The word Arctic comes from the Greek arktikos, meaning “northern”, and that from the word arktos, meaning bear. The name refers either to the constellation Ursa Major, the "Great Bear", which is prominent in the northern portion of the celestial sphere, or to the constellation Ursa Minor, the "Little Bear", which contains Polaris, the Pole Star, also known as the North Star. The Arctic is a polar region located on the northernmost part of the earth, adjacent to the North Pole and comprising the Arctic Ocean (area of 14,75 million km2), adjacent northern sectors of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and parts of Eurasia and North America. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean which exerts influence on the earth’s climate and plays an important role in the ocean circulation system. The Arctic area of 27 million km2 can be defined as north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33'N). The highest point is Mt. McKinley in Alaska (6,194 m) Arctic vegetation is composed of plants such as dwarf shrubs, graminoids, herbs, lichens and mosses, which all grow relatively close to the ground, forming tundra and provide food for large populations of reindeer (caribou). The animal world is also represented by the Arctic hare, lemming, muskox, Arctic fox, wolf and polar bear. Marine mammals include seals, walruses, and several species of cetacean - baleen whales and also narwhals, killer whales and belugas.
The Arctic's climate varies from comparatively mild and humid on the west coast of Norway to polar desert climate in the inland areas of Greenland. High winds oſten stir up snow, creating the illusion of continuous snowfall. Average winter air temperatures can be as low as −40° C, and summer temperatures up to + 20° C.
The Arctic includes sizable natural resources (oil, gas, gold, diamonds, minerals, coal, etc.) and also holds 1/5 of the planet’s water supply.
The earliest inhabitants appeared here over 10,000 years ago. Later the northern sectors of the Canadian archipelago and Greenland were populated by indigenous peoples, including the Buryat, Chukchi, Evenks, Inupiat, Khanty, Koryaks, Nenets, Sami, Yukaghir, and Yupik, who still refer to themselves as Eskimo, which means raw meat eaters.
No country owns the geographic North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The surrounding Arctic states that border the Arctic Ocean - Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States - are limited to a 200 nautical-mile (370 km) economic zone around their coasts, according to the international agreement on the Arctic.