The international political wilderness
By means of introducing this contemporary story, this chapter will set the scene by examining what the Arctic actually is, how indigenous people and outside interests have come to manifest themselves in the region and how we can understand this in the context of International Relations (IR) theories rarely applied to this part of the world, traditionally viewed as on the margins of international political interest.
The Arctic is an unusual region in many respects. It is a vast expanse of land, sea and ice spanning three continents and all time zones but ruled by remote control through capitals far to the south. Quite how vast the region is, how many people live there and which countries exercise sovereignty over it, though, is not easy to say, since there are several competing deﬁnitions of how far from the North Pole the Arctic actually extends.