Fun with Countries: Svalbard + Jan Mayen

It has been a long time coming. Back in May, I mentioned the birth of a new segment on my blog called “Fun with Countries.” Ever since then, I have received hundreds and hundreds of requests, asking when I would start. At first, I did not want to give in to peer pressure, so I delayed the start of this project , but now, I decided that it truly is time. (The part about hundreds and hundreds of requests may or may not be precise.)

As stated in my latest anniversary post, this segment is going to be dedicated to countries from which I have not had any visitors on my blog. If you want to see which countries you are missing, navigate to Stats – scroll to – Countries – click on the header – toggle to “All Time.” The countries in white are the ones you are missing. While WordPress labels the countries from where you have had visitors, it does not do so for the rest, which means you will have to rely on your geographical knowledge (or Google).

Some of you have asked me if I would write about their home countries. While this was not my plan when I first came up with the idea for Fun with Countries, I am not against that idea… once I write about the missing countries first. We shall see how it goes! I think it would be great to learn about your country some more, too. We could do a stereotype vs. reality type of post… OK, I am getting carried away. One day at a time… One project at a time…

Before you ask about the order in which these countries will be presented – do not look for rhyme or reason in this one. I shall choose the countries at random (or however random a human brain can get).

Are you ready to have some Fun with Countries (FwC)?

(insert eager nods, screams, and whistles)

Do you want to know where Svalbard and Jan Mayen are located?

Svalbard & Jan Mayen

Svalbard is the collection of the two big islands and a few smaller ones in the North-East of the red shape. Jan Mayen is the small speck of red in the South-West part of the drumstick outline. (Do you see the drumstick that I drew? Or does this shape remind you of something else?)

Jan Mayen is a volcanic island, on which not a single person lives permanently. The only natural resource it has is gravel. “What is the island’s use?” you ask. Well, it houses Norway’s meteorological station. There are no ports or harbors on the island. The waters between Greenland and Jan Mayen have been awarded mostly to Denmark, so they can fish in peace, without Norway taking over. Geologists believe that natural gas and petroleum are present under the seabed below the island.

Jan Mayen is considered a nature reserve under Norwegian jurisdiction. Pitching a tent on that island is prohibited. Stay on the island needs to be requested and approved in advance. It is usually granted only for a couple of hours or days. Foreigners have a different set of rules, which you can check out here.

To my surprise, the temperature on the island does not fluctuate much and the climate is not as extreme as I thought it might be. The average temperatures are around 6 °C (43 °F) in August and −6 °C (21 °F) in February.

While Norwegian laws apply on Jan Mayen, the station commander of the Norwegian Defense Communication Service is the one in charge of that territory.

Some say the island was discovered by Irish monks that sailed the sea and saw rocks “spitting fire” around A.D. 500. Others attribute the discovery to Vikings, who might have used it as a landmark for navigation (tall volcano). The island became a part of Norway in 1922. It is named after a man who officially discovered it in the 17th century – Jan Jacobs May van Schellinkhout.

While The Norwegian government appoints the archipelago’s governor, and for almost twenty years, the biggest settlement of Svalbard had an elected local government, Svalbard is unincorporated area, which, unlike the rest of Norway, is not a part of the Schengen zone or the European Union. That means that in order to step foot on land, even Norwegians need to show their passports.

There are no roads between the various settlements, but people are able to move around via snowmobiles, planes, and boats. There are a few national parks and nature preserves located on the islands of Svalbard. The archipelago is home to the northernmost (full-service) hotel, supermarket, liquor store, and library.

People who do not like firearms should not travel to Svalbard. It is required that you carry a gun outside of a settlement. It is not because there are gang wars happening or violent protests, but because that is the only way to ward off a polar bear. (There are more polar bears than people on Svalbard.)

While it is difficult for foreigners to even step foot on Jan Mayen, Svalbard gives anyone the ability to live there with no visa. You also get most of Norwegian benefits. However, that does not qualify you for Norwegian citizenship.

Did you know that there is a seed vault on Svalbard containing nearly one million seeds? It is meant to re-start our civilization in case something catastrophic happens.

Who wants to move to Svalbard with me? Whatever you do, do not plan on dying there as no burial is allowed. You cannot die there, nor can you be born. Pregnant women are shipped to mainland to give birth.

