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SVALBARD COUNTRY PROFILE

Full Name: Svalbard

Population: 2,500 (2015 Estimate)

Capital: Longyearbyen

Area: 61,022 sq km (approx the same size as Scotland or two and half times the size of Switzerland)

Life Expectancy: 80.2 (Men) 83.8 (Women)

Currency: Norweigian Krone (NOK)

Major Language: Norwegian 

Major Religion: Christianity

International Dialing Code: +47

Time zone: UTC +1hrs

The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora take advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also features polar bears, reindeer, the Arctic fox, and certain marine mammals. 

Seven national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment. Approximately 60% of the archipelago is covered with glaciers, and the islands feature many mountains and fjords. Svalbard truly is, wilderness in it's most raw form.

"A magical destination for nature lovers and those who crave remote, pristine environments." 

SVALBARD FOR THE TOURIST

Svalbard is now a common destination for those connoisseurs of travel who are anxious to see nature in all its stark beauty. This arctic archipelago is ideally suited to expedition cruises and polar travel (husky, snowmobile and ski touring). Visitors can experience adventure in its truest form on Svalbard, travelling to places few, if any, humanbeings have visited before. We beleive that if one is to maximise their visit to Svalbard, it is vital to secure the services of a top guide or expedition leader who can take responsibility for the personal saftey of the group, and to impart to them their first hand knowledge of this most pristine of arctic environments.  

DID YOU KNOW?

Svalbard was named by the Vikings who first visited the archipelago in 1194. Svalbard which means 'cold edge' in ancient norse was later renamed Spitsbergen by the dutch explorer Willem Barentsz in 1596. 

For a long time it was believed by the whalers in the 1500s and 1600s that Svalbard was linked to Greenland. Observations of ocean currents as early as 1614 however led people to the assumption that there was no connection between Svalbard and Greenland. 

Lord Nelson the famous English Naval Admiral (HMS Victory and the Battle of Trafalgar) visited the arctic archipelago at the age of 14 on an expedition looking for a direct route to the East Indies. During this visit he is famed to have killed a polar bear but this is in fact a myth. 

In total there have been recorded 168 species of birds on Svalbard since 1998, mostly as vagrants who happen to have been 'blown' to the Arctic but do not belong there. There are only approximately 30 bird species that come to Svalbard as regular breeders. 

In winter there is only one species of bird on the island, Ptarmigan.