It’s Illegal to Die on this Island…
In the middle of the Arctic Ocean, close to the North Pole, there is a Norwegian archipelago called Svalbard. It consists of several islands and the largest one is Spitsbergen, where the administrative center, Longyearbyen, is located.
There are many strange facts about the islands and the arctic town that have caught the attention of people from all over the world, and perhaps the strangest one is the fact that it is illegal to die on the island.
If someone on the island is starting to feel seriously unwell, they will be sent to mainland Norway. The reason for this is that bodies cannot be buried as the permafrost will push buried bodies up from the ground, a creepy discovery made by the islanders in 1950. It has since then been illegal to die on the islands.
Some other interesting facts about Svalbard:
- 60 % of the islands are covered by glaciers
- From April to August the sun never sets, and from October to February the sun never rises
Photo by Martyn Smith
- The largest group of non-Norwegians living on the island are from Thailand and Sweden
- The main industries are coal mining, tourism and research
- There are more polar bears than people living on the islands. The human population being 2667, and the amount of polar bears around 3000.
Photo by Alexandra Rose
- It’s not allowed to own cats as they could threaten the arctic bird population
- The kindergartens are fenced, not to keep the kids in, but the polar bears out
Photo by Alvaro Prieto
- Citizens of Svalbard are obliged to carry a rifle when they venture outside of the towns, to protect themselves from polar bears
Photo by Mike Goad
- Svalbard houses the Global Seed Vault, which is world’s largest collection of seeds from around the world. They are kept there in case there ever is a natural or man-made disaster
Photo by Frode Bjorshol
If you’re after a truly unique destination for your next trip, then Svalbard should be on your bucket list! It is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights, and to see arctic animals such as the polar bear, reindeer and walrus.
Feature photo by Christopher Michel