The World Factbook (1990)/Svalbard

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Svalbard (territory of Norway)

See regional map XI


Total area: 62,049 km²; land area: 62,049 km²; includes Spitsbergen and Bjørnøya (Bear Island)

Comparative area: slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 3,587 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 10 nm
Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Extended economic zone: 200 nm unilaterally claimed by Norway, not recognized by USSR
Territorial sea: 4 nm

Disputes: focus of maritime boundary dispute between Norway and USSR

Climate: 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

Terrain: wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about half the year; fjords along west and north coasts

Natural resources: coal, copper, iron ore, phosphate, zinc, wildlife, fish

Land use: 0% arable land; 0% permanent crops; 0% meadows and pastures; 0% forest and woodland; 100% other; there are no trees and the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry

Environment: great calving glaciers descend to the sea

Note: located 445 km north of Norway where the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea meet


Population: 3,942 (July 1990), growth rate NA% (1990); about one-third of the population resides in the Norwegian areas (Longyearbyen and Svea on Vestspitsbergen) and two-thirds in the Soviet areas (Barentsburg and Pyramiden on Vestspitsbergen); about 9 persons live at the Polish research station

Birth rate: NA births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: NA deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NA migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: NA deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: NA years male, NA years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: NA children born/woman (1990)

Ethnic divisions: 64% Russian, 35% Norwegian, 1% other (1981)

Language: Russian, Norwegian

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: NA

Organized labor: none


Long-form name: none

Type: territory of Norway administered by the Ministry of Industry, Oslo, through a governor (sysselmann) residing in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen; by treaty (9 February 1920) sovereignty was given to Norway

Capital: Longyearbyen

Leaders: Chief of State—King OLAV V (since 21 September 1957); Head of Government Governor Leif ELDRING (since NA)

Flag: the flag of Norway is used


Overview: Coal mining is the major economic activity on Svalbard. By treaty (9 February 1920), the nationals of the treaty powers have 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 Soviet. Each company mines about half a million tons of coal annually. 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.

Electricity: 21,000 kW capacity; 45 million kWh produced, 11,420 kWh per capita (1989)

Currency: Norwegian krone (plural—kroner); 1 Norwegian krone (NKr) = 100 øre

Exchange rates: Norwegian kroner (NKr) per US$1—6.5405 (January 1990), 6.9045 (1989), 6.5170 (1988), 6.7375 (1987), 7.3947 (1986), 8.5972 (1985)


Ports: limited facilities Ny-Alesund, Advent Bay

Airports: 4 total, 4 usable; 1 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 2,439 m; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 5 meteorological/radio stations; stations—1 AM, 1 (2 relays) FM, 1 TV

Defense Forces

Note: demilitarized by treaty (9 February 1920)