The Murmansk Region

The first settlers appeared in the Kola Peninsula many years ago. The found sites of the Stone Age refer to the 11-7th millennia BC.

The indigenous population of the peninsula — the Lapps — have lived there for more than a thousand years.

The Lapps led a seminomadic way of life, and were occupied with reindeer breeding and fishing. After the October Revolution alien names of nationalities were annulled, and the natives of the peninsula were called Sami, or Saami.

In the 11-13th centuries the Russian pomory opened Murman’s lands for themselves. In the 16th century they founded the town of Kola and built the Pechengskiy Monastery. The pomory were people from the Russian North who settled on the coasts and were occupied mainly with fishing. Novgorod citizens reached wild places by light boats called ushkuyki or on foot and founded settlements on the coasts of the White Sea, which they called Studyonoye More («Cold Sea»), and seasonal hunting camps by the Barents Sea. However for a long time the places to the north of Kola were considered to be frightful, the pomory said: ‘There are three versts (about 3 km) from Kola to hell’.

At the same time the lands rich in fish attracted the Finns and the Norwegians (whale fishers and shark catchers). The coming of the Russians to the peninsula not only favored the development of the area, but also protected the indigenous population (the Lapps) from invasions of western conquerors. At various times (in 1589-1591, in 1611, in the 18th and the early 19th centuries) Swedish and Danish troops as well as English pirates came to the lands of Murman. They burnt out the settlements, they pillaged the population and monasteries, and killed peaceful citizens. In 1854-1855 during the Crimean War the English fleet burnt Kandalaksha, Strel’na, and Kola.

In the 16-17th centuries the population of the peninsula was occupied mainly with fishing (herring, cod, and Atlantic salmon), sea hunting, salt extraction, fur-bearing animals hunting, and reindeer breeding. In the late 19th century the first forest cutting began on the Terskiy Coast (in 1898 the saw mill in Umba was built).

By the end of the 19th century the population of the peninsula numbered only 9,000 people.