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 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. http://longyearbyen.kystnor.no/ 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?
Hold deg gylden!
As you might have guessed, means:
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