Svalbard

Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean

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Svalbard (Russian: Шпицберген, Shpitsbergen or Грумант, Grumant) is a group of islands located between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and the Norwegian Sea. The area is sometimes referred to as Spitsbergen, the main island with all the settlements. The islands are directly north of Norway, and under Norwegian rule since 1920. Svalbard's settlements are the northernmost permanently inhabited spots on the planet, after the Canadian military base at Alert.

Svalbard is a unique place because of their nature, the extreme northern location and their legal status as neutral Norwegian territory. There is virtually no infrastructure outside a handful of small settlements. About 60% of the area is covered by glaciers, 30% is barren rock and only 10% is covered by vegetation. Svalbard has midnight sun from late April to late August, while winter darkness (polar night) lasts from late October to February. Seven national parks and 23 nature reserves covers 70% of the islands. Because of the delicate nature and polar bear hazard movement outside settlements is strictly regulated.

Weather is generally cold and only a couple of summer months above freezing, but relatively mild for such a northern latitude. There is so little precipitation that parts of Svalbard is similar to a desert.


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