Franz Josef Land (Russian: Земля Франца-Иосифа, Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa) is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, and administratively part of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. The islands have no permanent population, and are among the world's most remote destinations.
The entire archipelago and the surrounding waters are protected as part of the Russian Arctic National Park.
About 300 km (190 mi) east of Svalbard and 400 km (250 mi) north of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef is one of the remotest parts of the world. It's made up of 191 uninhabited islands, 85% of which are entirely covered by ice. It was named for the Austrian Emperor who ruled from 1848 to his death in 1916 and was the destination of the only major Austrian Arctic expedition.
July is the best month to go, being one of only two months when the daily mean temperature passes freezing.
There is a 1 Military Base on Alexandra Island.
The archipelago is a military area and you will need a special permit to enter. Since 2012 it has been part of the Russian Arctic National Park.
There are occasional cruise ship visits, for example Russian ice breakers.
For about three-fourths of the year, the sea is covered by ice. During the winter part of this period, it would probably be possible to land a helicopter on that ice, as it would be thick enough. In the summer, however, the ice can melt.
See and do
There is one main island with a research station:
- 1 Zemlya Georga (Prince George Land). Largest island in Franz Josef Land. The highest point on the island has an elevation of 416 metres (1,365 ft).
There are several other major islands in Franz Josef Land:
- 2 Alexandra Land.
- 3 Graham Bell Island.
- 4 Hall Island.
- 5 Hooker Island.
- 6 Jackson Island.
- 7 MacKlintok Island.
- 8 Prince Rudolf Island.
- 9 Salisbury Island.
- 10 Wilczek Land.
There are also a few sights in Franz Josef Land:
- 11 Cape Tegethoff. Dramatic rock formation on Hall Island. The island was first discovered in 1873, and a small camp was built at Tegethoff in 1898-1899.
- 12 Nansen's Hut (Cape Norway). In the western part of Jackson Island, this was where Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered in 1895-96 after failing to reach the North Pole. A hut and a wooden post still remain.
Eat and drink
There are no restaurants on Franz Josef Land.
For water, you could perhaps boil the glacial ice found on every major island in the archipelago. Remember, though, this is a national park.
You will probably need to camp in the area, which will mean enduring bitterly cold weather unless you're going in July.
Bring plenty of food wherever you go, and make sure that you do not go to the islands when ice freezes or unfreezes. Also, it is best to plan your route before you go and bring a map – that way, it's less easy to get lost.
If Franz Josef Land is not quite far north enough, there's always the North Pole. For a more populated Arctic experience, you can visit Longyearbyen.
Back on the Russian mainland, Nenetsia is an easier (a very relative word in this part of the planet) destination with tundra landscapes similar to those found in parts of the archipelago.