Wrangel Island

The Wrangel Island (Russian Остров Врангеля - Ostrow Wrangelja ) is an island in the Arctic Ocean and is one of Russia ( Asia).

2004 their landscape by UNESCO was declared a World Heritage Site and the northernmost included in the list of world cultural and natural heritage of mankind. Already since 1976 existed the " Wrangel Island Nature Reserve ".


The island - or the Nature Reserve - consists of approximately 7608 km ² large main island, a few small offshore islands and about 135 km to the northeast and 11 km ² island Herald. It represents the dividing point between the adjacent western East Siberian Sea and the eastern Chukchi Sea (which leads on to the Bering Strait ) is; south separates the De -Long road from the island of about 150 km from the Asian mainland, and thus of Eastern Siberia.

Although their world is mountain up to 1,096 m above sea level rises ( Herald Island up to 364 m) and the Wrangel Island in the winter completely enclosed by Treibeisschollen, the country is not glaciated. However, the island, which is about 500 to 600 km beyond the Arctic Circle and about 2,000 km from the North Pole, covered not only in the polar night of winter from a partly thick blanket of snow. The north polar pack ice is then removed in this area usually only about 100 to 200 km. Therefore, it happens that the Wrangel Island is difficult to achieve even in the summer when it is surrounded by thick Treibeisschollen.

The island is about 150 km long ( east-west axis ) and 80 km wide ( north-south axis).

The Wrangel Island belongs to Rajon Iultin in the Autonomous District of the Chukchi.


Occupy fossil finds that on Wrangel Island until about 1700 BC, the mammoth was at home, namely the dwarf, shaggy woolly mammoth. The island is connected until about 12,000 years due to the lower sea level with the Northeast Asian mainland turned it one of the last refuges of the woolly mammoth during the Holocene dar.

1823 suspected Ferdinand von Wrangel in the mapping of the Chukchi Peninsula, the existence of the peninsula in the Arctic Ocean offshore island after he had observed that flocks of birds flew farther out on the Arctic Ocean. The native Chukchi confirmed this, but the island was first sighted in 1849, and on August 12, 1881 to enter for the first time.

In February 1914 wrecked the 17-member crew of the Karluk, flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition under Vilhjálmur Stefánsson, on the island. While Captain Robert Bartlett (1875-1946) with the Inuk hunter Kataktovik marched to the mainland to organize for help, three men died on the island before the merchantman King and Winge survivors resumed on September 7.

A settlement attempt in 1921 by a Canadian, three Americans and one Inuk failed. 1923 attempted to colonize the island an American and twelve Inuit. The Soviet Union removed this group in 1924 and built on 8 August 1926 line Georgi Alexeyevich Ushakov 's own settlement named after him Uschakowskoje ( Uschakowski ) (55 people) on the south coast of the island. The population was estimated in the 1990s, with 100 people. Currently, there are no permanent inhabitants more.

Flora and Fauna

The landscape on the Wrangel Island is dominated exclusively by the Arctic tundra; be found at high altitudes in unvegetated frost rubble deserts. The northern part of the island is occupied by a valley which is marshy in the summer and even crossed by a small river. In this few weeks ongoing warm season also plunge a few streams of the mountain slopes. Because of the permafrost and the only low water content in the soil, no tall plants can develop such as trees. Therefore, lichens, mosses, poppies and ferns predominate. The flora is very rich in species compared with other Arctic regions. With 417 species of plants live here twice as many species as in comparable areas and more than any other Arctic island. Most of these plants that grow on the slopes, only a few centimeters high.

On Wrangel Island, the last mammoths about 1700 BC (further details ranging 5700-1500 BC) thus only about 6000 years died only from, after they had become extinct in the rest of Eurasia ( Main article woolly mammoth ).

On Wrangel Island living, inter alia, polar bears, musk oxen, seals and walruses. For species-rich bird life (especially seabirds ) are the eider duck, snow goose, the cormorant, the brent goose, the turnstone and the dwarf snow geese. BirdLife International, the Wrangel Islands therefore made ​​as Important Bird Area ( RU082 ).

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