The Murmansk region is one of the most highly-developed regions of the North-West Russia. Its area is 145 thousand square kilometers. Beneficial geographical situation, a non-freezing bay and the proximity to the European Union border makes Murmansk considerably advantageous for other Russian regions.
The Murmansk area (the historical name - Murman) - occupies Kola peninsula and adjoining to it from the West and a southwest a part of continent. Almost all territory is located behind Northern polar circle. In the north and northeast it is washed by Barents sea, in the east and the south - White sea. The Murmansk area borders on two states - Norway and Finland and in the south the Republic of Karelia.
The regional center is the city of Murmansk, located 1967 km north of Moscow. It has a population of 305 000 inhabitants (2012). Murmansk is Russia’s largest ice-free port and the main base for the country’s fishing industry.
The Murmansk Region divided into districts and cities. Districts: Kovador, Kola, Lovozero, Pechenga and Terski. Cities: Apatity, Kandalaksha, Kirovsk, Monchegorsk, Olenegorsk and Polyarny Zori. Zatoes: Polyarny, Skalisty, Severomorsk, Ostrovnoy, Snezhnogorsk, Zaozarsk and Vidyaevo.
About 90% of 787 800 (1.1.2012) population of the Murmansk oblast reside in 13 towns. Apart from Murmansk (305 000 inhabitants, 2012) the biggest of them are Severomorsk, Apatity, Kandalaksha, Monchegorsk and Kirovsk. There are also 20 rural settlements and 5 administrative areas. In Lovozero and Kola areas live the most of the Kola indigenous people – saami (about 1 600, 2010). The population density is 5.9 / sq. km.
The Sami are the youngest nationality in Murmansk, with an average age of only 31.6 years. The average age of the total population is 37 years.
While the majority of the Russian population on the Kola Peninsula lives in towns, most of the Sami in are living in non-urban areas. The settlement of Lovozero in the center of the peninsula is known as “the Sami capital of Russia”.
On 1 January 2007 the average age of the population was 36.1 years; of which males 33.3 years, and females 38.8 years. The life expectancy at birth was 65.2 years; of which males 58.9 years and females 71.7 years.
The region’s geographic location has determined the characteristics of its climate, weather, landscapes, and plant and animal life. The climate is temperate maritime in the south and relatively mild subarctic in the north due to the influence of winds from the warm Atlantic flow. Average January temperatures range from -8 °C in the north to -13 °C in the center, and the corresponding average July temperatures range from +8 °C to +14 °C. Annual precipitation varies from 350 to 1000 mm (in mountainous areas). Polar days and nights are a feature of Murmansk Region. The vegetation period lasts from 80 to 130 days.
The Murmansk oblast is extremely rich in natural resources. Rich oil and gas reserves of the Barents Sea allow its production for many years to come and make up a great potential for future economic development.
In total over 700 minerals, more than a quarter of all known minerals in the world, are found there. There have been discovered more than 60 major deposits. Under excavation are more than 30 valuable minerals such as phosphate ores, titanium, aluminium, copper, nickel, zirconium and other rare metals. There are considerable stocks of mica, construction materials, semi-precious and decoration stones.
The forests of Murmansk Region are the most northerly forests in European Russia. Forest areas occupy 65.5% of the region’s territory, although the northern part is mainly tundra and the southern part is in the taiga zone, so that only 34.3% of the region is actually covered with forest and it is very unevenly distributed.
Khibiny (meaning "mountains" in the Saami language) is an intrusive massif on the Kola Peninsula composed mainly of nepheline syenites with associated apatite and nepheline deposits. The highest point is Mt. Chasnachorr (elevation 1191 m). The peaks are plateau-like, and there are glaciers and snowfields on the slopes; avalanches are frequent. Mountain tundra predominates in Khibiny, and coniferous forests and elfin birch woods grow at the foot of the massif. The Polar Alpine Botanical Garden is located on Mt. Vudevrochorr.
The Ponoi is the largest river in Murmansk Region. It is 426 km long, and its basin covers an area of 15 500 km2. The Ponoi River has its source in the western part of the Keivy Uplands and flows into the White Sea.
