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Svalbard - A home for everybody

The visa-free Svalbard archipelago in Norway is the northernmost year-round settlement in the world, and its capital, Longyearbyen, is home to people from more than 50 countries.

Longyearbyen is the northernmost city in the world. It is also a visa-free zone where everyone is welcome to live and work. People from all over the world come to this remote Norwegian archipelago to start a new life at the top of the world.

At the edge of the world, here’s a place ruled by nature. Snow-capped mountaintops are the first thing visitors may spot from the airplane windows when they arrive in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard – that is, if they arrive during the bright half of the year, when the midnight sun can be seen nearly 24/7. During the other half of the year, darkness reigns, and the Northern Lights often flicker and dance overhead.

This island is a visa free zone where everyone can live and work. Since the time it was first populated, it has been a part of Norway. People from diverse and divergent backgrounds have been living and working here for a while now. It is comparatively easy to work in Svalbard for anyone.

It’s believed the Vikings were the first to explore the islands in around 1200, though Dutch explorers were the first to pay a documented visit while trying to find the Northeast Passage to China in 1596. The following centuries brought walrus and whale hunters from England, Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden and Russia. In 1906, American businessman John Munro Longyear established the archipelago’s first coal mine, which remained Svalbard’s primary industry during most of the 20th Century. These days, the  main activities on Svalbard are tourism and environmental and ecological research.

People living in this country have realized it is one of the best places to live in the world. Two and a half thousand people from 51 nationalities live in the Capital City of Svalbard.

The beauty of Svalbard is not just in its diversity but also in its unique nature. Polar bears, wolves and many such snow animals are squeezed together with humans in a coexisting livelihood.

The first settlers in Svalbard were the miners in the early 1900s.

For someone to get born in Svalbard is close to impossible due to lack of maternity hospitals and also the climate. Even if someone manages to give birth to it is rarely possible the infant may survive for not more than 72 hours.

So that means that everyone comes up for some time, a period of time. Some people stay here for six months, some stay for a year and some people stay considerably longer, and new people arriving are welcomed in.

It was a free and an open land. It belonged to none, if it belonged to anyone it belonged to the bears, the reindeer, the seals and the whales.

But, as temperatures rise, even the vault might not be completely safe. In 2017, its entrance tunnel was flooded after part of the permafrost melted. Longyearbyen was not designed with rainwater in mind and mudslides and avalanches have recently become a threat. The average temperature in Svalbard has risen by 4C since 1971, five times quicker than in the rest of the planet – making it the fastest-warming place in the world.

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