China the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering 9,600,000 square kilometers, it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since China has expanded, re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin established the first Chinese empire; the succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements.
The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty and Northern Song completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution; the Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, China has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity.
China is the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget; the PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as it replaced the ROC in 1971, as well as an active global partner of ASEAN Plus mechanism. China is a leading member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, WTO, APEC, BRICS, the BCIM, the G20. In recent times, scholars have argued that it will soon be a world superpower, rivaling the United States; the word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century. It is not a word used by the Chinese themselves, it has been traced through Portuguese and Persian back to the Sanskrit word Cīna, used in ancient India."China" appears in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. Barbosa's usage was derived from Persian Chīn, in turn derived from Sanskrit Cīna.
Cīna was first used including the Mahābhārata and the Laws of Manu. In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived from the name of the Qin dynasty. Although this derivation is still given in various sources, it is complicated by the fact that the Sanskrit word appears in pre-Qin literature; the word may have referred to a state such as Yelang. The meaning transferred to China as a whole; the origin of the Sanskrit word is still a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China"; the shorter form is "China" Zhōngguó, from zhōng and guó, a term which developed under the Western Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne. It was applied to the area around Luoyi during the Eastern Zhou and to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the Qing, it was used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia people from perceived "barbarians". The name Zhongguo is translated as "Middle Kingdom" in English.
Archaeological evidence suggests that early hominids inhabited China between 2.24 million and 250,000 years ago. The hominid fossils of Peking Man, a Homo erectus who used fire, were discovered in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing; the fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Hunan. Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BCE, Damaidi around 6000 BCE, Dadiwan from 5800–5400 BCE, Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BCE; some scholars have suggested. According to Chinese tradition, the first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BCE; the dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period; the succeeding Shang dynasty is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records. The Shang ruled the plain of the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE.
Their oracle bone script
Hornsund is a fjord on the western side of the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen island. The fjord's mouth faces west to the Greenland Sea, is 12 kilometres wide; the length is 30 kilometres, the mean depth is 90 metres, the maximal depth is 260 metres. Hornsund cuts different geological formations, from the Precambrian to the west to the upper Mesozoic to the east, it is perpendicular to the main regional fractures of Spitsbergen; the coastline of Hornsund is diversified, with a number of bays at the mouths of mountainous glacial valleys. Some of these bays have appeared as late as the beginning of the last century due to recession of glaciers. A Polish research station has been operating there since 1957; the English explorer Jonas Poole visited Hornsund in 1610, giving the fjord its name after his men had brought back a reindeer antler. In 1613 the first whaling ships used Hornsund, the majority of which were driven away by the English. In 1614 the fjord was ceded to the Dutch, but only for this season.
In 1617 and 1618 Dutch ships again used Hornsund, but were either driven away or had their goods stolen. Danish ships resorted to the fjord in 1617, were forced to give a fifth of their catch to the English; the English held a near monopoly on whaling in the bay. In 1634 there was a dispute between the London and Yarmouth ships there, resulting in the death of one man. Polish Polar Station, Hornsund
Fredrik Hjalmar Johansen was a Norwegian polar explorer. He participated on the third Fram expeditions, he shipped out with the Fridtjof Nansen expedition in 1893–1896, accompanied Nansen to notch a new Farthest North record near the North Pole. Johansen participated in the expedition of Roald Amundsen to the South Pole in 1910–1912. Born at Skien in Telemark county, Norway, he was the son of Maren Pedersdatter. He was the second eldest son in a family of five children, he attended Royal Frederick University to study law in Christiania. However, he performed poorly at law school, due to a low attendance of lectures. At the age of 21, Johansen's father died. After dropping out of school, Hjalmar worked in an office job at Bratsberg. However, by that time he had made his mark as an athlete. In gymnastics he became Norwegian champion in 1885 in Fredrikshald and world champion in 1889 in Paris. Johansen joined Nansen's polar expedition with Fram in 1893. After Fram froze fast, he became an assistant to Sigurd Scott-Hansen with his meteorologic studies.
