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Yearly Archives: 2023 − News & Stories


Trygg­ham­na-Eidem­buk­ta

Whoe­ver came up with this name, “Trygg­ham­na”, or “Safe har­bour”, as it ori­gi­nal­ly was in the years of the wha­lers … they must have been kid­ding.

We thought we were well ancho­red and were loo­king for­ward to a good night’s sleep, but the strong gusts that kept fal­ling alter­na­tingly from the gla­cier on one side or the moun­ta­ins on the other side kept us busy, lif­ting the anchor and repo­si­tio­ning seve­ral tiems during the night. Also the mor­ning landing was quick­ly scrap­ped, with the view of wil­li­whirls dancing on the water. Wel­co­me to the Arc­tic.

Time to set sails. More than nine knots as we went out of Isfjord … not bad at all!

Also For­lands­und was quite win­dy to start with, but then we found a good place in Eidem­buk­ta and went hiking across the green tun­dra plain, fol­lo­wing a river and up some morai­ne hills with stun­ning views.

Gal­lery – From Trygg­ham­na to Eidem­buk­ta, 03rd July, 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Isfjord

We left Lon­gye­ar­by­en on Satur­day with SV Mean­der. It was a bit of a fog­gy start, but within less than one hour of sai­ling we had the first wild­life high­light in shape of a pod of Belugas.

The fog was gone on Sun­day mor­ning and the sun came out, much to our delight and to the delight of some mos­qui­toes that live in Dick­son­fjord. Thank­ful­ly the­re were not too aggres­si­ve.

Wide, green tun­dra and beau­tiful views of the colourful land­scape of Dick­son­fjord. What a start!

In the after­noon, we sai­led to the huge gla­cier in Bore­buk­ta. Stun­ning wea­ther, stun­ning sce­n­ery, and ice, ice, ice …

Gal­lery – Isfjord, 01st-02nd July 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Advent­da­len to beco­me natu­re reser­ve

Advent­da­len – or, to be more pre­ci­ce: its lower part – is to beco­me a natu­re reser­ve. The pro­po­sal is now in the public hea­ring stage, available on the Sysselmester’s web­site. Until 15 Octo­ber, all inte­res­ted par­ties, orga­ni­sa­ti­ons as well as indi­vi­du­al per­sons, can give their input.

The pro­cess is about an area of 62 squa­re kilo­me­t­res, main­ly tun­dra and the wide river­bed.

Nature reserve lower Adventdalen

Lower Advent­da­len is plan­ned to beco­me a natu­re reser­ve.
Map © Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te.

Advent­da­len is one of Spitsbergen’s lar­gest ice-free val­leys with huge tun­dra are­as and wet­lands, that pro­vi­de various habi­tats to a ran­ge of ani­mal and plant spe­ci­es, inclu­ding a num­ber of rare ones. The pro­tec­tion of the­se habi­tats is the pri­ma­ry goal of the legal pro­po­sal.

The cur­rent pro­po­sal would, for most, not include signi­fi­cant chan­ges, and that is pro­ba­b­ly exact­ly its point: to pro­po­se the cur­rent sta­tus quo. New infra­struc­tu­re such as new roads, ways or buil­dings would be impos­si­ble. Exis­ting buil­dings such as huts will enjoy grand­fa­the­ring, inclu­ding the pos­si­bi­li­ty for minor repairs. Mea­su­res to main­tain Isdam­men (the drin­king water lake) shall remain pos­si­ble.

Tundra in Adventdalen

Tun­dra habi­tat in Advent­da­len, here with moun­tain avens in flower.

The pro­po­sal does not include much in terms of rest­ric­tions for tho­se who are on tour in the area, both pri­va­te and gui­ded tours. Most traf­fic is coming in shape of snow mobi­les, obvioul­sy during the win­ter sea­son. Snow mobi­les (and other moto­ri­sed traf­fic) is, alre­a­dy now, only per­mit­ted on fro­zen, snow-cover­ed ground (com­ment: con­trols on this might well be a bit stric­ter). The­se are­as are used by birds only when the snow-melt has advan­ced quite a bit, so both uses, snow mobi­les (and ski­ers, dog sled­ges …) are natu­ral­ly sepa­ra­ted in time, sol­ving con­flicts befo­re they might come up.

