About Svalbard


Svalbard is a Norwegian governed archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole high up in the Arctic Ocean, about 800 kilometers from mainland Norway and 1000 kilometers from the North Pole. It is home to the northernmost year-round settlements on earth, with an overall population of about 3,000. Nearly 2,400 of the residents live in Svalbard’s capital Longyearbyen and almost a third are immigrants, coming from more than 50 different countries !

In recent years, Svalbard has been moving its economy more toward tourism and scientific research and away from coal mining, which supported much of the economy since the early 20th century. Tourist are met by snow-capped mountaintops, wonderful nature and wilderness, spectacular mountain formations and fjords and impressive glaciers. Around 30,000 tourists visit Longyearbyen annually. In addition the overseas cruise tourism accounts for about the same number and the number of tourists increase year by year. 

In the bright half of the year the sun can be seen nearly 24 hours a day and the temperature is about 5 - 10 degree Celsius. During the other half of the year, darkness and cold reigns, and the temperature may fall below minus 30 degree Celsius. During the winter season the Northern Lights often flicker and dance over the frozen landscape. 

Svalbard host the northernmost university, church and brewery and it is one of the few places in the world where anyone can settle down. That is because citizens of any country are welcome to settle in Svalbard without a visa as long as they have a job and a place to live. Many of the foreign citizens are engaged in the various research communities spread over the islands. Ny-Ålesund Research Station has the most international research community. Researcher Institutions from 10 different countries like China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Korea and the United Kingdom have permanent research infrastructure in the settlement and researcher from many other nations also out research activities in the Ny-Ålesund area each year. Climate and environmental studies make up the largest share of Ny-Ålesund research. 

The Polish Polar Station in Hornsund has been permanently manned by researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences since 1978. The station collects data for forecasting and climatological purposes. The Hornsund weather station works as part of the Norwegian weather station network.

is the second-largest settlement in Svalbard with about 500 inhabitants. The settlement is almost entirely made up of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians and is a hub for Russian research in Svalbard.

Longyearbyen is the administrative center of Svalbard. It houses the two most prominent research institutions in Svalbard: The University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) and the Norwegian Polar Institute. Some international research institutions have offices there, and you will also find the offices of Svalbard Science Forum and SIOS in the building. The Czech Arctic Research Station is a close neighbour and has a field station in Billefjorden. The EISCAT Svalbard Radar, run by institutions from China, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, is located on the outskirts of Longyearbyen.

is an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement in Svalbard. The settlement was closed in 1998 and has since remained largely abandoned with most of its infrastructure and buildings still in place. The cold climate has preserved much of what has been left behind and have made it a popular tourist attraction.  

was the third largest settlement in Svalbard after Longyearbyen and Barentsburg with around 300 mining workers. The Svea coal mine closed in 2017 and Svea has now no permanent inhabitants.

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