Johansen was an expert dog driver. Using skis and sled dogs, Johansen accompanied Nansen on their joint closest approach to the North Pole, 86 degrees 14 minutes north, in 1895. On their way home and Nansen were forced to spend the winter on Franz Josef Land because of severe damage to their kayaks when crossing open channels in the ice. During the expedition, Johansen once fell through the ice and was saved by Nansen, received a blow on his head by a polar bear. On the return of the Nansen parties to Norway and other members of the crew of the Fram were celebrated as heroes. Johansen was promoted to captain in the Norwegian infantry at the garrison in Tromsø; however he drank and in 1907 he was asked to resign his position in the army. Between the years 1907 to 1909, Johansen participated in four expeditions to Svalbard. In 1910 he was one of Amundsen's men in Antarctica. Amundsen and his men, racing for the South Pole with Robert Falcon Scott, started out for the South Pole too early in the season and had to return to base camp at the Bay of Whales.
Johansen had disagreed with the early start and had to rescue a less experienced member of the party, Kristian Prestrud, from freezing to death on the return journey. Amundsen had taken the best dogsled and sped off towards the camp without regard for his men as a storm approached; as a result and Johansen had no tent or cooking equipment to melt snow and had no choice but to press on for the camp in a blizzard with extreme windchill and a dangerous descent towards the base camp. Johansen carried him to the base camp. However, the mishap enraged Amundsen. Upon their return to the Bay of Whales, Johansen quarrelled with Amundsen in front of the other men, he further disciplined Johansen by ordering him to subordinate himself to Prestrud, ordering the two men to embark on a minor expedition towards King Edward VII Land while the other members of the main expedition resumed their trek towards the Pole. The Amundsen party reached the South Pole and reunited with the subsidiary party. On the expedition's landfall in Tasmania Amundsen dismissed Johansen from the Fram, paid him off, ordered him to return separately to Norway.
Once Johansen had left Amundsen's party, the triumphant leader made the entire remaining crew sign a paper that stated that they were to keep quiet about the whole expedition. Amundsen was to have the sole right of writing about it in his soon-to-be-published book. After returning separately to Norway, Johansen found that he was never to be credited by Amundsen for any contribution to the expedition, including his heroic rescue of Prestrud. Johansen was awarded the South Pole Medal, the Royal Norwegian award instituted by King Haakon VII in 1912 to reward participants in Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition. However, Johansen had resumed drinking alcohol, became clinically depressed and in 1913 committed suicide, his wife Hilda Øvrum and their four children survived him. After his death, Johansen's reputation drifted into obscurity. In 1997, biographer Ragnar Kvam, Jr. published a biography of the forgotten explorer, Den tredje mann: Beretningen om Hjalmar Johansen. As a result of this and other work, Johansen's place in the story of Norwegian polar exploration is being rehabilitated.
In 2005, the International Hydrographic Organization approved the proposal by an American arctic scientist to name Hjalmar Johansen Seamount, a newly discovered volcanic edifice on the floor of the Arctic Ocean northwest of Spitzbergen. The location is 82 degrees, 57 minutes N, 3 degrees, 40 minutes W; the top of the undersea mountain lies at a water depth of 4800 meters. Hjalmar Johansen With Nansen in the North Ragnar Kvam Den tredje mann: Beretningen om Hjalmar Johansen ISBN 978-8205248847
William Parry (explorer)
Rear-Admiral Sir William Edward Parry was an English explorer of the Arctic, known for his 1819 expedition through the Parry Channel the most successful in the long quest for the Northwest Passage. In 1827 he attempted one of the earliest expeditions to the North Pole, he reached 82°45′N, setting the record for human exploration Farthest North that stood for nearly five decades before being surpassed at 83°20′N by Sir Albert Hastings Markham in 1875. Parry was born in Bath, the son of Caleb Hillier Parry and Sarah Rigby, he was educated at King Edward's School. At the age of thirteen he joined the flagship of Admiral Sir William Cornwallis in the Channel fleet as a first-class volunteer, in 1806 became a midshipman, in 1810 received promotion to the rank of lieutenant in the frigate Alexander, which spent the next three years in the protection of the Spitsbergen whale fishery, he took advantage of this opportunity for the study and practice of astronomical observations in northern latitudes, afterwards published the results of his studies in a small volume on Nautical Astronomy by Night.
