- Canadian Arctic
- East Greenland
- West Greenland
- Eastern Russia
- Franz Josef Island
- North Pole
- Northeast Passage
- Northwest Passage
- Shetland Islands
The vast northern region of Canada is widely known as the Canadian Arctic where only a very small percentage of the population lives thanks to the extreme winter weather conditions. However, the North is known for its incredible natural setting with rich flora, fauna, and breathtaking landscapes. Inhabitants of this icy region are mainly natives known in Canada as First Nations. However, in recent years the Canadian Arctic has experienced booming growth just as in southern Canada though it is home to only 1/3 of a percent of Canada’s population. The region’s natural beauty has long been a popular stop among many Arctic cruise voyages.
Known as the world’s largest island not being a continent in itself, Greenland has been inhabited for centuries by various different civilizations. Today, Greenland is home to a beautiful Arctic landscape with snowy mountains and a vast ice sheet covering more than 80% of the country. The incredible scenery has made Eastern Greenland a very popular stop among Arctic cruises.
West Greenland is home to various Arctic fjord systems and is a great spot for cruises due to the high probability of seeing marine life such as whales and seals. Tourism has helped the various cities boom. Visitors can now find internet cafes as well as other modern amenities. The beautiful panoramic views are very impressive as well as the scattered fauna that inhabit the coast of West Greenland.
Another commonly visited Arctic destination is Eastern Russia, home to incredible wildlife and beautiful snowy landscapes. The vistas are dominated by both dormant and active volcanoes, snow-covered peaks, and rich vegetation. The fauna in the area intrigues visitors including the famous tigers and bears. The area is also very rich with culture and history, sure to leave truly impressed.
Franz Josef Island
This is the northernmost archipelago on the planet and covers an area of 16,000 square kilometers. The chain of islands was discovered and measured relatively recently in 1873 by the Austrian-Hungarian North Pole expedition led by Julius Payer and Karl Weyprecht. In 1926 Franz Josef Land became part of Russia and for 60 years was sealed by the Soviets because of the highly valuable research that was conducted in various research stations during that time.
Travel to Franz Josef Land has only been possible since 1990. Straits and bays are often frozen even during the arctic summer, and 85% of the islands is made up of glaciers. Polar bears, walrus, and seagulls are often seen along the coasts of the islands. The vegetation in the area is generally lacking and is made mostly of lichens and only 57 vascular plant species. Only 10% of the islands provide conditions that allow the growth of such plants.
The isolated island of Iceland is located just south of the Arctic Circle and is home to the characteristic Arctic fjords, active volcanoes, and interesting wildlife. The fauna on the island is relatively young, only migrating there as few as 10,000 years ago. Today, there are various species that are not native to the area. Whale watching is a popular activity as these waters are popular hangouts for several species.
This archipelago in Norway is known for its interesting weather anomaly; despite its location north of the Arctic Circle it has a very mild climate thanks in part to the Gulf Stream and the ocean currents. Lofoten was inhabited during the Viking Age and therefore has a rich culture and history. Popular activities in the area include mountaineering, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Lofoten is also an important fishing area with stockfish being exported for the past 1,000 years.
The North Pole experiences temperatures much warmer than the South Pole because it is at sea level and is surrounded by ocean generating more heat. In recent years the thickness of the ice at the North Pole has been much less that the past. Flora and fauna at the North Pole is very sparse with few sightings near the area. Polar bears have been spotted very close as have some marine life and birds, but this is generally uncommon. The North Pole is mostly popular for its wide-reaching landscapes and also because people are eager to say they have been to the North Pole!
This sea route passing along the Russian coast connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the East and is only ice free for two months out of the year. Nuclear icebreakers are commonly used to break up the ice, though global warming is expected to gradually open up the passage in the future. The area is very popular for visiting the icy Arctic region and passes along some truly incredible landscapes.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route running through the Arctic Ocean north of the Canadian Arctic connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The route has been the subject of many expeditions to the area for the past several hundred years as this trading route would have been so valuable for trade in the North. Today, the area is very popular for tourist visiting the Arctic polar region.
The Shetland Islands have been inhabited since as early as 1,500BCE, and there are various artifacts and ruins that still exist today. Because of the islands’ millennia of inhabitance, there is a rich culture and history that intrigues visitors from all over the world. In addition to the historical aspect, the Shetlands are popular for their flora and fauna. The islands are home to various species of Arctic vegetation as well as one of the largest bird colonies in the North Atlantic.
Meaning “jagged peaks”, Spitsbergen is a popular Arctic destination with beautiful scenery and an interesting history and culture. The island is home to an enormous seed vault, housing the seeds of thousands of plant species. The reason for this vault is to avoid species from becoming extinct do to climate change or gene manipulation. This area is also home to various Arctic plants and animals such as polar bears, making it a very popular cruise destination.