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Franz Josef Land Holidays

Largely uninhabited, Franz Josef Land is an archipelago of 191 ice-covered islands located in the far north of Russia. It is found in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard.

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Popular Franz Josef Land Holidays

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At latitudes between 80.0° and 81.9° north, it is the most northerly group of islands associated with Eurasia. The extreme northernmost point is Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island. The archipelago is only 900 to 1110 km from the North Pole, closer than all land masses except for Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

The archipelago was possibly first discovered by the Norwegian sealers Nils Fredrik Rønnbeck and Aidijärvi aboard the schooner “Spidsbergen” in 1865 who, according to scarce reports, sailed eastward from Svalbard until they reached a new land, denoted Nordost-Spitsbergen. It is not known if they went ashore, and the new islands were soon forgotten.

The officially recognized discovery took place in 1873 by the Austrian polar explorers Payer and Weyprecht, who named it in honour of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. As the expedition was only privately sponsored and not official, these islands have never been part of Austria. In 1926 the islands were taken over by the Soviet Union, and a few inhabitants came for research and military purposes. Access by ships is possible only for a few summer weeks and requires a special permit.