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Socio-economic background: the Polar Regions

This section covers only the Arctic since the Antarctic has no permanent population. In the past 30 years, the Arctic has emerged as an important geopolitical region composed of eight nations surrounding the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark (Greenland and the Faeroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States (Alaska). The Arctic encompasses about 13.4 million km2 with a population of only 3.5 million people, a density of 0.26 people/km2 (AMAP 1997).