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Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen

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Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre
Administrative centre
An administrative centre is a term often used in several countries to refer to a county town, or other seat of regional or local government, or the place where the central administration of a commune is located....

 of Svalbard
Svalbard
Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic, constituting the northernmost part of Norway. It is located north of mainland Europe, midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The group of islands range from 74° to 81° north latitude , and from 10° to 35° east longitude. Spitsbergen is the...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

. It is located on the western coast of Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Constituting the western-most bulk of the archipelago, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea...

, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

, on the southern side on Adventfjorden
Adventfjorden
Adventfjorden is a 7 km long and 4 km wide bay on the southern side of Isfjorden, on the west coast of Spitsbergen. The name is a corruption of Adventure Bay, which was probably named after the Hull whaleship Adventure, which resorted to Isfjorden in 1656. The fjord was originally known as Klass...

 (English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

: the Advent fjord
Fjord
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.-Formation:A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice...

), which continues inland with Adventdalen (English: the Advent valley). The Governor of Svalbard
Governor of Svalbard
The Governor of Svalbard represents the Norwegian government in exercising its sovereignty over the Svalbard archipelago .The position reports to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice, but it maintains all Norwegian interests in the area, including environmental protection, law enforcement,...

 and his administration reside in Longyearbyen.

Longyearbyen has approximately 2,060 inhabitants (at the end of 2007). It is the world's most northerly
Northernmost settlements
Some of the northernmost settlements in the world are:-Larger cities north of the Arctic circle:-See also:*Southernmost settlements*Extreme points of Earth*The world's most northern bagpipe orchestra, city, capital, zoo etc....

 town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

, and the most northerly settlement with a population greater than 1,000.

Svalbard and the Spitsbergen Treaty


Svalbard was probably discovered by Icelanders and referred to as Svalbarði fundinn in 1194, according to Landnámabók
Landnámabók
Landnámabók , often shortened to Landnáma, is a medieval Icelandic written work describing in considerable detail the settlement of Iceland by the Norse in the 9th and 10th centuries AD.-Landnáma:...

 from the 11th century and again in 1596 by the Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz. Since the 17th century, people of different nationalities
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 have carried out various activities on Svalbard including hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, trapping, research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 and mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

. In the first half of the 17th century, the right to catch whales in Svalbard was in dispute between several European nations - with conflicts occasionally resulting in bloodshed. Denmark-Norway and England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 both claimed sovereignty over the region; but as neither permanently settled the region, it remained a terra nullius
Terra nullius
Terra nullius is a Latin expression deriving from Roman law meaning "land belonging to no one" , which is used in international law to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state, or over which any prior sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished...

.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the development of the mining industry created the need for change: it was important to have sole ownership of land and mineral deposits, and there was a need for legislation and courts to settle disputes, such as those between mining companies and their workers. Only with the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 at the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 was an agreement reached in the form of the Spitsbergen Treaty. This made Svalbard part of the Kingdom of Norway but the Treaty allowed citizens of other signing nations equal rights to residence, property, commercial activities and research on the island. As a result, people from many nations live on Svalbard today.

The Longyearbyen American period



During the summer of 1900, businessmen from Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

 formed Kulkompagniet Trondhjem-Spitsbergen (English: The Trondheim-Spitsbergen Coal Company) and occupied the coal mines in Longyearbyen. The company looked for foreign buyers, and in 1905 a deal was made with two American businessmen, John Munroe Longyear
John Munroe Longyear
John Munroe Longyear was a noted developer of timber and mineral lands in America and the central figure behind the Arctic Coal Company which surveyed and mined coal lands on Spitsbergen, now Svalbard, from 1905–1916...

 and Frederick Ayer
Frederick Ayer
Frederick Ayer was an American businessman and the younger brother of patent medicine tycoon Dr. James Cook Ayer. He graduated from The Hill School. In addition to his involvement in the patent medicine business, he is better known for his work in the textile industry...

; they established The Arctic Coal Company (ACC) in Boston, which developed the mining operation in what was called Longyear City, later the Norwegian Longyearbyen (byen in Norwegian means the town/city).

The period 1906-1915 (during which ACC ran the mines) is known as The American period. A few hundred miners were working in Longyearbyen every year; most came from Norway or Sweden, while the management was British or American. This pioneer period saw discontent and strikes. The workers’ living conditions were primitive: they were quartered in large 32- or 64-man barracks
Barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

, in stalls for 4. Hygiene and food were poor due to limited supply, and the workers probably stayed due to the good wages, compared to those in the mines and construction sites on the mainland.

