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  • Geography


Spitzberg is an island in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago . This archipelago is inside the Arctic circle to the east of Greenland.


Spitzberg is the largest island on the archipelago which has over 30: they extend over 39,000 km².

With the Island of Bears (halfway between northern Scandinavia and the rest of Svalbard), it is the only populated island on the archipelago, with about 3000 inhabitants.

History of Spitzberg

Officially, Spitzberg was discovered by Willem Barentsz, a Dutch explorer, in 1596. But it appears that the Vikings in the 12th century and the Russian Pomors between the 12th and 16th centuries also set foot on this island. Whatever the case, it was Willem Barentsz who named it Spitzberg, which literally means "pointed mountains".

Spitzberg biodiversity

Spitzberg is home to three species of terrestrial mammals:

But many sea animals – pinnipedia and cetaceans – bathe in the waters around the island .

Around 164 birds inhabit or cross the Scalbard archipelago.

The flora is less diversified than in the north of Norway and there are about 170 species of flowering plant, together with lichens, fungi, mosses, etc.


This island is known for housing, amongst others, an international scientific community (in the old mining village of Ny-Ålesund), two French research stations (Charles Rabot and Jean Corbel) and, above all, the Svalbard global seed vault, storing seeds of the entire world in a secure vault.

The island of Spitzberg is on the Svalbard archipelago. © public domain The island of Spitzberg is on the Svalbard archipelago. © public domain


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