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The Arctic

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Arctic includes parts of Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as the Arctic Ocean.

Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, 'Arctic' comes from the ancient Greek word for 'bear', referring to the constellations of the Great Bear and Little Bear located near the North Star.

There are numerous definitions of the Arctic region. The boundary is generally considered to be north of the Arctic Circle (66°33'N), the limit of the midnight sun and the polar night. Other definitions are based on climate and ecology.

The Arctic is mostly a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless, frozen ground. It teems with life, including organisms living in the ice, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals and human societies.

Cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions. From the physical, chemical and biological perspective, the Arctic is in a key position. It reacts sensitively to changes in climate that have an extensive impact on the global state of the environment.

In the upper reaches of Finland is Finnish Lapland which makes up at least one-third of the country and most of it is Arctic wilderness. Temperatures can plunge to -50°C and the sun is not seen for days on end. Summer, by contrast, can bring temperatures as high as 30°C, but 10-20°C temperatures are the norm.

That is when locals get in as much farming as they can. When not doing that, they practice log rolling which was born in the late 19th century. Felled trees needed to be transported downstream to Lapland's new sawmills, and men shunted them around the river all day long. Today, competitions attract hundreds of contenders from all over Scandinavia.

Finland is the home of Santa Claus. He lives on a fell — a treeless mountain — called Korvatunturi in Savukosi. He doesn't live on the North Pole because there is no food for his reindeer.

Santa Claus receives thousands of letters each year from more than 150 countries. He may be too busy to reply to each one, but he does read every single letter. With Christmas just around the corner, his address is below if you want to get in early!

In Finnish Lapland reindeer is a common animal — there are around 200,000 of them. Eagles, foxes, swans and wood grouse are other common animals.

Spruce is the most common tree, wild cloudberry and Arctic bramble are the most highly valued berries in the area.

Unfortunately mosquitoes are a local curse, so if you are thinking of venturing to the far, far north in summer, take plenty of repellent with you.

Location

The Arctic Circle.

For further information


Aurora Expeditions
182a Cumberland Street, The Rocks 2000
Ph: (02) 9252 1033 1800 637 688
Fax: (02) 9252 1373
Website: www.auroraexpeditions.com.au
Email: aurorafrom@auroraexpeditions.com.au

Santa Claus
Santa Claus Village
FIN-96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

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