Other kind of traf­fic on wheels will not be per­mit­ted on ground that is not snow-cover­ed. This cor­re­sponds lar­ge­ly to today’s regu­la­ti­ons and prac­ti­ce. It might, to some degree, limit the ran­ge of Fat­Bikes which some­ti­mes use dry river beds that are not cover­ed by any vege­ta­ti­on.

Odinshühnchen, Adventdalen

Red-necked phalar­opes in Advent­da­len:
one of the more unu­su­al spe­ci­es that can be found here.

As of today, dogs must be on a lead when out­side. This is plan­ned to beco­me a bit stric­ter in the future, when leads must not be lon­ger than 5 m during the bree­ding sea­son.

Air traf­fic is to be rest­ric­ted: no flights lower than 300 m, no landing, except SAR ser­vices and poli­ce or by spe­cial per­mis­si­on. The ban on fly­ing will include dro­nes in the new natu­re reser­ve.

The legal pro­po­sal is now in the hea­ring stage until 15 Octo­ber 2023. After that, the law text will con­ti­nue its jour­ney through the insti­tu­ti­ons befo­re it even­tual­ly may be tur­ned into valid law.

Com­ment

One may get the impres­si­on that the pro­po­sed sanc­tua­ry / law will not chan­ge a lot. This is inde­ed the case, and this is good: based on the insight that the given sta­tus quo is actual­ly pret­ty good – by far most of the area in ques­ti­on is int­act, lar­ge­ly untouch­ed arc­tic natu­re – the point is exact­ly to pre­ser­ve the sta­tus quo. Acti­vi­ties that do not end­an­ger the given sta­tus shall remain pos­si­ble, even when some who quick­ly come up with strong opi­ni­ons would rather pre­fer com­pre­hen­si­ve bans on all sorts of acti­vi­ties, espe­ci­al­ly various sorts of traf­fic. The­re were not just a few in Lon­gye­ar­by­en who had feared exact­ly that in the upco­ming Lower Advent­da­len natu­re reser­ve, which until now is a very important area for snow mobi­le traf­fic – in the win­ter sea­son, but not during the bree­ding sea­son. Good thing that tho­se who are in char­ge of the law pro­po­sal have rea­li­sed this. The­re is no need to sol­ve pro­blems at the public’s expen­se if they just don’t exist.

Obvious­ly, the­re are kinds of moto­ri­sed traf­fic in Advent­da­len, be it tou­ristic, pri­va­te or of any other sort, which one does not neces­s­a­ri­ly have to be fond of. But it needs more than that to jus­ti­fy far-rea­ching regu­la­ti­ons. Com­pre­hen­si­ve bans on acti­vi­ties that are important for many need to be well-foun­ded. Not liking some­thing is not good enough.

But what may easi­ly put the envi­ron­ment – habi­tat, spe­ci­es diver­si­ty, … – at risk, such as new infra­struc­tu­re and other signi­fi­cant arti­fi­ci­al ter­rain chan­ges, will not be pos­si­ble any­mo­re.

It is good to see that rele­vant insti­tu­ti­ons still today appar­ent­ly are able to have a clo­ser look at the local rea­li­ty to under­stand the real needs of envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, while lis­tening to locals and others, whe­re­ver rele­vant, and not make peo­p­les’ lives dif­fi­cult wit­hout any real reason.

Nuclear power for Lon­gye­ar­by­en?

A nuclear power plant for Lon­gye­ar­by­en, a place with less than 3000 inha­bi­tants?

That is inde­ed a crea­ti­ve idea.

Back­ground is the dis­cus­sion about the future of Longyearbyen’s ener­gy sup­p­ly, which is sup­po­sed to be relia­ble and (pre­fer­a­b­ly) green. One may almost get the impres­si­on that this dis­cus­sion is almost as old as Lon­gye­ar­by­en its­elf, and it has been issue on this page alre­a­dy more than once. Until now, Longyearbyen’s elec­tri­ci­ty and warmth comes from an out­da­ted coal power plant, which defi­ni­te­ly is neither relia­ble nor green.

Coal power plant Longyearbyen

Lon­gye­ar­by­en with coal power plant (cir­cle).

The Nor­we­gi­an Frems­kritts­par­ti (“Pro­gress par­ty”, FrP) has now con­tri­bu­ted to the deba­te with a fan­ta­stic idea, name­ly the request to con­sider nuclear power, accor­ding to Sval­bard­pos­ten.

