Novaya Zemlya

Missing image
Novaya Zemlya's position on the map

The archipelago of Novaya Zemlya (Russian: Но́вая Земля́, "New Land"; formerly known as Nova Zembla) consists of two major islands in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia, separated by the narrow Matochkin Strait, and a number of smaller ones. 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 km².

The area is very mountainous, as geologically Novaya Zemlya is the continuation of the Ural Mountains. It is separated from the mainland by the Kara Strait. The mountains reach a height of 1070 meters. The northern island contains many glaciers, while the southern one has a tundra climate. Natural resources include copper, lead and zinc. The islands have a small population, which subsists mainly on fishing, trapping and seal hunting.

The islands' indigenous population of about 100 persons are Nenetses, while the Russians knew of Novaya Zemlya from the 11th or 12th century, when traders from Novgorod visited the area. For western Europeans, the search for the Northeast passage in the 16th century led to its exploration. The first visit was by Hugh Willoughby in 1553. Willem Barents in 1596 rounded the north point of Novaya Zemlya, and wintered on the east coast near the northern tip. During this voyage the west coast was mapped.

 satellite image
NASA satellite image

A nuclear testing site named North Test Site was constructed in the mid-1950s, and existed during much of the Cold War. "Site A", Chernaya Guba (70.7N 54.6E), was used mostly from 1955–62. "Site B", Matochkin Shar (73.4N 54.9E) was used for underground tests in 1964–90. "Site C", Sukhoy Nos (73.7N 54.0E), was used from 1957–62 and was the 1961 explosion site of Tsar Bomba, a record 50-megaton burst. Other tests occurred elsewhere throughout the islands, with an official testing range covering over half of the landmass. In 1989 glasnost helped make the Novaya Zemlya testing activities public knowledge and opened the door for environmental assessment, and only a year later Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the site.

The last nuclear test explosion was in 1990 (also the last of the Soviet Union and Russia anywhere). Today only a limited amount of systems research is done at Matochkin Semlja et:Novaja Zemlja es:Nvaya Zemly eo:Nova Zemlo fr:Nouvelle-Zemble he:נוביה זמליה nl:Nova Zembla ja:ノヴァヤゼムリャ pt:Novaya Zemlya ru:Новая Земля sl:Nova Zemlja fi:Novaja Zemlja sv:Novaja Zemlja


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