Peninsula. It originally belonged to the Solovki monks, and later merged with the Tetrino volost. In 1863, Chavanga locals built a church. In 1914, the population of the village numbered 333 inhabitants and there were 52 homesteads. In 1931, a fishery collective farm was founded; it operates until now. The locals are engaged into fishing, hunting and deer herding. A hydropower station was built in 1950, and a weather station was set up within easy reach of the village, by the Chavanga river mouth.


Chavanga’s “landmark” is a herd of Yakut horses, brought here in the late 1980s. The horses belong to Chavanga’s collective farm, but they thrived and now are moving freely along the Tersky coast.


In 1970s, soviet archeologists undertook archaeological excavation in Chavanga: an early man site dating 4th to 3rd millennia BC was found. Archeologists excavated various pottery vessels, silicon arrowheads and other household and hunting artefacts.
17 kilometers away from Chavanga there is one of three Kola Peninsula waterfalls. It consists of three cascades 2 meters (6.6 ft.), 3 meters (10 ft.), and 4.5 meters (14.7 ft.) high correspondingly. The waterfall got the State Hydrologic Natural Monument status in 1986.


The Chavanga villagers have a nickname – waders – because the village is located in a swampy area, and as the Russian saying goes, every wader boasts of its swamp (similar toevery bird thinks his own nest best).

Varzuga

Varzuga is a rural locality located on the banks of the similarly named river some 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) from its mouth. Varzuga is one of the oldest and the largest settlements on the Kola Peninsula. According to different sources, the locality was founded in XIV or XV century. The Solovki monks played the key role in establishing the locality; they opened a farmstead, fished salmon and in 1491, they consecrated the church in the name of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. In 1568 Varzuga was devastated by the oprichnina pogrom.


The settlement was abandoned, but the former life returned to Varzuga in the early XVII century. Official records indicate that by 1910, 1001 people lived in 161 homesteads. Educational facilities included a parochial school and a government college. A fishery collective farm was established in the Soviet times; it runs until today. Varzuga became one of the fishing tourism gems in the 90s; tourist camps and hostels emerge, and tourists (world celebrities among them) from more than 90 countries visit the village.


The main place of interest in Varzuga is a cathedral complex located on the Right (Prechistensky) riverbank. Uspenskaya (Assumption) tent Church is a wooden cathedral built without using nails in 1674. The church was not demolished in the Soviet period, as it was acknowledged as a monument of Russian Wooden Architecture of the XVII century. The church was repaired in 1973 and 2010. There is a church in the name of St. Athanasius the Great nearby; the Solovki monks built it in the late XV century. In 1932, it was turned into a club building, but returned to the flock only in 1999. A new belltower was erected nearby in 2001 instead of the tower, demolished in 1930s.


There are two churches on the Left (Nikola) riverbank: St. Peter and St. Paul church and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker church. They are currently under repairs. Furthermore, there is a museum of the Pomor culture in the village as well as a memorial cross, dedicated to the Russian north pioneers. There is a sacred spring several kilometers from the locality.

Kandalaksha

Kandalaksha is a town populated by more than 39 000 inhabitants and located at the head of Kandalaksha Gulf in the Murmansk Oblast. Kandalaksha was first mentioned in chronicles in 1517, but some historians argue that the town dates back to the IX century. Some scholars believe that the settlements on the site emerged as early as 7 000 years ago. The church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist was built in 1526 where the Sami were baptized; the Kandalaksha monastery was founded in 1548. In 1586, the town was ransacked by the oprichnina, with the monastery destroyed.


Foreign invaders often disturbed Kandalaksha. The Swedes repeatedly attacked the town in the late XVI century; during the Crimean war, the English and the French troops unsuccessfully tried to capture the town. In 1941, the Red Army prevented the Nazis from capturing the town; however, Luftwaffe bombers continuously strafed Kandalaksha.


The inhabitants of Kandalaksha were engaged into salmon and herring fishing, fur animals hunting, deer herding, cattle breeding and salt making since the old times. A sawmill plant was built in the town in the late XIX century; it was highly competitive with Scandinavian plants. In the early XX century, a Murmansk-Kandalaksha railroad was built as well as the dockyard. The region industrialization was intensified after the October Revolution: a fish cannery plant, an engineering works, and an aluminum smelter were constructed. A hydropower plant was being built simultaneously.


There are several places of interest near Kandalaksha, nature monuments among them: the sacred Sami stones, sieidis, Okatyeva hill, the Iron Gates ravine, and Kandalaksha labyrinth – a miraculous artificial monument of the ancient times; its intended purpose remains unknown until the present day. 

