And just like that we’ve made it to the northernmost city in the world, Longyearbyen, Norway (pronounced long-year-bin). Situated on Spitsbergen, an island off the coast of Norway at the 78th parallel North, it has become the starting point for expeditions to the North Pole.
Fast Facts on Longyearbyen:
- -There are more snowmobiles than people (2700 snowmobiles vs. 2000 permanent residents)
- -Longyearbyen started as a mining town and there are still a number of active mines on Spitsbergen today
- -The danger of polar bears looms large enough that you are required to carry a gun outside of the city limits
- -Each year the town spends over 4 months in 24 hour sunlight and nearly 3 months in 24 hour darkness.
I’d like to expand on the last point because 24 hours sunlight is mind blowing (we currently have 19 hours of sunlight and 5 hours of dusk). I have been shocked at how much of my perception of time, hunger, and energy levels are shaped by the ability to track the sun.
For me, this is most notable in the evening. My family and I will be busy with this or that and intuitively have a sense of the time based on the sun, thinking it’s roughly 4pm or 5pm when in reality it is closer to 10pm or 11pm. Similarly it is difficult to go to bed, why would you go to sleep when it’s bright and sunny outside? Turns out, even though it’s sunny outside, it’s actually 2am.
Like I said, mind blowing.