Text: Lunita S V Mendoza
The will to survive has never been more apparent than among the indigenous peoples of the Arctic: those who have conquered the devastating beauty of this intense landscape for thousands of years.
Archaeologists and anthropologists believe that people have lived in the Arctic for as long as 20,000 years. The Inuit in Canada and Greenland, and the Yupik, Iñupiat and Athabascan in Alaska, are just a few of the groups that are native to the Arctic. Some still maintain a more traditional lifestyle, living in small villages much the same way their ancestors did.
Much of the Arctic population today lives in modern towns and cities, not unlike their neighbours to the south. The main industries involve extracting oil and gas from rich deposits beneath the permafrost, working in tourism, or conducting research.
Change has been inexorable. Global warming is causing sea ice to melt and permafrost to thaw, threatening coastal villages with bigger storms and accelerated erosion. The declining sea ice also means that the Arctic Ocean could be opened up for commercial shipping and even tourist cruises. The future remains uncertain.
The Global Arctic Awards is a yearly international photography competition that celebrates the beauty and diversity of the Arctic region. Based in Russia, it is chaired by Aleksey Anisimov. www.arcticawards.ru/en
Check out the whole compilation of photos and stories in Asian Geographic Issue 114, 2015