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Flag of Svalbard
Map of Svalbard
Introduction Svalbard
First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. Norway's sovereignty was recognized in 1920; five years later it officially took over the territory.
Geography Svalbard
Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea, north of Norway
Geographic coordinates:
78 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references:
Arctic Region
total: 62,049 sq km
note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
water: 0 sq km
land: 62,049 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
0 km
3,587 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM unilaterally claimed by Norway but not recognized by Russia
territorial sea: 4 NM
arctic, tempered by warm North Atlantic Current; cool summers, cold winters; North Atlantic Current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and navigable most of the year
wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about one-half of the year; fjords along west and north coasts
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Newtontoppen 1,717 m
Natural resources:
coal, copper, iron ore, phosphate, zinc, wildlife, fish
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (no trees, and the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry) (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
ice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
Environment - current issues:
Geography - note:
northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area
People Svalbard
2,868 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: NA%
15-64 years: NA%
65 years and over: NA%
Population growth rate:
-1.99% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
NA births/1,000 population
Death rate:
NA deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate:
NA migrant(s)/1,000 population
Sex ratio:
Infant mortality rate:
NA deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA years
male: NA years
female: NA years
Total fertility rate:
NA children born/woman
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0% (2001)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
0 (2001)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
0 (2001)
Ethnic groups:
Norwegian 55.4%, Russian and Ukrainian 44.3%, other 0.3% (1998)
Russian, Norwegian
Government Svalbard
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Svalbard (sometimes referred to as Spitzbergen)
Dependency status:
territory of Norway; administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice, through a governor (sysselmann) residing in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen; by treaty (9 February 1920) sovereignty was awarded to Norway
Government type:
none (territory of Norway)
National holiday:
Legal system:
Executive branch:
chief of state: King HARALD V of Norway (since 17 January 1991)
head of government: Governor Morten RUUD (since NA November 1998) and Assistant Governor Odd Redar HUMLEGAARD (since NA)
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor and assistant governor responsible to the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice
International organization participation:
Flag description:
the flag of Norway is used
Economy Svalbard
Economy - overview:
Coal mining is the major economic activity on Svalbard. The treaty of 9 February 1920 gives the 41 signatories equal rights to exploit mineral deposits, subject to Norwegian regulation. Although US, UK, Dutch, and Swedish coal companies have mined in the past, the only companies still mining are Norwegian and Russian. The settlements on Svalbard are essentially company towns. The Norwegian state-owned coal company employs nearly 60% of the Norwegian population on the island, runs many of the local services, and provides most of the local infrastructure. There is also some trapping of seal, polar bear, fox, and walrus.
purchasing power parity - $NA
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $NA
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Labor force:
revenues: $11.5 million
expenditures: $11.5 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.) (1998 est.)
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
NA kWh
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
other: NA%
hydro: NA%
nuclear: NA%
Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh
Economic aid - recipient:
$8.2 million from Norway (1998)
Norwegian krone (NOK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Norwegian kroner per US dollar - 8.9684 (January 2002), 8.9917 (2001), 8.8018 (2000), 7.7992 (1999), 7.5451 (1998), 7.0734 (1997)
Communications Svalbard
Telephones - main lines in use:
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: probably adequate
domestic: local telephone service
international: satellite earth station - 1 of unknown type (for communication with Norwegian mainland only)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1 (plus 2 repeaters), shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
13 (Svalbard and Jan Mayen) (2000)
Internet users:
Transportation Svalbard
0 km
total: NA km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km
Ports and harbors:
Barentsburg, Longyearbyen, Ny-Alesund, Pyramiden
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
4 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
Military Svalbard
Military - note:
demilitarized by treaty (9 February 1920)
Transnational Issues Svalbard
Disputes - international:
despite recent discussions, Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003