From 1813 to 1817 he served on the North American station. In 1818 he received command of the brig Alexander in the Arctic expedition under Captain John Ross; this expedition followed the coast of Baffin Bay without making any new discoveries. Parry and many others thought that Ross was wrong to turn back after entering Lancaster Sound at the north end of Baffin Island; as a result Parry was given command of a new expedition in HMS Hecla accompanied by the slower HMS Griper under Matthew Liddon. Others on the expedition were science officer and Frederick William Beechy. For protection from ice the ships were clad with 3-inch oak, had iron plates on their bows and internal cross-beams, they carried food in tin cans, an invention so new that there were as yet no can openers. Instead of taking Ross's easy route anti-clockwise around Baffin Bay he headed straight for Lancaster Sound. Fighting his way through ice he headed for Lancaster Sound, he kept going. Blocked by heavy ice, they went south for more than 100 miles into Prince Regent Inlet before turning back.
Continuing west they passed 110 ° W. Blocked by ice they turned back to a place Parry called Winter Harbour on the south shore of Melville Island, somewhere near 107- or 108° W. Cutting their way through new ice the ships reached anchorage on 26 September. Here they were frozen in for the next 10 months. There were three months of total darkness and in the new year the temperature reached −54 °F; the men were kept busy with regular exercise while the officers put on plays and produced a newspaper. The first case of scurvy was reported in January and by March fourteen men were on the sick list, about half with mild scurvy. Parry planted them in his cabin; the leaves seemed to help. There was some excitement in early March when the first melt water appeared, but by the end of the month the ice was still 6 feet thick. In June Parry led a group of men dragging a wooden cart to the north shore of the island which he named Hecla and Griper Bay, it was the first of August. They got as far west as 113°46'W before turning back.
It was too late in the season and new ice was beginning to form. They reached England in October 1820 having lost only one man. Parry's voyage, which had taken him through the Parry Channel three quarters of the way across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago was the single most productive voyage in the quest for the Northwest Passage. Luck had been on their side. A narrative of the expedition, entitled Journal of a Voyage to discover a North-west Passage, appeared in 1821, publisher John Murray paying 1,000 guineas for it. Upon his return Lieutenant Parry received promotion to the rank of commander, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in February 1821. In April 1821 he again left for the Arctic commanding HMS Fury accompanied by HMS Hecla under George Francis Lyon. Others with him were George Fisher and chaplain, William Hooper and diarist, lieutenants Francis Crozier and Henry Parkyns Hoppner and James Clark Ross a midshipman. Experience from the previous voyage led to improvements; the two vessels were nearly identical.
They had cork insulation, cork plugs for the portholes and a coal-burning stove in the lowest deck to deal with condensation. The men were issued better clothing and lemon juice was stored in kegs rather than glass bottles; the goal this time was to find a passage near the northwest end of Hudson Bay. After working through the ice of Hudson Strait he headed directly west to Frozen Strait which Christopher Middleton had found impassable in 1742, he passed Frozen Strait in a fog and found himself in Repulse Bay which he re-checked and found land-locked. He ran northeast and mapped the coast of the Melville Peninsula and wintered at the southeast corner of Winter Island. From the Inuit he learned. In March and May Lyon led two sledging expeditions into the interior. Freed from the ice in July he went north and found the Fury and Hecla Strait, ice-filled, they waited for the ice to clear. In September Lieutenant Ried trekked 100 miles west along the Strait to the ice-filled Gulf of Boothia, the north end of which Parry had app
Arctic exploration is the physical exploration of the Arctic region of the Earth. It refers to the historical period during which mankind has explored the region north of the Arctic Circle. Historical records suggest that humankind have explored the northern extremes since 325 BC, when the ancient Greek sailor Pytheas reached a frozen sea while attempting to find a source of the metal tin. Dangerous oceans and poor weather conditions fetter explorers attempting to reach polar regions and journeying through these perils by sight and foot has proven difficult; some scholars believe that the first attempts to penetrate the Arctic Circle can be traced to ancient Greece and the sailor Pytheas, a contemporary of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, who, in c. 325 BC, attempted to find the source of the tin that would sporadically reach the Greek colony of Massilia on the Mediterranean coast. Sailing past the Pillars of Hercules, he reached Brittany and Cornwall circumnavigating the British Isles. From the local population, he heard news of the mysterious land of Thule farther to the north.