While there is a university in Svalbard but it does not offer a degree. And you said that your degree was worthless…

Svalbard used to be home to mostly miners. Wherever they went, they tracked black dust, which was why shoes were taken off before entering any building. The custom remains until today; you go to a museum and take your shoes off at the door.

Aside from mining, tourism is a big part of Svalbard’s economy. However, a few years ago, the size of allowed cruise ships has been decreased to preserve the nature’s state of the territory. There is no welfare and/or unemployment. Everyone does what they can to be productive members of society.

Anonymole shared a phenomenal live webcam link with me that I though you might find interesting. There, you can see how the main settlement of Svalbard looks like, as well as the terrain, and much more.

WordPress groups Svalbard and Jan Mayen just like the International Organization for Standardization (same country area code when dialing a phone number). However, as you now know, these two areas are administratively separate. They are integrated parts of Norway, yet there are not parts of any of the Norwegian counties.

Since both Jan Mayen and Svalbard are a part of Norway, if you ever find yourself nearby, feel free to say hi and introduce yourself:

Hei! Mitt navn er [insert name].

Google translate

(If you speak Norwegian and would like to share an audio with me, please contact me. I would love to add sound to this and give you a deserved shout-out.)

If you have ever visited either one of those territories, please share your experience with me. If you plan on visiting in the future, please remember to log in to WordPress and check out my site while you are there.

  • What did you find the most interesting about Jan Mayen/Svalbard?
  • What did you like the most about this post?
  • What could this post do without?
  • What did you hope to see but did not?

Wikipedia (Jan Mayen) (Jan Mayen) (Jan Mayen) (Svalbard)
Wikipedia (Svalbard)
Wikipedia (Jan Mayen and Svalbard)

Hold deg gylden!

As you might have guessed, means:

Stay golden,

SGK signature.png


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52 thoughts on “Fun with Countries: Svalbard + Jan Mayen

Add yours

  1. It does look like a drumstick… Now I want to go eat one thank you very much 😂😂

    Never knew or paid any thoughts to that section of the world before, I had to get a magnifying glass and an Atlas (well not literally thanks to Google)
    Still stuck at figuring out how to pronounce that though 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you have chicken for dinner today?

      Ahh, good old times… Atlases were the bomb! I loved browsing through the different pages, each focusing on something different (mountain ranges, rivers, etc).

      Let me know if you meet someone from Jan Mayen or Svalvard (or Norway) who wouldn’t mind helping with the pronunciation.


      1. Had chicken and fries for dinner 😂😂
        Same on the Atlases I sometimes get surprised at some of the random things I still remember, capital cities of countries, lakes in Canada, the eye of the Sahara… (well i did use to be in the quiz team *fun times*)

        I was going to say I don’t but I think I might know someone let the manhunt begin


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Danish and Norwegian are pretty similar. The Norwegians just seem to like to use one extra letter, in this case the extra “T” in “mitt”. I have seen this with more words.
    I do how to pronounce it in Danish, but Norwegians tend to “sing” more when talking. Danish is just flat, like the country itself.

    I’d love to see a polar bear!
    Is there more wildlife ?!

    I like this blog series because it is educational. Hopefully people from actual country will comment with information! Looking forward for the next one!
    Is it a weekly thing?
    It hasn’t replaced NROP though, has it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “is just flat, like the country itself” your humor is on point.

      Jan Mayen is very poor when it comes to fauna, only having birds.

      Svalbard is home to many birds as well (most travel South for winter). As for other types of animals, there are reindeer, walruses, seals, and arctic foxes. I think you would enjoy those, too 🙂

      Thank you. That’s exactly the goal. To have people from these fascinating places join in on the conversation.

      No, it is not a weekly thing. It will probably be a “whenever Goldie has a minute” thing.

      No, it has not replaced NROP. (But it might be posted instead of some of my usual posts, depending on my inspiration and spare time.)


  3. I was hoping to learn something new from this segment, and I did. What it think was the most interesting was the seed vault. I think it’s really smart, and I’m left wondering who will it benefit and who knows about it, should a catastrophe occur. How will people know it’s there, especially those who don’t.

