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SVALBARD (Norwegian pronunciation: ; prior to 1925 known by its Dutch name SPITSBERGEN , meaning "jagged mountains") is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway
Norway
and the North Pole
North Pole
. The islands of the group range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
, followed by Nordaustlandet
Nordaustlandet
and Edgeøya
Edgeøya
.

Administratively, the archipelago is not part of any Norwegian county , but forms an unincorporated area administered by a governor appointed by the Norwegian government. Since 2002, Svalbard's main settlement, Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
, has had an elected local government , somewhat similar to mainland municipalities . Other settlements include the Russian mining community of Barentsburg
Barentsburg
, the research station of Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
, and the mining outpost of Sveagruva
Sveagruva
. Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
is the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. Other settlements are farther north, but are populated only by rotating groups of researchers.

The islands were first taken into use as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which they were abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty , and the 1925 Svalbard Act made Svalbard
Svalbard
a full part of the Kingdom of Norway. They also established Svalbard
Svalbard
as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone . The Norwegian Store Norske and the Russian Arktikugol
Arktikugol
remain the only mining companies in place. Research
Research
and tourism have become important supplementary industries, with the University Centre in Svalbard
University Centre in Svalbard
(UNIS) and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
playing critical roles. No roads connect the settlements; instead snowmobiles , aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport. Svalbard Airport, Longyear serves as the main gateway.

The archipelago features an Arctic climate , although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora take advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night . Svalbard
Svalbard
is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also features polar bears , reindeer , the Arctic fox , and certain marine mammals . Seven national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment. Approximately 60% of the archipelago is covered with glaciers, and the islands feature many mountains and fjords .

Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Svalbard and Jan Mayen
are collectively assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code "SJ". Both areas are administered by Norway, though they are separated by a distance of over 950 kilometres (510 nautical miles) and have very different administrative structures.

CONTENTS

* 1 Geography * 2 Sports

* 3 History

* 3.1 Svalbard
Svalbard
during the Golden Age of Dutch exploration and discovery

* 3.1.1 First verified discovery of a terra nullius (1596) * 3.1.2 International whaling base (1600s–1800s)

* 3.2 20th century * 3.3 Second World War
Second World War
* 3.4 Post-war

* 4 Population

* 4.1 Demographics * 4.2 Settlements * 4.3 Religion

* 5 Politics * 6 Economy * 7 Transport * 8 Climate * 9 Nature * 10 Education * 11 Media * 12 See also * 13 References * 14 External links

GEOGRAPHY

Topographic Map of Svalbard
Svalbard

The Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
of 1920 defines Svalbard
Svalbard
as all islands, islets and skerries from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The land area is 61,022 km2 (23,561 sq mi), and dominated by the island of Spitsbergen, which constitutes more than half the archipelago, followed by Nordaustlandet
Nordaustlandet
and Edgeøya. All settlements are located on Spitsbergen, except the meteorological outposts on Bjørnøya and Hopen . The Norwegian state took possession of all unclaimed land, or 95.2% of the archipelago, at the time the Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
entered into force; Store Norske owns 4%, Arktikugol
Arktikugol
owns 0.4%, while other private owners hold 0.4%.

Since Svalbard
Svalbard
is located north of the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
it experiences midnight sun in summer and polar night in winter. At 74° north, the midnight sun lasts 99 days and polar night 84 days, while the respective figures at 81° are 141 and 128 days. In Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
, midnight sun lasts from 20 April until 23 August, and polar night lasts from 26 October to 15 February. In winter, the combination of full moon and reflective snow can give additional light.

Glacial ice covers 36,502 km2 (14,094 sq mi) or 60% of Svalbard; 30% is barren rock while 10% is vegetated. The largest glacier is Austfonna
Austfonna
(8,412 km2 or 3,248 sq mi) on Nordaustlandet, followed by Olav V Land
Olav V Land
and Vestfonna
Vestfonna
. During summer, it is possible to ski from Sørkapp
Sørkapp
in the south to the north of Spitsbergen, with only a short distance not being covered by snow or glacier. Kvitøya
Kvitøya
is 99.3% covered by glacier.

The landforms of Svalbard
Svalbard
were created through repeated ice ages , when glaciers cut the former plateau into fjords , valleys and mountains. The tallest peak is Newtontoppen (1,717 m or 5,633 ft), followed by Perriertoppen (1,712 m or 5,617 ft), Ceresfjellet (1,675 m or 5,495 ft), Chadwickryggen (1,640 m or 5,380 ft) and Galileotoppen (1,637 m or 5,371 ft). The longest fjord is Wijdefjorden (108 km or 67 mi), followed by Isfjorden (107 km or 66 mi), Van Mijenfjorden (83 km or 52 mi), Woodfjorden (64 km or 40 mi) and Wahlenbergfjorden (46 km or 29 mi). Svalbard
Svalbard
is part of the High Arctic Large Igneous Province , and experienced Norway's strongest earthquake on 6 March 2009, which hit a magnitude of 6.5.

SPORTS

Association football
Association football
is the most popular sport in Svalbard. There are three football pitches, but no stadiums because of the low population.

HISTORY

Main article: History of Svalbard
History of Svalbard

SVALBARD DURING THE GOLDEN AGE OF DUTCH EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY

First Verified Discovery Of A terra Nullius (1596)

See also: Dutch Republic in the Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery
, Willem Barentsz
Willem Barentsz
, Northeast Passage
Northeast Passage
, Arctic exploration
Arctic exploration
, and Terra nullius
Terra nullius
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
and Svalbard
Svalbard
during the Golden Age of Dutch exploration and discovery (ca. 1590s–1720s). Portion of 1599 map of Arctic exploration by Willem Barentsz
Willem Barentsz
. Spitsbergen, here mapped for the first time, is indicated as "Het Nieuwe Land" (Dutch for "the New Land"), center-left. This is a typical map from the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography . In the Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery
(Age of Exploration), the Dutch were the first (non-natives) to undisputedly explore and map many unknown isolated areas of the world, including the Svalbard
Svalbard
archipelago and Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
in the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
.

Scandinavians possibly discovered Svalbard
Svalbard
as early as the 12th century. There are traditional Norse accounts of a land known as Svalbarð—literally "cold shores"—although this might have referred to Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
, or a part of eastern Greenland
Greenland
. It was then thought both Svalbard
Svalbard
and Greenland
Greenland
were connected to Continental Europe. The archipelago might in that period have been used for fishing and hunting. The Dutchman Willem Barentsz
Willem Barentsz
made the first indisputable discovery of the archipelago in 1596, when he sighted its coast while searching for the Northern Sea Route
Northern Sea Route
.

The name Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
originated with Barentsz, who described the "pointed mountains" he saw on the west coast of the main island , although his 1599 map of the Arctic labels the island as Het Nieuwe Land ("The New Land"). Barentsz did not recognize that he had discovered an archipelago, and consequently the name Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
long remained in use both for the main island and for the archipelago as a whole.

The first known landing on the island dates to 1604, when an English ship landed at Bjørnøya and started hunting walrus ; annual expeditions soon followed, and Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
became a base for hunting the bowhead whale from 1611. Because of the lawless nature of the area, English, Danish, Dutch, and French companies and authorities tried to use force to keep out other countries' fleets.

International Whaling
Whaling
Base (1600s–1800s)

The whaling station of the Amsterdam chamber of the Northern Company in Smeerenburg
Smeerenburg
, by Cornelis de Man
Cornelis de Man
(1639), but based on a painting of a Dansk hvalfangststation (Danish whaling station) by A.B.R. Speeck (1634), which represented the Danish station in Copenhagen Bay (Kobbefjorden).

Smeerenburg
Smeerenburg
was one of the first settlements, established by the Dutch in 1619. Smaller bases were also built by the English, Danish and French. At first the outposts were merely summer camps, but from the early 1630s, a few individuals started to overwinter . Whaling
Whaling
at Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
lasted until the 1820s, when the Dutch, British and Danish whalers moved elsewhere in the Arctic. By the late 17th century, Russian hunters arrived; they overwintered to a greater extent and hunted land mammals such as the polar bear and fox. After British raids into the Barents Sea
Barents Sea
in 1809, Russian activity on Svalbard diminished, and ceased by the 1820s. Norwegian hunting—mostly for walrus—started in the 1790s. The first Norwegian citizens to reach Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
proper were a number of Coast Sámi
Sámi
people from the Hammerfest
Hammerfest
region, who were hired as part of a Russian crew for an expedition in 1795. Norwegian whaling was abandoned about the same time as the Russians
Russians
left, but whaling continued around Spitsbergen until the 1830s, and around Bjørnøya until the 1860s.

20TH CENTURY

By the 1890s, Svalbard
Svalbard
had become a destination for Arctic tourism, coal deposits had been found and the islands were being used as a base for Arctic exploration
Arctic exploration
. The first mining was along Isfjorden by Norwegians
Norwegians
in 1899; by 1904, British interests had established themselves in Adventfjorden and started the first all-year operations. Production in Longyearbyen, by American interests, started in 1908; and Store Norske established itself in 1916, as did other Norwegian interests during the war, in part by buying American interests.

Discussions to establish the sovereignty of the archipelago commenced in the 1910s, but were interrupted by World War I
World War I
. On 9 February 1920, following the Paris Peace Conference , the Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
was signed, granting full sovereignty to Norway. However, all signatory countries were granted non-discriminatory rights to fishing, hunting and mineral resources. The treaty took effect on 14 August 1925, at the same time as the Svalbard Act regulated the archipelago and the first governor , Johannes Gerckens Bassøe , took office. The archipelago has traditionally been known as Spitsbergen, and the main island as West Spitsbergen. From the 1920s, Norway
Norway
renamed the archipelago Svalbard, and the main island became Spitsbergen. Kvitøya, Kong Karls Land, Hopen and Bjørnøya were not regarded as part of the Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
archipelago. Russians
Russians
have traditionally called the archipelago Grumant
Grumant
(Грумант). The Soviet Union retained the name Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
(Шпицберген) to support undocumented claims that Russians
Russians
were the first to discover the island. In 1928, Italian explorer Umberto Nobile
Umberto Nobile
and the crew of the airship Italia crashed on the icepack off the coast of Foyn Island . The subsequent rescue attempts were covered extensively in the press and Svalbard
Svalbard
received short-lived fame as a result.

SECOND WORLD WAR

Abandoned aerial tramway previously used for transporting coal

In 1941, after Operation Gauntlet
Operation Gauntlet
, all Norwegian and Soviet settlements on Svalbard
Svalbard
were evacuated, and a German presence was established with a meteorological outpost, although a small Norwegian garrison was kept on Spitsbergen. The German Operation Zitronella took this garrison by force in 1943, and at the same time destroying the settlements at Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
and Barentsburg. In September 1944, together with the supply ship Carl J. Busch , the submarine U-307 transported the men of Operation Haudegen to Svalbard. Operation Haudegen (i.e., swashbuckler) was the name of a German operation during the Second World War
Second World War
to establish meteorological stations on Svalbard. The station was active from 9 September 1944 to 4 September 1945. It lost radio contact in May 1945, and the soldiers were capable of asking for support only in August 1945. On 4 September 1945, the soldiers were picked up by a Norwegian seal hunting vessel and surrendered to its captain. This group of men were the last German troops to surrender after the Second World War. After the war, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
proposed common Norwegian and Soviet administration and military defence of Svalbard. This was rejected in 1947 by Norway, which two years later joined NATO
NATO
. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
retained high civilian activity on Svalbard, in part to ensure that the archipelago was not used by NATO.

POST-WAR

After the war, Norway
Norway
re-established operations at Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
and Ny-Ålesund, while the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
established mining in Barentsburg, Pyramiden
Pyramiden
and Grumant
Grumant
. The mine at Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
had several fatal accidents, killing 71 people while it was in operation from 1945 to 1954 and from 1960 to 1963. The Kings Bay Affair
Kings Bay Affair
, caused by the 1962 accident killing 21 workers, forced Gerhardsen\'s Third Cabinet to resign. From 1964, Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
became a research outpost, and a facility for the European Space Research Organisation
European Space Research Organisation
. Petroleum test drilling was started in 1963 and continued until 1984, but no commercially viable fields were found. From 1960, regular charter flights were made from the mainland to a field at Hotellneset ; in 1975, Svalbard Airport, Longyear opened, allowing year-round services. Prins Karls Forland
Prins Karls Forland
was protected as Forlandet National Park in 1973

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
retained about two-thirds of the population on the islands (with a third being Norwegians) with the archipelago's population slightly under 4,000. Russian activity has diminished considerably since then, falling from 2,500 to 450 people from 1990 to 2010. Grumant
Grumant
was closed after it was depleted in 1962. Pyramiden
Pyramiden
was closed in 1998. Coal exports from Barentsburg
Barentsburg
ceased in 2006 because of a fire, but resumed in 2010. The Russian community has also experienced two air accidents, Vnukovo Airlines Flight 2801 , which killed 141 people, and the Heerodden helicopter accident .

Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
remained purely a company town until 1989 when utilities, culture and education was separated into Svalbard Samfunnsdrift. In 1993 it was sold to the national government and the University Centre was established. Through the 1990s, tourism increased and the town developed an economy independent of Store Norske and the mining. Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
was incorporated on 1 January 2002, receiving a community council.

POPULATION

The dock house in Barentsburg
Barentsburg

DEMOGRAPHICS

In 2012, Svalbard
Svalbard
had an estimated population of 2,642, of whom 439 were Russians
Russians
and Ukrainian , 10 were Polish and 322 were other non- Norwegians
Norwegians
living in Norwegian settlements. The largest non-Norwegian groups in Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
in 2005 were from Thailand
Thailand
, Sweden
Sweden
, Denmark
Denmark
, Russia
Russia
, Iran
Iran
and Germany
Germany
.

SETTLEMENTS

Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
is the largest settlement on the archipelago, the seat of the governor and the only town to be incorporated. The town features a hospital, primary and secondary school, university, sports center with a swimming pool, library, culture center, cinema, bus transport, hotels, a bank, and several museums. The newspaper Svalbardposten is published weekly. Only a small fraction of the mining activity remains at Longyearbyen; instead, workers commute to Sveagruva
Sveagruva
(or Svea) where Store Norske operates a mine. Sveagruva
Sveagruva
is a dormitory town, with workers commuting from Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
weekly. Company homes in Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen

Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
is a permanent settlement based entirely around research. Formerly a mining town, it is still a company town operated by the Norwegian state-owned Kings Bay . While there is some tourism there, Norwegian authorities limit access to the outpost to minimize impact on the scientific work. Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
has a winter population of 35 and a summer population of 180. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has outposts at Bjørnøya and Hopen, with respectively ten and four people stationed. Both outposts can also house temporary research staff. Poland operates the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund
Hornsund
, with ten permanent residents.

Barentsburg
Barentsburg
is the only permanently inhabited Russian settlement after Pyramiden
Pyramiden
was abandoned in 1998. It is a company town: all facilities are owned by Arktikugol, which operates a coal mine. In addition to the mining facilities, Arktikugol
Arktikugol
has opened a hotel and souvenir shop, catering for tourists taking day trips or hikes from Longyearbyen. The village features facilities such as a school, library, sports center, community center, swimming pool, farm and greenhouse. Pyramiden
Pyramiden
features similar facilities; both are built in typical post-World War II Soviet architectural and planning style and contain the world's two most northerly Lenin statues and other socialist realism artwork. As of 2013 , a handful of workers are stationed in the largely abandoned Pyramiden
Pyramiden
to maintain the infrastructure and run the hotel, which has been re-opened for tourists.

RELIGION

Most of the population is affiliated with the Church of Norway
Norway
. Catholics on the archipelago are pastorally served by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo
Oslo
.

POLITICS

Main article: Politics of Svalbard
Politics of Svalbard
See also: Visa policy of Svalbard MS Nordsyssel, the Governor 's vessel, docked at Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund

The Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
of 1920 established full Norwegian sovereignty over the archipelago. The islands are, unlike the Norwegian Antarctic Territory , a part of the Kingdom of Norway
Norway
and not a dependency . The treaty came into effect in 1925, following the Svalbard
Svalbard
Act. All forty signatory countries of the treaty have the right to conduct commercial activities on the archipelago without discrimination, although all activity is subject to Norwegian legislation. The treaty limits Norway's right to collect taxes to that of financing services on Svalbard. Therefore, Svalbard
Svalbard
has a lower income tax than mainland Norway, and there is no value added tax . There is a separate budget for Svalbard
Svalbard
to ensure compliance. Svalbard
Svalbard
is a demilitarized zone , as the treaty prohibits the establishment of military installations. Norwegian military activity is limited to fishery surveillance by the Norwegian Coast Guard
Norwegian Coast Guard
as the treaty requires Norway
Norway
to protect the natural environment.

The Svalbard Act established the institution of the Governor of Svalbard
Svalbard
(Norwegian : Sysselmannen), who holds the responsibility as both county governor and chief of police , as well as holding other authority granted from the executive branch. Duties include environmental policy , family law , law enforcement , search and rescue , tourism management, information services, contact with foreign settlements, and judge in some areas of maritime inquiries and judicial examinations—albeit never in the same cases as acting as police. Since 2015, Kjerstin Askholt has been governor; she is assisted by a staff of 26 professionals. The institution is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice and the Police , but reports to other ministries in matters within their portfolio. Lenin statue in Barentsburg
Barentsburg

Since 2002, Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
Community Council has had many of the same responsibilities of a municipality , including utilities, education, cultural facilities, fire department, roads and ports. No care or nursing services are available, nor is welfare payment available. Norwegian residents retain pension and medical rights through their mainland municipalities. The hospital is part of University Hospital of North Norway
Norway
, while the airport is operated by state-owned Avinor . Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
and Barentsburg
Barentsburg
remain company towns with all infrastructure owned by Kings Bay and Arktikugol, respectively. Other public offices with presence on Svalbard
Svalbard
are the Norwegian Directorate of Mining , the Norwegian Polar Institute
Norwegian Polar Institute
, the Norwegian Tax Administration and the Church of Norway
Norway
. Svalbard
Svalbard
is subordinate to Nord-Troms District Court and Hålogaland Court of Appeal
Hålogaland Court of Appeal
, both located in Tromsø
Tromsø
.

Although Norway
Norway
is part of the European Economic Area
European Economic Area
(EEA) and the Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
, Svalbard
Svalbard
is not part of the Schengen Area
Schengen Area
or the EEA. Non-EU and non-Nordic Svalbard
Svalbard
residents do not need Schengen visas, but are prohibited from reaching Svalbard
Svalbard
from mainland Norway without such. In theory it would be possible to do a visa-free airport transit at Oslo
Oslo
Airport, but this is not allowed by Norway. People without a source of income can be rejected by the governor. No person is required to have a visa or residence permit for Svalbard
Svalbard
. Everybody can live and work in Svalbard
Svalbard
indefinitely regardless of citizenship. Svalbard Treaty
Svalbard Treaty
grants treaty nationals equal right of abode as Norwegian nationals. So far, non-treaty nationals were admitted visa-free as well. "Regulations concerning rejection and expulsion from Svalbard" in force. Russia
Russia
retains a consulate in Barentsburg
Barentsburg
.

In September 2010 a treaty was made between Russia
Russia
and Norway
Norway
fixing the boundary between the Svalbard
Svalbard
archipelago and the Novaya Zemlya archipelago . Increased interest in petroleum exploration in the Arctic raised interest in a resolution of the dispute. The agreement takes into account the relative positions of the archipelagos, rather than being based simply on northward extension of the continental border of Norway
Norway
and Russia.

ECONOMY

Main article: Economy of Svalbard
Economy of Svalbard
Tourists viewing a glacier

The three main industries on Svalbard
Svalbard
are coal mining , tourism , and research . In 2007, there were 484 people working in the mining sector, 211 people working in the tourism sector and 111 people working in the education sector. The same year, the mining gave a revenue of NOK 2.008 billion (227,791,078 USD), tourism NOK 317 million (35,967,202 USD) and research NOK 142 million (16,098,404 USD) In 2006, the average income for economically active people was NOK 494,700; 23% higher than on the mainland. Almost all housing is owned by the various employers and institutions and rented to their employees; there are only a few privately owned houses, most of which are recreational cabins. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to live on Svalbard
Svalbard
without working for an established institution.

Since the resettlement of Svalbard
Svalbard
in the early 20th century, coal mining has been the dominant commercial activity. Store Norske Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
Kulkompani , a subsidiary of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry , operates Svea Nord in Sveagruva
Sveagruva
and Mine 7 in Longyearbyen. The former produced 3.4 million tonnes in 2008, while the latter uses 35% of its output to Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
Power Station. Since 2007, there has not been any significant mining by the Russian state-owned Arktikugol
Arktikugol
in Barentsburg. There have previously been performed test drilling for petroleum on land, but these did not give satisfactory results for permanent operation. The Norwegian authorities do not allow offshore petroleum activities for environmental reasons, and the land formerly test-drilled on has been protected as natural reserves or national parks. In 2011, a 20-year plan to develop offshore oil and gas resources around Svalbard
Svalbard
was announced. NASA
NASA
research facility in Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund

Svalbard
Svalbard
has historically been a base for both whaling and fishing . Norway
Norway
claimed a 200-nautical-mile (370 km; 230 mi) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around Svalbard
Svalbard
in 1977, with 31,688 square kilometres (12,235 sq mi) of internal waters and 770,565 square kilometres (297,517 sq mi) of EEZ. Norway
Norway
retains a restrictive fisheries policy in the zone, and the claims are disputed by Russia. Tourism
Tourism
is focused on the environment and is centered on Longyearbyen. Activities include hiking, kayaking, walks through glacier caves and snowmobile and dog-sled safari. Cruise ships generate a significant portion of the traffic, including both stops by offshore vessels and expeditionary cruises starting and ending in Svalbard. Traffic is strongly concentrated between March and August; overnights have quintupled from 1991 to 2008, when there were 93,000 guest-nights.

Research
Research
on Svalbard
Svalbard
centers on Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
and Ny-Ålesund, the most accessible areas in the high Arctic. The treaty grants permission for any nation to conduct research on Svalbard, resulting in the Polish Polar Station and the Chinese Arctic Yellow River Station , plus Russian facilities in Barentsburg. The University Centre in Svalbard
Svalbard
in Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
offers undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses to 350 students in various arctic sciences, particularly biology , geology and geophysics . Courses are provided to supplement studies at the mainland universities; there are no tuition fees and courses are held in English, with Norwegian and international students equally represented.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
is a seedbank to store seeds from as many of the world's crop varieties and their botanical wild relatives as possible. A cooperation between the government of Norway
Norway
and the Global Crop Diversity Trust
Global Crop Diversity Trust
, the vault is cut into rock near Longyearbyen, keeping it at a natural −6 °C (21 °F) and refrigerating the seeds to −18 °C (0 °F).

The Svalbard Undersea Cable System is a 1,440 km (890 mi) fibre optic line from Svalbard
Svalbard
to Harstad
Harstad
, needed for communicating with polar orbiting satellites through Svalbard
Svalbard
Satellite
Satellite
Station and installations in Ny-Ålesund.

One source of income for the area is visiting cruise ships. The Norwegian government has become concerned in recent years about large numbers of cruise ship passengers suddenly landing at small settlements such as Ny-Ålesund, which is conveniently close to the barren-yet-picturesque Magdalena Fjord
Fjord
. With the increasing size of the larger ships, up to 2000 people can potentially appear in a community that normally numbers less than 40. The government has recently passed legislation, effective from January 2014, severely restricting the size of cruise ships that may visit.

TRANSPORT

Main article: Transport in Svalbard Snowmobiles are an important mode of transport in Svalbard, such as here at Longyearbyen.

Within Longyearbyen, Barentsburg, and Ny-Ålesund, there are road systems, but they do not connect with each other. Off-road
Off-road
motorized transport is prohibited on bare ground, but snowmobiles are used extensively during winter—both for commercial and recreational activities. Transport from Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
to Barentsburg
Barentsburg
(45 km or 28 mi) and Pyramiden
Pyramiden
(100 km or 62 mi) is possible by snowmobile in winter, or by ship all year round. All settlements have ports and Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
has a bus system.

Svalbard Airport, Longyear , located 3 kilometres (2 mi) from Longyearbyen, is the only airport offering air transport off the archipelago. Scandinavian Airlines has daily scheduled services to Tromsø
Tromsø
and Oslo
Oslo
. Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle
Norwegian Air Shuttle
also has a service between Oslo
Oslo
and Svalbard, operating three or four times a week; there are also irregular charter services to Russia. Finnair announced commencement of service from Helsinki, operating three times a week starting 1 June 2016 and lasting until 27 August 2016, but Norwegian authorities did not allow this route, citing the 1978 bilateral agreement on air traffic between Finland and Norway. Lufttransport provides regular corporate charter services from Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
to Ny-Ålesund
Ny-Ålesund
Airport and Svea Airport for Kings Bay and Store Norske; these flights are in general not available to the public. There are heliports in Barentsburg
Barentsburg
and Pyramiden, and helicopters are frequently used by the governor and to a lesser extent the mining company Arktikugol.

CLIMATE

Main article: Climate of Svalbard
Climate of Svalbard
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
during August

The climate of Svalbard
Svalbard
is dominated by its high latitude, with the average summer temperature at 4 to 6 °C (39 to 43 °F) and January averages at −16 to −12 °C (3 to 10 °F). The West Spitsbergen Current , the northernmost branch of the North Atlantic Current system, moderates Svalbard's temperatures, particularly during winter. Winter temperatures in Svalbard
Svalbard
are up to 2 °C (4 °F) higher than those at similar latitudes in Russia
Russia
and Canada. The warm Atlantic water keeps the surrounding waters open and navigable most of the year. The interior fjord areas and valleys, sheltered by the mountains, have larger temperature differences than the coast, giving about 2 °C (4 °F) warmer summer temperatures and 3 °C (5 °F) colder winter temperatures. On the south of Spitsbergen, the temperature is slightly higher than further north and west. During winter, the temperature difference between south and north is typically 5 °C (9 °F), and about 3 °C (5 °F) in summer. Bear Island has average temperatures even higher than the rest of the archipelago.

Svalbard
Svalbard
is where cold polar air from the north and mild, wet sea air from the south meet, creating low pressure, changeable weather and strong winds, particularly in winter; in January, a strong breeze is registered 17% of the time at Isfjord Radio
Isfjord Radio
, but only 1% of the time in July. In summer, particularly away from land, fog is common, with visibility under 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) registered 20% of the time in July and 1% of the time in January, at Hopen and Bjørnøya. Precipitation is frequent, but falls in small quantities, typically less than 400 millimetres (16 in) per year in western Spitsbergen. More rain falls on the uninhabited east side, where there can be more than 1,000 millimetres (39 in).

2016 was the warmest year on record at Svalbard
Svalbard
Airport, with a remarkable mean temperature of 0.0 °C (32.0 °F), 7.5 °C (13.5 °F) above the 1961–90 average, and more comparable to a location at the arctic circle. The coldest temperature of the year was as high as −18 °C (0 °F), warmer than the mean minimum in a normal January, February or March. There was also the same number of days with rain falling as snow falling, when there are normally more than twice as many snow days.

NATURE

Main article: Environment of Svalbard Long-tailed skua

In addition to humans, three primarily terrestrial mammalian species inhabit the archipelago: the Arctic fox
Arctic fox
, the Svalbard reindeer , and accidentally introduced southern voles , which are found only in Grumant. Attempts to introduce the Arctic hare
Arctic hare
and the muskox have both failed. There are fifteen to twenty types of marine mammals , including whales , dolphins , seals , walruses , and polar bears .

Polar bears are the iconic symbol of Svalbard, and one of the main tourist attractions. The animals are protected and people moving outside the settlements are required to have appropriate scare devices to ward off attacks. They are also advised to also carry a firearm for use as a last resort. A British schoolboy was killed by a polar bear in 2011. Svalbard
Svalbard
and Franz Joseph Land share a common population of 3,000 polar bears, with Kong Karls Land being the most important breeding ground. Female polar bear with cub

The Svalbard reindeer (R. tarandus platyrhynchus) is a distinct sub-species; although it was previously almost extinct, it can be legally hunted (as can Arctic fox
Arctic fox
). There are limited numbers of domesticated animals in the Russian settlements. Tundra
Tundra
at Bellsund
Bellsund

About thirty species of bird are found on Svalbard, most of which are migratory. The Barents Sea
Barents Sea
is among the areas in the world with most seabirds, with about 20 million individuals during late summer. The most common are little auk , northern fulmar , thick-billed murre and black-legged kittiwake . Sixteen species are on the IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
. Particularly Bjørnøya, Storfjorden , Nordvest- Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
and Hopen are important breeding ground for seabirds. The Arctic tern
Arctic tern
has the furthest migration, all the way to Antarctica
Antarctica
. Only two songbirds migrate to Svalbard
Svalbard
to breed: the snow bunting and the wheatear . Rock ptarmigan is the only bird to overwinter. Remains of Predator X from the Jurassic
Jurassic
period have been found; it is the largest dinosaur-era marine reptile ever found—a pliosaur estimated to have been almost 15 m (49 ft) long. Western coast of Bünsow Land . Located at Isfjorden in Spitsbergen.

Svalbard
Svalbard
has permafrost and tundra , with both low, middle and high Arctic vegetation . 165 species of plants have been found on the archipelago. Only those areas which defrost in the summer have vegetations, which accounts for about 10% of the archipelago. Vegetation is most abundant in Nordenskiöld Land, around Isfjorden and where affected by guano . While there is little precipitation, giving the archipelago a steppe climate, plants still have good access to water because the cold climate reduces evaporation. The growing season is very short, and may last only a few weeks.

There are seven national parks in Svalbard: Forlandet , Indre Wijdefjorden , Nordenskiöld Land , Nordre Isfjorden Land , Nordvest- Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
, Sassen- Bünsow Land and Sør- Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
. The archipelago has fifteen bird sanctuaries, one geotopic protected area and six nature reserves—with Nordaust- Svalbard
Svalbard
and Søraust-Svalbard both being larger than any of the national parks. Most of the nature reserves and three of the national parks were created in 1973, with the remaining areas gaining protection in the 2000s. All human traces dating from before 1946 are automatically protected. The protected areas make up 65% of the archipelago. Svalbard
Svalbard
is on Norway's tentative list for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
UNESCO World Heritage Site
. Total solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 from Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
, Norway
Norway

The total solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 included only Svalbard
Svalbard
and the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
in the band of totality. Many scientists and tourists observed it.

EDUCATION

See also: Academic grading in Svalbard

Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
School serves ages 6-18. It is the primary/secondary school in the northernmost location on Earth . Once pupils reach ages 16 or 17 most families move to mainland Norway. Barentsburg
Barentsburg
has its own school serving the Russian community; by 2014 it had three teachers, and its welfare funds had declined. A primary school served the community of Pyramiden
Pyramiden
in the pre-1998 period.

There is a non-degree offering tertiary educational institution in Longyearbyen, University Centre in Svalbard
University Centre in Svalbard
(UNIS), the tertiary school in the northernmost location on Earth.

*

Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
School *

Barentsburg
Barentsburg
School *

University Centre in Svalbard
University Centre in Svalbard
(UNIS)

MEDIA

News about Svalbard
Svalbard
in English and Norwegian is published weekly at svalbardposten.no, while "alternative" news in English is at icepeople.net.

Svalbard
Svalbard
makes a prominent appearance in Northern Lights by Philip Pullman and the corresponding film . In the novel it is used as a prison for important and powerful people. It is inhabited by Panserbjørne, polar bears that wear armour forged from Sky-Iron. One of the primary characters, Lord Asriel, was imprisoned and manages to flee from Svalbard
Svalbard
during the novel.

The fictional towns of Fortitude and Vukobejina, as portrayed in the 2015 TV series Fortitude (from UK's Sky Atlantic
Sky Atlantic
), are situated in Svalbard.

In 2014 the Swedish singer Tove Styrke filmed a music video in Pyramiden
Pyramiden
for her single "Borderline".

In 2015, YouTuber Tom Scott visited the island as part of his Amazing Places video series, producing videos on subjects such as the island's gun regulations, the Svalbard
Svalbard
Global Seed Vault, and the Longyearbyen Sundial.

In 2016, a ten-part reality series was broadcast on BBC Earth
BBC Earth
(called Ice Town: Life on the Edge) and BBC Nordic (called Svalbard: Life on the Edge). Filmed in 2015–2016, it focused on the lives of eleven Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen
residents through the passing seasons.

Parts of UK band Clean Bandit
Clean Bandit
's music video for "Come Over" feat. Stylo G was filmed in Svalbard, which was released in 2014.

SEE ALSO

* Geography portal * Europe
Europe
portal * Norway
Norway
portal

* Agriculture in Svalbard
Agriculture in Svalbard
* Cape Amsterdam * Outline of Svalbard
Outline of Svalbard
* Svalbard in fiction * Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Svalbard and Jan Mayen
* List of islands of Norway
Norway
* List of islands of Norway
Norway
by area

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