Photos of Jan Mayen

Tiny Jan Mayen Island sits about 1,040 km (650 mi) northeast of Iceland between the Norwegian and Greenland Seas. Covering 377 sq km (146 sq mi), the island is about twice the size of Washington, D.C. The white peak on the northeast section of the island is Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg, the northernmost active volcano in the world. Image courtesy of NASA.



This desolate, mountainous island in the Arctic Ocean was named after a Dutch whaling captain who indisputably discovered it in 1614 (earlier claims are inconclusive). Visited only occasionally by seal hunters and trappers over the centuries, the island came under Norwegian sovereignty in 1929. The long dormant Beerenberg volcano, the northernmost active volcano on earth, resumed activity in 1970, and the most recent eruption occurred in 1985.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the Norwegian Sea, northeast of Iceland

Geographic coordinates

71 00 N, 8 00 W

Map references

Arctic Region


total: 377 sq km

land: 377 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 205

Area - comparative

slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


124.1 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


arctic maritime with frequent storms and persistent fog


volcanic island, partly covered by glaciers


highest point: Haakon VII Toppen on Beerenberg 2,277

lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m

note: Beerenberg volcano has numerous peaks; the highest point on the volcano rim is named Haakon VII Toppen, after Norway's first king following the reestablishment of Norwegian independence in 1905

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Natural hazards

dominated by the volcano Beerenberg

volcanism: Beerenberg (2,227 m) is Norway's only active volcano; volcanic activity resumed in 1970; the most recent eruption occurred in 1985

Geography - note

barren volcanic spoon-shaped island with some moss and grass flora; island consists of two parts: a larger northeast Nord-Jan (the spoon "bowl") and the smaller Sor-Jan (the "handle"), linked by a 2.5 km-wide isthmus (the "stem") with two large lakes, Sorlaguna (South Lagoon) and Nordlaguna (North Lagoon)

People and Society


total: no indigenous inhabitants

note: military personnel operate the the weather and coastal services radio station


Environment - current issues

pollutants transported from southerly latitudes by winds, ocean currents, and rivers accumulate in the food chains of native animals; climate change


arctic maritime with frequent storms and persistent fog

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Jan Mayen

etymology: named after Dutch Captain Jan Jacobszoon MAY, one of the first explorers to reach the island in 1614

Dependency status

territory of Norway; since August 1994, administered from Oslo through the county governor (fylkesmann) of Nordland; however, authority has been delegated to a station commander of the Norwegian Defense Communication Service; in 2010, Norway designated the majority of Jan Mayen as a nature reserve

Legal system

the laws of Norway apply where applicable 

Flag description

the flag of Norway is used


Broadcast media

a coastal radio station has been remotely operated since 1994

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Norway