Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Svalbard Population - 2500 People and 3000 Bears

Svalbard is a very special part of Norway. The archipelago is one of the northernmost land-areas in the world. Because it is off the beaten track, so that humans have hardly left their mark on it, most of this territory is still pristine, without roads or other signs of human intervention.The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora takes advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night. 
Polar bears are the iconic symbol of Svalbard, and one of the main tourist attractions. While protected, anyone outside of settlements is required to carry a rifle to kill polar bears in self defense, as a last resort, should they attack. Svalbard and Franz Joseph Land share a common population of 3,000 polar bears, with Kong Karls Land being the most important breeding ground.This is astonishing because it is the human population on Svalbard around 2500.
blood polar bear
The Svalbard reindeer is a distinct sub-species, and while previously almost extinct, hunting is permitted for both it and the Arctic Fox. There are a limited number of domesticated animals in Russian settlements.
The position of Svalbard

A polar bear warning sign just outside the town of Longyearbyen on the west side of Spitsbergen Island reminds visitors and residents alike about the reality of living near polar bears.
In Svalbard, people have been killed on several occasions, including incidents in recent years. On average, three bears have been killed every year during the period from 1993 to 2004 in encounters with humans, i.e. in self-defence. This number can be kept low if people try to avoid critical encounters, and behave in the most sensible way when interacting with bears. Accidents with fatal outcomes are highly unlikely if you follow a few simple procedures.

Svalbard is also a land covered in glaciers as here where the late evening light illuminates the Negrebreen Glacier melting in the sunlight on Spitsbergen Island.
One of the close encounter of man and bear - An tourist shot and killed a polar bear that had pulled his travel companion out of their tent on the Norwegian arctic archipelago of Svalbard.The polar bear came into the tourist’s tent, grabbed one of them and pulled him for about 40 metres (yards) before his companion got out and shot the bear (July 2010).
Adult black-legged kittiwakes take flight during a calving event near a glacier
The Fuglefjellet cliffs (411m) on Bear Island (Bjørnøya) in the Svalbard Archipeligo form the highest seabird cliffs in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Ny-Ålesund - world's northernmost functional public settlement
Ny-Ålesund in late April
Ny-Ålesund is one of the world's northernmost settlements at 78°55′N 11°56′E, and is the world's northernmost functional public settlement. Today, it is inhabited by a permanent population of approximately 30-35 persons.All of them work for research stations.

The capital of the archipelago - Longyearbyean
Longyearbyen at night
At the archipelago's capitalLongyearbyean, the sun never sets between 20 of April and 20 of August (ceaselessly for 3,000 hours) while from 23 of October till 19 of February, there is a continuous darkness. When the ice belt around Svalbard is formed, sea communication is interrupted, remaining only that by plane.
A view of the town of Longyearbyen on the west side of Spitsbergen Island
The name of the 2,000 inhabitants capital, located at 78� N, comes from John Longyear, an American magnate, who opened the first carbon mine in 1906. This is the largest locality in Svalbard. Since 1975, there is an airport whose runway functions all the year round. 
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