Europe :: Svalbard
(territory of Norway)

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: 125
    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
    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) (2011)
    NA
    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
    NA
    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 and Society ::Svalbard

Government ::Svalbard

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Svalbard (sometimes referred to as Spitsbergen)
    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
    NA
    name: Longyearbyen
    geographic coordinates: 78 13 N, 15 38 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 Erik ALHEIM
    elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; governor and assistant governor responsible to the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice
    NA
    none
    the flag of Norway is used
    note: as a territory of Norway, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" is official (see Norway)

Economy ::Svalbard

    Coal mining, tourism, and international research are the major revenue sources on Svalbard. Coal mining is the dominant economic activity and a 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 engaging in this 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. Goods such as alcohol, tobacco, and vehicles, normally highly taxed on mainland Norway, are considerably cheaper in Svalbard in an effort by the Norwegian government to entice more people to live on the Arctic archipelago. By law, the Norwegians collect only enough taxes to pay for the needs of the local government; none of tax proceeds go to Norway.
    $6.313 billion
    NA%
    1,234 (2003)
    country comparison to the world: 229
    revenues: $NA
    expenditures: $NA
    NA% of GDP
    NA% of GDP
    $NA
    $NA
    Norwegian kroner (NOK) per US dollar -
    5.8162 (2012)
    5.6065 (2011)
    6.0442 (2010)
    6.288 (2009)
    5.6361 (2008)

Communications ::Svalbard

    general assessment: adequate
    domestic: local telephone service
    international: country code - 47-790; satellite earth station - 1 of unknown type (for communication with Norwegian mainland only) (2005)
    the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) began direct TV transmission to Svalbard via satellite in 1984; Longyearbyen households have access to 3 NRK radio and 2 TV stations (2008)
    .sj

Transportation ::Svalbard

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