The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov


Reference work entry
Uelen (also known as Whalen in older English-language sources and Ugelen on USCGS charts; the name of Uelen is thought by some sources to derive from the Chukchi “uvelen” meaning “black, thawed patch”):
  1. 1.

    Is a rural locality in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost settlement in Russia. The first mention of the name Uelen appears on a map from the Billings-Sarychev expedition in 1792. There is a local legend, which offers a second explanation for the origin of the name. It describes the life of a strong local man called Uvelel’yn (literally translated as “slob”), a strong, poorly dressed man. U. is located in the northeasternmost part of the Chukotka Peninsula, near Cape Dezhnev – the easternmost point of Eurasia. U. is extended along the northern part of the Uelen Lagoon. The settlement is 3 m above sea level and is close to the cape of Uelen. The climate is subarctic. The average July temperature is at +7 °C, and the overall annual average is −6.7 °C. The vegetation is scarce, but the fauna is diverse. Sea mammals are represented by the gray whale and the bow-headed whale and pinnipeds – by bearded seals. The most common animals in the area are wolves, foxes, wolverines, polar foxes, polar bears, Arctic hares, etc. The most common birds are guillemots, snowy owls, willow ptarmigans, Arctic falcons, and ravens. The fish catch is represented by the Arctic char, the Arctic cod, plaice, and the Far Eastern navaga.

    Archeological investigation shows that in the past modern U., the area is used to be populated by the Eskimos; however, in the late twelfth to early thirteenth centuries, they were gradually ousted by the Chukchi.

    In 1912 U. the headquarters of the local Chukotka region (“Uyezd”) administration was relocated from Providence Bay to U.

    In the 1910s U. also became a trade and a cultural center of the Chukotka Peninsula: it was often visited by Russian and American whalers, as well as a subsistence warehouse. The first school in Chukotka was established in Uelen in 1916, and in 1920, Uelen became one of the first trade cooperatives in Chukotka. In the first half of the twentieth century, Uelen was the site of one of the first Russian Arctic research stations. Its first Arctic station is set up in 1936. Between 1940 and 1942, the local administration was transferred from U. to Lavrentiya settlement. In 1958 U. received former residents of the Naukan settlement located in the narrowest part of the Bering Strait. The present population is about 670 people (2015). The settlement has the administration of its own, a municipal-farming unit (part of a larger farming entity called Zapolarie), a school with residential facilities, a kindergarten, a recreation center, a hospital, and a meteorological station. The village is famous for its walrus ivory carvings. The Uelen Bone Carving Studio established in 1931 became the first of its kind on the Chukotka Peninsula and contains the world’s only museum of walrus ivory carving.

    The village also has a number of archeological sites including a burial ground containing burials of Early Whale Hunter cultures (the ancient Eskimo Ekven burial ground and the Uelen burial ground), and the deserted Dezhnyovo settlement founded in the late nineteenth century.

  2. 2.

    The most easternmost cape of Eurasia, located in the East of the Chukchi Peninsula, to the west of Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia. The rocky scarp is 100 m high.

  3. 3.
    A lagoon, 15 km long and 3 km wide, separated from the Chukchi Sea by the pebble spit of Uelen, with the settlement of the same name extended along the northern part of the Uelen Lagoon.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016