White Sea

White Sea

White Sea, Rus. Beloye More, c.36,680 sq mi (95,000 sq km), NW European Russia, an inlet of the Barents Sea. Its northern section, opening into the Barents Sea between the Kola and Kanin peninsulas, is connected with the southern body of the sea by a narrow strait c.100 mi (160 km) long and 30 to 35 mi (48-56 km) wide. Kandalashka Bay, in the southern section, is the deepest part of the sea (1,115 ft/340 m). The Mezen, the Northern Dvina, and the Onega rivers empty into large bays of the White Sea. The Solovetski Islands lie at the entrance to Onega Bay. Near the mouth of the Northern Dvina is Arkhangelsk (Archangel), the chief port. A canal system (140 mi/225 km long) connects the White Sea, at Belomorsk, with the Baltic Sea, at St. Petersburg. Icebreakers keep the major sections of the sea open in winter. There are lumber exports, fisheries (herring and cod), and seal herds. The White Sea was known by the people of Novgorod in the 11th cent. and was significant in the 16th cent. as the only sea outlet for Muscovite trade. In the early 1990s it was revealed that the Soviet navy had been using the sea as a dumping ground for its spent nuclear reactors.

The White Sea (Бе́лое мо́ре, Vienanmeri) is an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast.

The important port of Arkhangelsk is located on the White Sea. For much of Russia's history this was Russia's main centre of international maritime trade, conducted by the so-called Pomors ("seaside settlers") from Kholmogory. In the modern era it became an important Soviet naval and submarine base. The White Sea-Baltic Canal connects the White Sea with the Baltic Sea.

The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be internal waters of Russia.

There are four main bays and gulfs in the White Sea. From west to east, they are the Kandalaksha Gulf, the Onega Bay, the Dvina Bay, and the Mezen Bay.


The White Sea has a very large number of islands, but most of them are small. The main island group in the White Sea is the Solovetsky Islands, located almost in its midst. Kiy Island in Onega Bay is significant due to a historic monastery. Velikiy Island, located close to the shore, is the largest island in the Kandalaksha Gulf.


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