THE CITIES OF SPITSBERGEN, SVALBARD
Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, Norway.
As of December 2015, the town had a population of 2,144. It is the world’s northernmost settlement of any kind with more than 1,000 permanent residents.
Known as Longyear City until 1926, the town was established by and named after John Munro Longyear, whose Arctic Coal Company started coal mining operations in 1906. Operations were taken over by Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani (SNSK) in 1916, which still conducts mining. The town was almost completely destroyed by the German Kriegsmarine on 8 August 1943, but was rebuilt after the Second World War. Traditionally, Longyearbyen was a company town, but most mining operations have moved to Sveagruva since the 1990s, while the town has seen a large increase in tourism and research.
Barentsburg is the second-largest settlement on Svalbard, with about 500 inhabitants (2007), almost entirely Russians and Ukrainians. It is the site of the Barentsburg Pomor Museum. Named after Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, the town is a mining town, with coal mining conducted by the Soviet company Arktikugol since 1932. The population has declined over the decades; in its heyday, over 1,000 Soviet citizens inhabited Barentsburg. Although Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources.
Ny-Ålesund is a research town in Oscar II Land. It is situated on the Brøgger peninsula and on the shore of the bay of Kongsfjorden. The company town is owned and operated by Kings Bay, who provide facilities for permanent research institutes from ten countries. Ny-Ålesund has an all-year permanent population of 30 to 35, with the summer population reaching 120. Its facilities include Ny-Ålesund Airport, Hamnerabben, Svalbard Rocket Range, a port and Ny-Ålesund Town and Mine Museum, as well as fifteen permanent research stations. It is the northernmost functional civilian settlement in the world. The town was founded in 1917 by Peter Brandal and his mining company, Kings Bay Kull Comp. There were a series of air expeditions launched from Ny-Ålesund towards the North Pole.