Nuclear power plant, Longyearbyen

This is how Lon­gye­ar­by­en might look like in the future,
accor­ding to the Nor­we­gi­an Frems­kritts­par­ti (pho­to com­po­si­ti­on, this aut­hor).

It would be Norway’s only nuclear power plant.

Com­ment

None 🙂

New pho­to- and pan­ora­ma pages

The voya­ge with SV Anti­gua that we finis­hed on 8th June was fan­ta­stic, among­st others due to the ama­zing wea­ther that we had throug­hout the trip. So it is defi­ni­te­ly wort­hwhile to join the trip by cli­cking through the pho­to gal­le­ries that you can access from this page (the actu­al gal­le­ries are on two pages that are lin­ked on that first page).

SV Antigua 2023, Spitsbergen

SV Anti­gua in Horn­sund.

And while I was at it, I gave a face lift to seve­ral pages dedi­ca­ted to places that we have been to on the recent trip. This is about the “Spits­ber­gen pan­ora­ma pages”. The fol­lo­wing pages got some signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ments such as new pan­ora­mas, pho­to gal­le­ries and maps and it is defi­ni­te­ly worth having a look and taking a litt­le vir­tu­al trip to the Arc­tic:

Vio­la­ti­on of sanc­tions found by Nor­we­gi­an cus­toms in Sval­bard

After the begin­ning of the lar­ge-sca­le Rus­si­an inva­si­on of the Ukrai­ne in Febru­ary 2022, Nor­we­gi­an cus­toms offi­cers were soon sta­tio­ned in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was done becau­se it was feared that Spits­ber­gen could be used to bypass sanc­tions against Rus­sia. The­re is ship and airtraf­fic bet­ween both Rus­sia and wes­tern count­ries and Spits­ber­gen, but no pre­sence of cus­tom aut­ho­ri­ties – until April 2022, when Nor­we­gi­an cus­toms were estab­lished in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Custom controls Spitsbergen: airport Longyearbyen

Lug­ga­ge in the air­port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en: in ear­lier times, only the polar bear kept a watchful eye. Today, Nor­we­gi­an cus­tom offi­cers are doing that.

Still, cus­tom aut­ho­ri­ties are not (yet) too visi­ble at Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port, but they are the­re and they do, for exam­p­le con­trols, sam­ple tests with drug snif­fer dogs. Next to good rele­vant for the sanc­tion regime, ille­gal drugs are an issue the cus­tom aut­ho­ri­ty wants to work on.

But the air­port is not the only place for the Nor­we­gi­an cus­tom offi­cers. The port, Barents­burg and ships in the 12 mile zone may and do get offi­ci­al visits, often with logi­sti­cal sup­port from the Sys­sel­mes­ter or the coast guard.

During such con­trols, offi­cers found evi­dence for vio­la­ti­on of sanc­tions against Rus­sia, as Sval­bard­pos­ten wro­te.

Fur­ther details, inclu­ding what was found and whe­re and when, were not released.

For­lands­und – Lon­gye­ar­by­en

One last excur­si­on into the arc­tic tun­dra, in the wide coas­tal plains of For­lands­und. Enough snow to get the snow shoes out and enough snow-free land to go for a hike, wha­te­ver you wan­ted. Wide views, arc­tic silence. Love­ly grey phalar­opes at the beach.

Hea­ving anchor and sai­ling away from the anchor site was real­ly sai­ling at its best. No engi­ne invol­ved. Like in the old days. Back then, a stan­dard pro­ce­du­re to to the lack of alter­na­ti­ves; nowa­days a rare expe­ri­ence. More and more sails went up until we made 8 knots and more, down For­lands­und and a few miles into Isfjord whe­re the wind final­ly left us. A beau­tiful expe­ri­ence!

In the evening we went along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. We were not the only ones, Mean­der was alre­a­dy the­re, Rem­brandt van Rijn fol­lo­wed soon … almost a fami­ly mee­ting. Plus seve­ral big­ger ships at the main pier and at anchor. Spi­rits were high, we could cele­bra­te beau­tiful days that we had enjoy­ed tog­e­ther. The wea­ther was obvious­ly a major fac­tor, but also thanks to all the peo­p­le who made their con­tri­bu­ti­on of one or the other kind, working whe­re­ver on the ship and on land, and tho­se who joi­n­ed us with good spi­rits and deep inte­rest in and love for Spitsbergen’s arc­tic natu­re. Thank you so very much, and see you again soon!