After six days of sailing, he reached land at the edge of a frozen sea, described what is believed to be the aurora and the midnight sun. Some historians claim that this new land of Thule was either the Norwegian coast or the Shetland Islands based on his descriptions and the trade routes of early British sailors. While no one knows how far Pytheas sailed, he may have crossed the Arctic Circle, his tales were regarded as fantasy by Greek and Roman authorities, such as the geographer Strabo. The first Viking to sight Iceland was Gardar Svavarsson, who lost his route due to harsh conditions when sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands; this led to a wave of colonization. Not all the settlers were successful however in the attempts to reach the island. In the 10th century, Gunnbjörn Ulfsson got lost in a storm and ended up within sight of the Greenland coast, his report spurred Erik the Red, an outlawed chieftain, to establish a settlement there in 985. While they flourished these settlements foundered due to changing climatic conditions.
They are believed to have survived until around 1450. Greenland's early settlers sailed westward, in search of better hunting grounds. Modern scholars debate the precise location of the new lands of Vinland and Helluland that they discovered; the Scandinavian peoples pushed farther north into their own peninsula by land and by sea. As early as 880, the Viking Ohthere of Hålogaland rounded the Scandinavian Peninsula and sailed to the Kola Peninsula and the White Sea; the Pechenga Monastery on the north of Kola Peninsula was founded by Russian monks in 1533. They explored north by boat, discovering the Northern Sea Route, as well as penetrating to the trans-Ural areas of northern Siberia, they founded the settlement of Mangazeya east of the Yamal Peninsula in the early 16th century. In 1648 the Cossack Semyon Dezhnyov opened the now famous Bering Strait between Asia. Russian settlers and traders on the coasts of the White Sea, the Pomors, had been exploring parts of the northeast passage as early as the 11th century.
By the 17th century they established a continuous sea route from Arkhangelsk as far east as the mouth of Yenisey. This route, known as Mangazeya seaway, after its eastern terminus, the trade depot of Mangazeya, was an early precursor to the Northern Sea Route. Exploration to the north of the Arctic Circle in the Renaissance was both driven by the rediscovery of the Classics and the national quests for commercial expansion, hampered by limits in maritime technology, lack of stable food supplies, insufficient insulation for the crew against extreme cold. A seminal event in Arctic exploration occurred in 1409, when Ptolemy's Geographia was translated into Latin, thereby introducing the concepts of latitude and longitude into Western Europe. Navigators were better able to chart their positions, the European race to China, sparked by interest in the writings of Marco Polo, commenced; the Inventio Fortunata, a lost book, describes in a summary written by Jacobus Cnoyen but only found in a letter from Gerardus Mercator, voyages as far as the North Pole.
One disputed claim is that two brothers from Venice and Antonio Zeno made a map of their journeys to that region, which were published by their descendants in 1558. The Northwest Passage connects the Pacific Oceans via the Arctic Ocean. Since the discovery of the American continent was the product of the search for a route to Asia, exploration around the northern edge of North America continued for the Northwest Passage. John Cabot's initial failure in 1497 to find a Northwest Passage across the Atlantic led the British to seek an alternative route to the east. Interest re-kindled in 1564 after Jacques Cartier's discovery of the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Martin Frobisher had formed a resolution to undertake the challenge of forging a trade route from England westward to India. In 1576 - 1578, he took three trips to. Frobisher Bay is named after him. In July 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who had written a treatise on the discovery of the passage and was a backer of Frobisher's, claimed the territory of Newfoundland for the English crown.
