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Chapter Two: The State of the Environment - The Arctic

Urban areas

Arctic settlements range from a few large industrialized cities, with populations of several hundreds of thousands, to small nomadic herding communities of only a handful of people continuing to live a traditional indigenous lifestyle.

The three significant Arctic (Russian) cities are Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Norilsk. Arkhangelsk was founded in 1584. Murmansk and Norilsk have grown to approximately 400 000 and 165 000 respectively this century. The populations of all three cities peaked at the beginning of the 1990s and have been in decline since then (Lappo 1994, State Committee for Statistics 1995).

In addition to urban settlements, ports and harbours and other coastal developments, as well as heavy industrial centres, are all present in parts of the Arctic, and the Russian Arctic in particular. Waste materials have also been dumped in the North American Arctic since the beginning of the Cold War period. A total of 1 246 sites have been identified as hazardous in the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada. By 1997, almost 500 sites had been cleaned up, with another similar number assessed as not hazardous. The remainder await assessment (Indian and Northern Affairs 1997b).


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