The river port of Dudinka is the administrative center of the Taymyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug in northern central Siberia, and an important port on the

Northern Sea Route. One of the most northerly towns in the world (69°21' N), it has a population of 26,800 (in January 2000). The port is situated at the confluence of the Dudinka and Yenisey rivers, and accessibility to seagoing ships is maintained all year round by icebreakers. The town of Dudinka is located 320 km north of the Arctic Circle and 2021 km north of the city of Krasnoyarsk.

Dudinka was founded in 1667 as a special post for yasak (fur tribute) collection from the indigenous peoples. According to one version, the name of the town came from a Nenet word "Tutin," where "Tu" means "fire" and "Tin" means "barn." First it meant "a storehouse of gunpowder and other ammunition." Until the mid-1920s, Dudinka was a small settlement with a population of about 80 people. In 1927, there were 246 inhabitants. In 1930, Dudinka became the center of the Taymyr Autonomous Okrug, and in 1951 obtained the status of a city. Population increased up to 1996, when there were 33,700 people, but has since fallen. The development of Dudinka as a port is connected with the development of the Noril'sk ore deposit and construction of the Noril'sk mining and smelting enterprise in

1935. Construction of the sea and river port started in

1936. In 1937, the building of the railroad to Noril'sk (over 100 km) was initiated. These facilities were built mainly by political prisoners who represented the majority of the Dudinka population at that time.

Dudinka is built on permafrost, and has an Arctic climate with long frosty winters and short cool summers. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is -30°C (the minimum is -57°C). The temperature of the warmest month (June) is +8°C. For almost 280 days per year, air temperature drops below zero. Snowfalls and light frost can occur even in summer. The annual precipitation is 250-300 mm. Polar night occurs in December-January when daylight hours are very short. During the polar day in May-June, the sun does not set.

Today, Dudinka, as the biggest port of northern Siberia, remains the main transshipment point of the Noril'sk industrial area. Almost all output from the Noril'sk mining plant is sent to European Russia via Dudinka. Most freight is taken via the Northern Sea Route. Sea communication with Murmansk and Arkhangel'sk exists all year round via the Northern Sea Route with the help of atomic icebreakers and by the Yenisey River with the help of river icebreakers. Navigation to Krasnoyarsk is carried out only in summer. Air communication is realized via Alykel airport, situated between Noril'sk and Dudinka.

In 1969, a 260-km gas pipeline from Messoyaha-Dudinka-Noril'sk was constructed, which became the most northern gas pipe in the world. In 1981, production of petrol and diesel fuel began at the liquid natural gas (LNG) plant in Dudinka.

A fish factory, the Taymyr geophysical, and Nizneenisey oil prospecting companies are based in Dudinka. Today, Dudinka is a modern city with multistory houses and neat wooden pavements. Dudinka is not only an administrative center but is also a cultural center of the Taymyr Okrug, where children of indigenous people come from distant settlements and trading posts to receive an education. The main indigenous peoples are Enets, Nganasans, and Nenets, but the city's population is mostly Russian. There is a veterinary secondary school, the Museum of Regional Studies, Folklore Museum, and a National Drama Theater.

Grigori Tertitski

See also Noril'sk; Taymyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug

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