On August 8, 1585, under the employ of Elizabeth I the English explorer John Davis entered Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island. Davis rounded Greenland before dividing his four ships into separate expeditions to search for a passage
Nansen's Fram expedition
Nansen's Fram expedition of 1893–96 was an attempt by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen to reach the geographical North Pole by harnessing the natural east–west current of the Arctic Ocean. In the face of much discouragement from other polar explorers, Nansen took his ship Fram to the New Siberian Islands in the eastern Arctic Ocean, froze her into the pack ice, waited for the drift to carry her towards the pole. Impatient with the slow speed and erratic character of the drift, after 18 months Nansen and a chosen companion, Hjalmar Johansen, left the ship with a team of dogs and sledges and made for the pole, they did not reach it, but they achieved a record Farthest North latitude of 86°13.6′N before a long retreat over ice and water to reach safety in Franz Josef Land. Meanwhile, Fram continued to drift westward emerging in the North Atlantic Ocean; the idea for the expedition had arisen after items from the American vessel Jeannette, which had sunk off the north coast of Siberia in 1881, were discovered three years off the south-west coast of Greenland.
The wreckage had been carried across the polar ocean across the pole itself. Based on this and other debris recovered from the Greenland coast, the meteorologist Henrik Mohn developed a theory of transpolar drift, which led Nansen to believe that a specially designed ship could be frozen in the pack ice and follow the same track as Jeannette wreckage, thus reaching the vicinity of the pole. Nansen supervised the construction of a vessel with a rounded hull and other features designed to withstand prolonged pressure from ice; the ship was threatened during her long imprisonment, emerged unscathed after three years. The scientific observations carried out during this period contributed to the new discipline of oceanography, which subsequently became the main focus of Nansen's scientific work. Fram's drift and Nansen's sledge journey proved conclusively that there were no significant land masses between the Eurasian continents and the North Pole, confirmed the general character of the north polar region as a deep, ice-covered sea.
Although Nansen retired from exploration after this expedition, the methods of travel and survival he developed with Johansen influenced all the polar expeditions and south, which followed in the subsequent three decades. In September 1879, Jeannette, an ex-Royal Navy gunboat converted by the US Navy for Arctic exploration, commanded by George W. De Long, entered the pack ice north of the Bering Strait, she remained ice-bound for nearly two years, drifting to the area of the New Siberian Islands, before being crushed and sunk on 13 June 1881. Her crew made for the Siberian coast. Three years relics from Jeannette appeared on the opposite side of the world, in the vicinity of Julianehaab on the southwest coast of Greenland; these items, frozen into the drifting ice, included clothing bearing crew members' names and documents signed by De Long. In a lecture given in 1884 to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Dr. Henrik Mohn, one of the founders of modern meteorology, argued that the finding of the Jeannette relics indicated the existence of an ocean current flowing from east to west across the entire Arctic Ocean.
The Danish governor of Julianehaab, writing of the find, surmised that an expedition frozen into the Siberian sea might, if its ship were to prove strong enough, cross the polar ocean and land in South Greenland. These theories were read with interest by the 23-year-old Fridtjof Nansen working as a curator at the Bergen Museum while completing his doctoral studies. Nansen was captivated by the frozen north. An expert skier, Nansen was making plans to lead the first crossing of the Greenland icecap, an objective delayed by the demands of his academic studies, but triumphantly achieved in 1888–89. Through these years Nansen remembered the east–west Arctic drift theory and its inherent possibilities for further polar exploration, shortly after his return from Greenland he was ready to announce his plans. In February 1890 Nansen addressed a meeting of the Norwegian Geographical Society in Oslo. After drawing attention to the failures of the many expeditions which had approached the North Pole from the west, he considered the implications of the discovery of the Jeannette items, along with further finds of driftwood and other debris from Siberia or Alaska, identified along the Greenland coast.
