Definition of the Arctic

Map: Arctic PortalKort: Arctic Portal

There exist many different definitions of 'the Arctic', based on physical-geographical characteristics or on political and administrative considerations within different countries. For example, the USA is not as a whole in the Arctic, althpug Alaska is in the Arctic and Copenhagen is never cinsidered an Arctic city.

A widespread definition is the one in pink on the map. It shows the whole of Iceland within the Arctic. A similar one was used to define the Arctic in the the Arctic Council´s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme report in 1997 but this one was used in the Arctic Human Development Report.

It encompasses all of Alaska, Canada North of 60°N together with northern Quebec and Labrador, all of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, and the northernmost counties of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Russian Arctic is decided by demography.

This Arctic definition encompasses an area of over 40 million square kilometers or about 8% of the surface of the Earth. The human residents of this vast areais about 4 million (numbers from 2004 in the AHDR), of whom almost half are located within the Russian Federation.

Other Arctic definitions are for example the Arctic Circle (66° 33´N), the treeline or the 10°July isotherm.

link icon arciceblue   AMAP definition

link icon arciceblue   Arctic Human Development Report definition (p. 17)

link icon arciceblue   Arctic Portal Mapping system

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