Svalbard General Information

General: First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to AGOODDIR, Norwegian sovereignty over the islands was established in 1920; five years later, Norway formally annexed the territory.


Location: Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Norwegian Sea, north of Norway.
Geographical coordinates: 78° 00′ N. latitude, 20° 00′ E e.
Reference map: Arctic region.
Area: total: 62,049 km2; land surface area: 62,049 km2; water surface area: 0 km2; note: including Svalbard and Bear Island.
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 3,587 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing rights zone: 200 nautical miles (unilaterally declared by Norway, but not recognized by Russia); territorial waters: 4 nautical miles.
Climate: arctic; moderated by the warm North Atlantic Current; cool summer, cold winter; The North Atlantic Current runs along the western and northern coasts of Svalbard, keeping open water and navigational opportunities for most of the year.
Relief: wild severe mountains; most of the territory is covered with ice; the western coast is ice-free for about half a year; fjords along the western and northern coasts.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Newton 1,717 m
Natural resources: coal, copper, iron ore, phosphates, zinc, wildlife, fish.
Land use: arable land: 0%; cultivated land: 0%; pasture: 0%; forests and plantations: 0%; others: 100% (no trees, only bilberries and blueberries).
Irrigated land: no data.
Natural Hazards: Floating ice often blocks the entrance to Bellsun Bay on the western shore (through which coal is transported) and sometimes renders part of the northeast shore inaccessible to maritime traffic.
Current environmental issues: no data available.
International agreements on environmental protection:
Note to the section “Geography”: the northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the entire territory.


Population: 2 332 people (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: up to 14 years: no data; from 15 to 64 years: no data; over 65 years: no data.
Population growth: -3.55% (2001 est.).
Fertility: no data.
Mortality: no data.
Migration: no data.
Sex ratio:
Child mortality: NA
Life expectancy: General population: NA; men: no data; women: no data.
General birth rate: no data.
Proportion of adult population infected with HIV: 0% (2001).
Number of people infected with HIV: 0 (2001).
AIDS deaths: 0 (2001).
Ethnic groups: Russians and Ukrainians 44.3%, Norwegians 55.4%, others 0.3% (1998).
Language(s): Russian, Norwegian.


Common long form: no;
Common short form: Svalbard (sometimes called Svalbard). Dependency state: territory of Norway; administered by the Ministry of Industry through a governor based in Longyearbyen, Svalbard; Norway’s sovereignty was established by treaty on February 9, 1920.
State structure: no data.
Capital: Longyearbyen.
Administrative division:
Independence: none (territory of Norway).
National holiday: no data.
Legal system: no data.
head of state: King of Norway HARALD V (since January 17, 1991);
head of government: Governor Morten RUUD (since November 1998) and Deputy Governor Odd Redar HUMLEGAARD ​​(since no data); elections: no; hereditary monarchy; the governor and deputy governor are responsible to the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice.
Judicial branch:
Political parties and leaders:
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: none.
US diplomatic mission: US
diplomatic mission:
Flag Description: The flag of Norway is used.


Economic overview: Coal mining is the main economic activity on Svalbard. The treaty of 9 February 1920 gave the 41 signatory countries equal rights to exploit the mineral wealth under Norwegian control. While US, UK, German and Swedish coal companies have mined in the past, only Norwegian and Russian mining companies are now active here. The settlers on Svalbard live mainly in industrial settlements. The employees of the Norwegian state coal company make up about 60% of the Norwegian population on the island, and many work in the local service sector and provide local infrastructure. Some capture of seals, polar bears, arctic foxes and walruses is also carried out. GDP: no data.
Real GDP Growth Rate: no data.
GDP per capita: no data.
Composition of GDP by sector of the economy:
Proportion of the population below the poverty line: no data.
Percentage distribution of household income or consumption: for the poorest 10% of households: n/a; by top 10% of households: no data.
Inflation rate at consumer prices: no data.
Labor force: no data.
Employment structure:
Unemployment rate:
Budget: income: $11.5 million; expenditures: $11.5 million, including capital investment – NA (1998 est.).
Spheres of economy:
Growth of industrial production: no data.
Power generation: no data.
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: no data available; hydropower: no data; nuclear fuel: no data; others: no data.
Electricity consumption: no data.
Export of electricity: no data.
Electricity import: no data.
Agricultural products:
Export: no data.
Export items: Export
Import: no data. Economic aid recipient: $8.2 million from Norway (1998).
Import partners:
External debt:
Economic aid donor:
Currency: Norwegian krone.
Currency code: NOK.
Exchange rate: NOK/USD – 8.7784 2001), 8.8018 (2000), 7.7992 (1999), 7.5451 (1998), 7.0734 (1997), 6.4498 (1996).
Fiscal year:


Telecommunications Telephone lines: no data.
Mobile cellular phones: no data available.
Telephone system: seems to be satisfactory; domestic: local telephone service; international: satellite earth station – 1 (type – no data) (only communicates with Norway).
Broadcasting stations: AM – 1, FM – 1 (and 2 repeaters), shortwave -0 (1998),
Radio receivers: no data.
Television broadcast stations: no data.
TVs: no data.
Internet country code: sj
Internet providers: 13 (Svalbard and Jan Mayen) (2000).
Number of users: no data.


Transport Railways: 0 km.
Roads: total: no data; coated: no data; uncoated: no data.
Ports and harbours: Barentsburg, Longyearbyen, New Opesund, Pyramiden (Gruman).
Merchant fleet: none (2000 est.).
Airports: 4 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 1; from 1524 to 2437 m: 1 (2000 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 3; less than 914 m: 3 (2000 est.).

International Issues

International issues International disputes: Svalbard is at the center of a maritime border dispute between Norway and Russia.

Svalbard General Information