Arkhangel'sk is the economic and cultural center of North European Russia, and since 1937 the center of Arkhangel'sk Oblast'. It is located 1133 km from Moscow on the banks of the Severnaya Dvina River and on its delta reaching into the White Sea. It is an important sea and river port, rail center, and airport, with a population of 362,700 (January 2000). The climate of the city is Subarctic, moderated by marine influences, with a January mean temperature of -13°C and a July mean of +17°C. Annual precipitation is about 500 mm. Formerly blocked by sea ice for five months each winter, the port is now kept open by icebreakers.

A settlement was founded in 1584 at the cape Pur-Navolok (this Finnish name means "Foggy cape") at the monastery of the archangel Mikhail. Initially it was named Novo Kholmogory (Kholmogory being a smaller town at the mouth of the Dvina), but since 1613 it has been known as Arkhangelskiy town. In the 17th century, it was developed as an important port, the only port through which Moscow could conduct trade with West European countries. Peter I the Great, who visited Arkhangel'sk three times, founded the Novodvinskaya fortress, the Admiralty, and a state shipyard on the island Solombala. Being a significant shipbuilding center, Arkhangel'sk played an important role in the formation of the Russian military and trade fleet. In 1708, it became the administrative center of Arkhangelogorodskaya Province.

The prosperity of the town was undermined with the founding of the Baltic port of St Petersburg, especially after the decree on diverting foreign trade to the new town at the Neva River (1722). Since the late 18th century, the importance of Arkhangel'sk has again grown. Foreign commerce especially revived during the continental blockade of British trade enforced by France (1807-1813). The town also became a main base for exploration and development of the Russian Arctic. Expeditions under the direction of Vasily Chichagov, Alexander Sibiryakov, Fedor Litke, Pyotr Pakhtusov, Vladimir Rusanov, and Georgiy Sedov started from Arkhangel'sk. Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the town became the major timber-exporting port of Russia and the largest sawmill center. In 1898, the railway from Moscow via Vologda reached Arkhangel'sk. In 1897, the town numbered 20,900 residents, its suburb Solombala (which is now encompassed by Arkhangel'sk) having 9000 residents.

During the Soviet period, the town grew rapidly because of the development of the Northern Sea Route and exploitation of the natural resources of the North. By 1939, the population of the town amounted to 251,000. During the Great Patriotic War, Allied convoys delivering lend-lease armament, provisions, and equipment came to Arkhangel'sk and Severodvinsk, 35 km to the west.

Today the city's economy is based on marine industries and timber. Marine industries include shipbuilding and repair, fish industry, algae processing, scientific researches, and naval and merchant seaman training. Timber industries include sawmilling, timber chemistry, pulp and paper industry, and production of logging equipment. The new town of Novodvinsk (48,600 residents), where the Arkhangel'sk pulp and paper plant is located, is situated 20 km south of Arkhangel'sk.

Arkhangel'sk is a great cultural, scientific, and educational center. The city has several higher education institutes, including the Pomor State University named after M.V. Lomonosov, State Technical University, a Medicine Academy, branch of the Marine academy, the oldest Naval School, and Scientific and Research Institute of Forest and Chemistry, Central Scientific and Research Institute of Timber Machining. A Philharmonic Society, Academic Northern Folk Chorus, museum of local lore, Northern Marine Museum, and Museum of Fine Art are based in Arkhangel'sk.

Arkhangel'sk extends for 40 km along the Severnaya Dvina. In the postwar period, the center of the town expanded to the east, away from the river. Development of the boggy lowland ("Mkhi"—mosses in English) was difficult and required great expense (peat was removed up to a depth of 8 m in some places). A considerable part of the wooden architecture for which Arkhangel'sk was famous was lost in the course of reconstruction of the town, although the street of Chumbarova-Luchinskogo, where interesting patterns of wooden architecture are located, is being preserved.

Urban population increased throughout the 20th century and reached its maximum in 1990 (420,400 residents in January 1991). However, it decreased by 14% over the next decade.

G. Lappo

See also Arkhangel'skaya Oblast'; Severnaya Dvina

Further Reading

Arkhangel'sk. In Entcyclopeditcheski Slovar' Granat [Encyclopaedia by Granat] (7th edition), Volume 3, Moscow: Granat [no date], pp. 622-623 Arkhangel'sk. In Bol'shaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediia [The Big Soviet Encyclopaedia] (3rd edition), edited by A.M. Prokhorov, Volume 2, Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya 1970, pp. 275-276 Arkhangel'sk. In Rossiyskaya Federatsiya. Obstchii obzor. Evropeiskii sever (Seriya "Sovetskii Soyuz") [Russian Federation. General review. European North] (Serias "Soviet Union"), Moscow: Mysl, 1971, pp. 401-407 Arkhangel'sk. In Goroda Rossii. Encyclopediya [The towns of Russia: Encyclopaedia], edited by G.M. Lappo, Moscow: Bolshaya rossiyskaya enciklopedia, 1994, pp. 25-28

Barashkov, Yu.A., Arkhangel'sk. In Arkhitekturnaya biographiya [Arkghangel'sk. Architectural Biography], Arkhangel'sk, 1984 Letopis' goroda Arkhangel'ska [Chronicle of Arkhangel'sk city], Arkhangel'sk, 1990 Ogorodnikov, S.F., Ocherk istorii goroda Arkhangel'ska v tor-govo-promyshlennom otnoshenii [Review of history of Arkhangel'sk city in trade-industrial aspect], St Petersburg, 1890

Popov, A.N., Gorod Arkhangel'sk. Istoriya. Kul'tura. Economika. Kraevedcheskii ocherk s prilozheniyem plana. [The City of Arkhangel'sk. History. Culture. Economy. Review of local lore with plan attachment], Arkhangel'sk, 1928

Vertyachikh, A.Yu., Arkhangel'skii putevoditel' [City guide of Arkhangel'sk], Arkhangel'sk, 1996

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