About Svalbard

Svalbard is Norway's northernmost region, and the archipelago is one of the northernmost land-areas in the world. Most of this territory is still pristine, without roads or other signs of human intervention.

Svalbard is defined as a land area situated between 74 and 81 degrees north, and between 10 and 35 degrees east. The archipelago consists of islands of various sizes, the largest of which are Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet, Edgeøya, Barentsøya and Prins Karls Forland. The summit Newtontoppen, on the north-eastern part of Spitsbergen, towers 1713 metres above sea level and is the highest.

Svalbard has an area of about 61 000 square kilometres, more than half of which covered by snow and ice. There are relatively few species of plants and animals, but species may have large populations. Not many humans have lived in Svalbard since Wilhelm Barents first came in 1596, but those who did have left traces, some of which are now cultural heritage.

Svalbard Guidelines (Svalbardvettreglene)

The local tourist business and the Governor have established a set of Svalbard Guidelines. They describe how visitors should behave.

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Settlements

Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard, is the Norwegian administrative centre. The other settlements are in Barentsburg, Ny-Ålesund, Hornsund, Hopen and Bjørnøya.

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Climate and light

Svalbard's latitude in the high Arctic is denoted both by its climate and by the prevalent conditions of light. The mean annual temperature is four degree below zero (Centigrade), and life takes its cues from the midnight sun and the polar night.

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Geology

In Svalbard we find rocks from practically every geological period. Geology tell its visible tale in Svalbard where vegetation is so sparse.

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Animals

Animal species in Svalbard have adapted to the severe conditions of the Arctic. Many of them endure extreme cold, periods of lack of nourishment and long Arctic night.

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Flora

At first glance Svalbard appears to have very scant vegetation. A closer look will, however, reveal a large number of plants. There are in fact 170 plant species, altogether on the archipelago.

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Laws and regulations

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Historical background

Svalbard was discovered by Willem Barents in 1596. The history of Svalbard is the history of hunters, trappers, mining communities and amazing expeditions.

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