It's the world's last, great wilderness rich in natural resources, like oil and gas.
But now the frozen seas of the Arctic are being opened up; its vast riches unlocked.
The Yamal is one of Russia's biggest, most powerful icebreakers, and one of the few ships in the world capable of cutting through the thick Arctic pack ice.
It does it for one reason: to clear a path for other vessels, so they can take advantage of the frozen Arctic.
Escorted by icebreakers, cargo ships and oil tankers crossing the Arctic can shave thousands of miles off a journey between Asia and Europe, saving fuel, and vastly reduce their carbon emissions.
Captain of the Yamal, Alexander Lembrik says the Arctic's untapped potential is the reason behind the dramatic increase in maritime traffic. (read more)