This peculiar region comprises the polar archipelagoes and islands (The
Franz Joseph Land, Novaya Zemlya, Kolguev, Vaigach and other islands), a fairly wide zone
of plain and mountain tundras, and vast spaces of European taiga-from its northernmost
types (including forest tundra) to the southern, which are replaced by mixed forests.
The western part of the region on the Kola Peninsula and Karelia is characterized by
hilly undulating relief, small turbulent rivers and a plenty of diverse lakes. Quite
different are the plain landscapes of the Arkhangelsk Region and Komi Autonomous Republic,
where big rivers flow among boundless coniferous forests and oligotrophic moors (Pechora,
Меzen, Northern Dvina) with their large tributaries, although there are also small
uplands there — the Timanskii chain of hills and the spurs of North Ural.
Thanks to the Atlantic Gulf Stream current, the warmest Russian polar seas — Barents
and White — affect not only the climate but also the tundra vegetation, which is
distinguished by diversity and a number of thermophi1iс forms.
Another important natural factor there are the consequences of the ancient glaciation,
which determines the closeness of the bedrocks to the earth surface and also an unusual
abundance of cliffs, boulders, big stones, either naked or hardly covered with a layer of
moss, lichens or open woodland. The natural features include the lakes that are the
largest in Europe — Lake Ladoga (17,7 thousand sq. km.), and Lake Onega (9-7 thousand
sq. km.) and also the more southerly water bodies (lakes Chudskoe, Ilmen, Beloe, Kubenskoe
and Rybinskoe Reservoir, etc.).
The European dark coniferous taiga is the kingdom of somber spruce forests with the
Siberian spruce, the birch, aspen and willows present ubiquitously. The pine forests are
common throughout the entire European North, but in many areas they have been cut out
heavily to be replaced by various derivative stands. In the southern part of the Region,
in addition to coniferous species, there are broad-leaved, including the oak, linden, and
maples, to create some complex and peculiar combinations. The most characteristic there
are mixed small-leaved forests.
In the east, closer to the Ural, forest species include Siberian larch, which lends the
taiga a peculiar outlook. The most typical dwellers of north-European forests are such
common species as the moose, brown bear, wolf, fox, marten, weasel, badger, squirrel, and
the blue hare.
Characteristic among the birds are the capercaillie, black grouse, various woodpeckers,
and also tits, Corvidae, and various Passeriformes. On the tundra, grouses and waders are
numerous, and on the seashore and on the islands, bird colonies are common — the
breeding grounds of eiders, gulls, black guillemots. Special attention has been given to
the common eider, whose down is very valuable. Numerous northern birds – waterfowls,
Galliformes, waders — are constant objects of sporting and commercial hunt.
The European North Region accounts for 2 million sq. km. (including the Arctic). Its
population is about 12 million people. Situated there is Saint-Petersburg — the
"second capital" of the Russian Federation, the biggest city and industrial
center, and also such important northern ports as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, the ancient
cities of Pskov, Novgorod and Vologda.
The Region abounds of famous monuments of history and culture (Solovki, Valaam, Kizhi,
Pushkin Svyatogorye, Kirillo-Belozerski Monastery) and many others.
Situated there are numerous mining projects, integrated iron-and-steel works, atomic
nuclear stations, military, rocket and nuclear testing grounds.
The list of Northern Russia Zapovedniks (Nature
Reserves) and National Parks: