The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of the internal waters of Russia. Administratively, it is divided between Arkhangelsk and Murmansk oblasts and the Republic of Karelia.
The major port of Arkhangelsk is located on the White Sea. For much of Russia's history this was Russia's main centre of international maritime trade, conducted by the Pomors ("seaside settlers") from Kholmogory. In the modern era it became an important Soviet naval and submarine base. The White Sea–Baltic Canal connects the White Sea with the Baltic Sea.
The White Sea is one of the four seas named in English after common colour terms—the others being the Black, Red and Yellow Seas.
The sea hosts more than 700 species of invertebrates, about 60 species of fish, and five species of marine mammals, including the friendly beluga, the white whale. Several other dolphin species, such as harbour porpoises, appear less frequently while larger whales such as bowhead, humpback and rorquals, northern bottlenose, orcas have been considered as rare visitors to the waters while actual frequency of occurrences within White Sea basin is not specified. The fishing industry is relatively small, mostly targeting harp seal, ringed seal, herring, saffron cod, European smelt, Atlantic cod and Atlantic salmon. There is a developing seaweed industry.
The White Sea is an important traffic centre of northwestern Russia, interconnecting various economic regions and providing an outlet to the foreign routes. The White Sea–Baltic Canal links it through Lake Onega to the Baltic Sea and the major city and port of Saint Petersburg. The Baltic Sea, in turn, is connected by the Volga–Baltic Waterway to the Volga River, Black, Caspian, and Azov seas. The major ports on the White Sea are Arkhangelsk, Belomorsk, Onega, Mezen, Kem, Kandalaksha and Umba. Despite being frozen in winter, the sea remains navigable all year around because of deployment of icebreakers.