You’ve probably heard about Svalbard, a glaciated archipelago in Norway. The glacier-covered islands are an old mining and whaling colony that is now accessible by air. But how to get there? The first step is to get yourself a plane ticket.
Svalbard is a Norwegian glaciated archipelago
Svalbard is a unique place in the world. Located so far north, it is completely untouched and contains little infrastructure. More than 60% of the islands are covered in glaciers, while only 10% have vegetation. This polar environment also features a long midnight sun and a range of seabirds and wildlife, including polar bears and the Arctic fox.
The largest island in the Svalbard archipelago is Spitsbergen. The name Spitsbergen derives from Dutch and means “Jagged mountains”. In the past, the term Spitsbergen referred to the entire archipelago, although West Spitsbergen remains the largest. Svalbard is a part of the Kingdom of Norway and is governed by the Svalbard Treaty. Although Norway has full sovereignty over Svalbard, it is bound by some restrictions on environmental conservation, military activity, and taxation.
Most of Svalbard is protected as a nature reserve or national park. However, tourists are not permitted to travel outside of Longyearbyen. Moreover, the only “highway” in Svalbard is a road connecting the airport to Mine 7. This road is only a few kilometers long and unsealed. Most travelers use snowmobiles as transportation. Other modes of transportation include airplanes or helicopters.
Visitors come to Svalbard to experience Arctic nature at its most raw. Svalbard’s untouched glaciers and craggy mountains are home to polar bears, caribou, polar foxes, and a wide range of birds. Whales are also often spotted off the coasts in late summer.
The islands of Svalbard have a history that dates back to the Vikings. Although the first known voyage took place during the 15th century, the first permanent settlement was established during the 17th century. In 1920, the territory was formally recognized by the Norwegian government and Norway’s sovereignty over it was declared.
More than half of Svalbard is covered in glaciers. The largest glaciers, known as ice caps, cover about 60% of the island. The largest ice cap is Austfonna, which is located on the Nordaustlandet.
Svalbard was first discovered in 1596 by Willem Barentsz, who was looking for a northeast passage. After his discovery, a whaling industry began. This industry was of great national importance. At its peak, more than 300 ships were active in the region. The biggest land station was at Smeerenburg, which housed 200 whalers. It also featured eight large ovens for rendering the blubber into oil.
Svalbard has one of the longest high-latitude meteorological records on earth. The record of the region indicates that the area was relatively warm during the early Holocene, followed by a period of cooling. Then, a warmer trend occurred, which has lasted since the late 1960s.
Svalbard is home to a diverse range of birds. Large numbers of seabirds nest here, including the Brunnich’s Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Fulmar, and four species of skua. The only land bird on Svalbard is the Svalbard ptarmigan, but there are also a variety of other birds and flowers on the islands.
It is a mining and whaling colony
The mining and whaling industry has played a major role in the history of Svalbard. More than half a millennium has passed since the archipelago first saw commercial activity. While hunting whales in Svalbard has largely ceased, the mining industry has remained a major contributor to the region’s economy. The mining industry has also contributed to the development of research and exploration efforts in the Arctic.
The mining industry on Svalbard was originally Norwegian. The largest town is Longyearbyen. But in the early twentieth century, Russia entered the mining industry and took over Swedish and Dutch concerns in Barentsburg and Pyramiden. While Norwegian mining returned to pre-war levels quickly, the Russians took longer, requiring more manpower. The mining industry in Svalbard was halted in 1949, but it has since resumed.
Although the Europeans abandoned Svalbard in the mid-1700s, Russian whalers remained. With their familiarity with the Arctic climate, they continued trading over the winter months. These whalers trapped polar bears and Arctic foxes. In this way, the first land exploitation on Svalbard was possible.
In 1908, the Arctic Coal Company established Longyearbyen and Longyear City. Initially, the company was not governed by any country, and labor disputes plagued the island. The Arctic Coal Company eventually closed Advent City. During World War I, a joint administration between Norway, Sweden, and Russia was discussed. Eventually, a Paris Peace Accord was reached, and Norway gained goodwill by remaining neutral. Afterwards, the Soviet state-owned Arktikugol and other companies continued to operate.
The mining and whaling industry on Svalbard was a source of wealth for many people. The colony survived several economic downturns and tragedies. But the mining and whaling industry was not the only source of income for many Svalbard residents.
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago located inside the Arctic Circle. The region was first used as a whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Svalbard Act of 1925 made Svalbard a demilitarized and free economic zone. The islands are home to a small population of humans, mostly living in small settlements.
Svalbard is also home to many species of marine mammals, including blue whales. These creatures are among the largest animals on the planet and can weigh up to 300,000 pounds. They are usually solitary but are sometimes seen swimming with a partner.
Svalbard has a high concentration of glaucous gulls. They can be easily identified as a flock by their distinctive miaowing call. They nest on cliff ledges and nest in small colonies. The birds often feed on the carcasses of other animals, including reindeers.
Despite the human impact on Svalbard’s ecosystem, its remote and wilderness remains an incredible destination for wildlife enthusiasts. With daily flights into Longyearbyen, you can experience the pristine beauty of the Arctic wilderness and observe a diverse range of wildlife. You might even come across polar bears or whales.
It is accessible by air
Svalbard is a remote region of the Arctic. Although it is accessible by air, you may want to spend some time on the ground to see the natural wonders of the region. Travelers often come to Svalbard to see the polar bears. Although they are very rare in the summer, you may be able to see them if you travel during the winter. If you want to see polar bears, you must carry a rifle, and it is best to travel by boat or snowmobile. However, be aware of polar bears, and make sure you are not too close – the bears are extremely strong, and swimming up to 70 km is not an easy task.
You can travel to Svalbard from Norway by air or sea. If you are coming from outside the EU or Schengen area, you will need to obtain a visa from the Norwegian government. However, if you are a citizen of one of the EU/EEA countries, you will be granted entry without a visa. You should also ensure that you have a valid double-entry Norway visa for the purpose of visiting Svalbard.
You can arrive at the Svalbard airport, which is only 1.6 miles (3 km) from Longyearbyen. From there, take a taxi to the town of Longyearbyen. You can expect to pay between NOK 16 and $33 for a five-minute ride to Longyearbyen. Travellers should be aware of the fact that Svalbard has its own immigration policies that are separate from those on mainland Norway. If you are planning to visit Svalbard as a tourist, you should consider applying for a Norwegian work permit before you go.
If you plan to visit Svalbard by land, you should book your tickets well in advance. There are several airlines that fly to the region. Norwegian Air and SAS offer flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen. Some flights also stop in Tromso. If you want to connect with an airline from Oslo to Svalbard, you should check with them whether you need a Schengen visa for Norway before booking your tickets.
Although Svalbard is accessible by air, travel by land is not recommended. The remote nature of the area makes travel by road difficult. As a result, food deliveries can be expensive and the variety is limited. Local residents depend on non-spoiled foods to survive. However, local chefs have found ways to make decent meals from limited supplies. You can find seal, walrus, and venison meat, although polar bear meat is rare.
Traveling by air to Svalbard is an excellent way to see more of the archipelago. You can take a small boat trip or a small plane, and you’ll experience the best light. During winter, you can try to take part in activities such as snowmobiling or skiing.