The Arctic Circle is defined by a curious phenomenon only observed in these latitudes known as the midnight sun. During the summers, when the pack ice allows vessels to explore the spectacular scenery of icebergs and calving glaciers, the sun never sets.
During the polar winter, when the sun does not rise above the horizon, the average temperature is -40°F. Much of the soil is permanently frozen and only the top layer melts during the summer. This allows a surprising number of flowering plants to burst into color against a backdrop of treeless tundra, fjords and craggy mountains.
Despite harsh conditions, indigenous groups such as the Inuit, Kalaalit and Sami have adapted to the extreme climate and made their homes here. Later explorers include the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries and whalers, who set up bases in the area during the 17th century.
The wildlife is as spectacular as the scenery with chances to see polar bears, reindeer, walrus and arctic fox on land, and a host of seals and whales including belugas and narwhals in the sea. Birdlife includes arctic terns, gyrfalcons, sea eagles and puffins.