Svalbard; prior to 1925
known as Spitsbergen, or Spitzbergen (Russian: Шпицберген) is a Norwegian
archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is
about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. The islands of
the group range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east
longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, followed by Nordaustlandet and
Edgeøya. While part of the Kingdom of Norway since 1925, Svalbard is not
part of geographical Norway proper; administratively, the archipelago is not
part of any Norwegian county, but forms an unincorporated area administered
by a governor appointed by the Norwegian government, and a special
jurisdiction subject to the Svalbard Treaty that is, unlike Norway proper,
outside of the Schengen Area, the Nordic Passport Union and the European
Since 2002, Svalbard's main settlement, Longyearbyen, has had an elected
local government, somewhat similar to mainland municipalities. Other
settlements include the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the
research station of Ny-Ålesund, and the mining outpost of Sveagruva.
Ny-Ålesund is the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent
civilian population. Other settlements are farther north, but are populated
only by rotating groups of researchers.
The islands were first used as a whaling base by whalers who sailed far
north in pursuit of whales for blubber in the 17th and 18th centuries, after
which they were abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th
century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard
Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty, and the 1925 Svalbard Act
made Svalbard a full part of the Kingdom of Norway. They also established
Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. The Norwegian
Store Norske and the Russian Arktikugol remain the only mining companies in
place. Research and tourism have become important supplementary industries,
with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and the Svalbard Global Seed
Vault playing critical roles. No roads connect the settlements; instead
snowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport. Svalbard
Airport, Longyear serves as the main gateway.
The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly
higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora take
advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar
night. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also features
polar bears, reindeer, the Arctic fox, and certain marine mammals. Seven
national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the
archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural
environment. Approximately 60% of the archipelago is covered with glaciers,
and the islands feature many mountains and fjords.
Svalbard and Jan Mayen are collectively assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
country code "SJ". Both areas are administered by Norway, though they are
separated by a distance of over 950 kilometres (590 miles; 510 nautical
miles) and have very different administrative structures.
The first written mention of the name, Svalbard, was
in 1194, but it wasn't before 1596 that Willem Barentz officially discovered
the archipelago. He was looking for an alternate route to the Far East, but
after drifting in thick fog arrived of the coast of Svalbard. He saw an
archipelago with countless mountains, glaciers and long, deep fjords that
were teeming with whales. While these riches were not of the same worth as
the spice markets in the Far East, whales were an important resource in
Europe, which needed oil for lamps. In the beginning of the 1600s, an
intense whale hunt began, with up to 200 vessels present in the summer
season. During the winter, however, Svalbard was an inhospitable icy desert,
and it would be over 30 years between its discovery and the first successful
over-wintering. In 1630, eight Englishmen were left behind due to a
misunderstanding, but managed to survive on old whale meat and leftover
blubber, opening people’s eyes to the possibility of a year-round presence
Administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry
of Justice, through a local governor. By treaty the nationals of the treaty
powers have equal rights to exploit mineral deposits, subject to Norwegian
regulation. Although U.S., U.K., German, Dutch, and Swedish coal companies
have mined in the past, the only companies still mining are Norwegian and
Disputes: 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.
1194 First mentioned in Icelandic annals report that "Svalbard
found" (Svalbardi fundinn), however there is no scientific
consensus that supports this hypothesis and they more likely
referred to Jan Mayen.
24 May 1596 Dutch expedition under Jacob van Heemskerck, Willem
and Jan Corneliszoon Rijp while trying to find a Northeast
Passage discovers Spitsbergen
(and Bear Island), while
it to be part of Greenland.
1612 Whaling activities commence in the waters around Svalbard
accompanied by various ineffective claims of possession (by
Denmark, England, France, Netherlands, Russia and Sweden).
