Mys Shmidta

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Mys Shmidta (English)
Мыс Шмидта (Russian)
-  Urban-type settlement[1]  -
Mys Shmidta during winter
Map of Russia - Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (2008-03).svg
Location of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in Russia
Mys Shmidta is located in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Mys Shmidta
Mys Shmidta
Location of Mys Shmidta in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Coordinates: Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Administrative status (as of June 2012)
Country Russia
Federal subject Chukotka Autonomous Okrug[1]
Administrative district Iultinsky District[1]
Municipal status (as of October 2010)
Municipal district Iultinsky Municipal District[2]
Urban settlement Mys Shmidta Urban Settlement[2]
Administrative center of Mys Shmidta Urban Settlement[2]
Area (urban settlement) (October 2010) 137.81 km2 (53.21 sq mi)[2]
Population (2010 Census) 492 inhabitants[3]
Population (January 2014 est.) 238 inhabitants[4]
Density Lua error in Module:Convert at line 272: attempt to index local 'cat' (a nil value).[5]
Time zone PETT (UTC+12:00)[6]
Founded 1931[7]
Urban-type settlement status since 1962[7]
Postal code(s)[8] 689350
Dialing code(s) +7 42739[9]
[[:commons:Category:{{#property:Commons category}}|Mys Shmidta]] on Wikimedia Commons

Mys Shmidta (Russian: Мыс Шми́дта, lit. Cape Schmidt) is an urban locality (an urban-type settlement) in Iultinsky District of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located about 5 kilometers (3 mi) southeast of the cape of the same name on the shore of the Chukchi Sea (a part of the Arctic Ocean), south of Wrangel Island, about 650 kilometers (400 mi) from Anadyr, the administrative center of the autonomous okrug. The cape, but not the settlement, was formerly known as North Cape (or Cape North). Cape Billings is located to the west of it and Cape Vankarem is to the east. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 492;[3] down from 705 recorded in the 2002 Census.[10]

It was founded in 1931[7] as a part of the Soviet Union's development of its Arctic air defenses. Changes in the manner in which national defenses are constructed in recent decades have led to a decline in the settlement's importance, although it remains Chukotka's most important main northern sea port after Pevek.


File:Мыс Шмидта.jpg
View of Cape Schmidt from the Chukchi Sea

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The settlement is positioned on a spit which separates the Akatan Lagoon from the open sea and protects the airport from the full effects of the Arctic Ocean. A little distance to the northwest is the cape from which the settlement gets its name and just beyond this lies the rural Chukchi locality of Ryrkaypiy. Cape Yakan is located further to the west.


Cape North, as Cape Schmidt was then called,[11] was first reached by James Cook in 1778 when he sailed through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea, demonstrating to people in Europe and North America that Russia and Alaska were separated.[12]

The modern settlement was founded in 1931[7] as a part of the Soviet Union's attempts to develop the extreme northeast of the country.[citation needed] The settlement itself, its airport, and the nearby cape were all named after Otto Schmidt, with Mys Shmidta forming the central base for the enterprises involved in the mining of tin and gold.[13] The surrounding area from Tiksi and Pevek to Nordvik and Maria Pronchishcheva Bay experienced a comparative boom as the first icebreakers began carrying goods and people along the Northern Sea Route.[citation needed]

In 1954, the airfield was developed as part of the plan to create a ring of the Soviet Air Force air bases around the Arctic for the use of its strategic bomber fleet during the Cold War.[citation needed] During the Cold War, this airfield formed a network of forward staging bases inside the Arctic Circle.[citation needed] The use of strategic bomber forward staging bases was dictated by geography and weather.[14] The northern parts of the Soviet Union closest to the United States are in the Arctic, with hostile weather conditions.[14] Consequently, Soviet strategic bombers were normally stationed at bases in more temperate parts of the Soviet Union, flying training missions from these forward staging bases.[14]

In 1962, Mys Shmidta was granted urban-type settlement status.[7]

The focus on intercontinental ballistic missiles as opposed to bombers meant that the airfield became less important and eventually closed for military use in the early 1990s.[citation needed] Around the same time, mining on an industrial scale also ceased.[citation needed] These two events caused a major outflow of people,[citation needed] as illustrated in the table below.

