Unleash your sense of adventure through a holiday in Spitsbergen, only 1300 km from the North Pole.
The Svalbard Archipelago is situated 640 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland with two-thirds of its surface covered by glaciers.
In 1596 the Dutch explorer Willem Barents named the main island, Spitsbergen, after its needle-like mountains, however it was almost another 300 years before anyone other than whalers chose to live there. The reason for this was the discovery of rich coal deposits which were the residue of a prehistoric tropical forest.
Today Spitsbergen is still the only island that is permanently inhabited; its three Norwegian and one Russian settlements having a total population of around 3000. The main Norwegian settlement is Longyearbyen which is situated on a narrow coastal plain alongside the Isfjorden. The town is surprisingly civilised with shops, cafes, a post office, bank, swimming pool, several tour companies, a campsite, guesthouses and hotels.
The other main Norwegian settlements are the polar research centre to the northwest of Longyearbyen called Ny Ålesund and the mining community of Sveagruva in the southeast. The only Russian settlement is the coal mining town of Barentsburg to the west.
Svalbard is the only region of Norway that is also inhabited by polar bears; this, along with its remoteness, makes it one of the most unique holiday destinations we offer.
FOREIGN OFFICE & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE ADVICE
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