The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) was established in 1991 to implement certain components of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).
The Arctic Council, established in 1996 by the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America), coordinates the activities of AMAP. AMAP was conceived as a process integrating both monitoring and assessment activities in relation to pollution issues and to provide information and reports on the state of the Arctic environment.

The geographical area covered by AMAP includes the terrestrial and marine areas north of the Arctic Circle (66°32’N), and north of 62°N in Asia and 60°N in North America, modified to include the marine areas north of the Aleutian chain, Hudson Bay, and parts of the North Atlantic Ocean including the Labrador Sea. There are many different definitions of the Arctic, based on physical-geographical characteristics or on political and administrative considerations within different countries. No simple delineation of the Arctic region was applicable for the purposes of the AMAP assessment. In order to establish a geographical context for its assessment work, in particular in relation to source-related assessment issues, AMAP has defined a regional extent based on a compromise among various definitions.

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