Longyearbyen, the largest settlement on Svalbard, is Norwegian administration center. The other settlements are Barentsburg, Svea, Ny-Ålesund, Hornsund and the two meteorological stations on Hopen and Bjørnøya. In addition, there are four whaling stations scattered around the Spitsbergen.
Longyearbyen located at 78ºN is a modern family community. It has a school, kindergarten, university campus, local paper, shops, restaurants, hospital and church. Cultural life is active and varied. The settlement was founded by the American John Munro Longyear in 1906 and today there are about 2000 inhabitants in Longyearbyen. Most of them are Norwegians, but nearly 40 nationalities are represented.
The mining community Barentsburg, located about 40 kilometers southwest of Longyearbyen and is the second largest settlement on Svalbard. The Russian state-owned mining company Trust Artikugol owns and operates the coal mine and the community, and the annual coal production is about 160,000 tonnes. The mine is located in the middle of Barentsburg, about 500 meters below the ground. The settlement had at most about 1,500 inhabitants, but by the 1990s, the population declined. Fewer than 500 people including children now live in Barentsburg (March 2007). Just over half of the population comes from Ukraine, while the rest are from Russia.
Barentsburg has its own coal power plants, hospitals, hotels, schools, kindergartens and culture and sports. The community receives supplies by boat from Murmansk few times a year. Russian consulate on Svalbard is in Barentsburg, and the Russian Academy of Sciences has a research center there. Trust Artikugol purchased the mining facilities of the Dutch company Nederlandsche Spitzbergen Companie in 1932.
Pyramiden was the second Russian mining town in Svalbard and is located in Billefjorden. It was home to almost 1,000 people. In the mountains of Pyramiden, large coal deposits were found, but extraction was complicated by major faults in the rock. Operations in Pyramiden was discontinued in 1998. The site is currently unpopulated.
Ny-Ålesund is the northernmost permanently inhabited settlement and is in Kongsfjorden on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. Ny-Ålesund is the headquarters of Norwegian and foreign research activities in Svalbard. In addition to Norway, a number of other nations have established permanent research stations here, including Germany, England, Italy, Japan and China. Other nations are also involved in various research projects.
The public corporation Kings Bay A / S owns the land and facilities in Ny-Ålesund and operates infrastructure. It lives about 25 people live in the settlement, but during the summer, the population multiplies manifold.
Sveagruva is located about 60 kilometers southeast of Longyearbyen, in the head of Van Mijenfjorden. There are very few who live permanently in Svea, but about 240 people do a weekly commute from Longyearbyen to work there. Svea Nord, which is the main mine of Major Norwegian Spitsbergen Coal Company, is located five kilometers from the settlement with input from Høganesbreen. In 2004, it produced just under three million tons of coal in Svea Nord.
In Hornsund, south Spitsbergen, is a Polish research station. Its operations include research in seismology, meteorology, biology and glaciology. The station is staffed by 10-12 persons.
Hopen island is located about 300 kilometers southeast of Longyearbyen, out in the Barents Sea. It does weather prediction for northern Norway and is a meteorological station is staffed by four people.
At Bear Island, about halfway between Spitsbergen and the mainland, operates weather prediction for northern Norway a meteorological station. The station has a staff of about 10 people.
There are four trapping stations on Svalbard. These are Akseløya in van Mijenfjorden, Kapp Wijk in Isfjorden, Austfjordneset in Wijdefjorden and Mushamna in Woodfjorden. The first two stations are owned privately, while the Governor of Svalbard rents out the other two on a yearly basis.
There are no roads connecting the settlements on Svalbard. There are airstrips in Svea and Ny-Ålesund and there are flights to and from Longyearbyen several times a week. In Barentsburg, the Russian mining company has a helicopter base at Heerodden, where there is one helicopter in operation. The settlements on Spitsbergen can be reached by boat in summer and snowmobile in winter.