Barentsburg lies on an inlet of the Isfjorden on the Spitsbergen island's west coast. This is the main Russian community on the island. Here cruise ship passengers can enjoy wandering around the settlement and traditional folklore performances. Barentsburg is the Svalbard's second-largest settlement, with population of around 500 (mostly Russians and Ukrainians). here is also the Barentsburg Pomor Museum presenting Arctic flora and fauna and archeological objects found in the permafrost. The museum is open by special arrangement and in the summer only. Among the "amenities" is the athletic complex with a heated seawater swimming pool.
Barentsburg is an important scientific research centre. Every summer here arrive scientists from Russia and elsewhere. There are a meteorological observatory and a cosmic rays station, both operational year-round. The settlement is named after Willem Barents. This is a coal mining town owned by Russia's Arktikugol company since 1932.
Svalbard Archipelago has all three islands - Spitsbergen (largest), Nordaustlandet and Edgeoya. It is located north of the Arctic Circle, about midway between mainland Europe (Norway) and the North Pole. Svalbard cruises are among the Norway's most popular ship travel destinations - together with Norwegian Fjords (along the country's coastline). In Svalbard, tourism have become an important industry, heavily supported (popularized) by "University Centre in Svalbard" and "Svalbard Global Seed Vault".
Svalbard islands were first used as whaling bases (17th and 18th centuries), then were abandoned. At the beginning of the 20th century started coal mining operations, and several permanent settlements were established. In 1925, Svalbard was officially incorporated into the Kingdom of Norway. Today, Norway's Store Norske and Russia's Arktikugol are the only mining companies there. Instead of roads, the only transportation between the settlements is via aircrafts, boats and snowmobiles. Svalbard Airport (at Longyearbyen) serves as main gateway.
The list of Svalbard settlements (all located on the Spitsbergen island) include Longyearbyen (main and largest), Barentsburg (Russian mining community), Ny-Ålesund (research station) and Sveagruva (aka Svea, Norwegian mining community). Svalbard is the world's northernmost settlement with a permanent civilian population. There are other settlements farther north, but they are all populated by rotating groups of researchers.
Highlights: Spitsbergen, Russian settlement, Isfjorden
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