Dikson

The settlement of Dikson, situated on the Kara Sea shore, is a port on the Northern Sea Route and the center of one of four administrative units of Taymyr (Dolgano-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug of the Russian

Federation. It was founded in September 1915 as a Russian radio and meteorological station and was named after an island where its first structures were built. Its population, which once reached 6000, is about 3000 today, most of whom are temporary workers from central Russia.

Since 1916, Dikson has been a base for numerous sea and air expeditions to the Arctic. A rather powerful radio and meteorological center and a large geophysical observatory were built here in 1934. In 1941, Dikson became a frequent port for the Arctic fleet in the middle of the Northern Sea Route and is today capable of receiving and handling sea ships of any class. It was very important for the efficient functioning of the Northern Sea Route during World War II.

The settlement of Dikson is located on the island of Dikson and on the shore of the Gulf of Yenisey. Originally, separate settlements were built on the island and mainland. Since 1957, it has been a single town and the center of the most northern administrative district of the Russian Federation. The island and mainland parts are separated by a 4-km-wide gulf. Communication between them is by launches in summer and by cross-country vehicles in winter. Helicopters are also often used.

In the mainland part of the settlement, Dikson hydrographical company (Hydrobase) operates, which has its own specialized fleet and stock of cross-country vehicles. Most of the specialists are hydrographers and oceanographers. The radio-meteorological center is situated in the island part, where there is also a fish-processing factory.

In the 1950s, an airport for medium and small planes was built on the island. From this airport ice reconnaissance planes take off, and expeditions to drifting polar research stations are sent out. Regular air communication is maintained with Krasnoyarsk and Vorkuta. There is a regional museum in Dikson, and monuments to Nikifor A. Begichev, a Russian polar explorer, and to the sailors who perished in August 1942 on board the icebreaker Sibiryakov in the battle against the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer.

Since the mid-1980s (beginning of the Soviet reforms), the settlement has been experiencing economic and social decline: the standard of living has dropped sharply and economic and social infrastructure is not being restored, resulting in a considerable outflow of the population. The future of Dikson is associated with revival of the Northern Sea Route and exploration of natural resources in the Russian Arctic.

I. Sergeyev

See also Northern Sea Route; Taymyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug

Further Reading

Belov, M.I., Istoria otkrytiya i osvoeniya Severnogo morskogo puti. Tom 4 [History of opening and mastering the Northern Sea Route, Volume 4], Leningrad: Gidrometeorologicheskoye izd-vo, 1969

Chagan, V.I., Ot Divnogorska do Diksona [From Divnogorsk to Dikson], Krasnoyarsk: Krasnoyarskoye knizhnoye izd-vo, 1976

Goroda Rossii: enciklopedia [Towns of Russia: encyclopedia], edited by G.M. Lappo, Moscow: Bolshaya rossiyskaya enciklopedia, 1994

Kolesov, A.N., Po Enisseyu. 3-e izd. (Through the Yenisey. 3rd edition), Krasnoyarsk: Krasnoyarskoye knizhnoye izd-vo, 1990

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