White Sea Biological Station (WSBS)

The White Sea Biological Station named after N.A. Pertsov is an internal structural unit of the Faculty of Biology of Moscow State University. It was built in 1936 as an educational and research center to train expert biologists.


The station is located on the Kindo Peninsula coast in Kandalaksha Gulf of the White Sea and is an isolated settlement accessible only via sea or by snowmobiles along power transmission lines in winter.


The station employees and students have an opportunity to study diverse White Sea fauna. Geologically wise, the White Sea is young; it emerged some 20 000 years ago. The age of the sea gives unique chance to study its fauna, flora and bottom deposits during their formation stage. Other curious facts to research into are saltwater and freshwater species coexistence as well as intersecting Arctic and Atlantic fauna. Thus, the White Sea is a one-of-a-kind natural laboratory.


The golden age of the station began in 1951 when Nikolay Pertsov became the director. He dedicated his life to the work on station: he cared about better living conditions and better research opportunities. A 3-storey wet lab complex with running seawater system was built in 1967. In 1970s, the station got its own research vessel, optimal for skin diving research works. Pertsov contributed to the electrification of the station as well.


During Perestroika and the 1990s, the station was stripped of financing which led to deterioration. Despite financial difficulties, the students and researchers continued their work at the station. Mid-2000s saw gradual improvements, as the old buildings were renovated and the new ones were constructed. The station territory is now covered with Wi-Fi and mobile communication. The station’s fleet is expanding, and now researchers have six vessels at their disposal. 

Nilmoguba

Nilmoguba is an old Karelian settlement on the White Sea coast; it got its name after the nearby river Nilma. The village has a diving center where tourists can rent diving equipment and submerge into the pure waters of the White Sea. Moreover, there is a dolphinarium where specialists train belugas (Delphinapterus leucas). The visitors have a chance to dive together with belugas.


The village is actively developing Nilmoguba has mobile coverage, there is a store, a hostel, a children’s summer camp, a tour center and a spa center on the dive center premises.


According to the 2010 national census, 21 people are currently living in Nilmoguba. The stress in the name of the village falls on the last syllable.

The White Sea Biological Station "Cape Kartesh"

A biological station on Cape Kartesh was founded in 1949 and it existed as an expedition for several years. Cape Kartesh is an appropriate site for a biological station, as the surroundings are pristine, and the sea depth reaches 350 meters (0.2 miles), which provides opportunities for deep-water research.


Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov was appointed as a director of the station in 1957; he established a steady base at a site that he had personally chosen, and the construction works began. Meanwhile, research work went on.


Kuznetsov passed away in 1961, and Vladislav Khlebovitch took over. He had the station’s infrastructure expanded; power transmission lines were installed by efforts of the staff and students. The station acquired two smaller boats, Onega and Ladoga, as well as the seiner Kartesh, later refitted into a research vessel. The R/V Kartesh is renowned among the station staff as well as the northern region inhabitants. Due to financial challenges of the 1990s, R/V Kartesh had to be sold. Now she will pay visits home under the flag of Polar Expedition Kartesh project for joint research work.


Internationally recognized fundamental and applied research is conducted at the station. The station is adequately equipped and geared up. The laboratory facilities have seven isothermal rooms where the temperature of 0-20°C (32-68°F) is maintained. The facilities are equipped with aquarian systems to hold the marine organisms and conduct experiments. Fresh and salty water is supplied to the facility from May to October. The station library has more than 25 000 books, academic periodicals, and article collections. 

Chupa

Chupa is an urban-type locality located at the Chupa Bay, Western White Sea coast, Karelia Republic, Russia. The locality’s name allegedly originates from the Karelian word chuppu, which means a corner or a dead end.


Chupa settlement is mentioned in the chronicles in 1574. It suffered from the oprichnina pogrom and from the invasion of the Swedish troops. Chupa was ransacked and burned to ashes.


Today, Chupa is situated 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from its medieval ancestor. It was founded in 1916 due to the construction of the Murmansk railroad. 1920s saw Chupa embracing settlers coming to the town and working on the railroad construction. Meanwhile, the developments of granite, mica, quartz, feldspar and moonstone were being actively exploited. A fishery collective farm and a logging enterprise were opened; geologists were conducting expeditions in the close vicinity. In the late 1920s, Chupa became a place of exile and imprisonment; a Solovki prison camp reception station was organized. During the Great Patriotic war, every valid male was put into the field; women and children had to learn a trade of a miner, an angler, a woodcutter. The civilians built an airfield. After the war, the locality’s economy skyrocketed; a lot of settlers anchored there.


