Novaya Zemlya (Arctic Russia)

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Novaya Zemlya is a Russian Arctic Ocean territory (archipelago) located in northern Russia (Europe's extreme northeast). The archipelago is part of Arkhangelsk Oblast and has population around 3,000. most of which (around 2,000) live in Belushya Guba.

When the islands were first discovered, the indigenous people (Nenetses) subsisted mainly on hunting (polar bears, seals), fishing, trapping and reindeer herding. Novaya Zemlya consists of 2 large islands - Severny (Northern) and Yuzhny (Southern), separated by Matochkin Strait, plus smaller isles. Novaya Zemlya is also the land separating Barents Sea from Kara Sea. Archipelago's total land area is 90650 km2 (35000 ml2), with highest elevation point 1547 m (5075 ft) on Severny island.

The archipelago is an Ural Mountains extension separated from mainland Russia by Kara Strait. Severny Island has many glaciers, while Yuzhny Island is covered with tundra. Climate is severe, but here can be found several Arctic species, most notable of which are polar bears.

This Russian territory was a sensitive military area where after WW2 (1939-1945) here was maintained the USSR / Soviet Air Force base "Rogachevo". The base was used for aircraft interceptions and providing logistics for the nearby nuclear testing zone. Novaya Zemlya was one of USSR's 2 major nuclear testing zones (with all 3 sites located on the islands) used for air drops and underground nuke bombs testing.

In October 1961, here was detonated RDS-220 hydrogen bomb named "Tsar Bomba" - world's largest and most powerful nuclear bomb ever used. The monstrous weapon (yield 50 Mt / megatonnes of TNT, weight 27 metric tons, length 8 m / 26 ft, diameter 2,1 m / 6,9 ft) was code-named "Vanya". The bomb was attached to a huge parachute (weight 800 kg). Tsar Bomba was detonated at Sukhoy Nos cape (Severny Island), near isle's southern end and close to Matochkin Strait.

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