Vaygach Island

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Native name: Вайга́ч
Vaygach Island.svg
Vaygach Island and Novaya Zemlya
Vaygach is located in Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Vaygach Island, Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Russia)
Location Arctic Sea
Coordinates 69°59′49″N 59°34′44″E / 69.99694°N 59.57889°E / 69.99694; 59.57889Coordinates: 69°59′49″N 59°34′44″E / 69.99694°N 59.57889°E / 69.99694; 59.57889
Area 3,383 km2 (1,306 sq mi)
Length 100 km (60 mi)
Width 45 km (28 mi)
Highest elevation 170 m (560 ft)
Highest point Gora Bolvanskaya
Oblast Arkhangelsk Oblast
Okrug Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Vaygach Island (Russian: Вайга́ч, translit. Vajgač) is an island in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.

Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait. The island is a part of Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia.

  • Area: 3,383 square kilometres (1,306 sq mi)
  • Length: ~ 100 kilometres (62 mi)
  • Width: up to 45 kilometres (28 mi)
  • Average temperatures: −20 °C (−4 °F) (February), 5 °C (41 °F) (June)
  • Highest point: 170 metres (560 ft)

Vaygach Island is mainly formed of argillaceous slates, sandstone, and limestone. There are many rivers about 20–40 kilometres (12–25 mi) in length, swamps, and small lakes on the island. For the most part it consists of tundra. 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 glaciers.[1] The only settlement on the island is Varnek.[2]

Fauna and flora[edit]

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. At least five polar bears are known to inhabit the island.

Nature reserve[edit]

In 2007, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Russian government have approved a nature reserve on Vaygach island.[3] The island's surrounding seas are home to many marine mammals such as walruses, seals 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 people. There were polycephalic wooden idols painted with blood of holy animals, primarily reindeer.[citation needed] 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.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vaygach". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 962. 
  2. ^ "Остров Вайгач" (in Russian). National Tourist Platform. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "New Nature Reserve For The Russian Arctic". ScienceDaily. World Wildlife Fund. 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 

Further reading[edit]