Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island is an island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea
Pechora Sea
Pechora Sea , is a sea at the northwest of Russia, the southeastern part of the Barents Sea. The western border of the sea is off Kolguyev Island, while the eastern border is the western coasts of Vaygach Island and the Yugorsky Peninsula, and the northern border the southern end of Novaya...

 and the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....


Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula
Yugorsky Peninsula
The Yugorsky Peninsula is a large peninsula in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. It is limited by the Khaypudyr Bay in the Pechora Sea to the west and by the Baydaratsk Bay in the Kara Sea to the north and east.Latitude : 68° 40' Longitude : 62° 15'...

 in the mainland
Mainland is a name given to a large landmass in a region , or to the largest of a group of islands in an archipelago. Sometimes its residents are called "Mainlanders"...

 by the Yugorsky Strait
Yugorsky Strait
The Yugorsky Strait is a narrow sound between the Kara Sea and the Pechora Sea. Its maximum width is 10 km and its minimum width only 3 km...

 and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait
Kara Strait
The Kara Strait or Kara Gates is a 56 km wide channel of water between the southern end of Novaya Zemlya and the northern tip of Vaygach Island...

. The island is a part of Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug is a federal subject of Russia .It has an area of 176,700 km2 and population of 42,628 as of the preliminary results of the 2010 Census , 21,296 of whom live in Naryan-Mar, the administrative center.-Geography and ecology:The arctic ecology of this...

 of Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It includes the Arctic archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, as well as the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea....

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

  • Area: 3383 square kilometres (1,306.2 sq mi)
  • Length: ~ 100 kilometres (62.1 mi)
  • Width: up to 45 kilometres (28 mi)
  • Average temperatures: -20 C(February), 5 °C (41 °F)(June)
  • Highest point: 170 metres (557.7 ft)

Vaygach Island is mainly formed of argillaceous slates, sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

, and limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

. There are many river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s about 20–40 km (12.4–24.9 ) in length, swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s, and small lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s on the island. For the most part it consists of tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

. Slight rocky ridges run generally along its length, and the coast has low cliffs in places. The island consists mostly of limestone, and its elevation above the sea is geologically recent. Raised beaches are frequent. The rocks are heavily scored by ice, but this was probably marine ice, not that of glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s. The settlements of Vaygach, Dolgaya Guba, and Varnek are located on the island.

Fauna & Flora

Grasses, mosses and Arctic flowering plants are abundant, but there are no trees excepting occasional dwarf willows. Foxes and lemmings are spotted occasionally. While there are not many land animals on the island, birds are very numerous; a variety of ducks, waders etc. frequent the marshes and lakes.

Nature Reserve

In 2007, the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 (WWF) and the Russian government have approved a nature reserve on Vaygach island. The island's surrounding seas are home to many marine mammals such as walruses, seal
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

s and endangered whales.


The name of the island translates from the Nenets as "alluvial shore". Until the 19th century, the island was an important shrine of the Nenets
Nenets people
The Nenets are an indigenous people in Russia. According to the latest census in 2002, there are 41,302 Nenets in the Russian Federation, most of them living in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and Nenets Autonomous Okrug...

 people. There were polycephalic wooden idol
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

s painted with blood of holy animals, primarily reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

. Some of their sacrificial piles, consisting of drift-wood, deer's horns and the skulls of bears and deer, have been observed by travellers. In spite of their conversion to Christianity, the Nenets still regard these piles with superstition.


  • F. G. Jackson. Great Frozen Land. London, 1895.
  • H. J. Pearson. Beyond Petsora Eastward. London, 1899.

External links

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