Svalbard

Published by the Norwegian Polar Institute Lag rapport Les på norsk

Svalbard is a string of Arctic islands located between 74° and 81° N and 10° and 35° E. On 1 July 2015, 2 667 persons were registered as living at Svalbard. About 2 200 of these lived in the Norwegian settlements, where more than 40 nationalities were represented.

Varied climate

Despite the high Arctic latitude the west coast of Spitsbergen enjoys a mild climate. The sea is usually ice-free from June to December. Northern and eastern parts of Svalbard are colder than the west. The maximum temperature recorded in Svalbard is 21.3 °C and the minimum -49.2 °C. Strong winds prevail during the winter six months whilst fog is a common summer condition. There is little precipitation. Longyearbyen sees the midnight sun between 20th April and 23rd August, but is dark between 26th October and 15th February.

The Governor of Svalbard

The Governor has represented Norwegian sovereignty since this was established on 14th August 1925. It is the Governor's task to assert Norway's rights and obligations under the Svalbard Treaty, and to ensure that all citizens of the signatory nations are given equal rights within the Treaty area.  

The Governor also acts as chief of police and environmental authority for the whole of Svalbard. In addition, the governor's office also has a wide range of administrative duties in fields such as population registry, civil matters, child welfare, rescue services, pollution control and oil spill containment, nature conservation, cultural heritage management, and wildlife and freshwater fish management.

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Ropeway for transporting coal in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute.