Svalbard has more polar bears than the population, prohibits bringing cats to the island and pregnant women have to land.
Norway is in Northern Europe, which is rated in the top 10 happiest countries in the world. And Svalbard, the easiest destination for other travelers to live. The reason is Svalbard – Norway’s only place, visitors come without a visa.
But also only visas do not apply, and Norway still controls and enforces other laws such as hunting, fishing, housing and infrastructure … in Svalbard.
Svalbard Island Cluster is more than 2,000 km from Oslo, Norway, but only 965 km from the North Pole. The population here is about 2,500 people and the regional capital is Longyearbyen, the farthest town to the north.
The population here is so small that there are more polar bears than people. According to Visit Svalbard, there are 3,000 polar bears on the islands of Svalbard. According to Forbes, the number of times visitors encounter bears or rare animals here is more and more, especially in winter.
Because bears are more numerous than people, the inhabitants of Svalbard often carry guns with them. This is one of the very few places where tourists see mothers pushing a crib while wearing a rifle on their back.
Trapping polar bears, hunting for whales or other species are popular ways to make a living. However, at present, many areas here are included in conservation programs or within national parks. Two-thirds of the islands in Svalbard are already in need of protection.
Svalbard was first discovered in 1956 by Dutch Villem Barentsz. He named the place Spitsbergen, which in Dutch means “cold mountains”. The most prominent landscape here is the snow-capped mountains, cold glaciers and many fjords.
In recent years, Svalbard wants to attract more tourists and residents who want to come to live and explore this land. Because of being close to the polar region, the climate even in summer can only rise 6 degrees C. Winter temperature drops -14 degrees Celsius.
Matias Fuentes, 24, is a kitchen assistant and security guard in Longyearbyen. Originally from Chile, Matias has come to live here since 2010, he shared “the cold winter here is unbearable”.
Svalbard has 3 seasons: summer in the polar region, winter with auroras and winter with sunshine. Pictured is a white night scene in Longyearbyend. This polar island cluster is in winter darkness for up to 4 months each year and for another 4 months there is no night.
Tamira Prytz, 31, and her family moved to Svalbard for more than 2.5 years, sharing: living in the dark here is not easy. If the power goes out, you really can’t see anything. But Tamira also says that she likes the peaceful life here, the slow and friendly people and just walking.
Matias loves Svalbard because he has time to play a variety of sports as well as experience dog sled and snowboarding. However, he admits that he meets acquaintances every day, walking on familiar streets because it is so small and few people live. The crime rate in Svalbard is very low, and very few people lock the door, Matias told Insider.
Longyearbyen is home to the most inhabited group of islands Svalbard, with more than 2,000 people. Almost none of the roads, mostly wild.
But in Longyearbyen you can find shops, museums, art galleries, bars, restaurants, libraries and cinemas.
Tamira said, “Longyearbyen has many cultural events that take place, so even though we are engulfed in the darkness for many winter months, we still participate in activities such as dining, listening to songs, meeting friends at bars. They have experiences children in other places don’t know about.
Longyearbyen is small but has a diverse culture. It is inhabited by residents from 50 different countries around the world. That is probably because until 1920, there was no government. Later, although this place is under the sovereignty of Norway, it does not require a visa for anyone to travel, live or work. Those who come to live need a job and a place to live before officially staying. The population in Svalbard is largely Norwegian, then Thai.
The local government may refuse to accept or deport people who are unable to sustain their lives or take care of themselves. In addition, Svalbard is not qualified enough to care for seriously ill or pregnant women, so pregnant women have to go to land to give birth. This also applies to dead people.
Svalbard has also banned tourists and other locals from bringing cats to the island since 1992 in order to protect the wildlife.