Gal­lery: For­lands­und – Lon­gye­ar­by­en 07th june 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Kongsfjord – 06th june 2023

What a day! One of Spitsbergen’s most beau­tiful fjords under a com­ple­te­ly blue sky. From the litt­le hike up to Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let, with pan­o­r­amic views and a bird cliff, to the count­less ice­bergs and the fast ice edge (not very solid any­mo­re) in inner Kongsfjord. Ama­zing views of Krone­breen and the famous moun­ta­ins Tre Kro­ner.

Oh yes, and a polar bear, enjoy­ing a lazy sum­mer day on a snow field near the beach. In a distance to Ny-Åle­sund of just about 3 km …

Gal­lery – Kongsfjord – 06th june 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Engelskbuk­ta – Ny-Åle­sund – 05th June 2023

The wea­ther situa­ti­on is incre­di­ble, most­ly suns­hi­ne sin­ce the first day in Bell­sund. Also here in Engelskbuk­ta, in nor­t­hern For­lands­und. While we had an arc­tic sum­mer fee­ling yes­ter­day fur­ther south in Hyt­te­vi­ka, here it looks and feels more like arc­tic win­ter, with snow – wet and hea­vy, though – all the way down to sea level. A good oppor­tu­ni­ty to get the snow­s­hoes out and go for a litt­le hike to and on Com­fort­less­breen.

Later, we went along­side in Ny-Åle­sund, the nor­t­hern­most out­post of civi­li­sa­ti­on in Spits­ber­gen.

Gal­lery – Engelskbuk­ta – Ny-Åle­sund – 05th June 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Bell­sund & Horn­sund – 02nd-4th June 2023

The days were ful­ly packed, not the sligh­test chan­ce to wri­te some­thing for the blog any ear­lier. So a short sum­ma­ry will have to be enough now, the pho­tos speak for them­sel­ves. We were so lucky with the wea­ther, a lot of sun, litt­le wind (and the wind we had was good for sai­ling). A num­ber of landings and expe­ri­en­ces that would have been good enough for a week, but we had it in less than three days. We spent a second day in Bell­sund and then con­tin­ued down south to Horn­sund, were we had a day packed with landings and ship and Zodiac crui­ses all over the place. Hyt­te­vi­ka was then the place were we took off again to the north.

Gal­lery – Bell­sund 02nd June 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Gal­lery – Horn­sund 03rd June 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Gal­lery – Hyt­te­vi­ka 04th June 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Bell­sund – 01st June 2023

The start of the sea­son „Spits­ber­gen under sail“ 2023. And what a start! During the first night we made some miles to the south and woke up in Bell­sund to blue ski­es and bright sun glit­te­ring on the snow. But the­re was enough snow-free tun­dra in the low­lands to allow for a good walk. What a beau­tiful mor­ning!

The after­noon con­tin­ued beau­tiful­ly. Some­what sur­pri­sing, we found a big herd of wal­ru­ses, and then we fol­lo­wed the ice edge in Van Mijenfjord for a while.

Gal­lery – Bell­sund – 01st June 2023

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

New pla­cen­a­mes: Neger­pyn­ten beco­mes Svar­t­hu­ken

Three pla­cen­a­mes in the sou­the­ast of Edgeøya were chan­ged recent­ly by the Pla­cen­a­mes com­mis­si­on of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te. Neger­pyn­ten, Negerf­jel­let and Negerd­a­len have rai­sed more than one eye­brow in recent years – more than 400 years after they first appeared in 1616 on Eng­lish maps, accor­ding to the stan­dard source “The Pla­cen­a­mes of Sval­bard”. The ori­gi­nal names pro­ba­b­ly refer­red to the dark appearance of the land­scape, which is con­nec­ted to the geo­lo­gy (Tri­as­sic sedi­ments).

Negerpynten and Negerfjellet become Svarthuken and Svarthukfjellet

Cape and moun­tain were until recent­ly known as Neger­pyn­ten and Negerf­jel­let.
With Svar­t­hu­ken and Svar­t­huk­fjel­let, they have now offi­ci­al­ly got con­sider­a­b­ly more agreeable desi­gna­ti­ons.

After gro­wing con­tro­ver­sies in recent years, the names were now offi­ci­al­ly chan­ged to Svar­t­hu­ken, Svar­t­huk­fjel­let and Svar­t­huk­da­len.

