The Countries Of The Arctic And What They Can Offer
Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not one big land mass. Instead, there are eight different countries that have at least part of their territory inside the Arctic Circle, each of which provides a different experience. Whilst we don’t travel to Finland or Sweden, here is what you can expect to find in the other Arctic nations.
Whilst the northern part of mainland Norway is within the Arctic Circle, our expedition cruises focus on a group of islands closer to the North Pole. Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean that is home to the four most northern towns in the world. The largest of these islands is Spitsbergen, where you will find Longyearbyen and the research outpost of NY Ålesund. Spitsbergen is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears in the wild and a great place for your first Arctic exploration.
Officially the largest island on the planet and a territory that belongs to Denmark, Greenland is not actually a country in its own right. It is, however, home to some fantastic fjords and a great place to see the Northern Lights. The bays around the island, specifically Disko Bay, are home to many different species of whale, as well as the rather unique looking narwhal. Greenland is also where the first kayaks were invented by the Inuit people living here.
The Canadian Arctic is made up of thousands of islands, the largest of which are Baffin, Ellesmere and Victoria. During the harshest winters, it has been possible for local Inuit people to walk from the archipelago to Greenland but, in the summer, the ice breaks up to form a series of water highways known as the Northwest Passage. This part of Canada is known for wildlife such as polar bears, musk oxen and arctic foxes, as well as the giant icebergs that float through Hudson Bay.
Russia has the largest territory within the Arctic Circle, consisting of areas of mainland and many different islands. The port of Murmansk is used as the jumping off point for adventurers heading to the North Pole. This is the base for large, nuclear-powered icebreakers which spend the winter forging routes for smaller ships and the summer taking tourists to 90 degrees north. On the way to the pole, you will pass Franz Josef Land. This uninhabited archipelago is largely barren but has become an important habitat for various species of seabirds.
The fact that the northern part of Alaska is situated within the Arctic Circle means that America can lay claim to a portion of the Arctic too. The state known as the Final Frontier offers spectacular landscapes, is teeming with beautiful wildlife and has waters that are littered with eerily large icebergs. Keep your eyes open for eagles flying high, bears along the coastline and whales breaching in the water. Alaska is also known for its large number of glaciers, which can be explored in many different ways.
Only very small parts of Iceland are actually within the Arctic Circle but the country is still considered part of the region due to the fact that large areas have temperatures below 10 degrees during the warmest month. As the fastest growing tourist destination in the Arctic, Iceland is experiencing an influx of travellers at the moment. People are drawn to the stunning scenery provided by volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls, along with the chance of seeing the Northern Lights and visiting well-known attractions like the Blue Lagoon.
We have many different itineraries that can take you into the Arctic and you can decide which of these countries you wish to visit. Whether you want to see majestic polar bears, watch natural phenomena or be blown away by the scenery, there are so many reasons to take an Arctic expedition cruise.