10 Fascinating Facts about Svalbard, the largest Arctic archipelago
Have you ever sailed through huge glaciers, icebergs and ice floes at the northernmost end of the world?
Visit Svalbard. The magical islands of Spitsbergen in the Arctic, is going to give you travel aspirations that you never had before. It’s not where every other travel buff is going to as it is a remote luxury, an unconventional journey to the poles! To take a trip to the Arctic, start from Paris and through Longyearbyen, the little northern town where there are more snowmobiles than people, cruise to the Arctic.
There are a few interesting facts about Svalbard you might like to know before you take the Arctic cruise in June to visit the last islands of the world.
Welcome to the Arctic, The Land of the Great Bears!
There are more polar bears in Svalbard than people. While there are around two thousand people here, the bear count stands as high as 3,600 according to research conducted by the Norwegian Polar Institute.
The word ‘arktos’, from which Arctic is derived, in fact means ‘bears’ in Greek mythology.
Svalbard, The Land of the Midnight Sun
Svalbard is the land of the Midnight Sun, with the sun being above the horizon through the days and nights for four months together between mid-April and mid-August. This is also the perfect time to cruise through the polar world, when twenty four hours of sunlight moderates the chilly temperature and it is actually more summery and sun soaked than America or Europe during summers.
Sighting Northern Lights even by the day
When you’re in Svalbard, you can see the Northern Lights even during the day! For almost three months from October Svalbard is set in complete darkness and the sun does not rise. So far into the North, the winter months are shrouded in the stunning purples and blues of the Aurora Borealis all through the day. The polar night is a rare epiphany in your travelogue, cherish it if you have the chance.
A Home in Svalbard for over 40 nationalities of People
Even if Svalbard was a centrally located town, the degree of ethnic diversity would be remarkable. The fact that it is only somewhere between Norway and the North Pole and houses over 40 nationalities is indeed astonishing. That it is a visa free zone makes Svalbard a favourite choice for people coming in from different parts of the world.
The Snowmobiles of Svalbard
Inspite of this Svalbard has a population of only 2,700 people and there are two main cities: Longyearbyen which is under Norwegian control and Barentsburg, which is Russian. There are more snowmobiles than people in Svalbard.
Visit Svalbard, A Summer Paradise for Birdwatchers
A lot of migratory birds find their home in the Far North, high up at 80 Degrees North as summer time has a very pleasant weather bathed in twenty four hours sunlight. Are you a bird watcher, heading to the Arctic? Svalbard in early May to June is the place to be for you.
When the ice retreats and the snow melts, the land breathes. The food is abundant. The terns, puffins, skuas, auks, gulls, gannets, snow buntings and kittiwakes amongst others, visit Svalbard from continental Europe and UK.
The Life in the Arctic Tundra
Approximately 1,700 species of plants live on the Arctic tundra, including flowering plants, dwarf shrubs, herbs, grasses, mosses, and lichens. Thousands of years of evolution have prepared Arctic animals for life on and around the sea ice.
Apart from the Great Bears, animals in the Arctic include the reindeer, the Arctic fox, the musk ox, thinhorn sheep, Arctic ground squirrel, lemming, Arctic hare, ermine, snowy owl, wolf and wolverine.
Carry your gun when travelling around Svalbard
While inside Svalbard you don’t need to carry a gun but just a little towards the outskirts, it is mandatory to know how to use a high powered rifle.There are more than 3,000 polar bears around the area and they are sometimes hungry after not eating for months at a time.
You’re not allowed to die in Svalbard!
This is a funny fact but you aren’t allowed to die in Svalbard! The town’s small graveyard stopped accepting corpses in the 1950’s, partly because it was feared that the preserved bodies could still contain traces of the deadly Spanish flu virus that had killed seven miners back in 1918.
The Svalbard Seed Vault – The Key to Future Crisis
Svalbard is the answer to the impending food crisis of the world and could save humanity as we know it. Built in 2008, the Global Seed Vault is set deep into the bedrock above the Svalbard airport in Longyearbyen. Almost one million seed samples from all over the world are stored here, with a total capacity for up to four times.
Are you ready to take the Arctic cruise with The Q? Svalbard is a mystical land of fjords and ice floes, teeming with life…even vibrant flowers blooming in the summer time when the temperature is only around zero to five degrees celsius. With the Svalbard weather being kind in the summers, we cruise to 80 Degrees North in June. A journey of a lifetime awaits you to the polar waters of Spitsbergen.