Svalbard is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean. It consists of four large islands, each with an area of over 1, 000 square kilometers, and a huge number of small ones. The largest of all the islands in the archipelago is West Svalbard. The population of the archipelago is 2, 700 inhabitants, on average 0.05 people per kilometer.
12 interesting facts about Svalbard
- The name of Svalbard was given to the archipelago by the Dutch navigator Willem Barents at the end of the 16th century. Translated into Russian - "sharp mountains". The Norwegians call it - "Svalbard" ("cold edge"). And among the Russian Pomors it was customary to call this land "Grumant", they believed that the northern part of the archipelago was connected to Greenland.
- The highest point in Svalbard is Newton's Peak, whose summit is 1, 713 meters above sea level. The first ascent to Newton's Peak was made in 1900 by the Swedish geologist Helge Backlund, a graduate of St. Petersburg University, who had lived in Russia for many years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Backlund was part of a Russian-Swedish expedition working on Svalbard.
- The exact date of the discovery of Svalbard is unknown. Presumably, in the XII century the Vikings visited here, in the "Icelandic Annals" there is a record of a visit to the land called "Svalbard". And in the 16th century there were settlements of the Pomors. At the turn of the XVII-XVIII centuries. active whaling was carried out here, as a result of which the number of whales dropped sharply.
- In 1743, Russian Pomors Aleksey Khimkov, Ivan Khimkov, Stepan Sharapov and Fedor Verigin found themselves on the small island of Maly Brun, which is part of the Spitsbergen archipelago. Their ship sank, and the brave sailors unwittingly had to spend more than six years here, hunting for food and collecting grass called cochlearia. Three of the four managed to wait for the ship to dock in 1749. Only Fyodor Verigin died of scurvy, who stubbornly refused to drink fresh deer blood.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, the island attracted the attention of many countries, after huge deposits of coal were discovered here. In 1920, the Treaty of Svalbard was signed in Paris. The archipelago was recognized as part of Norway, while the right to extract minerals was also recognized for a number of countries. In 1935, the Soviet Union was included in their number. By that time, there were already several Soviet workers' settlements here.
- Back in 1931, the Soviet Union began to issue paper booms, which were in circulation on the territory of the Soviet settlements on Svalbard. During the Great Patriotic War, citizens of the USSR were evacuated from the archipelago, coal mining was resumed in 1946. "Spitsbergen money" appeared here again, first bonds, and a few years later, metal coins. Their denomination corresponded to the coins and bonds of the Soviet Union, but had a different design.
- Most of the archipelago is almost untouched by humans, so local animals and plants can feel completely safe. Svalbard now has a huge number of nature reserves and national parks; about 2/3 of the archipelago's territory is allocated for protected areas. The number of polar bears, the largest predators on our planet, is several thousand individuals.
- The largest settlement in Svalbard is Longyearbyen, Norway, with about 2, 000 inhabitants. it even publishes its own newspaper, Svalbardposten, with a circulation of over 3, 000. This exceeds the total population of the entire archipelago. It turns out that the newspaper is read not only by locals, but also by fans of exotic publications from all over the world.
- It is strictly forbidden to die in this locality. However, no one is immune from death, but, in any case, there is no cemetery here, so the deceased will be buried on the "mainland". This ban is due to the fact that bodies do not decompose in permafrost conditions and can attract the attention of polar bears.
- Of the Russian settlements in Spitsbergen, the largest population is in the village of Barentsburg - about 400. It is named in honor of the navigator Barents. And in the mining village with the name of the pyramid, the world's northernmost monument to the leader of the world proletariat, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, is erected.
- The World Seed Vault has been built in Svalbard. Seed samples from all over the world are stored at a depth of 130 meters. The store was opened in 2006 with the aim of protecting seeds from global disasters. Each country got its own compartment here. Svalbard was chosen as the safest place, even a nuclear war and global warming are not afraid of the storage facility.
- Gradually, coal mining in Svalbard becomes unprofitable, therefore, many settlements were mothballed. Even the city of Longyearbyen was threatened. The Norwegian government is taking measures to develop tourism, there are two daily flights from mainland Norway to Longyearbyen, and cruise ships arrive here. Several tens of thousands of tourists visit Longyearbyen annually.