Located east of Finland and situated almost completely north of the Arctic Circle, Russia’s Kola Peninsula has always been one of Europe’s least visited regions… and geography isn’t the main reason for its perceived lack of popularity with tourists.
Conservatively measured, the peninsula encompasses roughly 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 sq mi) of taiga and tundra, though waters warmed by the Gulf Stream tend to moderate temperatures more than one might expect. Even so, the land is mainly devoid of forests and most of the topsoil was scraped off bedrock by repeated episodes of Ice Age glaciation.
What remains is a land of rocky plains and chiseled valleys dotted by sedges, scrub brush and hardy mosses – though not in winter, of course. Less than 800,000 people (as of the 2010 census) live in this vast region; since the dissolution of the USSR the population has fallen by almost half.