"Putting all this together," Nansen said, "we are driven to the conclusion that a current flows... from the Siberian Arctic Sea to the east coast of Greenland," passing across the Pole. It seemed that the obvious thing to do was "to make our way into the current on that side of the Pole where it flows northward, by its help to penetrate into those regions which all who have hitherto worked against have sought in vain to reach."Nansen's plan required a small and manoeuvrable ship, powered by sail and an engine, capable of carrying fuel and provisions for twelve men for five years. The vessel would follow Jeannette's route to the New Siberian Islands, in the approximate position of Jeannette's sinking, when ice conditions were right "we shall plough our way in amongst the ice as far as we can." The ship would drift with the ice towards the pole and reach the sea between Greenland and Spitsbergen. Should the ship founder, a possibility which Nansen thought unlikely, the party would camp on a floe and al
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Mediterranean Sea or the Arctic Sea, classifying it a mediterranean sea or an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, it is seen as the northernmost part of the all-encompassing World Ocean. Located in the Arctic north polar region in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere, the Arctic Ocean is completely surrounded by Eurasia and North America, it is covered by sea ice throughout the year and completely in winter. The Arctic Ocean's surface temperature and salinity vary seasonally as the ice cover melts and freezes; the summer shrinking of the ice has been quoted at 50%. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center uses satellite data to provide a daily record of Arctic sea ice cover and the rate of melting compared to an average period and specific past years. Human habitation in the North American polar region goes back at least 50,000–17,000 years ago, during the Wisconsin glaciation.
At this time, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to north west North America, leading to the Settlement of the Americas. Paleo-Eskimo groups included the Pre-Dorset; the Dorset were the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture in the Arctic before the migration east from present-day Alaska of the Thule, the ancestors of the modern Inuit. The Thule Tradition lasted from about 200 B. C. to 1600 A. D. around the Bering Strait, the Thule people being the prehistoric ancestors of the Inuit who now live in Northern Labrador. For much of European history, the north polar regions remained unexplored and their geography conjectural. Pytheas of Massilia recorded an account of a journey northward in 325 BC, to a land he called "Eschate Thule", where the Sun only set for three hours each day and the water was replaced by a congealed substance "on which one can neither walk nor sail", he was describing loose sea ice known today as "growlers" or "bergy bits". Early cartographers were unsure whether to draw the region around the North Pole as water.
The fervent desire of European merchants for a northern passage, the Northern Sea Route or the Northwest Passage, to "Cathay" caused water to win out, by 1723 mapmakers such as Johann Homann featured an extensive "Oceanus Septentrionalis" at the northern edge of their charts. The few expeditions to penetrate much beyond the Arctic Circle in this era added only small islands, such as Novaya Zemlya and Spitzbergen, though since these were surrounded by pack-ice, their northern limits were not so clear; the makers of navigational charts, more conservative than some of the more fanciful cartographers, tended to leave the region blank, with only fragments of known coastline sketched in. This lack of knowledge of what lay north of the shifting barrier of ice gave rise to a number of conjectures. In England and other European nations, the myth of an "Open Polar Sea" was persistent. John Barrow, longtime Second Secretary of the British Admiralty, promoted exploration of the region from 1818 to 1845 in search of this.
In the United States in the 1850s and 1860s, the explorers Elisha Kane and Isaac Israel Hayes both claimed to have seen part of this elusive body of water. Quite late in the century, the eminent authority Matthew Fontaine Maury included a description of the Open Polar Sea in his textbook The Physical Geography of the Sea; as all the explorers who travelled closer and closer to the pole reported, the polar ice cap is quite thick, persists year-round. Fridtjof Nansen was the first to make a nautical crossing of the Arctic Ocean, in 1896; the first surface crossing of the ocean was led by Wally Herbert in 1969, in a dog sled expedition from Alaska to Svalbard, with air support. The first nautical transit of the north pole was made in 1958 by the submarine USS Nautilus, the first surface nautical transit occurred in 1977 by the icebreaker NS Arktika. Since 1937, Soviet and Russian manned drifting ice stations have extensively monitored the Arctic Ocean. Scientific settlements were established on the drift ice and carried thousands of kilometers by ice floes.
In World War II, the European region of the Arctic Ocean was contested: the Allied commitment to resupply the Soviet Union via its northern ports was opposed by German naval and air forces. Since 1954 commercial airlines have flown over the Arctic Ocean; the Arctic Ocean occupies a circular basin and covers an area of about 14,056,000 km2 the size of Antarctica. The coastline is 45,390 km long, it is surrounded by the land masses of Eurasia, North America, by several islands. It is taken to include Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, White Sea and other tributary bodies of water