Nova Zembla is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the Northern island. Administratively, it is incorporated as Novaya Zemlya District, one of the twenty-one in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. Municipally, it is incorporated as Novaya Zemlya Urban Okrug. Its population as of the 2010 Census was 2,429, of which 1,972 resided in Belushya Guba, an urban-type settlement that is the administrative center of Novaya Zemlya District.
The indigenous population (from 1872 to the 1950s when it was resettled to the mainland) consisted of about 50–300 Nenetses who subsisted mainly on fishing, trapping, reindeer herding, polar bear hunting and seal hunting.
Novaya Zemlya consists of two major islands, separated by the narrow Matochkin Strait, and a number of smaller islands. The two main islands are Severny (Northern) and Yuzhny (Southern). Novaya Zemlya separates the Barents Sea from the Kara Sea. The total area is about 90,650 square kilometeres. The highest mountain is located on the Northern island and is 1,547 metres high.
Novaya Zemlya was a sensitive military area during the Cold War years and it is still used today. The Soviet Air Force maintained a presence at Rogachevo on the southern part of the island, on the westernmost peninsula (71.61787°N 52.47884°E). It was used primarily for interceptor aircraft operations but also provided logistical support for the nearby nuclear test area. Novaya Zemlya was the site of one of the two major nuclear test sites managed by the USSR, used for air drops and underground testing the largest of the Soviet nuclear bombs, in particular the October 30, 1961 air burst explosion of Tsar Bomba, the largest, most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.
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