Russia’s Far North

Franz Josef Land is actually 192 islands—the northernmost archipelago in the world. Its 6,200-plus square miles are virtually uninhabited, glaciated, and encased in sea ice for much of the year. An Austro-Hungarian expedition discovered it in 1873, the Soviet Union claimed it in 1926, and Russia made it a nature reserve called a zakaznik in 1994. It’s now home to a single meteorological station, but Russia, eager to find oil and gas and to guard sea-lanes, plans to reopen Arctic military bases.




Wildlife in this frigid archipelago
includes bowhead whales and
Atlantic walruses. A large seabird
population also survives here.

Voyage of the Polaris

In July 2013 an international team of scientists led by Enric Sala set off on an expedition to uncover the secrets of Franz Josef Land, an archipelago deep in the Russian Arctic.

Colors shift with weeks

Nansen’s Journey

Heading back to Norway after failing to reach the North Pole, explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96 in a makeshift hut on Jackson Island.

Martin Gamache and Lauren E. James, NGM Staff
Sources: Maria Gavrilo, Russian Arctic National Park; Arctic and Antarctic Institute; WWF Russia; Imagico; Glims; IHS