The Norwegian period


In 1916, ACC and the American properties were sold to the Norwegian Det Norske Spitsbergensyndikat. The syndicate also bought the coal field in Grønfjorden
Grønfjorden
Grønfjorden is a 16km long fjord, separated from Isfjorden to the north by Festningsodden in the west and Heerodden in the east. It lies within the western portion of Nordenskiöld Land...

, and in November 1916 Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani AS (SNSK) was founded. During the winter of 1917-1918, around 180 men and 34 women and children overwintered. By 1920 the number had increased to 289, out of which 37 were women and children.

The Svalbard Treaty then gave Norway sovereignty over Svalbard. This had a minimal effect on the community in Longyearbyen, which was run as a private company town
Company town
A company town is a town or city in which much or all real estate, buildings , utilities, hospitals, small businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations, and other necessities or luxuries of life within its borders are owned by a single company...

 by SNSK.

World War II



During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, both Norwegian and German soldiers were stationed on Svalbard. There was little military action, the soldiers' duty being that of collecting weather
Weather
Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate...

 data, which would be useful for other military operations further south. British convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s sailed from Scotland to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 with allied supplies (the so-called Murmansk
Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 convoys), passing through the waters between Svalbard and Norway, which (together with the working coal mines) turned Svalbard into a strategic military location.

In the autumn of 1941, the year the Germans established the first weather stations, the whole population of Svalbard was evacuated, a decision of the Norwegian Exile Government (in London) with the Allied Forces. In 1942 a small Allied force arrived in Svalbard on the ships Isbjørn and Selis, hoping to hold position in the Isfjorden
Isfjord (Svalbard)
Isfjorden is the second longest fjord in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It lies on the west side of Spitsbergen, an island in the Arctic Ocean about midway between Norway and the North Pole, and the largest in the archipelago. A portion of Isfjorden is included in the national parks of...

 area. The boats were bombed and sunk by the Germans in Grønfjorden
Grønfjorden
Grønfjorden is a 16km long fjord, separated from Isfjorden to the north by Festningsodden in the west and Heerodden in the east. It lies within the western portion of Nordenskiöld Land...

, and the survivors moved to Barentsburg
Barentsburg
Barentsburg is the second largest settlement on Svalbard, with about 500 inhabitants , almost entirely Russians and Ukrainians. The Russian-owned Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932.-Status:...

. The Germans then sent the battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

s Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

 and Scharnhorst to Svalbard in 1943. These ships' crews shelled and burned Barentsburg, Grumant
Grumant
Grumant was a Soviet Russian settlement in Svalbard, Norway, established in 1912 and abandoned in 1965. The population peaked at 1106 in 1951/52 . The name ‘Grumant’ is Pomor in origin, and is also use to refer to the whole of the Svalbard archipelago...

 and Longyearbyen; later, a German submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 destroyed Svea and most houses in Van Mijenfjorden.

Modern times



It was only in the 1960s that demand for modernisation and normalisation arose. Development rapidly increased in the 1970s, when the Norwegian authorities became actively engaged in Svalbard politics. Their aim was that Longyearbyen should become a family community, like any other town in Norway.

The opening of the airport
Svalbard Airport
Svalbard Airport, Longyear is the main airport serving Svalbard in Norway. It is located 1.6 nautical miles northwest of Longyearbyen, and it is the northernmost airport in the world with public scheduled flights. The first airport near Longyearbyen was constructed during World War II...

 in 1975 ended the isolation during the winter months. In 1976, the Norwegian state took over the shares in SNSK and hence control of the development of Longyearbyen.

The coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

 industry was the major employer in Longyearbyen until the early 1990s - daily life revolving around the mining business. With the closure of many of the town's coal mines since, however, this is no longer the case.

Today, the community offers a wide range of activities and facilities, including a swimming hall, a climbing wall
Climbing wall
A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, usually used for indoor climbing, but sometimes located outdoors as well. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material most often used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled...

, a big sports hall, a grocery store, four pubs, seven hotels, one church (Svalbard Church
Svalbard Church
Svalbard Church is located in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway and is part of the Church of Norway and the world's most northern church. Built of wood, it was inaugurated in 1958. There was an older church that was destroyed during World War II....

), several tourist shops, a cinema, one night club, and a squash
Squash tennis
Squash tennis is an American variant of squash racquets, but played with a ball and racquets that are closer to the equipment used for lawn tennis, and with somewhat different rules. For younger players the game offers the complexity of squash racquets and the speed of racquetball...

 court. There is also the University Centre in Svalbard
University Centre in Svalbard
The University Centre in Svalbard is a Norwegian state-owned limited company that provides university-level education in arctic studies. The universities of Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim are represented on its board. The centre is known as...

