lunes, 17 de agosto de 2015

Svalbard: The closest islands to the North Pole

Longyearbyen is one of the closest villages much closer to the North Pole (78º N 15 E). It is referred to be the capital of Svalbard. It is situated in an artic landscape and it counts approximately 2.000 inhabitants. The history is filled with a tradition of coal mining and remnants from the early mining production can be seen everywhere. The old village was bombed by the nazi in 1943 and rebuilt after the 1950's. There are 7 coal mines but only 2 are active nowadays. Besides, there is another coal mine in the village of Barentsburg which is situated 50 km from Longyearbyen.
Foreign People can walk alone only in the village border of Longyearbyen. Since there are many polar bears in Svalbard Island, foreign people can do excursions only with local guides which they have to carry a riffle to prevent an eventual bear attacks.

The Svalbard is an archipelago which is approx 70% covered by ice and glaciers. The main island is Spitsbergen and it is the only one that can be visited by normal tourists. Excursions can be done by boat or 4-wheel drive cars always accompanied by a guide.

Svalbard is also called the modern Noah 's ark since the closed mine 3 contains the seed vault, which is protecting the genetic diversity against disasters and climate change. It is built 70 meters below sea Level, it is 5 km long inside a mountain and its content has a permanent temperature of -18 degrees C. Unfortunately normal people cannot go inside!!

The second largest settlement in Svalbard is: Barentsburg. A mainly Russian community of 400 inhabitants that work for Arktikugol coal mine company who is the owner of the mine since 1931. 

By Davide Vesentini and Elena Gandini