Novaya Zemlya, an island group in the Arctic Ocean belonging to Russia and forming part of Archangel Oblast. The name means "new land." It is north of European Russia and lies between the Barents Sea on the west and the Kara Sea on the east. Novaya Zemlya consists of two large islands and many small ones. It extends to the northeast nearly 700 miles (1,100 km) and has an area of about 35,000 square miles (91,000 km2).
The islands are mountainous and much of the area is permanently snow-covered. Vegetation is of the tundra type, consisting mainly of stunted shrubs, moss, and lichens. There are foxes, lemmings, bears, some wolves, and many birds in the breeding season. Whales, walruses, seals, and water birds are found along the coast.
Little was known of Novaya Zemlya until the Dutch explorer Willem Barents visited there in 1594 and wintered at Ice Haven in 1596-97. Beginning in 1869 the islands were visited by many Arctic explorers. In 1877 the Russian government started small settlements on the islands. After World War II weather stations were established on Novaya Zemlya, and the area was also used for nuclear testing.