Fun Facts about Svalbard
Fun facts about Svalbard
The land of midnight sun & polar nights
In Svalbard, extensive periods of the year are characterized by either the mesmerizing glow of the midnight sun or the enchanting embrace of darkness. From November 11 to January 30, the sun is less than 6° below the horizon, known as the polar night. Where day and night seamlessly blend into an uninterrupted celestial canvas filled with the mythical northern lights. Summertime brings the midnight sun, painting the landscape with continuous daylight for a unique and natural spectacle. It can mess with your sense of time, making everything feel a bit surreal – the perfect setup for an Arctic Expedition!
SeilNorge’s expeditions in Svalbard take place during the summer, so get ready for the midnight sun vibes! From April 20 to August 23, there is non-stop daylight – you can wear your sunglasses around the clock. Some locals even turn their sleeping rhythm 180° around as the nights are surprisingly calm. While we’ll stick to a regular day rhythm on our trips, we won’t blame you if going to bed becomes a bit of a challenge.
Off with your shoes!
På Svalbard vil du på noen restauranter, hoteller og offentlige bygg se at folk tar av seg skoene før de går inn. Noen steder låner ut tøfler. Fra gammelt av når øya for det meste hadde gruvearbeidere som bodde der, var det nemlig vanlig å ta av seg på beina når man gikk inn i hus for ikke å dra med seg kullstøv over alt. Nå gjøres det mest på grunn av tradisjon.
No street names
In Svalbard there are no street names! This tradition also dates back to the mining era when mine passages, known as “straits,” were designated with numerical names. This practice extended to the streets in Longyearbyen, with each street now bearing a main number and a house number, such as Road 238-38.
More polar bears than people…
Svalbard has more polar bears than people. We are the guests in the polar bear’s kingdom and we must show consideration for them. If we’re lucky, we can see polar bears at a safe distance from the sailboat. When going ashore, there is always a guide with a weapon and the rest of us follow the guide’s instructions on polar bear safety.
Not allowed to die in Svalbard!
Dying and giving birth is prohibited. Well, not literally, but due to the permafrost, the natural decomposition of bodies does not take place, and therefore burials are not allowed. While premature births occasionally happen, pregnant women are typically relocated to the mainland as their due dates approach, ensuring access to better-equipped hospitals in case of complications.
Svalbard means “the land of the cold coasts”.
It rains so little that Svalbard is classified as an arctic desert. This is unfortunately about to change as the earth gets warmer.
In search of the Northeast Passage
Svalbard’s history goes back to 1596 when the Dutch navigator Willem Barentz put the islands on the world map in his search for the Northeast Passage.
9 main islands
Svalbard is an archipelago consisting of nine main islands. The largest island was called Spitsbergen by Barentz because of the pointy peaks.
Anyone can live and work in Svalbard indefinitely, regardless of citizenship.
Due to the danger of rabies, in addition to protecting the vulnerable ecosystem, and especially rare arctic bird species, cats are strictly forbidden.
House on stilts!
If heat-insulated buildings are built directly on the ground, it will lead to thawing of the permafrost, the house will sink into the ground and eventually collapse. Stilts are the thing!
The world’s largest seed vault
Longyearbyen is home to the world’s largest safety deposit of seeds. The global seed vault. The purpose of the vault is to preserve the world’s future food supply. Here they lie safely, dry and cold, and even in the event of a power cut, the permafrost will ensure that the seeds will stay frozen. Today there are 1,267,127 seeds in the warehouse (2023).