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Kola Peninsula


The Kola Peninsula (from Sami language Guoladat) ( ) is a peninsula in the far north of Russiamarker, part of the Murmansk Oblastmarker. It borders upon the Barents Seamarker on the North and the White Seamarker on the East and South. The west border of the Kola Peninsula stretches along a meridian from the Kola Gulf through the Imandra Lakemarker, Kola Lake, and the Niva River to the Kandalaksha Gulfmarker.

The peninsula covers an area of about . The north coast is steep and high, the southern is flat. In the west part of the peninsula there are two mountain ranges: the Khibiny Mountainsmarker, and the Lovozero Tundramarker, the latter with points up to in height. In the central part of the peninsula lies the Keyvy watershed.

Because the last ice age removed the top sediment layer of the soil, the Kola Peninsula is on the surface extremely rich in various ores and minerals, including apatites, alumina sources, iron ore, mica, ceramic raw, titanium ore, phlogopite, and vermiculite, as well as ores of less-common and colored metals. MMC Norilsk Nickel conducts mining operations on the peninsula. The Kola Superdeep Boreholemarker which is the deepest borehole in the world, is located here also, near the Norwegian border.

Despite its northern location, the Kola Peninsula has a relatively mild climate, because of the influence of warm Atlantic currents. The average temperature in January is about and about in July. The peninsula is covered by taiga in the south and tundra in the north.

The Kola Peninsula has many fast-moving rivers with rapids. The most important of them are the Ponoy River, Varzuga River, Teriberka Rivermarker, Voronya River, and the Iokanga River. The major lakes are: Imandra Lakemarker, Umbozero Lakemarker, Lovozero Lakemarker. The rivers of the peninsula are an important habitat for the Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar, which return from Greenlandmarker and the Faroe Islandsmarker to spawn in fresh water. As a result of this a recreational fishery has been developed, with a number of remote lodges and camps hosting sport-fishermen throughout the summer months. Kola rivers become icebound during the winter.

Apart from the Russian Pomors, the peninsula is also home to the Sami peoples, who were forced to settle in the town of Lovozero during the Communist years, and who now herd reindeer across much of the region.

After the decline of Kolamarker, an ancient settlement which gives its name to the peninsula, the major port of the region has been Murmanskmarker, which is also the capital. During the Soviet period, Murmansk was a significant submarine production center, and remains home to the Russian Northern Fleet.

The Kola Peninsula as a whole suffered major ecological damage, mostly as a result of pollution from the military (particularly naval) production, as well as from industrial mining of apatite. About 250 nuclear reactors, produced by the Soviet military, remain on the peninsula. Though no longer in use, they still generate radiation and leak radioactive waste.

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