Chupa is currently an attractive place for tourists; educational, scientific and ecological tourism are among top priorities. Such economic prosperity basics as culture, sports, education and social life are at a high ebb in Chupa. Moreover, Chupa is one of the so-called rune-singing villages, where the famous Finnish epic Kalevala was created. There is a unique fairy-tale museum in the locality, founded by the famous taleteller Matvey Korguev.


Chupa is also home for the irreplaceable captain of the R/V Kartesh, Yan Stelmakh. He celebrated his 70th birthday on June 26, 2012. In 2016, he got on board the vessel again - as an honored guest.

Solovetsky Islands

The Solovetsky Islands (Solovki) are the largest archipelago in the White Sea, consisting of six large and about a hundred smaller islands. The archipelago and surrounding waters make up Solovetsky State Historical, Architectural and Natural Museum Preserve. The main point of interest is Russian Orthodox Solovetsky Stauropegic Monastery complex.


The history of the archipelago ascends to ancient times. More than 1200 monuments and artifacts (man sites, barrows, sieidis, and labyrinths) stand witness to the fact that people started inhabiting the islands more than 3 000 years BC. One of the most fascinating archeological discovery is a mysterious and huge labyrinth, located on the Bolshoy Zayatsky Island. Its purpose and date of construction is unknown.


In the first half of the XV century Solovki saw first hermits, reverends Sabbatius and Herman. After Sabbatius had passed away in 1436, Herman brought Reverend Zosima to the island. The construction began: three wooden churches and a fratry were built. Ivan IV granted Charters to the monastery in the middle of the XVI century, and the monastery started to flourish. It became the spiritual, cultural and economic capital of the Russian north. A stone monastery wall was built in the late XVI century. Moreover, the monastery was used as a place for exile in the XVI century.

In late XVI and early XVII century, the monastery became a major strategic outpost given the threat of the Swedish intervention. The monks continued to build monastery fortifications; a military garrison emerged on the islands.
The Solovki monks repulsed Patriarch Nikon’s 1653 ecclesiastic reform. In 1675 the Streltsy failed to take the monastery by assault; the monks surrendered only on January 22, 1676. The rebels were executed. These events are named Solovetsky Monastery Uprising.
In 1854, during the Crimean War, the monastery was attacked by British ships. After long hours of shelling, the monks managed to save the cloister.
In the early XX century the monastery was one of the major spiritual and cultural centers which attracted a large number of pilgrims. However, the darkest pages of the cloister began in 1920s when the monastery was closed and the monks exiled. The Soviets incorporated the monastery into Solovki prison camp to hold political prisoners. It was closed in 1939.
In the 1960s, the archipelago monuments were restored, and a museum was established. The monastery rebirth and spiritual revival began in 1990. In 1992, Solovetsky monastery was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


As of today, Solovki is a major tourist destination and one of the most popular pilgrimage sites. There is a locality on the island with a population of around 800.

Oleny Island

Oleny Island is a large island in the Kandalaksha Gulf of the White Sea. The island is located in mid-Chupa Bay not far from Cape Kartesh; the island splits the bay into two straits, the northern strait and the southern strait. The northern one named Olenya Salma strait is deep-water one, while only small crafts and boats can navigate in the southern strait. There is an abandoned quarry on the island, as mica was excavated here in 1930s. Deep freshwater lakes as well as myriads of berries and mushrooms attract numerous tourists.

Rabocheostrovsk

Rabocheostrovsk is a settlement in Karelia Republic, Russia, located on the White Sea coast 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) from Kem. The settlement, as well as a sawmill, were founded in 1888 by two merchants, Surikov and Shergold. Until 1929, Rabocheostrovsk bore such names as Popov Island, Krasny (Red) Island, and Island of October Revolution.


The settlement was utilized as a Solovetsky prison camp distribution point. A cemetery for inmates as well as a remand prison building and a prison harbor remain intact up to this day. In 1920s and 1930s several thousand people endured atrocities of the distribution point.


There are currently around 2 000 people living in the settlement; there are a secondary school and a community center. Tourists and pilgrims can reach Solovetsky monastery via Rabocheostrovsk harbor.
Pavel Lungin filmed his movie The Island in the settlement.

Myagostrov Island

Myagostrov is one of the islands located in the Onega Bay; it is 8 km (5 miles) long and 4 km (2.5 miles) wide. There was a Solovki prison camp outpost on the island in the 1920s; inmates were fishing and lumbering.


