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The Natural Environment

- Oceans, Seas, and Coastlines -

- Rivers and Lakes -

- Climate -

- Magnetic Pole -

- Vegetation and Wildlife -

- Mineral Resources -

- Pollution -

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Unlike Antarctica, an ice-covered continental plateau surrounded by oceans, the Arctic has a central ocean almost enclosed by land. One large gap exists between Greenland and Scandinavia, and much smaller breaks are among the Canadian Arctic Islands and at the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska and Siberia.

The principal geological elements of the Arctic include parts of three ancient landmasses, composed predominantly of granite and gneiss, which are called shields—the Baltic-Scandinavian-Russian Shield, the Angara Shield or Siberian Platform (in north central Siberia), and the Canadian Shield (including all the Canadian Arctic except for the Queen Elizabeth Islands). Several regions, such as most of Greenland, are permanently ice covered, and extensive coastal plains are along much of northern Siberia, parts of the northwestern mainland and islands of Canada, and the North Slope of Alaska. Mountain ranges are in the eastern Arctic region of Canada (notably on Baffin Island), in Yukon Territory, in northern Alaska, in coastal Greenland, in Iceland, and in northeastern Siberia.

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