, which represents four Norwegian universities and provides university-level education in Arctic studies.

At the end of 2007, Longyearbyen had around 2060 inhabitants. About 300 people, or 15% of the population, are non-Norwegian nationals - with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 being the most highly-represented nationalities.

Geography




Longyearbyen has an Arctic tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

 climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 and terrain, moderated slightly by the sea - cf. Climate of Longyearbyen. It lies on the shoreline of the Adventfjorden
Adventfjorden
Adventfjorden is a 7 km long and 4 km wide bay on the southern side of Isfjorden, on the west coast of Spitsbergen. The name is a corruption of Adventure Bay, which was probably named after the Hull whaleship Adventure, which resorted to Isfjorden in 1656. The fjord was originally known as Klass...

, part of the fjord
Fjord
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.-Formation:A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice...

 of Isfjorden, with most of the town below 100 metres (328.1 ft) in altitude. The Longyear river runs through the town (though is frozen for much of the year) and its valley heads inland, southwards. The landscape is mountainous and tree-less, giving it a snowy landscape in winter and spring, and a generally bare landscape without the snow cover.

In the 1930s it was discovered that bodies buried in the town's graveyard were not decomposing, because the permafrost
Permafrost
In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of...

 was preserving them. People may not be buried there, and so those who fall gravely ill must be taken to another part of Norway, where they can be buried if they die.

Districts


The town has a number of named districts. To the west of the Longyear river are Bykaia (the modern port), Sjøområdet ("Lake District"; the old harbour area), Skjæringa (where the Governor's residence is) and Gamle Longyearbyen ("Old Longyear Town"; where the church is). To the east of the river are Sjøskrenten (towards the river delta), the new town centre (including the Radisson hotel), and the Gruvedalen ("Mine Valley") and Lia residential districts. To the south is Haugen ("The Hill") where the town's school and main sports hall are, as well as the Spitsbergen Hotel. Further south, uphill and detached from the main settlement, is the small settlement of Nybyen
Nybyen
Nybyen is a small settlement located on the southern outskirts of Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. The name is Norwegian and translates as New Town.-History and features:...

 ("New Town").

Longyearbyen lokalstyre



The town was incorporated
Municipal corporation
A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which...

 in 2002 — the community extends much further than the town, encompassing the Adventfjorden, the Adventdalen
Adventdalen
Adventdalen is a long valley that follows Adventdalselva on the island Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. The valley and the river flow into Adventfjorden and further into Isfjorden....

 and several small valleys from the fjord, in total covering 242.86 sqkm. Other places of settlement are Nybyen
Nybyen
Nybyen is a small settlement located on the southern outskirts of Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. The name is Norwegian and translates as New Town.-History and features:...

 to the south and the airport to the west. With incorporation the town now has local democracy, a local authority (the "lokalstyre") and a mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

.

Economy


Mining still plays a major role in the community. The Norwegian mining company, Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani , or simply Store Norske, is a Norwegian coal mining company based on the Svalbard archipelago. It was formed in 1916, after a Norwegian purchase of the American Arctic Coal Company ....

, runs two coal mines (Longyearbyen #7 and Svea), and coal mining employs about half the residents.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about from the North Pole. The facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are...

 is a secure underground facility capable of storing millions of crop seeds located near Longyearbyen, administered by the Global Crop Diversity Trust
Global Crop Diversity Trust
Global Crop Diversity Trust is an independent international organization which exists to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide...

. The facility has been designed to protect against natural and human disasters, including global warming, floods and fires, and nuclear holocaust. The site was chosen for a number of factors including its remoteness, sound geology and the ambient temperature of the permafrost.

Education and research



In 1993, the University Centre in Svalbard
University Centre in Svalbard
The University Centre in Svalbard is a Norwegian state-owned limited company that provides university-level education in arctic studies. The universities of Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim are represented on its board. The centre is known as...

 (UNIS) was opened; it is a cooperation of all four Norwegian universities, providing lectures in geophysics, Arctic biology, geology and Arctic technology as well as bachelor, master and PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 positions. The faculty consists of 20 full-time professors, 21 assistant professors and 120 guest lecturers. English is the official language of work, and currently about 350 international students take at least one course per year at UNIS. The student body consists of 50% Norwegian and 50% international students; there are no tuition fees, and most students live in six renovated mining barracks in Nybyen
Nybyen
Nybyen is a small settlement located on the southern outskirts of Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. The name is Norwegian and translates as New Town.-History and features:...

.