1764 - 1766 Failed attempt to find a Northeast Passage led by Vasiliy
Yakovlevich Chichagov (b. 1726 - d. 1809) in the waters
1899 Commercial mining begun by Søren Zachariassen (b. 1837 -
10 Jun 1906 First permanent settlement (Longyear City [from 1925
Longyearbyen], named for founder John Munroe Longyear)
26 Jan 1912 To be placed under international administration by draft
convention, which is not effected.
14 May 1912 Russia and Norway agree that Spitsbergen Archipelago is to
30 Nov 1916 Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani (SNSK)(Great
Spitsbergen Coal Company) established and begins operations in
09 Feb 1920 Norwegian sovereignty recognized by the Treaty Concerning
Archipelago of Spitsbergen" (by U.S., U.K., Denmark, France,
Italy, Japan, Norway, Netherlands, and Sweden [later China
01 Jul 1925, Germany 16 Nov 1925, and Soviet Union 07 May
1935]) (effective 14 Aug 1925). It is known as Svalbard Treaty.
17 Jul 1925 Svalbard Act.
14 Aug 1925 Formal assumption of sovereignty by Norway (by Svalbard
11 Jul 1930 - 31 Dec 1994 Svaldbard governors also the governors of
01 Jan 1937 - 31 Dec 1952 Svalbard subordinated the Norwegian
Ministry of Trade and
07 Jun 1940 - 31 May 1945 Administered by the Norwegian government
03 Sep 1941 Allied forces under Arthur E. Potts (Canada)(b. 1890 - d.
evacuate the population and administration to U.K., mining
installations are destroyed.
1941 - 14 May 1942 German
29 Oct 1941 - 24 Aug 1942 German weather station "Knospe"
established at Signehamna bay,
Northwest-Spitsbergen (withdrawn 24 Aug 1942).
Sep 1942 - 1945
Germans continue to establish weather stations at various
locations in Svalbard (including stations "Nussbaum,"
"Kreuzritter," "Svartisen," "Helhus" and "Landvik").
08 Sep 1943 German battleships Tirpitz and Scharnhorst attack
Barentsburg and Gruman.
Aug 1944 Sveagruva settlement destroyed by German assault.
Sep 1944 - 04 Sep 1945 German weather station "Haudegen"
established on Nordaustland
under Wilhelm Dege (b. 1910 - d. 1979).
12 Nov 1944 Soviet Union requests joint administration of Svalbard and
cession of Bear Island (again Nov 1946 and Jan 1947),
which is rejected by Norway (by parliament on 15 Feb 1947).
01 Jan 1953 Svalbard subordinated to the Ministry of Justice.
01 Nov 1971 Svalbard Council established, parties are allowed to run
election from 1993. In 2002, the Longyearbyen Community
Council replaces the Svalbard Council.
01 Jul 2002 The Svalbard Environmental Act of 15 June 2001
of the Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Gilson, Jr. ...............................1916 - 1917 d. 19..
- 1918 d. 1969
Sigurd Olaf Foss (1st
- 1919 d. 1964
- 1920 d. 19..
Sigurd Olaf Foss (2nd
Sigurd Olaf Foss (3rd
Edvard Lassen (acting).............................14
Aug 1925 - 09 Oct 1925 d. 19..
Bassøe...........................09 Oct 1925 - 03 Jul 1932 d. 1962
acting for Bassøe
- 1929 d. 1967
Jul 1932 - 30 Jun 1935 d. 1963
Kjerstin Askholt (female)..........................01
Oct 2015 - date
She was born on 07 May 1962 at Oslo, Norway.
She served as the deputy director of Bredtveit Prison from 1990 to 1991,
deputy director of the Ministry of Justice from 1996 to 1999, and was
from 2003, deputy under-secretary of state at the Polar Department of
the Ministry of Justice.
U.S. Dollar (USD); 1919-2001 Salvadoran Colon (SVC); 1847-1919 Salvadoran
"M" monogram at the top stands for the name of the country
- Moldova. Numeral "1" in the center. Two digits of Date on each side.
Currency "LEU" written at the bottom.
Coat of Arms of Moldova in the center.
"REPUBLICA" (Republic) written in Romanian at the left side
clockwise and "MOLDOVA" written at the right side clockwise. A pair
of Oak leaves at the bottom.
29 November 1993.
The 1 leu 1992 and 5 lei 1993 coins
were withdrawn from circulation in 1994. Due to their low quality
and relatively high nominal value, many forgeries appeared.
Arktikugol (Russian: Арктикуголь, literally
"Arctic Coal"' full name Федеральное государственное унитарное
предприятие (ФГУП) государственный трест (ГТ) (Federal'noye
gosudarstvennoye unitarnoye predpriyatiye (FGUP) gosudarstvennyy
trest (GT)) «Арктикуголь») is a Russian coal mining unitary
enterprise which operates on the islands of Spitsbergen in Svalbard,
Norway. Owned by the Government of Russia, Arktikugol currently has
limited mining in Barentsburg. It has carried out mining operations
and still owns the towns of Pyramiden and Grumant, with its port at
Colesbukta. The company is headquartered in Moscow and is the
official agency through which Russia, and previously the Soviet
Union, exercised its Svalbard policy.
The company was established on 07 October 1931 to take over all
Soviet mining interests on Svalbard. At the time Grumant and
Pyramiden were bought, although only Grumant was in operation. It
also bought Barentsburg from Dutch interests. The company retained
operation there and in Grumant until 1941, when all employees were
evacuated to the mainland as part of Operation Gauntlet. Mining
resumed in 1947 and commenced in Pyramiden in 1955. Declining coal
deposits resulted in Grumant being closed in 1961.
Throughout the 1960s to 80s Arktikugol carried out a series of oil
drilling on the archipelago, but never succeeded at finding
profitable reservoirs. From the 1990s the company lost a lot of its
subsidies and cut production, resulting in Pyramiden being closed in
1998. The company has attempted to diversify, without success.
The polar archipelago of Svalbard was first
discovered by Willem Barentsz in 1596, although there is disputed evidence
of use by Pomors or Norsemen. Whaling for bowhead whales started in 1611,
dominated by English and Dutch companies, though other countries
participated. At that time there was no agreement about sovereignty. Whaling
stations, the largest being Smeerenburg, were built during the 17th century,
but gradually whaling decreased. Hunting was carried out from the 17th
century by Pomors, but from the 19th century it became more dominated by
Exploration was initially conducted to find new whaling grounds, but from
the 18th century some scientific expeditions took place. These were
initially large scale, but from the late 19th century they became smaller
and increasingly focused on the interior. The most important scientific
explorers were Baltazar Mathias Keilhau, Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld and Martin
Conway. Sustainable mining started in 1906 with the establishment of
Longyearbyen and by the 1920s, permanent coal
mining settlements had been established at Barentsburg, Grumant, Pyramiden,
Svea and Ny-Ålesund. The Svalbard Treaty came
into effect in 1925, granting Norway sovereignty of the archipelago, but
prohibiting "warlike activities" and establishing all signatories the right
to mine. This both eliminated the mare liberum status of the islands, and
also saw a name change from the Spitsbergen Archipelago to Svalbard. By the
1930s, all settlements were either Norwegian or Soviet.
During the Second World War, the settlements were first evacuated and then
bombed by the Kriegsmarine, but rebuilt after the war. During the Cold War
there were increased tensions between Norway and the Soviet Union,
particularly regarding the building of an airport. There was limited oil
drilling, and by 1973 more than half the archipelago was protected. Starting
in the 1970s, Longyearbyen underwent a process of "normalization" to become
a regular community. Arktikugol closed
Grumant in 1962 and Pyramiden in 1998, while King Bay had to close mining at
Ny-Ålesund after the Kings Bay Affair. The
1990s and 2000s have seen major reductions of the Russian population and the
creation of scientific establishments in Ny-Ålesund and Longyearbyen.
Tourism has also increased and become a major component of the economy of