The words Arctic Circle may scare some, especially those who aren’t fond of the cold. However, the Arctic has a lot more going on than just a frigid, barren landscape. Don’t confuse it with its (literal) polar opposite, the Antarctic. The Arctic is surrounded by ocean and masses of land, whereas the Antarctic is surrounded by nothing but stormy seas and ice (and penguins!). The Arctic is teeming with life – human, plant and animal (well, a few humans, anyway). The Arctic also experiences a summer and is not continuously shrouded in ice and snow. The Arctic Circle consists of some amazing and beautiful surprises.
The Arctic Circle is where polar bears, Arctic foxes, wolves, musk ox, moose and reindeer can be found, as well as various species of birds such as snowy owls, bald eagles and those ever-so-charming puffins (no penguins!). The Arctic Ocean provides a home for various types of whales, seals, walruses, fish and plankton.
The native people who inhabit the Arctic vary throughout the countries included in the Arctic Circle. There are members of the Athabaskan language family who live in Alaska and Canada, the Inuit and Inupiat. The Russian North includes the Komi, the Sakha and the Karelians. A group called the Saami live in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. These people still rely upon and utilize the land and sea for food and for clothing. Barrow is the most populated and northernmost city of Alaska with a population of around 4,500.
Due to the position of the Arctic Circle on the planet, summer is a time of abundant light; and on the night of the northern summer solstice, part of the sun may be seen above the horizon at midnight! Darkness is a treat in the Arctic, as well. As the sun starts setting again and the nights grow dark, depending on solar activity, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis may light up the sky with breathtaking movement of color.