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Most of the Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, littered with islands, mostly fragments of the North American, European, and Asian continental masses. Some are inhabited; others are completely covered in snow and ice and therefore uninhabitable. Several of the most interesting lie in the border waters between the Arctic and northern Atlantic Oceans, 60° and northward toward the Pole.


Islands of the Arctic Ocean

  • 1 Greenland — a vast self-governing territory of Denmark
  • 2 Faroe Islands — another, smaller self-governing territory of Denmark
  • 3 Iceland — the northernmost (or least-extended-to-the-south) fully independent nation on Earth
  • 4 Jan Mayen — home to a tiny Norwegian radio and weather station
  • 5 Svalbard — by far the most visited islands within the Arctic Circle, a territory of Norway
  • 6 North Pole — not actually an island, just a point on a vast shifting and floating mass of ice
  • 7 ATOW1996 — northernmost known bit of land on Earth, north of Greenland

Northern Canada includes many islands, the biggest of which are more than 1000 km across, as well as much mainland territory. A few islands include:

Russia has an exceedingly long Arctic coast with many islands.


The largest number of Arctic islands are parts of the Nunavut and Northwest Territories of Canada, and several are part of northern Russia; most of these are barren and uninhabited, and are covered (to the extent they are covered) in their respective countries' articles.

Greenland – so large it hardly deserves to be called a mere "island" – lies largely in the Arctic Circle. Although it is arguably part of continental North America, it bears cultural and practical similarities to its smaller neighbors in the Arctic region. Likewise, Iceland barely kisses the Arctic Circle and has a fairly mild climate, but still has a sparsely-vegetated landscape and moderate accessibility issues. Jan Mayen and Svalbard are quintessentially Arctic – remote and harsh – but habitable.

Get in[edit]

Blue glacier ice, Esmarkbreen, Svalbard

By plane[edit]

Longyearbyen in Svalbard, is accessible on regularly scheduled SAS flights from Tromsø and Oslo, Norway.

Reykjavík, Iceland, is served by several flights a day from other Nordic countries and from the United States.

Greenland is reached primarily by flights from Denmark and Iceland.

Nunavut, Canada is reached primarily by flights from Ottawa and Yellowknife.

Get around[edit]

By plane[edit]

Although they lie on or near the "great circle" routes taken by airliners between Europe and North America, the Arctic islands are generally treated as "fly-over" territories, with fewer stops since passenger planes gained the ability to cover the distance without refueling. Because of their historical ties to Europe, they are easier to get to from there than from Canada or the U.S.

  • Deutsche Polarflug. North Pole and Svalbard sightseeing flights, starting in May 2007, 11-hour sightseeing flights departing from Germany in an Airbus 330, cruising over Norway and Svalbard, flying low over special sights, and getting all the way up to the North Pole. Most passengers switch during the flight between center-section seats to pairs of outer-section seats, giving everyone in this class a window or next-to-window seat for half of the flight; a small number of tickets are center-section or outer-section only. Informative in-flight programming. €790-€1190 economy, call for first-class.

By tour[edit]

  • Adventure Life. Offering small-ship expeditions and land safaris to Arctic islands and the North Pole, their Arctic voyages have been featured in New York Times and USA Today.
  • Arctic Kingdom. Offering land safari tours to remote destinations in the Arctic. Luxury camping options including boat tours and polar bear watching expeditions.
  • Big Five Arctic Tours[dead link] - Offers group and individual tours to the Arctic.
  • Quark Expeditions. Provides everything from month-long semi-circumnavigation trips to week-long explorations of the Arctic, including ice-breakers to reach the remote North Pole.
  • Ocean Expeditions. Expedition support yacht ‘Philos’ purpose-built for high latitudes. Specialising in private or commercial expeditions involving film making, scientific research, adventure activities, wildlife enthusiasts or just an intimate experience of the Arctic.


Arctic scenery varies throughout the seasons and depending on area. Travelers have opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife throughout the course of a cruise or land trip. Best times to go vary based on what wildlife viewing is preferred. From late May through early September one can see caribou, moose, humpback whale, beluga whales, seals, grizzlies, polar bears, Arctic foxes, muskoxen, and up to 200 species of birds. In the ice covered regions (such as at the North Pole) there is little wildlife.

The Northern Lights may be visible at the highlight of the dusk and nighttime hours on a cruise.


  • Skiing
  • Ice fishing

Stay safe[edit]

This is polar land and you need many layers of clothes to survive; see cold weather. Also beware of polar bears.

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