Kola Peninsula kō´lə, Rus. kô´lə [key], peninsula, c.50,000 sq mi (129,500 sq km), NW European Russia, in Murmansk region. Forming an eastern extension of the Scandinavian peninsula, it lies between the Barents Sea to the north and the White Sea to the south. In the northeastern part are tundras; the southwestern area is forested. The peninsula has rich mineral deposits in the Khibiny Mts., which rise to c.4,000 ft (1,220 m). Hydroelectric plants have been built along the Tuloma, Voronya, and Niva rivers. The port of Murmansk and the mining center of Kirovsk are the major cities of the peninsula. Along the coasts and in the mining centers, the population is primarily Russian; in the interior are Sami (Lapps), who until the Chernobyl disaster subsisted largely on reindeer raising. Since the 1960s the peninsula has suffered severe ecological degradation from mining and smelting operations. Near Murmansk is the ancient town of Kola, founded in 1264 by Slavs from Novgorod.
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