In North America, the nations of the United States and Canada own land areas in the Arctic. The only U.S. state containing land within the Arctic Circle is Alaska. In contrast, Canada’s polar regions are quite vast, encompassing about two-fifths of its entire land mass and two-thirds of its total maritime coastline. The historic residents of North America’s polar zones are the Inuits, who have made their livelihoods hunting and fishing in the harsh climate for more than 9,000 years, though many modernly work in oil fields and support villages.
Eight countries, plus Antarctica, lie in polar zones -- that is, they possess portions of land located within the Arctic or Antarctic circles. These invisible lines of latitude loop around the globe at approximately 66.5 degrees North and South, respectively. Although no individual nations are contained fully within these boundaries, continents with countries whose land falls within polar zones include North America, Europe, Asia and, of course, Antarctica.
North American Countries
The exclusively European nations possessing land north of the Arctic Circle are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark. Although Denmark proper doesn’t lie within the polar zone, its largest self-governing overseas administrative division -- Greenland -- does. In addition to a portion of the Norwegian mainland, Norway’s Arctic territories also include the islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Vikings hailing from Norway were the European polar region’s first explorers, establishing a permanent settlement on Iceland in the ninth century and a long-lived settlement in Greenland in the 10th century.
Although part of Russia’s polar lands lies on the European continent, most parts lie within the Asian continent, where they are often known as Siberia. In addition to its vast mainland, Russian Arctic possessions include multiple islands and archipelagos in the Arctic Ocean. As of the time of this publication, Russia is seeking to expand its Arctic territory, with oil and natural gas extraction its prime impetus. During 2013 and 2014, Russia has expanded its military presence in its polar areas.
Antarctica’s landmass lies almost exclusively within the Antarctic Circle. It is the coldest place on the planet, and 98 percent of it is permanently covered by ice and snow. Antarctica isn’t owned by one single country. In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty established the continent as a natural reserve devoted to scientific study and exploration. At the time of this publication, 46 countries have agreed to the Antarctic Treaty, indefinitely suspending their territorial claims to the continent, and it remains an area of peaceful international cooperation.
- World Atlas: The Equator and More
- Arctic Council: Member States
- World Atlas: Arctic Map
- The Atlantic: The Arctic: Where the U.S. and Russia Could Square Off Next
- Foreign Policy Journal: Russia’s Territorial Ambition and Increased Military Presence in the Arctic
- World Wildlife Federation: Polar Regions – The Ends of the Earth
- British Antarctic Survey: The Antarctic Treaty - Background Information – Introduction
- Photo Credit Koonyongyut/iStock/Getty Images
Information on the Polar Zone
Comments. You May Also Like. What Countries Are in the Polar Zone? The polar regions, or frigid zones, are the geographic regions...
List of Countries in the Frigid Zone
The Earth traditionally falls, from pole to pole, into five climate zones, first classified as only three by Aristotle in ancient Greece....
Where Are the Temperate Zones Located?
There are two temperate zones, one in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern Hemisphere. They, along with the tropics and...
About Prevailing Westerlies
"Prevailing westerlies" describes the winds that blow in the area of the globe between 30 and 50 degrees latitude in both the...
What Are the Seven Continents & Where Are They Located on a Map?
Continents are massive parcels of land, and generally they are separated by oceans, although not always. You can identify continents by shape...
Animals in the Frigid Zone
Animals in the Frigid Zone. Although the frigid zones, also known as the Arctic and the Antarctic, have very cold climates they...
What Are the Four Special Parallels of Latitude?
Latitude refers to the invisible horizontal lines that circle the earth. Four special parallels of latitude mark a specific area on the...
What Kind of Animals Are Found in the South Pole?
Animals that inhabit the South Pole are mostly found on the Antarctic continent and its surrounding islands as well as in the...
List of Companies in the Ajman Free Zone
List of Companies in the Ajman Free Zone. The Ajman Free Zone may not ring a bell to most Americans, but to...
Climate & Weather of Sweden
For a country that lies so far to the north, the climate and weather of Sweden are remarkably moderate. The Gulf Stream...