Demographic changes
1970 1979 1989 2002 2010
1,818[citation needed] 3,307[15] 4,587[16] 705[10] 492[3]

Administrative and municipal status

Within the framework of administrative divisions, Mys Shmidta is directly subordinated to Iultinsky District.[1] As a municipal division, the urban-type settlement of Mys Shmidta is incorporated within Iultinsky Municipal District as Mys Shmidta Urban Settlement.[2]


The overall climate of Shmidtovsky District is more severe than in neighboring Alaska and varies significantly throughout the year.[citation needed] The settlement, by the very nature of its position, is at the mercy of Arctic conditions, which leave it stranded throughout the winter and can pose a danger to shipping during the brief summer as supply ships try to make their delivery. The importance attached to the summer months from a logistical standpoint was well illustrated in 1983, when winter set in earlier than predicted and resulted in Mys Shmidta and a number of other coastal ports in the Russian Far East shutting early due to ice.[17] Although unloading was delayed due to ice for a fortnight, the first supply ship convoy to Mys Shmidta arrived as planned.[18] However, a severe drop in temperature through August, much earlier than usual, caused a significantly greater concentration of ice in the De Long Strait and strong northerly winds forcing the semi-permanent Ayon ice sheet onto the northern coast of Chukotka.[17] By October, the ice had thickened to such a degree that a convoy of ships, including the freighter Nina Sagaydak, Kamensk-Uralsky, together with the icebreakers Kapitan Sorokin and Vladivostok, was held fast by October in sea ice about half way between Mys Shmidta and Vankarem.[18] This proved chaotic with several ships drifting freely in the ice, hulls grinding against one another.[17] Although the ships eventually separated, the damage cause to the Nina Sagaydak proved too severe and she sank; the first ship to be sunk by ice in Soviet waters since the Vitimles in 1963.[17] The remaining ships were freed by icebreakers and towed to the edge of the sea ice.[citation needed] This situation placed great strain on the settlement's resources as it struggled to deal with such a large amount of shipping and the associated problem of how to store a much larger than usual quantity of cargo, much of which was not intended to be frozen, while authorities readied the winter snow roads.[17]

Climate data for Mys Shmidta
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.8
Average high °C (°F) −22.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −25.6
Average low °C (°F) −29.1
Record low °C (°F) −45.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 14
Average rainy days 0 0.1 0.1 0.4 4 11 16 18 14 3 1 0.2 67.8
Average snowy days 16 15 14 16 15 4 1 1 8 20 20 17 147
Average relative humidity (%) 84 83 83 85 88 87 87 89 88 85 86 85 85.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 4 55 173 254 208 256 233 133 83 55 9 0 1,463
Source #1:[19]
Source #2: NOAA (sun only, 1961–1990)[20]


File:CORONA first image.jpg
Mys Shmidta, 1961. The first recovered image from the Corona spy satellite (note that north is roughly toward the bottom of the picture).

The settlement is populated mostly by indigenous people, whose economy is driven mainly by reindeer herding and low level gold mining.[citation needed] However, there is little mining done in the vicinity of Mys Shmidta.[21]

There remains a meteorological station in Mys Shmidta.[citation needed]



The port at Mys Shmidta is generally open between July and September, although the waters surrounding the port are shallow which limits the type of ships that can serve the area.[citation needed] The port is operated by the Russian firm Almazzoloto.[22]

Though it has shrunk since the days of the Cold War, Mys Shmidta is still the main northern sea port in Chukotka along with Pevek.[23] Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, imports all but ceased in the early to mid-1990s, although in 1991 Mys Shmidta, importing nearly 30,000 tons of mainly American fuel, dealt with significantly more cargo than ports such as Pevek.[citation needed] The decline in the overall volume of cargo passing through Mys Shmidta continued throughout the 1990s, with less than 50,000 tons being handled in 1997 and just over 1,000 tons the following year,[23] This is in part due to the declining economy of the region, which has caused a fall in investment in the port infrastructure, which, in turn, limits the maximum potential turnover of the port.[citation needed]

It is difficult to see where future cargo exports might come from.[23] While gold is mined in Bilibino,[23] with lower-level mining maintained at Iultin and Polyarny, these activities do not produce significant cargo volumes for the northern sea route, nor does the extraction of any other minerals in the area.[citation needed] Although part of the Northern Sea Route's series of ports, Mys Shmidta, as a port, will be dominated by imports of food and coal for the settlement and the surrounding rural localities.[citation needed]

A federal government decision in 1997 led to the establishment of an emergency radio station in Mys Shmidta as well as other northern Sea route ports to specifically monitor distress and salvage frequencies.[24]

