Record breaking Svalbard school intake

sweden-snowwThe Svalbard archipelago off northern Norway is far above the Arctic Circle and famous for its new international seed vault and for Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world with over 1,000 inhabitants.

The islanders make most of their money from mining and come form all over the world due to the Spitsbergen Treaty which was signed shortly after the First World War. Under the treaty, Svalbard was ceded to Norway after centuries of claims and counter claims, including some bloodshed. The treaty stipulated though, that people of all signing nations have equal rights to settle and work in Svalbard – there are currently over 40 signatory nations.

While people are forbidden to die in Svalbard due to the permafrost preserving corpses in their graves indefinitely, people are permitted to grow up there. In fact school has just reconvened with 241 students – 28 more than this time last year, including 30 in the youngest year group. There are 1,821 residents in Longyearbyen, a town which holds a number of interesting records:

“Longyearbyen is the world’s most northern easily accessible settlement, with Svalbard Airport just outside town offering regular flights to and from Tromso and Oslo, Norway. The airport served 120,000 passengers in 2007. It is also the northernmost town over 1000 inhabitants; it houses a large number of northernmost places and objects of interest: the northernmost church, university campus, Rotary club, bank, automated teller machine, hospital, kindergarten, public library, night club, pub, school, supermarket, tourist office, permanent airport with scheduled flights, bus station, commercial sea port, taxi station, art gallery, cinema, climbing wall, squash court, swimming hall, and indoor target range,” according to Wikipedia.

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