The Arctic Circle is the most northerly circle of latitude and girdles the top of the earth, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, the North Pole and the northernmost regions of Alaska, Canada, Russia and the Nordic countries (including Norway, Finland and Greenland). The landscape is stark but also magical, with towering jagged glaciers, snowy tundras and seas filled with floating sheets of ice. Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, the region boasts 24 hours of daylight during its short summer season. It is then that the ice retreats and the Arctic’s fauna and flora put on a splendid show, with bright blooms popping up among the glaciers and wildlife coming out of hibernation to rear their young.The opposite occurs during the winter solstice, when the sun appears only briefly, and the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis lights up the sky with magnificent flashes of green, red, purple and yellow. Despite the harsh climate and forbidding landscape—in winter, temperatures at the North Pole average minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit)—the Arctic is home to a wide variety of species, including polar bears, polar foxes, seals, walruses, whales and seabirds.