Murmansk Region is washed by the Barents Sea and the White Sea and extends across three peninsulas — Kola, Rybachiy and Sredniy. Several islands — the Ainov, the Seven, Velikiy and Kildin — also add to the territory. The region with the majority of its territory extending behind the Arctic Circle borders with the Republic of Karelia in the south and Finland and Norway in the west. The total area of the Region is 144 900 sq. km with water resources occupying over a half of the territory.
The administrative centre of the Region is Murmansk, which is 1967 km far from Moscow. There is no time difference between Moscow and Murmansk. The population is 842 452 persons with 91,5% living in towns and cities.
Murmansk was founded in 1915 as a sea port. On October 4, 1916 it received the name Romanov-on-Murman and became the last city founded in the Russian Empire. After the Revolution on April 3, 1917 the city’s name was changed into Murmansk. You can choose any suitable means of transportation to Murmansk — airplane, railroad or water transport.
As an independent administrative subject Murmansk Region was established in 1938. However, this territory from time immemorial has been inhabited by Saami nation still living here. With Russians being the major ethnicity the population of Murmansk Region is international and includes Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Tatars, Karelians, Komi, Komi-Izhemts, Mordva, Bashkirs and even Germans and Poles.
The climate of the southern part differs from that of the north. It is moderately maritime in the south and subarctic in the north with the Gulf Stream mild influence, hence making sea navigation possible non-stop despite the winter polar night. Average annual temperature of summers ranges between +8 +14C with —8 —13C in winter.
Murmansk Region is covered with an array of rivers and lakes. Many of those formed after the Ice Age termination when they got filled with water oozing out of the subterranean water reservoirs. Rivers in the region are full of rapids while a network of canals and rivulets interconnects lakes into a system.
The nature of the Murmansk region can be generally characterized as tundra and forest-tundra covered by various mosses and lichen with dwarf birches and aspens and occasional tall trees — mostly fir and pine trees. In the south forest-tundra becomes taiga. There are also mountains with the Khibins being one of the major points of interest. They are mesas with steep and abrupt rocky slopes and nearly flat summits. East of the Khibins you will find the Lovozero tundra that is elevated to the height of about one kilometer above sea level.
Murmansk Region is true geological treasury. It is located on the Baltic Shield which is literally the well of mineral products. 700 minerals discovered in its depths make one forth of all the known Earth minerals with over 100 not found any place else on our planet.
Murmansk Region is a place for various kinds of tourism. Tourists who like ecological traveling and photo-hunting could get to know polar wildlife, spot and take pictures of reindeer, foxes and martens, ermines and moose, willow grouses and snowy owls and with a bit of luck the master of taiga — a brown bear. Diving followers could enjoy the unique submarine world of two seas. Numerous rivers with rapids are ideal for downstream canoeing and kayaking. Keen extreme travelers could take a cruise on an icebreaker or head towards the North Pole and Franz Josef Land on a dog sled. Amethyst, apatite and other mineral deposits would attract rock hunters. Those who cannot imagine a vacation without good fishing would get the desired trophy — a redfish, a lancet fish, a trout or even a salmon. And nobody would certainly stay indifferent to the Northern lights.
Downhill skiers would also find Murmansk Region attractive since there are three ski resorts waiting for them. One is located in the vicinity of Kirovsk on the Khibins slopes, the second — Monchegorskiy — to the west of the mountains and the third — Kandalakshskiy — to the south. The length of these slopes is about 1,5 and 2 km and the height around 400 — 600 meters. Northern slopes of the Aikuaivenchorr massif are fit for freestyle and also provide a ski stadium and a skating rink.
Besides its natural points of interest Murmansk Region can also be proud of manmade. There is the famous Geological Museum in Apatity, an ultra-deep Kola well in Zapolyarniy, which was holed specifically to study the most ancient geological layers of the Earth. Monchegorsk has the Gemstone Museum, the exhibit of which starts with famous amethyst brushes from Korabl Cape. In Murmansk you could visit a huge port where the Northern Sea Route starts. Here you could see the «Sedov» bark, which is the largest sailing ship in the world and atomic icebreakers or go on a boat tour around Kola bay. There’s also an oceanarium in Murmansk where you can see arctic seals.
A place of significant interest is the Lapland State Biosphere Reserve with a multitude of animal, bird and fish species as well as the famous reindeer — the initial reason for establishing the Reserve. Besides the wildlife the Reserve is known for primeval forests where you could find a rare pine (Pinus friesiana) and Siberian firs that are 400 — 600 years of age. There are 10 ecological trails around the Reserve.
There are also places in Murmansk Region that would attract people interested in mysteries and riddles. For example, the Seidozero Lake that is also called «The Kola North Pearl». It is located in the middle of the Lovozero tundra at the height of 189 m above sea level and is 8 km long and 1,5 — 2,5 km wide. The lake is surrounded by dark-grey and green rocks and is bound with the Lovozero Lake by a trail of stone plates. Saami treat this lake as a sacred place, and in the past every year they used to make sacrifices in special lake sanctuaries — seids. Different anomalies are frequent in the Seidozero lake vicinity; hence the place regularly attracts groups of ufologists and cryptozoologists. Seidozero is famous for its unique water fauna and rare plankton species as well as for Lappish cult monuments — stone gods.
There are annual festivals that take place in Murmansk Region and attract keen historians and artists. For example, the Festival of Snow Sculpture «Snezhnaya Fantazia» (Snow Fantasy) is attended by snow and ice sculptors from various countries. And during «Saamskie Igry» (Saami Games) you could learn about ancient customs and traditions of Laplanders, shoot a cross-bow, try-on a national costume, put to a test your skills and art of fishing, savour a hot fish soup, witness a real shaman dance and take away a wonderful souvenir made by Saami craftsmen for a long memory.
For more detailed information on the region, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.