Polar Ice: Diamonds and Permafrost
Lena River in winter
Covered entirely by permafrost, Sakha has few roads. Polar bears walk along the region's northern coast along the Arctic Circle. This huge region is one-fourth of Russia's territory and has the largest economy in the Russian Far East, as a result of its diamond mines. Yet infrastructure remains underdeveloped, with the Lena River providing the primary mode of transport. About one-third of the local people are indigenous Sakha (Yakut) peoples, some of whom subsist through traditional hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. Primary threats stem from the large reserves of minerals and fossil fuels, as well as logging of sensitive permafrost forest. Climate change impacts are also a concern.