Bolshevik Island, Russia

Severnaya Zemlya (“Northern Land”) is a frozen, far-off archipelago separating the Kara and Laptev seas in the Russian High Arctic. It also is one of the last places on earth to be explored, only discovered in 1913. (The island chain remained uncharted for another 20 years). One reason for the delayed discovery: Severnaya Zemlya’s harsh, desolate climate, with blistering winds and below-zero temperatures most of the year. Bolshevik — the second-largest and southernmost island in the archipelago — is mostly mountainous with sparse vegetation; nearly a third is covered by glaciers. Prima Polar Station, located to the north near Cape Baranov, is the sole polar station operating in Severnaya Zemlya. The only other humans living here are a few hundred miners operating the island’s gold fields, leaving the rest to resident lemmings, arctic foxes, and polar bears.