Longyearbyen is the administrative centre of Svalbard and is located on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Longyearbyen has approximately 2,075 inhabitants, most of them Norwegians and some Russians. It is one of the world’s northernmost towns, taking second in that distinction by only the settlement Alert, Nunavut with 5 inhabitants. As the world’s northernmost town with 1,000 people or more, it has many of the world’s northernmost things.
Due to its location far north of the Arctic Circle, it is polar night from end-October to mid-February and polar day from mid-April to mid-August. Longyearbyen has an Arctic tundra climate (see Geography of Norway). The Governor of Svalbard resides there.
The settlement was founded in 1906 by John Munroe Longyear, main owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston. “Byen” is Norwegian for “the city”. It was destroyed by the Nazis in 1943 and rebuilt after World War II, with the old foundations still visible in some places. Continue reading