Introduction ::Svalbard
First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. Norway's sovereignty was recognized in 1920; five years later it officially took over the territory.
Geography ::Svalbard
Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea, north of Norway
78 00 N, 20 00 E
total: 62,045 sq km
country comparison to the world: 124
land: 62,045 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
slightly smaller than West Virginia
0 km
3,587 km
territorial sea: 4 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm unilaterally claimed by Norway but not recognized by Russia
Current Weather
arctic, tempered by warm North Atlantic Current; cool summers, cold winters; North Atlantic Current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and navigable most of the year
wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about one-half of the year; fjords along west and north coasts
lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Newtontoppen 1,717 m
coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, phosphate, wildlife, fish
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (no trees; the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry) (2005)
ice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area; Spitsbergen Island is the site of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository established by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Norwegian Government
People ::Svalbard
2,116 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 231
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA (2009 est.)
-0.023% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA
0% (2001)
country comparison to the world: 170
0 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 165
0 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 156
Norwegian 55.4%, Russian and Ukrainian 44.3%, other 0.3% (1998)
Norwegian, Russian
Government ::Svalbard
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Svalbard (sometimes referred to as Spitzbergen)
territory of Norway; administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice, through a governor (sysselmann) residing in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen; by treaty (9 February 1920) sovereignty was awarded to Norway
name: Longyearbyen
geographic coordinates: 78 13 N, 15 33 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
none (territory of Norway)
the laws of Norway where applicable apply
chief of state: King HARALD V of Norway (since 17 January 1991)
head of government: Governor Odd Olsen INGERO (since September 2009); Assistant Governor Lars FAUSE (since September 2008)
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; governor and assistant governor responsible to the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice
the flag of Norway is used
Economy ::Svalbard
Coal mining is the major economic activity on Svalbard. The treaty of 9 February 1920 gave the 41 signatories equal rights to exploit mineral deposits, subject to Norwegian regulation. Although US, UK, Dutch, and Swedish coal companies have mined in the past, the only companies still mining are Norwegian and Russian. The settlements on Svalbard are essentially company towns. The Norwegian state-owned coal company employs nearly 60% of the Norwegian population on the island, runs many of the local services, and provides most of the local infrastructure. There is also some hunting of seal, reindeer, and fox.
1,234 in Norwegian settlements (2003)
country comparison to the world: 224
revenues: $25.07 million
expenditures: $NA (2004 est.)
$197.6 million (2000)
Norwegian kroner (NOK) per US dollar - 6.3988 (2009), 5.6361 (2008), 5.86 (2007), 6.418 (2006), 6.445 (2005)
Communications ::Svalbard
general assessment: probably adequate
domestic: local telephone service
international: country code - 47-790; satellite earth station - 1 of unknown type (for communication with Norwegian mainland only)
the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) began direct television transmission to Svalbard via satellite in 1984; Longyearbyen households have access to 3 NRK radio and 2 television stations (2008)
Transportation ::Svalbard
4 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 186
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2010)
total: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2010)
1 (2010)
Barentsburg, Longyearbyen, Ny-Alesund, Pyramiden
Military ::Svalbard
no regular military forces
Svalbard is a territory of Norway, demilitarized by treaty on 9 February 1920; Norwegian military activity is limited to fisheries surveillance by the Norwegian Coast Guard
Transnational Issues ::Svalbard
despite recent discussions, Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone