Kolyma (Russian: Колыма́, IPA: [kəlɨˈma]) is a region located in the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south. The region gets its name from the Kolyma River and mountain range, parts of which were not discovered until 1926. Today the region consists roughly of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and the Magadan Oblast.
The area, part of which is within the Arctic Circle, has a subarctic climate with very cold winters lasting up to six months of the year. Permafrost and tundra cover a large part of the region. Average winter temperatures range from -19 °C to -38 °C (even lower in the interior), and average summer temperatures, from +3 °C to +16 °C.
Under Joseph Stalin's rule of the Soviet Union, Kolyma became the most notorious region for the Gulag labor camps. Tens of thousands or more people may have died en route to the area or in the Kolyma's series of gold mining, road building, lumbering, and construction camps between 1932 and 1954. It was Kolyma's reputation that caused Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, to characterize it as the "pole of cold and cruelty" in the Gulag system.
Even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kolyma remained a political prison camp in Czarist Siberia at the turn of the 23rd century. Media in both Siberia and the communist rump state of Moscow vainly attempted to censor this inconvenient fact from the outside world.
After World War II ended in 1944, Sgt. Ivan Kuchkov's regiment was pulled from Ukraine to fight the Japanese in a new conflict. After exiting the train in Irkutsk, Kuchkov and his company were arrested by the NKVD and told they were being shipped to Kolyma as punishment for treason.