Myagostrov is famous among tourists for its fantastic year-round fishing.

Nizhnaya Zolotitsa

Nizhnaya Zolotitsa is a settlement is Arkhangelsk Oblast, located at the mouth of the same-named river. The Pomor writers, Boris Shergin in the first place, often mentioned the village in their works.


The history of the village ascends to ancient times and is inseparably associated with the history of the neighboring village, Verkhnaya Zolotitsa. The settlements were founded by Finno-Ugric tribes, and there is no certain date of foundation. The Russian-speaking settlers started to come to the villages in the XVI century; those were citizens of Novgorod fleeing from the terror of Ivan IV. There were 16 homesteads and 116 people in the village in the XVII century. By XIX century, the population of both villages numbered 2 000; large fishery and hunting partnerships emerged. The locals actively traded with the Norwegians. During the post-WWII years the village was electrified.


As the USSR collapsed, Nizhnaya Zolotitsa decayed like most of other villages. The fish-canning factory was closed.
Despite the deterioration, Nizhnaya Zolotitsa saved its fantastic atmosphere of a “museum” village, where all the houses are examples of wooden architecture. Moreover, a lot of “promised” crosses can be found in the village. Those are crosses that were fixed up as a symbol of a vow made. Apart from that, a monument to the fallen Great Patriotic war heroes has been recently erected.


A famous storyteller and folklore performer Marfa Kryukova was born in Nizhnaya Zolotitsa and passed away there.

Ruchyi

Ruchyi is a large longstanding settlement located in the Arkhangelsk Oblast at the mouth of the same-named river, which flows into the White Sea. There are no direct roads to the village, and it is only accessible via the plane. Around 200 people are living in Ruchyi; there are a fishery collective farm, a school, a first aid station, a library and a bakery in the village. There is a memorial cross on the hill by the village.

Koyda

Koyda is a Pomor village in the Arkhangelsk Oblast. Its history ascends to the XV century. The first known settlers were peasants fled Kuya village, sacked by the Swedes in early XVIII century. The village population numbered 250 in the late XIX century. The locals were engaged into fishing and hunting. During Soviet times, Koyda’s basic production sector – seal hunting and breeding – continued developing. A large seal nursery was established; by 1976 there were more than 15000 seal cubs in the nursery.


As of today, Koyda population rate decreased and it numbers 400, as there are currently no seal fisheries. However, local collective farm, founded in 1930s, still operates. Due to the out migration, the village is now short-handed. 

Shoyna

Shoyna, a village located beyond the polar circle on the Kanin Peninsula near Shoyna River mouth, was founded in the 1930s in order to develop fishing industry.


Extensive anthropogenic activities paved the way for grave ecologic consequences. Due to reckless trailing, all the benthic life was annihilated. Tons of sand washed by the White Sea were thrown at mercy of violent arctic winds. The sand embarked on the offensive. As of today, more than 20 houses are buried under sand.


The locals, who are officially numbered 300, are living tough lives. They survive extreme Arctic climate coupled with blitzing sand. The sand can cover the barn’s roof overnight. The locals are slowly retreating to tundra; there is no assistance, as no roads or railroads connect the village to larger villages or towns. The village is only accessible via air. An airplane from Arkhangelsk or Naryan-Mar lands in Koyda once a week, bringing food and supplies. The locals are engaged in fishing, hunting and cloudberry harvesting.

Indiga

Indiga (the stress falls on the first syllable) is a village in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, located on the Barents Sea coast. The name is derived from the nearby river. Indiga was founded by the Pomor in XVIII century, and locals have been engaged into fishing and deer herding ever since. The population of Indiga is numbered 200. There are a school, a community center, a weather station, a dairy farm and an airport. Indiga is accessible only via air or sea.


Indiga is going to be a major harbor of the Northern Sea Route; it will link Murmansk and Sabetta. Construction of an ice-free seaport have already begun. Moreover, Sosnogorsk-Indiga railway section is under construction as well.

Dolgy Island

Dolgy is an island in the Pechora Sea, southeastern part of the Barents Sea. The island is 38 kilometers (24 miles) in length, with an average width of 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles). The island is a part of the Nenets State Nature Reserve. There is a Siberian Cemetery of the pilgrims and two pagan sanctuaries on the island.

