Russia’s Arctic territory accounts for about one-third of the entire country’s landmass. It includes a staggering 24,140 kilometers (15,000 miles) of coastline along the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. At the heart of the Russian Arctic are remote archipelagoes, such as Novaya Zemlya in the Kara Sea, Severnaya Zemlya in the Laptev Sea, and the New Siberian Islands in the East Siberian Sea. Russia’s remote, seldom-visited Franz Josef Land, northeast of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, is a frontier unto itself.
About 20% of Russia’s landmass (which includes glacier-covered mountains, mossy tundra, spectacular coastal fjords) is north of the Arctic Circle. Of the 4,000,000 people worldwide who make their home in the Arctic, roughly 2,000,000 live in the Russian Arctic—though many regions, such as Severnaya Zemlya, have no inhabitants whatsoever, apart from a handful of scientists.