July 13, 2024

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Svalbard: Which city is forbidden to die near the North Pole?

Svalbard: Which city is forbidden to die near the North Pole?
Houses in Ny-Aalesund, Svalbard, Norway, the world’s northernmost archipelago (Credit: The Grosby Group)

Svalbard is one of the few places on earth where it is forbidden to die. Legally, there is no metaphor. Located in the Arctic Ocean off Greenland, this white Norwegian archipelago has forced people to leave the place since 1950 before they could move on to a better life. The reason? Due to its low temperature, which drops to 46 degrees below zero, buried bodies do not decompose. The main reason is that there are no cemeteries on the islands Permafrost, Permanently frozen soil layer. The dead were buried in Svalbard until 1928, when it was demonstrated that viruses and bacteria responsible for a person’s death could be preserved intact.

Only three islands of the archipelago are inhabited: the Bear Island (Bjørnøya), hope And the biggest, Spitsbergen, where the capital Longyearbyen is located. It’s every adventurer’s dream to go to the Arctic and experience that life. Famous for its northern lights, which offer a natural spectacle during their four-month nights, and its abundant fauna, where the polar bear reigns supreme. Precisely, sustainable tourism is one of its main sources of income.

A reindeer near Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway on April 8, 2023

About 3 thousand people live in Longyearbyen – according to its tourism organization – and they live very proudly. North of the world. It extends to 81°N and its coasts are washed by the Barents Sea to the east and the Greenland Sea to the west. About 800 km off the coast of Norway, Lonely Planet sums it up as, “Svalbard is a place most people would like to see without missing its spirit to the North Pole.”

Islands were discovered Willem Barents In 1596, a Dutch navigator pioneered expeditions to the Arctic. He found the archipelago on his third expedition to find a polar passage to the east. Barents saw the floating white mountains and named them SpitsbergenMeaning sharp mountains in Dutch.

Svalbard’s peaks seem to float on water (Credit: The Crosby Group)

In this third and final attempt the discoverer could not find the path, as he lost his life. A ship commanded by Heemskerk, Stuck in the ice On the eastern coast of Russia’s Novaya Zemlya, the crew had to spend the winter in the snow, hunting and enduring extreme cold. The writings of the time say that the socks were burnt before the heat of the fire reached the feet, and they went to sleep warmed by stones and cannon balls. Willem lost his life at the age of 47 under these circumstances Scurvy Like other team members. The disease affected sailors on long voyages who lacked vitamin C due to lack of access to fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. The Arctic Ocean bears its family name in his honor.

Svalbard is the closest city to the North Pole

The first settlers of this white paradise, land of polar bears and many other species, coal mining and whaling formed two activities before the tourism development that dominates today. After some time, the archipelago adopted the name SvalbardWhat does this mean? “Cold Beach”, in Old Norse. In 1920, during the war, Norway gained sovereignty over the archipelago through the Treaty of Svalbard.. Although part of the Kingdom of Norway, the islands have many powers over self-government, defence, exploitation, taxation and migration. For example, Svalbard is outside the Schengen area and the European Economic Area. No visa or work permit is required, but when entering through Norway, a Schengen visa is required.

A polar bear enjoys the white landscape of Svalbard (Credit: The Crosby Group)

Svalbard is undoubtedly a unique place in the world. One travel page suggests “going out on a boat or kayak, or riding a motorcycle or dog sled. You can go hiking or skiing. But still Do not leave the perimeter In addition to being home to about 3,000 people in a town without a qualified guide, Svalbard is also the kingdom of the polar bear. That is There are as many polar bears as there are people, since its population is 3000 samples. Typical Arctic marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, belugas and walruses also live on the islands; Arctic foxes and reindeer and the largest number of seabirds in the world (about 20 million individuals are concentrated in the Barents Sea).

A resident pedal through Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Ny-Alesund on April 6, 2023. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

The city caters to all the needs of its citizens. They have schools, churches, cultural centers, transport, aviation and security. They add up Hotels, restaurants and a craft brewery.

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Life goes smoothly until you meet a bear on the way. Another peculiarity of the island is that all people have to carry Guns Tourists are accompanied by armed guides when they leave the city limits, leaving their homes to defend themselves in case of a bear attack. The Svalbard Tourist Office warns: “You can find out Polar bears Anywhere in Svalbard year-round, you should be especially careful when leaving settlements. You should always travel with a Professional local guide It has equipment for protecting polar bears (scare devices and gun) and mastery in its use. Svalbard’s professional guides have good knowledge of how to handle polar bear encounters. “They conduct regular training on how to safely handle bear encounters with the goal of resolving such situations without injury to humans or polar bears.”

In 2022 A French tourism He was attacked by a polar bear that entered the camp. He saved himself from the animal scare scenes with minor injuries on his arm. The woman was part of a group of 25 people staying in tents in the west of the area. Unfortunately, the bear was injured and euthanized. Since 1971, 6 fatal bear attacks have been recorded. The last victim was a 38-year-old Dutchman.

A road sign warns of the presence of polar bears on a road in northern Norway’s Spitsbergen archipelago. “Gjelder hele Svalbard” means “all of Spitsbergen.” (Steffen Trumpf/Getty Images)
Kings Bay accountant Sunnyva Berge Moe hugs her dog Zelda at a dog yard in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway on April 9, 2023. Ny-Aalesund has only about 35 year-round residents, but in the summer, the population swells with more than 100 scientists flying in from around the world (Reuters photo)

“You can walk within Longyearbyen city limits without a guide or equipment to protect polar bears,” they say from VisitSvalvard.com, the official website where all frequently asked questions are answered. One of them is whether to make a contract rage. The answer is yes. A fatal viral disease found in animals such as Svalbard reindeer and arctic fox. So do not approach or touch animals. Not alive or dead. The problem with this icy place is that the bodies don’t decompose and viruses spread. A problem that spreads to almost all Nordic countries. But the case of Svalbard is more remarkable. In the late 90s, a team of researchers exhumed the sailors’ bodies and found a virus from an epidemic that wiped out the miners in 1918. The positive aspect of this aspect is that this work has led to the development of a vaccine. Against this deadly fever.

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If someone dies in Svalbard, their body is taken to Norwegian territory for burial or cremation. And who Become a bed As there are no facilities to take care of critically ill people, they are transferred to get better medical care.

The islands are frequented by the scientific community concerned about the effects of global warming. The Arctic is warming 6 to 9 times faster than the rest of the world. Current temperatures vary from -16 °C to 9 °C, rarely falling to -28 °C.

On February 27, 2008, “Svalbard International Seed BankFunded by Norway, it is also known as “Vegetable Noah’s Ark”. It is a vault created to protect millions of seeds of major crops. More than 100 countries have sent seeds and the receipt is absolutely free.

There are many curiosities about this cold place. This Tried to keep a cat as a petBecause they are considered as one of the biggest predators and are dangerous for biodiversity.