Murmansk Region is part of the Northern economic district. Its primary industrial sectors are mining, nonferrous metallurgy, fishing, and ship repair. The main industrial centers are Murmansk, Apatity, Kandalaksha, Monchegorsk, Kirovsk, Olenegorsk, and Severomorsk.
The Shtokmanovskoe gas condensate field discovered on the Barents Sea shelf will be of prime importance in supplying the Russian economy with these hydrocarbons in the near future. Total potential geological hydrocarbon resources on the Barents Sea shelf are estimated at 31.2 billion tons of equivalent fuel, of which 18.9 billion tons are recoverable. About 30-40% of the reserves consist of oil, offering the prospect of annual production of up to 40 million tons in 2010.
Murmansk Region generates 1.8% of the electricity in Russia. It is not only self-sufficient in electricity, 60% of which is generated at the Kola Nuclear Power Plant (Kolskaya AES), but also transmits power to Karelia and Finland. The power supply system comprises the nuclear power plant, 17 hydroelectric power plants, and 5 thermal power plants.
In 2002 the Murmansk oblast provided 100% of all-Russian production of apatite concentrate, 43% of nickel, 14% of fish products. Nearly 90% of the oblast’s economy is based on such industries as non-ferrous metallurgy (38,4%), electric power-production (13,2%), food-industry including fishing (19,3%), chemical industry (11,9%) etc.
The region has its own agricultural industry, which partially solves the problem of supplying northerners with fresh food products. The most developed sectors are livestock (including reindeer) breeding and feed crop cultivation. Agricultural land occupies an area of 23 400 hectares, including 14 900 hectares sown under crops. Unfortunately, the climatic conditions in this polar region limit the potential of local agriculture, and average yields of crops like potatoes and vegetables are rather low.
International tourism is very important for Murmansk Region. The region’s closeness to Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which have a positive image on the European tourist market, make it possible to organize activities within the framework of projects such as "Murmansk Corridor", "Barents Zone", and "Barents Route", e.g., one-day cross-border hikes, safaris, ski races through three countries, and visits to historical and cultural monuments. The transportation, communications, and other infrastructure between Central Europe and Scandinavia provide an excellent means for companies in Murmansk to develop ties with tourist organizations on the European market.
Transport Infrastructure in the Murmansk
The region’s favorable geographical location and large industrial base have influenced the development of all forms of transport. The existing land, air, and sea transportation connections maintain traditional economic ties with central Russia and promote the expansion of foreign cooperation.
Murmansk Region has a well-developed transportation network consisting of 1012.7 km of railways and 4159 km of highways. Murmansk, Apatity, Olenegorsk, and Kandalaksha are important railway junctions.
The port of Murmansk is Russia’s largest ice-free commercial port above the Arctic Circle; it serves as a base for cargo shipments to the Far North, the Arctic, and abroad. The port has a productive capacity of 12 million tons of cargo per year. The Murmansk Shipping handles cargo and passenger transport. The company also owns a number of multi-purpose nuclear-powered icebreakers that are based in Murmansk.
The region has two large airports: Murmansk in the town of Murmashi and Khibiny in Apatity. Murmansk Airport handles international flights.
Education and culture
The cultural infrastructure of the region is rather wide. It includes museums, libraries, houses of art, music schools. The professional art is represented by the Murmansk Drama Theatre, Puppet theatre and the Philharmonic Society.
Library service of the population of the region is provided by libraries of network of Ministry of Culture of the RF, including three regional ones: Murmansk State Regional Scientific Library, Murmansk State Regional Children Library and 209 municipal libraries, united in 20 centralized library systems and about 500 libraries of the other systems and organizations (scientific and technical ones, school ones, military ones and etc.). Among the 209 municipal libraries are 97 city libraries, 57 village libraries and 55 children ones.
The Murmansk State Technical University is one of the oldest higher educational establishment on the Kola peninsula. The history of the University begins in 1950. There are 9 Faculties and more then 30 Departments that train specialists in 28 fields and, what is more important, their number is constantly increasing. The main purpose of the University is providing all the branches of industry with well-qualified specialists.
In the Murmansk State Pedagogical University there are over 6 000 students and 400 teachers. It has very active in international cooperation with other universities in the Barents region. It also cooperates closely in training and research activities with the Kola Science Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences, with the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, with the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), as well as with leading universities in Russia.
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