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The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs 66° 33′ 44″ (or 66.5622°) north of the Equator.[1]

The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone. The equivalent polar circle in the Southern Hemisphere is called the Antarctic Circle.

The Arctic Circle marks the southern extremity of the polar day (24-hour sunlit day, often referred to as the "midnight sun") and polar night (24-hour sunless night). North of the Arctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year. On the Arctic Circle those events occur, in principle, exactly once per year, at the June and December solstices, respectively. In fact, because of atmospheric refraction and because the sun appears as a disk and not a point, part of the midnight sun may be seen on the night of the northern summer solstice up to about 50 mi (90 km) south of the Arctic Circle; similarly, on the day of the northern winter solstice, part of the sun may be seen up to about 50 mi north of the Arctic Circle. That is true at sea level; those limits increase with elevation above sea level although in mountainous regions, there is often no direct view of the true horizon.

The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed, but directly depends on the Earth's axial tilt, which fluctuates within a margin of 2° over a 40,000 year period,[2] notably due to tidal forces resulting from the orbit of the Moon. The Arctic Circle is currently drifting northwards at a speed of about 15 m per year, see Circle of latitude for more information.


Relatively few people live north of the Arctic Circle due to the Arctic climate. The three largest communities above the Arctic Circle are situated in Russia: Murmansk (population 325,100), Norilsk (135,000), and Vorkuta (85,000). Tromsø (in Norway) has about 68,000 inhabitants. In contrast, the largest North American community north of the circle, Sisimiut (Greenland), has approximately 5,000 inhabitants, while between Canada and the USA, Barrow, Alaska is the largest settlement with circa 4,000 inhabitants. Rovaniemi (in Finland), which lies slightly south of the line, has a population of approximately 58,000, and is the largest settlement in the immediate vicinity of the Arctic Circle.

The Arctic Circle passes through the Arctic Ocean, the Scandinavian Peninsula, North Asia, Northern America and Greenland. The land on the Arctic Circle is divided among eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland), and Iceland (where it passes through the small offshore island of Grímsey).

Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Arctic Circle passes through:

Co-ordinates Country, territory or sea Notes
66° 34ʹ N 000° 00ʹ E  Arctic Ocean Norwegian Sea
66° 34ʹ N 012° 48ʹ E Template:NOR Nordland County
66° 34ʹ N 015° 31ʹ E Template:SWE Norrbotten County
66° 34ʹ N 023° 51ʹ E Template:FIN Lapland Region
66° 34ʹ N 029° 28ʹ E Template:RUS Republic of Karelia
Murmansk Oblast
Karelia again
Murmansk again
66° 34ʹ N 033° 25ʹ E White Sea Kandalaksha Gulf
66° 34ʹ N 034° 28ʹ E Template:RUS Murmansk Oblast – for about 7 km
66° 34ʹ N 034° 38ʹ E White Sea Kandalaksha Gulf
66° 34ʹ N 035° 00ʹ E Template:RUS Murmansk Oblast (Kola Peninsula)
66° 34ʹ N 040° 42ʹ E White Sea
66° 34ʹ N 044° 23ʹ E Template:RUS Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Komi Republic
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
66° 34ʹ N 071° 05ʹ E Gulf of Ob
66° 34ʹ N 072° 27ʹ E Template:RUS Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Krasnoyarsk Krai
Sakha Republic
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
66° 34ʹ N 171° 01ʹ W Arctic Ocean Chukchi Sea
66° 34ʹ N 164° 38ʹ W Template:USA Alaska (Seward Peninsula)
66° 34ʹ N 163° 44ʹ W Arctic Ocean Kotzebue Sound
66° 34ʹ N 161° 56ʹ W Template:USA Alaska – passing through Selawik Lake
66° 34ʹ N 141° 00ʹ W Template:CAN Yukon
Northwest Territories – passing through the Great Bear Lake
66° 34ʹ N 082° 59ʹ W Hudson Bay Foxe Basin
66° 34ʹ N 073° 25ʹ W Template:CAN Nunavut (Baffin Island – passing through Nettilling Lake)
66° 34ʹ N 061° 24ʹ W Atlantic Ocean Davis Strait
66° 34ʹ N 053° 16ʹ W Template:GRL
66° 34ʹ N 034° 09ʹ W Atlantic Ocean Denmark Strait
Greenland Sea
66° 34ʹ N 018° 01ʹ W Template:ISL Island of Grímsey
66° 34ʹ N 017° 59ʹ W Atlantic Ocean Greenland Sea
Norwegian Sea
File:Arctic Circle sign.jpg

A sign along the Dalton Highway marking the location of the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

File:66 33 arctic circle.jpg

Arctic Circle line in Rovaniemi, Finland

File:Northern lights at the Arctic Circle.jpg

Aurora Borealis above Arctic Circle sign in Yukon, Canada

File:201006 norway polar-circle.JPG

A sign on the Vikingen island marking the Arctic Circle in Norway

the Arctic Circle on Grimsey in Iceland

See also[]

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External links[]

See also wiktionary:Arctic Circle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary