Spitsbergen, the largest island in Svalbard, is known as the crown of Arctic Norway. Located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, one might expect it to be unbearably cold; however, thanks to the Gulf Stream, Spitsbergen, and the other islands in the Svalbard Archipelago, the region boasts a surprisingly mild climate with distinctive seasons. The large variety of plants and wildlife includes seals, thousands of seabirds coming in every summer, Arctic fox, reindeer, and the top predator: the polar bear.
Located on the southern fringe of the frozen Arctic Ocean, Svalbard offers expedition landings, hikes, kayaking, and other activities in the largest Arctic wildnerness in Europe.
Svalbard has more than 3,000 polar bears and fewer than 3,000 people. Remote, mysterious, and extreme, Svalbard is the crown of Arctic Norway; a land forged by ice and wind, ocean, and snow that presents us with a spectacular range of unforgettable adventures. With its location right on the edges of the ever frozen Arctic Ocean, the warmer currents of the Gulf Stream meet the cold air and water from the north. This archipelago holds fascinating histories of the polar heroes of the north, and cultural heritage from the coal mining era as well as the history of exploration, hunting, and whaling.
Klondike-like Atmosphere: Population & Settlements in Svalbard
The population of Svalbard is approximately 2,500. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement in the islands, located on Spitsbergen, and is also the seat of the governor. It's a colorful modern town with first-class facilities, like excellent hotels and restaurants, regular flight connections to mainland Norway, and an impressive range of activities to suit every traveler. The town has a hospital, primary and secondary schools, university, sports center with a swimming pool, library, cultural center, cinema, bus depot, hotels, a bank, and several museums.
The newspaper Svalbardposten is published weekly. Spitsbergen is among the safest places on Earth, with virtually no crime. Barentsburg is the second largest settlement in Svalbard, also located on Spitsbergen, with about 500 inhabitants, almost entirely Russian and Ukrainian. The Russian-owned Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932, and during the Cold War, Barentsburg was a hotbed of activity.
Ny-Ålesund is one of the world’s northernmost settlements, inhabited by a permanent population of approximately 30-35 people who work for one of the research stations or the logistics and supply company Kings Bay AS, which ‘owns’ and runs the research village. In the summer, the activity in Ny-Ålesund is greatly increased with up to 120 researchers, technicians, and field assistants.