Karte: Negerpynten,  Negerfjellet

The old names on the offi­ci­al map (Topos­val­bard). © Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te.

Isbjørn II aground in Bore­buk­ta

The small pas­sen­ger ves­sel Isbjørn II ran aground on Mon­day in Bore­buk­ta. After a while, the Cap­tain deci­ded to make a May­day call and 11 pas­sen­gers and 4 crew mem­bers were evacua­ted by heli­c­op­ter. Nobo­dy was inju­red, all per­sons are well.

Isbjørn II

Isbørn II (archi­ve image, 2018).

The ship its­elf was towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en on Tues­day. The ves­sel appears to be unda­ma­ged. A small amount of die­sel (or a simi­lar liquid) was initi­al­ly obser­ved on the water near the groun­ding site, but accor­ding to the Sys­sel­mes­ter, it was only a small volu­me that escaped into the envi­ron­ment wit­hout doing any harm. How exact­ly this could hap­pen is unclear, it may have hap­pen­ed in con­nec­tion to the strong lis­ting of the groun­ded ship during low tide.

Borebukta chart

The rele­vant area in Bore­buk­ta. The exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding was not published.
Screen­shot of an elec­tro­nic chart, pro­ces­sed.

The case is remar­kab­le for seve­ral reasons. First of all, it is not to hap­pen at all in the first place. Second­ly, it is not the first time that Isbjørn II ran aground in this very posi­ti­on – the same thing had actual­ly hap­pen­ed befo­re in the very same place. And then, the­re are con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments regar­ding the exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding. The area appears to be well char­ted on modern sea charts. Some say, howe­ver, that the groun­ding hap­pen­ed in a posi­ti­on whe­re the chart indi­ca­tes a depth of 11 met­res (right part of the oval), a depth that – if cor­rect – would be safe for small ves­sels such as as Isbjørn II. Should this be cor­rect, then the chart, alt­hough see­mingly detail­ed and com­pi­led accor­ding to modern stan­dards, would be dan­ge­rous­ly faul­ty. But given cur­rent public infor­ma­ti­on, it can not be excluded eit­her that Isbørn II ran aground in shal­low waters near the small island (left part of the oval). In this case, navi­ga­ti­on errors would likely have play­ed an important role in the cur­rent inci­dent.

Next to Isbjørn II, the­re are seve­ral other boats that have kissed the bot­tom in this area sin­ce 2015 (and, pos­si­bly, befo­re). In at least one case, one invol­ved per­son said to have infor­med the Nor­we­gi­an coas­tal aut­ho­ri­ty, which is respon­si­ble for the charts, about faul­ty depth infor­ma­ti­on.

Wit­hout detail­ed know­ledge about the exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding, it is impos­si­ble to judge what real­ly hap­pend and if the chart qua­li­ty actual­ly was a fac­tor or not.

Black labour in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Employ­ment rela­ti­ons in the grey or even black zone do also exist in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Recent­ly, the regio­nal employ­ment pro­tec­tion agen­cy made con­trols in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and, in a num­ber of cases, found evi­dence for black labour. Employees con­cer­ned are main­ly of non-Nor­we­gi­an ori­gin, and often employ­ed in house clea­ning. Employees were found to have work­ed more hours than they were (offi­ci­al­ly) get­ting paid for, and wages were often well below usu­al levels. Accor­ding to Sval­bard­pos­ten, 50 kro­ner (curr­ent­ly appro­xi­m­ate­ly 4.25 Euro9 were paid per hour, while Nor­we­gi­an stan­dard wages would be at least 205 kro­ner (17.42 Euro).

The employ­ment pro­tec­tion agen­cy can only rise atten­ti­on and bring cases to the atten­ti­on of rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties, such as the tax aut­ho­ri­ty. Ano­ther dif­fi­cul­ty is that some rele­vant Nor­we­gi­an legis­la­ti­on is not in force in Sval­bard. Due to the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty sys­tem, not all Nor­we­gi­an laws are auto­ma­ti­cal­ly in force in Sval­bard, but they have to be brought into force expli­cit­ly by Nor­we­gi­an legis­la­tors.

