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. The 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 scenery 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 increase 6 degrees C. Winter temperature drops -14 degrees Celsius.
Svalbard has 3 seasons: summer in the polar region, winter with auroras and winter with sunshine. 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.
Polar bears are not the only thing of note in Svalbard. Visitors also often come here to admire the aurora. From the beginning of March, Svalbard has entered the “winter pastel color” period. On the snow-covered mountains, sunlight creates fanciful colors. In addition, the experience of riding a sled dog also makes many visitors excited.
Longyearbyen is home to the most inhabited group of islands Svalbard, with more than 2,000 people. Almost no residential roads, mostly natural. But in Longyearbyen you can find shops, museums, art galleries, bars, restaurants, libraries and cinemas.
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.
The most popular route to get to Svalbard is flying from Oslo to Longyearbyen. If you want to take the train, you have to wait 9-14 days because there is only one expedition train here.