by Nikolai VEKHOV, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Russian Scientific Research Center of the Cultural and Natural Heritage named after D. Likhachev, RF Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications
The Kola Peninsula located in the north-west of our country and washed by the Barents and White Seas is considered to be the best-studied arctic region of the planet. Although that Russian Lapland, as they used to call it in historical literature, had a reputation of a god-forsaken place with a history full of conjectures and legends, it was there that in the 1930s the first institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences and a number of branch ministries were established.
The Kola Peninsular or Murman-the eastern part of the habitat of Lappish tribes–made part of the Novgorod Republic* in the early 13th century. Dozens of travelers visited this remote region and step by step filled the "bank" of information on the people and nature of the northern land. The first scientist who carried out analytical studies of this region was a famous encyclopedist Mikhail Lomonosov (full member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences from 1745)**, who visited it several times in the 1720s. In 1727-1730 French scientist Louis Delisle de la Croyere (Academician from 1727), who served in Russia, organized the first astrogeodesic expedition there. He visited the Island of Kildin in the Barents Sea, settlements Kola, Kandalaksha, Kovda, Keret and a coastline of the White Sea, kept an observation book, determined latitudes of geographical points.
The first period of studies in the Russian Lapland was devoted to its geography. All data on local rivers, lakes, mountains and settlements collected by the early 17th century were published in one book The Book of Maps (a description to the biggest map of those times drawn up by the Moscow Military Department in 1627; unfortunately, not preserved). As early as in 1745, the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences published an atlas with a re ... Читать далее