Research also includes ionospheric and magnetospheric facilities in regard to the EISCAT
EISCAT
EISCAT is an acronym for the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association. It operates three incoherent scatter radar systems, at 224 MHz, 931 MHz in Northern Scandinavia and one at 500 MHz on Svalbard, used to study the interaction between the Sun and the Earth as revealed by disturbances in...

 radar, the Auroral observatory and a magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

 belonging to the IMAGE chain.

Media



Longyearbyen has one newspaper, the weekly (Norwegian language
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

) Svalbardposten
Svalbardposten
Svalbardposten, founded in 1948, is a Norwegian weekly paper, which operates from Longyearbyen . It is the northernmost regularly published newspaper in the world. In 2003 it had 3,224 subscribers. According to its estimates it has more subscribers than there are people in Svalbard. The newspaper...

. In addition there is an English language online "newspaper" called icepeople.

Tourism



Most tourists to Longyearbyen arrive during spring and summer. Spring is very popular since Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Constituting the western-most bulk of the archipelago, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea...

 is one of the few places in Norway where a snowmobile
Snowmobile
A snowmobile, also known in some places as a snowmachine, or sled,is a land vehicle for winter travel on snow. Designed to be operated on snow and ice, they require no road or trail. Design variations enable some machines to operate in deep snow or forests; most are used on open terrain, including...

 can be driven in open country without special permission. However, due to strict environmental law
Environmental law
Environmental law is a complex and interlocking body of treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations, and common law that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity...

s not all of the main island of Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Constituting the western-most bulk of the archipelago, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea...

 is accessible. From February until November several tour operators provide a wide range of guided trips.

Longyearbyen is the world's most northern
The world's most northern
This is a list of various northernmost things on earth.- Cities and settlements :See also: Northernmost settlements, Northernmost cities and towns-Geography:-Animals:-General:-Shrubs:-Trees:-Culture and music:-Sport :- Religion :...

 readily-accessible settlement, with Svalbard Airport
Svalbard Airport
Svalbard Airport, Longyear is the main airport serving Svalbard in Norway. It is located 1.6 nautical miles northwest of Longyearbyen, and it is the northernmost airport in the world with public scheduled flights. The first airport near Longyearbyen was constructed during World War II...

 just outside town offering regular public flights to and from Tromsø
Tromsø
Tromsø is a city and municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Tromsø.Tromsø city is the ninth largest urban area in Norway by population, and the seventh largest city in Norway by population...

 and Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. In recent years the airport serves over 120,000 passengers per annum. Longyearbyen is also the northernmost town over 1000 inhabitants; it houses a large number of northernmost places and objects of interest: the northernmost church, hospital, tourist office, ATM, airport with scheduled flights, and commercial sea port. A large Radisson Hotel
Radisson Hotels
Radisson Hotels is one of the leading, full-service global hotel companies with more than 420 locations in 73 countries. The first Radisson Hotel was built in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1909, and was named after the 17th-century French explorer Pierre-Esprit Radisson...

 has also opened in the settlement, offering the world's most northern public bar.

Climate


Longyearbyen features a polar climate
Polar climate
Regions with a polar climate are characterized by a lack of warm summers . Regions with polar climate cover over 20% of the Earth. The sun shines 24 hours in the summer, and barely ever shines at all in the winter...

, with cool summers and long, cold winters. Summers in the city are chilly, with average high temperatures being 7°C (45°F) in July. Winters in Longyearbyen are very cold with the average low temperatures of -21°C (-6°F) in February. The city sees roughly 300 mm of precipitation per year, a majority of which falls as snow.

The winters in Longyearbyen are about 20 degrees warmer than at similar latitudes in other parts of the world because of the warm North Atlantic Current
North Atlantic Current
The North Atlantic Current is a powerful warm ocean current that continues the Gulf Stream northeast. West of Ireland it splits in two; one branch, the Canary Current, goes south, while the other continues north along the coast of northwestern Europe...

 that also keeps western Europe and Iceland relatively warm. Average winter temperatures tend to be warmer than in most of Siberia and parts of central Asia. For example, mean January temperature in Astana
Astana
Astana , formerly known as Akmola , Tselinograd and Akmolinsk , is the capital and second largest city of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population of 708,794 as of 1 August 2010...

, the capital of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, is lower than that of Longyearbyen.

The most notable feature of Longyearbyen's climate is the lack of sunlight for almost 4 months of the year (the "polar night
Polar night
The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. This occurs only inside the polar circles. The opposite phenomenon, the polar day, or midnight sun, occurs when the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours.-Description:...

" — lasting in Svalbard from 28 October to 14 February) and an even longer period of 24-hour sunlight (the "polar day
Midnight sun
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous...

" — lasting in Svalbard from 19 April to 23 August), caused by its proximity to the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

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