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HomeSpits­ber­gen infor­ma­ti­on → Sett­le­ments and sta­ti­ons

Settlements and stations

Lon­gye­ar­by­en (= »Lon­gyear City«, this was also the ori­gi­nal name), loca­ted in Advent­fjord more or less in the midd­le of the main island, was foun­ded in 1906 by the Ame­ri­can John Mun­ro Lon­gyear. Today, the Nor­we­gi­an Sys­sel­man­nen (admis­tra­tor) and other admi­nis­tra­ti­on are loca­ted in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­re is a small uni­ver­si­ty (UNIS, a branch of main­land-Nor­we­gi­an uni­ver­si­ties), hos­pi­tal, super­mar­ket, hotels, a ran­ge of shops, bars, restau­rants and other ser­vices. The popu­la­ti­on is gro­wing, num­be­ring around 2000 as of 2009, and more and more hou­ses and flats are being built. Fluc­tua­ti­on is high, as many inha­bi­tants com­ple­te a con­tract las­ting over 2 or 3 years and then return home to Nor­way or else­whe­re. Second to the Nor­we­gi­ans is the Thai popu­la­ti­on, num­be­ring some­whe­re near 200 and taking advan­ta­ge of the regu­la­ti­ons of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty. Spitsbergen’s only air­port that can be rea­ched from out­side is loca­ted near Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The Rus­si­an sett­le­ment of Barents­burg, loca­ted in Grønfjord west of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, is still the cent­re of all Rus­si­an acti­vi­ties in Spits­ber­gen, most­ly mining. Today, the­re are only a few hundred inha­bi­tants left, many of tho­se working in the mines actual­ly being Ukrai­ni­ans, as mining acti­vi­ties have decli­ned in recent years as a result of low reser­ves and mining acci­dents. The­re were more Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in the past, but Pyra­mi­den in Bil­lefjor­den was clo­sed in 1998 and Gru­mant­by­en / Coles­buk­ta in 1962.

In Ny Åle­sund loca­ted in Kongsfjord, coal was mined by a Nor­we­gi­an com­pa­ny until 1962, when the mine was clo­sed after a num­ber of serious acci­dents. Later, the sett­le­ment was deve­lo­ped to beco­me an inter­na­tio­nal rese­arch vil­la­ge, whe­re a num­ber of nati­ons run their sta­ti­ons under Nor­we­gi­an admi­nis­tra­ti­on and coor­di­na­ti­on. The main cla­im for his­to­ri­cal fame of the place are the air­ship expe­di­ti­ons of Amund­sen and Nobi­le in 1926 and 1928.

Next to the­se sett­le­ments, the­re is a num­ber of smal­ler sta­ti­ons, out of which the more important ones shall be men­tio­ned here. The Nor­we­gi­an wea­ther sta­ti­ons on Bjørnøya (Bear Island) and Hopen are staf­fed year-round. Polish sci­en­tists run a rese­arch sta­ti­on in Horn­sund, also year-round and nowa­days the only per­ma­nent rese­arch sta­ti­on out­side the sett­le­ments. The Nor­we­gi­an coas­tal radio and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on sta­ti­on Isfjord Radio at Kapp Lin­né was estab­lished in 1933, but was tech­ni­cal­ly disu­s­ed in 1999; the buil­dings are now used as hotel, cer­tain­ly in a beau­tiful and rather exclu­si­ve loca­ti­on.


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last modification: 2013-10-11 · copyright: Rolf Stange