    I enjoyed learning the details like there are more polar bears than people, and how it’s custom to take one’s shoes off before entering a building. I’m still left wondering how one can’t die there! As if one could control that. Do you know if they have a hospital in Svalbard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I thought the same thing – well, not everyone knows about the vault. Is it something that government employees know? What if they don’t make it but regular people do? It makes me wonder how many more of those things are out there.

      Yes, there is a hospital there. Mining law says there must be a hospital nearby to treat mining injuries. Even though mining is not as big as it used to be, the hospital remains. I assume that in urgent cases, birthing might happen there, too. However, the hospital mostly treats bear-related injuries. If you’re sick (dying), they will transfer you to mainland. It’s a bit of an exaggeration. Obviously, you can die anywhere, but you can’t stay dead there.

      I’m learning so much more. Thank you for asking follow-up questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait, they ship pregnant women off the island? I think I sort of get why, but what do they say? Especially to foreigners/tourists? “Sorry lady, too much paperwork… Please take a boat to the mainland before going into labor, thank you”? And what on earth do they do if someone happens to die there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s out of concern for safety. The hospital there only really deals with bear scrapes and such. If you’re a tourist, you don’t go travelling to a far away country when you’re at the end of your pregnancy. Or so I would think.

      If someone dies out of nowhere, they ship it for burial to the mainland. However, if someone is very sick, they ship them off for better medical care (and/or death). It’s morbid but it makes sense since the ground is frozen (hard to dig) and not that many people live there (fewer medical specialists).

      Would you rather go to the mainland or be treated by a hack?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ohh! That makes much more sense… I had assumed it was some legal thing, not simply a matter practicality.

        Hehe… Good point. I’ve never been a tourist or pregnant, so I admit, I didn’t really think about that… But yeah, far from home with a baby on the way? Not happening.

        Man, 2/2 mistaken assumptions? Tsk tsk. I’m losing my touch.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I even forgot the “of” between “matter” and “practicality.” 😱 But I’m sure my vacancy has nothing to do with it, oh no. It must be the end of the world or something. You know, one of those cosmic off days.

            Yeah. We’ll go with that.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. What, do you mean that between winter and summer, the temperature oscillates from -6 to 6 C only?
    I’d love to go there, live there, and own a grocery store – I meant at Svalbard (did I spell it right?) I love seeds. Mostly, I roast them with salt and eat them….hahah just kidding, I know what you meant by seeds. But I do roast them with salt and eat them – almond seeds, nuts, peanuts, watermelon seeds, cantaloupe seeds and so on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I meant that the daily mean temperature stays in that range all year long, despite the season.

      Yes, you spelled that right! I think it sounds like a great plan. Introverts/writers/some people often talk about having a remote cabin deep in the mountains or living on a deserted island. This is not as extreme, but I think it could serve as a great transitionary settlement. (Also, as place for my next story… Hmmm….)

      I chuckled at your seeds comment. I enjoy eating them, too!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it amazing how we can “travel” to places so far away?

      Did you look for the night clubs at night or during the day? Remember that in that part of the world some days can last weeks or more.

      A footprint? Where are the toes?


  6. What did you find the most interesting about Jan Mayen/Svalbard?

    The REQUIREMENT to carry a firearm. 😲

    What did you like the most about this post?

    The foreign language phrase! I loved that touch!

    What could this post do without?

    It all seemed fine to me. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    What did you hope to see but did not?

    A few more scenic pics would be great!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the insertion of “One day at a time” within the post. 😉 Clever reminder of your motto.

    Upon reading “Svalbard”, I just imagined a Viking island with fantasy dragons roaming around. Close enough. Volcanoes and gravel? Sounds like a perfect place to go to if you want to disappear. 😀

    Really cool new feature. I like the idea. Probably makes you do a bunch of homework, so I appreciate the bibliography at the end too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😉

      That’s quite the imagination you have there. Right now I’m thinking of Octoberfest. Yea, not really sure why. But YES – great place to disappear. I imagine an island surrounded by thick mist… where weird things happen.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It took some research but it was well worth it. I thought I’d share the links for credibility’s sake as well as to aid others in their potential quest for further info.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. that was fascinating to read; I was not even aware of Jan Mayen. But when I move my cursor over my WP map of Svalbard, I see Jan Mayer highlighted as well. I’d have no interest in living in Svalbard – any place that requires a gun is enough warning for me…

    Liked by 1 person

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