The­re are, of cour­se, house clea­ning busi­nesses in Lon­gye­ar­by­en that take care well of their employees and respect both legis­la­ti­on and reasonable ethi­cal stan­dards. Some of the­se com­pa­nies are now rai­sing cri­ti­cism against their grey-zone com­pe­ti­tors and against the lack of enthu­si­asm on behalf of the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment. Gus­tav Hals­vik, direc­tor of ISS, is quo­ted say­ing that he thinks of the lack of action of Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties as public racism, con­side­ring that Nor­we­gi­an employees are hard­ly con­cer­ned.

Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen: black labour

Black labourn exists in Lon­gye­ar­by­en not only within house clea­ning, but for exam­p­le also in the cate­ring trade. The cook of this deli­cious meal was most likely not get­ting paid accor­ding to stan­dard wages!

Simi­lar pro­blems are known to exist in Lon­gye­ar­by­en also in indus­tries such as trans­por­ta­ti­on, buil­ding and restau­rants.

Longyearbyen’s popu­la­ti­on is gro­wing and beco­ming more Nor­we­gi­an

Sta­tis­tics Nor­way (sta­tis­tisk sen­tral­by­rå, SSB) have published new data describ­ing Svalbard’s popu­la­ti­on. As of Janu­ary 01, 2023, a total resi­dent popu­la­ti­on of 2,897 peo­p­le was regis­tered in Spitsbergen’s five sett­le­ment, start­ing with 10 folks in the Polish rese­arch sta­ti­on in Horn­sund.

Most peo­p­le live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Ny-Åle­sund, which are coun­ted tog­e­ther in the offi­ci­al sta­tis­tics. The­se sett­le­ments had a total popu­la­ti­on of 2,530 as of the begin­ning of 2023. During the fall of 2022, this num­ber had increased: 234 peo­p­le who had moved away were move than com­pen­sa­ted by 352 who moved to Lon­gye­ar­by­en (and Ny-Åle­sund, but most of them will defi­ni­te­ly have moved to Lon­gye­ar­by­en).

The­se figu­res indi­ca­te high fluc­tua­ti­on: near­ly 10 per cent of the total popu­la­ti­on have moved in and out in just half a year. High fluc­tua­ti­on has always been a cha­rac­te­ristic of Longyearbyen’s popu­la­ti­on. Many come on con­tract and lea­ve again as soon as the work is done, for exam­p­le when a buil­ding pro­ject is finis­hed or when the sea­son is over.

Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen: population

Longyearbyen’s popu­la­ti­on in ear­ly 2023:
some went away, more moved in.

The sta­tis­tics give away some more inte­res­t­ing details: the per­cen­ta­ge of women has increased slight­ly up to 47.1 %. Also the per­cen­ta­ge of Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens has increased a litt­le bit, but over the years it has been sta­ble and clo­se to 65 %. Among­st the non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens, the pro­por­ti­on of peo­p­le from EU-count­ries out­side Scan­di­na­via has grown a litt­le bit.

At the same time, the per­cen­ta­ge of child­ren and young peo­p­le has decreased. Espe­ci­al­ly when con­side­ring young child­ren (youn­ger than school age), the decrease is quite pro­no­un­ced, from 170 in 2013 to only 109 in 2023. During the same peri­od, the age group 20-44 has seen the stron­gest increase, from 49 % to 54 %.

Barents­burg and Pyra­mi­den

Also the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments of Barents­burg and Pyra­mi­den are cover­ed by the Nor­we­gi­an sta­tis­tics. Also here, both are coun­ted tog­e­ther, but the­re is not real­ly a per­ma­nent popu­la­ti­on in Pyra­mi­den, whe­re only a small group of a few dozen peo­p­le are pre­sent for peri­ods of usual­ly a cou­ple of months or so to keep the place run­ning.

Sta­tis­tics show a record popu­la­ti­on also in Barents­burg and Pyra­mi­den, but with 357 peo­p­le in Janu­ary 2023, it is a nega­ti­ve one – never have fewer peo­p­le been regis­tered in Spitsbergen’s Rus­si­an sett­le­ments. Accor­ding to for­mer head of Trust Arktikugol’s tou­rism sec­tion in Barents­burg Timo­fey Rogoz­hin as quo­ted by The Barents Obser­ver, most Ukrai­ni­ans have left sin­ce the begin­ning of the Rus­si­an war. Until ear­ly 2022, a high per­cen­ta­ge of coal miners and others in Barents­burg were from the Ukrai­ne.

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