Sverdrup Islands

The Sverdrup Islands is an archipelago of the northern Queen Elizabeth Islands, in Nunavut, Canada. The islands are situated in the Arctic Ocean, west of Ellesmere Island from 77° to 81° North and 85° to 106° West.

Sverdrup Islands
NASA Landsat photo of the Sverdrup Islands
From left to right: Ellef Ringnes, Amund Ringnes, and Axel Heiberg islands.
Sverdrup Islands
Sverdrup Islands
LocationArctic Ocean
Coordinates78°30′N 95°00′W
ArchipelagoQueen Elizabeth Islands
Arctic Archipelago
Major islandsAxel Heiberg, Ellef Ringnes, Amund Ringnes
Area66,000 km2 (25,000 sq mi)
Highest elevation2,210 m (7250 ft)
Highest pointOutlook Peak
Capital cityMcGill Arctic Research Station
Population8 to 12 summer population
Pop. density0.000015/km2 (3.9E-5/sq mi)


The islands are named after Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup, who explored and mapped them from 1898 to 1902 with the vessel Fram, although some were previously inhabited by Inuit. Sverdrup claimed the islands for Norway, but the Norwegian government showed no interest in pursuing the claim until 1928. At that point, the Norwegian government raised the claim, primarily to use the islands as bargaining chips in negotiations with the United Kingdom over the status of two other islands: the Arctic Jan Mayen and the Antarctic Bouvet Island. On 11 November 1930, Norway recognized Canadian sovereignty over the Sverdrup Islands.[1] On 19 November 1930, the UK recognized Norwegian sovereignty over Jan Mayen.[2]


The main islands of the group are Axel Heiberg Island, Ellef Ringnes Island, Amund Ringnes Island, Cornwall Island, Graham Island, Meighen Island, King Christian Island, Stor Island, and the archipelago also includes a number of smaller islands in the surrounding waters. The only inhabited place was Isachsen, a formerly staffed weather station, 1948 through 1978, on Ellef Ringnes Island and McGill Arctic Research Station on Axel Heiberg Island (a research station occupied during the summer).

Main islands

Axel HeibergOutlook Peak2,21143,178732
Ellef RingnesIsachsen Dome26011,2951669
Amund Ringnes...2655,25525111
MeighenMeighen Icecap30095550337
King ChristianKing Christian Mountain16564560420
SverdrupOutlook Peak2,21166,000--

See also


  1. Berton, Pierre. The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole. Toronto: Random House of Canada Ltd., 1988, p. 629.
  2. "Norsk polarhelt ville bli hemmelig agent" from, 19 April 2007, in Norwegian
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