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Is the Arctic really a frontier? Settlement dynamics within various Arctic Limits based on the Arcticapolis geohistorical database

  • Vaguet, Yvette
  • Ourng, Chanvoleak
  • Moriconi-Ebrard, François
Publication Date
Jan 20, 2021
DOI: 10.4000/eps.10277
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-03148139v1
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Despite its extreme environment, often difficult of access and with a scattered population, the Arctic provides natural resources for the global market. Covering a vast area, somewhere between an ecumene and a wilderness, it has a population of four million people. However, there is a myriad of Arctic limits making the boreal population mechanically variable.Moreover, global warming appears to offer new potential development in the Arctic and its media coverage has been generating a certain excitement, multiplying references to the term frontier. This concept applied to the high latitudes is tested here with the help of the new geohistorical database of settlement of the circumpolar countries, Arcticapolis. This work presents important methodological challenges.Overall, the boreal population is declining slightly, almost within all of the Arctic region’s limits. This fact is in contrast to its widespread portrayal of a pioneering front. Indeed, it requires an increase in settlement. Finally, Arcticapolis allows the highest level of assessment of the boreal population. The conquest of the North remains complex and spatially heterogeneous. The general trend of urbanization, therefore, does not imply that all cities are expanding or that all villages are losing residents. This research puts into perspective many of the places of growth and decline, as well as the phenomena of coastal development. Therefore, it shows the range of variety in settlement dynamics within the boreal margins.

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