Pechengsky District (Russian: Пе́ченгский район; Finnish and Swedish: Petsamo; Norwegian: Petsjenga; Northern Sami: Beahcán; Skolt Sami: Peäccam) is a district (raion) of Murmansk Oblast, Russia, located to the north-west of the Kola Peninsula. It borders with Finland (south-west, west) and Norway (west, north-west, north) and shares the shore of the Barents Sea by the Rybachi Peninsula, which is included into the district. The administrative center of the district is the urban-type settlement of Nikel. District's population: 46,404 (2002 Census); 59,495 (1989 Census).
The settlement of Pechenga was founded as the Pechenga Monastery in 1533 at the influx of the Pechenga River into the Barents Sea, 135 km west of modern Murmansk, by St. Tryphon, a monk from Novgorod. Inspired by the model of the Solovki, Tryphon wished to convert the local Skolt Sami population to Christianity and to demonstrate how faith could flourish in the most inhospitable lands.
The area was resettled by the Pomors and other Russians; its development considerably accelerated in the late 19th century, when the monastery was re-established there. The harbor of Liinakhamari in Petsamo was important for the Russian economy during World War I as the Baltic Sea was blocked by the Germans. In the Treaty of Tartu (1920), Soviet Russia ceded Petsamo to Finland.
Deposits of nickel were found in 1921, after Petsamo became a part of Finland, and in 1934 the deposits were estimated to contain over five million tonnes. Mining operations were started in 1935 by Canadian and French corporations.
Construction of a road from Sodankylä through Ivalo to Liinakhamari started in 1916 and was completed in 1931. This made Petsamo a popular tourist attraction, as it was the only port by the Barents Sea that could be reached by automobile.
In the Winter War the Soviet Union occupied Petsamo. In the following peace agreement only the Finnish part of the Rybachy Peninsula was ceded to the Soviet Union (321 km²), although the Soviet Union had occupied all of Petsamo during the Winter War.
In 1941, during the Continuation War, Petsamo was used by Nazi Germany as a staging area for the attack towards Murmansk. In 1944, the Red Army occupied Petsamo again, and Finland had to cede it to the Soviet Union as part of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1946 (8,965 km²). In 1947, Finland additionally sold the Jäniskoski area (nowadays Rayakoski), with its hydroelectric plant (169 km²), in exchange for Soviet confiscated German investments in Finland.
Following the Paris Peace Treaty the local Skolt Sami were given the choice of staying in Soviet Russia or moving to Finland. Most opted to re-settle in Finland.