Novaya Zemlya

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Novaya Zemlya (Russian: Но́вая Земля́, also spelled Novaja Zemlja, lit. New Land; also known in English and in Dutch as Nova Zembla, Norwegian Gåselandet (The Goose Land)) is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe at Cape Zhelaniya (see also extreme points of Europe). The archipelago is administered by Arkhangelsk Oblast as Novaya Zemlya Island Territory. Its population is 2,716 (2002 census), of which 2,622 reside in Belushya Guba, an urban-type settlement that is the administrative center of Novaya Zemlya District. The indigenous population consists of about 100 Nenetses[1] who subsist mainly on fishing, trapping, polar bear hunting and seal hunting.[2]

Novaya Zemlya consists of two major islands, separated by the narrow Matochkin Strait, and a number of smaller islands. The two main islands are Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern). Novaya Zemlya separates the Barents Sea from the Kara Sea. The total area is about 90,650 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi).

As Novaya Zemlya was a sensitive military area during the Cold War years, the Soviet Air Force maintained a presence at Rogachevo air base on the southern part of the island. It was used primarily for interceptor aircraft operations but also provided logistical support for the nearby nuclear test area. It was the site of the October 30, 1961 explosion of Tsar Bomba, the largest, most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.

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Environment

Novaya Zemlya is the northern part of the Ural Mountains,[3] and the interior is mountainous throughout.[4] It is separated from the mainland by the Kara Strait.[4] The mountains reach a height of 1,547 metres (5,075 ft).[5] The northern island contains many glaciers, while the southern one has a tundra landscape.[2] Natural resources include copper, lead, and zinc.[2]

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