Vaygach Island

Vaygach Island is a 3.4 square kilometres (1,306 sq mi) island located just between the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. Vaygach Island is a nature reserve where austere but stunning Arctic wildlife intertwines with exceptionally rich cultural heritage. The island is hardly accessible for tourists, but its miscellaneous sights, such as the Nenets sacred idols, the Pomor memorial crosses and a unique Stone Age site never stop to attract researchers.


Researchers still argue about the origin of the island’s name. The name of the island is allegedly derived from the Nenets Vay Khabts, meaning the land of death. Other theories suggest that it can be translated as alluvial shore.


Varnek is the only settlement on the island, and its population numbers 100, with the majority engaged in deer herding. The locals proudly call Varnek the capital of Vaygach

Amderma

Amderma settlement is located on Yugorsy Peninsula on the Kara Sea coast. It was founded in 1933 as fluorite deposits had been discovered nearby. Until early 1990s, Amderma served as a base for Russian Arctic fighter aviation; apart from that, a complex geocryological lab and a weather station were established. In 1989 the population numbered 5 000; in 1990s, the military left the village, and the lab was closed. The population fell dramatically.


About 500 people are now living in Amderma. The buildings are equipped with central heating, running water, and sanitary sewers. There are a secondary school, a kindergarten, a boiler facility, an airport and a harbor. Amderma is currently seen as a future major base for Arctic development.


The name Amderma stems from the Nenets a walrus haulout.

Kharasavey

Kharasavey (derived from the Nenets snaky river) rotation camp is located on the western coast of Yamal Peninsula. The camp took its name from the same-named river and the cape. The camp accommodates specialists working on the eponymous gas field, which began production in 1975. The total reserves of the Kharasavey gas field are around 2 trillion m³ (66.5 trillion cubic feet). One of the largest oil, gas and condensate field, Bovanenkovo, is located close to Kharasavey.
Kharasavey has its own point of interest, a gas flare, which has been burning without a pause for many years. One can see it at a range of 15 km (9.3 miles) from the camp in fine weather.

Bely Island

Bely Island is located in the Kara Sea and is separate from the Yamal Peninsula by the Malygina Strait. The island’s landmarks include a weather station, founded in 1933, and an abandoned military base.


The abandoned equipment as well as oil and gas developments nearby compromised the island’s ecology. Groups of volunteers often visit Bely Island, clear its territory of rubbish and sort out the mess.

Sabetta

Sabetta rotation camp is located on the eastern coast of the Yamal Peninsula. The camp was founded after an eponymous village had been phased out due to depopulation; a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant located close to the camp, is currently under construction and will be brought in production in 2016. The camp already has a functioning airfield capable of accommodating any type of aircraft. Moreover, an arctic sea port is under construction; it will facilitate all-year LNG carriers navigation. Despite extreme weather conditions, the construction works are conducted all year round.


The name Sabetta is probably derived from the Nenets assimilation of the word sovetskaya (Soviet). Another curious fact is that the spelling of the name used to feature one letter t, but was changed recently and is now considered to be Europeanized.

Novy Port

Novy Port is located on the Gulf of Ob coast in the eponymous bay. In 1920s, marine expedition participants exchanged merchandise with Siberian river fishers in this location. A fish cannery was established here in the 1930s. A unique cryogenic stockroom was built for fish storage and processing; the stockroom was built by the convicts, mostly political prisoners, who carved a spacious mine through perpetually frozen soil in extreme conditions. The stockroom can contain up to 1700 tons of fish. In 2008, it was assigned a status of Cultural Heritage Site of Local Significance.


More than 1500 people are currently living in Novy Port; there are a boarding school, a hospital, a drugstore, a post office, a harbor, a helipad, and a diesel electric station in the settlement. A modern and comfortable kindergarten has been recently built. A Novy-Port gas-oil field is located 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the settlement.

Yamburg

Yamburg (not to be mixed up with a town Kingisepp, previously known as Yamburg) is a rotation settlement on the Gulf of Ob coast in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The settlement was founded by the gas workers at the Yamburg gas field in the early 1980s.
As Yamburg is a rotation settlement, there is no residential population, but it accommodates more than 6 thousand people simultaneously. Rotation workers live in apartment hotels or in dormitories.
Residential buildings have canteens, stores, interior gardens, and gyms. There are a major culture and sports complex which has a concert hall that seats 500, a library, a sports hall that admits 200 people, gyms and a swimming pool. A Scottish hard rock band Nazareth performed in Yamburg concert hall in November 2009.
Religious rotation workers have an opportunity to visit one of the northernmost Orthodox cathedrals in the world, St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, consecrated the church in August 2001.
Ambulance service, a clinic, a drugstore, and a well-equipped hospital operate in the settlement. There are a sea port and an airport. The settlement is accessible via road vehicles, but only an entrance ID will grant access to Yamburg.

