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August 11, 2014

What the heck is a Svalbard? Be honest. Do you know?

by John Phillips

Svalbard (formally Spitsbergen), is an island chain, which sits midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, home to Santa Claus according to my son. Raise your hand if you knew that?  Raise your hand if you’ve been there.  Exactly.  Few knew, fewer have.  Jeopardy won’t even ask about it.

Topographic_map_of_Svalbard.svg

Tell you more?  Okay.  Let me steal some stuff from the internet, which may or may not be accurate.  A Russian mining community has settled there.  It is called Barentsburg and has about 500 inhabitants. It owns a hotel and a gift shop, but the town is largely owned by a Russian mining company, Arktikugol.  There is also the research station of Ny-Ålesund, which is owned by another company (Kings Bay AS), which is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry. There is also the mining outpost of Svalbard, which is the northernmost place in the world with a permanent population.  Don’t get excited, it is only a winter population of 35 and a summer population of about 180 people and they are very cold (but warm hearted, I am sure).

Officially, the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty, and the 1925 Svalbard Act made Svalbard a full part of the Kingdom of Norway.  However, all forty signatory countries of the treaty have the right to conduct commercial activities on the archipelago without discrimination, although all activity is subject to Norwegian legislation.  They share and share alike.  Svalbard has an estimated population of 2,642 “-ish,” of whom 439 are Russian and Ukrainian, 10 are Polish and 322 are other non-Norwegians living in Norwegian settlements. How specific is their census?  I guess the census taker needed to ask many questions while he thawed from his snowmobile ride.  It’s nice there, or so I am wildly speculating.

How nice, you ask?  Svalbard is among the safest places on Earth, with virtually no crime.  Of course, there are also very few roads.  As you will see on Google, absolutely no roads connect the settlements; instead snowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport.

Even the Coca-Cola bears are frigid.  The average summer temperature is 4 to 6 °C (39 to 43 °F) and January averages about −16 to −12 °C (3 to 10 °F).

What’s my point?

Well this…

s'bad

You, see, my homies in S’Bard haven’t found our website.  We are trying for world domination of our little blog and it’s tough on a little website with few foreign language skills.  We need your help.  One click will do.

And breaking it down in Norwegian:

Du, se, mine venner på Svalbard har ikke funnet vår hjemmeside. Vi prøver for verdensherredømme av vår lille blogg, og det er tøft på en liten nettside med noen fremmedspråk. Vi trenger din hjelp. Ett klikk vil gjøre.
And Russian:
Вы смотрите, мои друзья на Шпицбергене не нашли наш сайт. Мы пытаемся за мировое господство нашей маленькой блоге и это трудно на небольшом сайте с несколькими навыками иностранного языка. Нам нужна ваша помощь. Один клик будет делать.
And for my 10 Polish teammates:
Ty, patrz, moi przyjaciele w Svalbard nie znaleźć na naszej stronie internetowej. Staramy się o dominację nad światem naszego małego bloga i jest to trudne na małej stronie z kilku umiejętności językowych. Potrzebujemy twojej pomocy. Jedno kliknięcie wystarczy.
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