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Svalbard:
Geography

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Background
Definition
First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. Norway's sovereignty was recognized in 1920; five years later it officially took over the territory.
Location
Definition
Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea, north of Norway
Geographic coordinates
Definition
78 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references
Definition
Arctic Region
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 61,020 sq km
land: 61,020 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
3,587 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 4 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm unilaterally claimed by Norway but not recognized by Russia
Climate
Definition
arctic, tempered by warm North Atlantic Current; cool summers, cold winters; North Atlantic Current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and navigable most of the year
Terrain
Definition
wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about one-half of the year; fjords along west and north coasts
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Newtontoppen 1,717 m
Natural resources
Definition
coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, phosphate, wildlife, fish
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (no trees; the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry) (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
NA
Natural hazards
Definition
ice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
Environment - current issues
Definition
NA
Geography - note
Definition
northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area; Spitsbergen Island is the site of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository established by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Norwegian Government


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