Franz Josef Land

Franz Josef Land

Franz Josef Land, Frantz Iosef Land, Franz Joseph Land or Francis Joseph's Land (Russian: Земля́ Фра́нца-Ио́сифа, tr. Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa) is a Russian archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean. It is inhabited only by military personnel. It constitutes the northernmost part of Arkhangelsk Oblast and consists of 192 islands, which cover an area of 16,134 square kilometers (6,229 sq mi), stretching 375 kilometers (233 mi) from east to west and 234 kilometers (145 mi) from north to south. The islands are categorized in three groups, a western, central and eastern, separated by the British Channel and the Austrian Strait. The central group is further divided into a northern and southern section by the Markham Strait. The largest island is Prince George Land, which measures 2,741 square kilometers (1,058 sq mi), followed by Wilczek Land, Graham Bell Island and Alexandra Land.

Eighty-five percent of the archipelago is glaciated, with large unglaciated areas being located on the largest islands and many of the smallest islands. The islands have a combined coastline of 4,425 kilometers (2,750 mi). Compared to other Arctic archipelagos, Franz Josef Land has a high dissection rate of 3.6 square kilometers per coastline kilometer. Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island is the northernmost point of the Eastern Hemisphere. The highest elevations are found in the eastern group, with the highest point located on Wiener Neustadt Land, 670 meters (2,200 ft) above mean sea level.

The archipelago was first spotted by the Norwegian sealers Nils Fredrik Rønnbeck and Johan Petter Aidijärvi in 1865, although they did not report their finding. The first reported finding was in the 1873 Austro-Hungarian North Pole expedition led by Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht, who named the area after Emperor Franz Joseph I. In 1926, the Soviet Union annexed the islands, which were known at the time as Fridtjof Nansen Land, and settled small outposts for research and military purposes. The Kingdom of Norway rejected the claim and several private expeditions were sent to the islands. With the Cold War, the islands became off limits for foreigners and two military airfields were built. The islands have been a nature sanctuary since 1994 and became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012.

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