Dikson

Dikson is the northernmost urban-type settlement in Russia; it is located on the Taymyr Peninsula on the coast of the Yenisei Gulf. The settlement was founded in 1915 on the Dikson Island; the continental part of the locality was built later. The settlement is named after Oscar Dickson, a wealthy Swedish merchant and philanthropist of Scottish origin who financially supported Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld’s expedition. Dikson is sometimes unofficially called the capital of the Arctic.


The settlement used to be one of the largest localities of the Russian Arctic, and the most famous one. Several songs about Dikson were composed; many famous academic and culture figures cast their lot with the settlement, Otto SchimdtMstislav Rostropovich and Konstantin Simonov among them. During Soviet times, the population numbered 5000.


There are currently about 650 people living in Dikson. They are mostly involved in maintaining the settlement, government work and self-support. There is a polar station, an airfield, a sea port, a local lore museum, a school, and a kindergarten. There is no production in Dikson; however, the Dikson sea port is located in a strategically significant area of the Arctic Ocean.

Novaya Zemlya Archipelago

Novaya Zemlya is the largest archipelago in the Western Arctic; it is located in the Arctic Ocean and separates the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. The archipelago consists of two major islands, Severny (Northern) and Yuzhny (Southern) as well as a number of smaller islands. The area is more than 83 000 square kilometers (32 000 square miles); the glacier occupies approximately one fourth of the territory. Mountainous terrain is typical for the Barents Sea coast; the average mountain height is 1200 meters (4000 feet). The highest mountain is located on the Northern island and is 1547 meters high.


The whole archipelago is a restricted-access territory, and to get to this edge of the world you need to obtain a special pass beforehand. The population is currently numbered 2500. The inhabitants live in two localities: Belushya Guba and Rogachyovo.


The history of Novaya Zemlya is eventful. The first recorded reference to the archipelago dates back to 1553, when Sir Hugh Willoughby organized an expedition for London-based Muscovy Company to strengthen the ties with Moscow. Still, one of the most significant expedition to Novaya Zemlya was organized by the outstanding Dutch exporer Willem Barentsz. The expedition participant Gerrit de Veer kept an expedition diary; we know the details of the heroic enterprise due to his work. Barentsz and de Veer generated a map of the western and the northern coasts of Novaya Zemlya. Unfortunately, the ship got imprisoned in ice by the northeastern coast, in the Ledyanaya Gavan (ice haven) Bay. In a year, the Dutch, who had lost two men during the winter, left the bay, with Barentsz and his servant passed away on the northwestern coast of the Archipelago. The Pomor provided all the necessary help to the rest of the survivors, and 12 people managed to return to the Netherlands.

Novaya Zemlya started to be actively developed in the second half of the XIX century. In 1877, a settlement named Malye Karmakuly was founded on the Southern island. In 1954, Novaya Zemlya was designated the nuclear test site. A notorious Kuzka’s Mother, or the Tsar Bomba, was tested here. In August 1963, the USSR and the USA signed Limited Test Ban Treaty outlawing most atmospheric nuclear tests; only underground tests continued. After the dissolution of the USSR the tests were shut down.


Polar Expedition Kartesh is planning to visit Russkaya Gavan (Russian Haven) polar station and one of the world's northernmost stations Cape Zhelaniya (Cape of Desire), which has an eponymous lighthouse. Moreover, the participants intend to visit Oranskye Islands, the northernmost islands of the archipelago; they are attractive for ornithologists and zoologists, as large seabird colonies (Cepphus and Uria) as well as walrus haulouts can be found on the islands.

Kolguev Island

Kolguev Island is located in the eastern part of the Barents Sea, eastwards of the Kanin Peninsula in Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast.


The origin of the island’s name is unclear. One of the version says that the name was given after a fisherman Ivan Kalgov drowned in the coastal waters. The other suggests that the name stems from the ancient Finnish kollague, which means triangle or triangular.


The island is first mentioned in the Novgorod chronicles, X century; oversea documents mention Kolguev in Sir Hugh Willoughby expedition log. In XVIII century, Russian merchants buy peltries from the local Nenets. The island was thoroughly explored only in 1970, when a Peschanoozerskoye oil field, opened in 1968, started to be developed. The island has two settlements, Bugrino (population 400), and Severny (northern) weather station.