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Home -> Help -> Info Center -> Geography and nature -> Arkhangelsk

Arkhangelsk

Arkhangelsk Region is situated in the North-West of the European part of Russia. Its coasts being of 3 thousand kilometers long are washed by cold waters of three arctic seas: the White, Barents and Kara Sea. The Region's territory is 587,4 thousand sq. km. The Island the Novaya Zemlya, Franz Joseph Land and Nenets Autonomous District are the territories of Arkhangelsk Region.

An administrative center of the Region is the City of Arkhangelsk founded in the mouth of the Northern Dvina River in accord with the Decree of Csar Ivan the Terrible dated of March 5, 1584. The largest cities are Severodvinsk, Kotlas, Novodvinsk, and Koryazhma.
The affinity of the seas and oceans appreciably has an effect on the climate of the Region, which is transitive between the sea and continental one. The Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea influence explains temperature rises in the winter, while in the spring and summer cold Arctic air makes a boomerang effect. The winter is usually long (about 250 days) and cold, with low temperature on the average up to -26 degrees and strong winds. Average temperature is about +15 degrees in the summer.

The region has superfluous water resources. Four largest rivers (Northern Dvina, Pechora, Onega and Mezen) run into the Arctic seas. Wide and deep Northern Dvina creates favourable conditions for navigation and is the basic water way.
The population density is 2,5 men per 1 sq. km., 74 % of the inhabitants living at cities and 26 % living in rural areas.

The area where Arkhangelsk is situated was known to the Vikings as Bjarmaland. In the 12th century, the Novgorodians established the Archangel Michael Monastery in the estuary of the Northern Dvina. In 1478 the area passed to Muscovy with the rest of Novgorod Republic. The main trade centre of the area at that time was Kholmogory, located slightly upstream.

In 1555 Ivan the Terrible granted trade privileges to English merchants who founded the Company of Merchant Adventurers and began sending ships annually into the estuary of the Northern Dvina. Dutch merchants also began bringing their ships into the White Sea. In 1584 Ivan ordered the founding of New Kholmogory (which would later be renamed after the nearby Archangel Monastery).


At the time access to the Baltic Sea was still controlled by Sweden, so while Arkhangelsk was icebound in winter, it remained Moscow's only link to the sea. Local inhabitants, called pomors, were the first to explore trade routes to Northern Siberia as far as trans-Ural city of Mangazeya and beyond.

In 1683 Peter I took power at the age of ten, and in 1693 he ordered the creation of a state shipyard in Arkhangelsk. A year later the ships Svyatoye Prorochestvo (Holy Prophesy), Apostol Pavel (Apostle Paul) and the yacht Svyatoy Pyotr (Saint Peter) were sailing in the White Sea. However he also realized that Arkhangelsk would always be limited as a port due to the five months of ice cover, and after a successful campaign against Swedish armies in the Baltic area, he founded Saint Petersburg in 1704.

Arkhangelsk city declined in the 18th century as the Baltic trade became ever more important, but its economy revived at the end of the 19th century when a railroad to Moscow was completed and timber became a major export. During World War I and World War II Arkhangelsk was a major port of entry for Allied aid.

The city resisted Bolshevik rule during 1918 to 1920 and was a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, supported by the military intervention of Entente forces. Recently, the city was mentioned in the news as the site of Arkhangelsk Explosion of 2004.

Mikhail Lomonosov came from a Pomor village near Kholmogory. A monument to him was installed to a design by Ivan Martos in 1829. A monument to Peter I was designed by Mark Antokolsky in 1872 and installed in 1914.

A maritime school, technical university, and a regional museum are located in the city. The city's main historic landmarks are the fort-like Merchant Yards (1668-84) and the New Dvina Fortress (1701-05).

Today Arkhangelsk remains a major seaport, now open year-round due to improvements in icebreakers. The city is primarily a timber and fishing center.

Other Russian Cities: Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Kazan



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