© 2018 Gustavo Tavares

FAR NORTH

 

The permanently inhabited land nearest the North Pole is Svalbard, where no one can be born or die.

 

Since the climate is extreme, the islands have no agricultural interest or offer resources that allow an economically appealing settlement. For this reason, when the passage of Barents in the sixteenth century, initially the archipelago was only occasionally visited.

 

But less than a century later, the discovery that the waters around the islands were rich in whales and other marine mammals, which could be hunted to produce animal oils, led to the fact that in a few decades the islands' coasts were mapped and that every summer Arctic expeditions of whaling to the seas of the islands were organized. Then came the discovery of coal and the consequent exploitation of mines by the Norwegians, Russians and Dutch.

 

Today, the economy is increasingly dependent on tourism, as mining has been progressively abandoned, now being restricted to Russian activities in Barentsburg and Norwegian in Svea.

 

Despite being under Norwegian sovereignty, the archipelago is subject to a specific regime of access to its natural resources by the international community under the Treaty of Svalbard, signed in Paris on February 9, 1920. By order of the Governor, all pregnant women must travel to the mainland 4 months before childbirth due to difficult weather conditions and since there is no cemetery in Svalbard due to permafrost, the terminally ill are also shipped to the mainland.

 

Svalbard is today the land of scientists, miners and adventurers.

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