Air transport

Immediately to the southwest of the settlement is the Mys Shmidta Airport.[citation needed] It is now employed solely for civilian usage providing flights to Anadyr.[citation needed] Flights are provided by Chukotavia.[citation needed]


Mys Shmidta is not connected to any other part of Chukotka by permanent road.[citation needed] Transport must either be by air or along unpaved roads.[citation needed] One such unpaved road is linking Mys Shmidta with Egvekinot.[21] There is also a 435-kilometer (270 mi) road between Mys Shmidta and Komsomolsky, of which 235 kilometers (146 mi) is unpaved and the remaining 199 kilometers (124 mi) is a snow road.[21]


Mys Shmidta is the starting point for any tourist wishing to explore Wrangel Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nature reserve's headquarters are based in Mys Shmidta.[25]

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Directive #517-rp
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Law #149-OZ
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  4. Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Territorial Branch of the Federal State Statistics Service. Численность постоянного населения Чукотского автономного округа по муниципальным образованиям на 1 января 2014 года (Russian)
  5. The value of density was calculated automatically by dividing the 2010 Census population by the area specified in the infobox. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox does not necessarily correspond to the area of the entity proper or is reported for the same year as the population.
  6. Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №248-ФЗ от 21 июля 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #248-FZ of July 21, 2014 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Russian Academy of Sciences. Institute of Geography. Information about Mys Shmidta (Russian)
  8. Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (Russian)
  9. Futé, p. 31
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  11. Beaglehole, p. 621
  12. Serreze & Barry, p. 5
  13. Leontyev & Novikova, p. 262
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Mys Shmidta
  15. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  16. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Barr & Wilson
  18. 18.0 18.1 Martyshin
  19. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  20. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Fute, p. 141ff
  22. Ragner, p. 87
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Ragner, pp. 37–38
  24. Ivanov et al.
  25. United Nations Environment Programme. Natural System Of Wrangel Island Reserve, Chukotka, Russian Federation,[dead link] p. 7


  • Правительство Чукотского автономного округа. Распоряжение №517-рп от 30 декабря 2008 г. «Об утверждении реестра административно-территориальных и территориальных образований Чукотского автономного округа», в ред. Распоряжения №323-рп от 27 июня 2011 г. «О внесении изменений в Распоряжение Правительства Чукотского автономного округа от 30 декабря 2008 года №517-рп». Опубликован: База данных "Консультант-плюс". (Government of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Directive #517-rp of December 30, 2008 On the Adoption of the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial and Territorial Formations of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, as amended by the Directive #323-rp of June 27, 2011 On Amending the Government of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Directive No. 517-rp of December 30, 2008. ).
  • Дума Чукотского автономного округа. Закон №149-ОЗ от 24 ноября 2008 г. «О статусе, границах и административных центрах муниципальных образований на территории Иультинского муниципального района Чукотского автономного округа», в ред. Закона №85-ОЗ от 20 октября 2010 г «Об упразднении сельского поселения Нутэпэльмен Иультинского муниципального района Чукотского автономного округа и о внесении изменений в отдельные законодательные акты Чукотского автономного округа». Вступил в силу через десять дней со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Ведомости", №46/1 (373/1), 28 ноября 2008 г. (Duma of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Law #149-OZ of November 24, 2008 On the Status, Borders, and Administrative Centers of the Municipal Formations on the Territory of Iultinsky Municipal District of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, as amended by the Law #85-OZ of October 20, 2010 On the Abolition of Nutepelmen Rural Settlement of Iultinsky Municipal District of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and on Amending Several Legislative Acts of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Effective as of the day ten days after the official publication date.).
  • Petit Fute. Chukotka.
  • J. C. Beaglehole. The Life of Captain James Cook.
  • M. C. Serreze and R. G. Barry. The Arctic Climate System
  • В. В. Леонтьев и К. А. Новикова (V. V. Leontyev and K. A. Novikova). "Топонимический словарь северо-востока СССР" (Toponymic Dictionary of the Northeastern USSR). Магадан, 1989
  • W. Barr and E. A. Wilson. The Shipping Crisis in the Soviet Eastern Arctic at the Close of the 1983 Navigation Season
  • V. Martyshin. "On the Route from Pevek", published in Vodny Transport
  • C. L. Ragner. [ Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure—Present State and Future Potential]. The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Report 13/2000.
  • Y. M. Ivanov, A. P. Ushakov, and A. N. Yakovlov. Russian Administration of the Northern Sea Route. Central INSROP Working Paper, #106.