So, here’s what I know so far about my soon-to-be home.
Contrary to popular belief, Arkhangelsk is NOT IN SIBERIA. It is located well west of the Urals, in the same time zone as Moscow and St. Petersburg (so, eight hours ahead of my East Coast fellows), on the White Sea. It’s at 64º32’N 40º32’E, which is just about two degrees south of the Arctic Circle. Despite that, however, it has relatively mild, Massachusetts-like winters, with average lows in January around 1º F. I can handle that. What I’m worried about handling, however, is the dark. Today, July 8, there will be almost 21 hours of daylight in Arkhangelsk. On December 21, there will be less than 4 hours of daylight. Eek! To make up for that, though, Arkhangelsk is located at a prime lattitude for viewing the Northern Lights! According to pogoda.ru, Aurora Borealis is visible an average of 15 days out of the year (more often than black ice and blowing snow, but less than dew; pogoda.ru is quite thorough).
Now that immediate physical concerns are alleviated, let’s move on to history. Before there were Russians in Arkhangelsk, there were Vikings as early as the ninth century. The first Russian settlers, who came from Novgorod and were called the Pomors, arrived on the White Sea in the twelfth century. The city of Arkhangelsk was founded by a decree from Ivan the Terrible in 1584. Arkhangelsk was the sea port of western Russia until Peter the Great decided to move everything to St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century, partly because Arkhangelsk is ice-bound for five months out of the year. Arkhangelsk was a major port during both world wars. Now, its economy is based on fish and timber. Special thanks goes out to Wikipedia for this crash course in Arkhangelsk history.
Arkhangelsk is the capital of the Arkhangelsk Oblast. It has a population of 348,700, and features nearby Malye Korely, the state museum of wooden architecture and folk art of northern Russia.
Arkhangelsk City website: http://www.arhcity.ru/
The Wikipedia entry on Arkhangelsk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkhangelsk
The page on Arkhangelsk from Russia’s weather.com: http://pogoda.ru.net/climate/22550.htm
A map of Arkhangelsk: http://www.arhmap.ru/