Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and is the seat of local government and Norway’s main administrativ centre on Svalbard. It is located at a latitude of 78°N on the western coast of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago.
Longyearbyen is a modern community of families with schools, kindergartens, a university campus, local paper, shops, restaurants, hospital, church and cultural activity of various kinds. The settlement was founded by the American John Munroe Longyear in 1906 and is currently inhabited by around 2,000 people, most of them Norwegian, though nearly 40 nationalities are represented.
The small and colourful community has developed from typical mining community into a community with a number of industries and a wide range of cultural activities and oppportunities. The population of Longyearbyen is young with many small children and few senior members. There are currently 3 kindergardens and a school that covers all levels up to and including high school. In addition it is possible to study subjects such as Arctic biology, geology, geophysics and technology at the University Centre of Svalbard ( UNIS ). Among the locals, trips to vacation cabins and outdoor activities are popular. As there are no roads between the settlements on Svalbard, snow scooters or boats are often used as forms of transportation. The Norwegian authorities have decided that Svalbard shall consist of 3 main industries: Mining, research and tourism.