The Northernmost Town on Earth (Svalbard in 4K)


Come take a walk with me, around Longyearbyen. That’s the largest town on the Norwegian islands of Svalbard. Parts of it may look familiar. But make no mistake, this place IS different. At 78° north, It is just 1800mi/1300km from the North Pole. And with over 2000 permanent residents, it is the northernmost real town on Earth. There are only 50km (31mi) of road, including the small streets between houses. So people get around the island mainly on snowmobile. In fact, there are more registered snowmobiles, than residents. Anyone leaving town is required to travel with a gun and someone who knows how to use it. Because the islands are also home to polar bears. The average daytime high, is below freezing for all but four months of the year. Hi. And from the end of October to mid February, the sun doesn’t rise at all. This is the long polar night. Living here, is tough. This past December, an avalanche in town destroyed 10 homes, which used to be here, killing two people. So how did this cold, remote, ice-covered archipelago come to be inhabited? Well, the hills around town are rich in coal deposits, that have been mined for over 100 years. The coal was transported to the port via a series of aerial tramways. Some of which remain today, though they are no longer operational. Coal is a reminder that Svalbard was not always an Arctic ice world. 360 million yaers ago it was actually in the tropics, just north of the equator. A swampy area it was covered with a precursor to modern ferns, which were much larger than they are today, reaching 10-30m (33-98ft) in height. This vegetation was then covered in mud and sand, and submerged under the sea. Over time, it turned into the coal deposites that in the 20th century brought miners from Norway, Russia and the US. Most of the coal mines have now closed and the economy is gradually shifting towards tourism, education and research. Tourists take trips on snowmobiles and dog sleds. There is a university center in Svalbard which offers semester courses in biology, physics and geology. And up on the side of a mountain, is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. But that’s a story for another time. The locals tell me that interest in the region from different nations is increasing. As the globe warms and Arctic ice shrinks trade routs are opening up across the north. And Svalbard is strategically placed between North America, Asia and Europe. So one day in the future, Svaldbard may no longer be as cold or as remote as it once was. But for now, it is a reminder of how through our ingenuity people can live in even the most inhospitable of places.

100 thoughts on “The Northernmost Town on Earth (Svalbard in 4K)

  1. By popular demand: this video without my narration: https://youtu.be/DLUb14UsgJ8

  2. Yet you little brat want to play fortnite than taking the the snowmobile for a ride in that place! do not lie!

  3. Awesome shots and a really cool place, I am so scared for this place though with more people and the warming earth….

  4. You don,t give an impression How people live there. This is the most un interesting video I ever saw of Svalbard. I was there for 10 years ago on midsummernight. They hat fun. Young people playing music in the street. There is a Hugh supermarket where you can get everything. There is a museum, restaurants, shops Travelagency. The last time I visit Longyearbuyen was in July this Year. No there is no snow in the Summer, only high on the mountains. There are Husky Farms where they keep over 100 Husky,s. They have a weather station an AirPort.
    You miss something!! I have missed lot of things in your video.

  5. Beautifully done. I’ve never knew about this place and I’m interested in knowing more now. Thanks for sharing this with the world.

  6. Polar bears will track and hunt a human for days …

    Best thing…no Walmart! 👍

  7. 3:11 avalanche kills people

    When will humans realize they can’t build anywhere they want!

  8. I’ve got to say Derek, everything from the story you’re telling here, to the camera shots and angles you captured on your 4K drone, was crafted beautifully. I’m a huge fan of all your material, and in comparison to your other episodes, the cinematography in this one sets it apart. Absolutely fantastic work, sir!

  9. "From the end of October to mid of February, the Sun doesn't rise at ALL"! 
    WHAT!???

  10. 3:35 comfirmed

    Real life is based on minecraft

    The biome with most coal in minecraft is the ice spikes one sooo

  11. such a magical place which reminds me with Iorek Byrnison. Thanks for the video

  12. My grandfathers father worked in a mine at Svalbard when he was young. It feels like I have a connection to this place, its a part of my heritage.

  13. wow.
    even in the middle of summer there is still a thick layer of snow on the ground.

  14. Great video about Svalbard, probably the best on youtube. Thanks a lot. Greets.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed this video. Sorry, I can only like it once and I just wanted to say it again.

  16. Quote "As the globe warms and arctic ice shrinks" … Total and utter garbage ! Please cite your evidence for this manifestly false statement. Your are just another far-left, racist FAKE!

  17. I wonder why the roofs aren't steep, wouldn't the weight of the ice and snow crush the buildings?
    So many windows wouldn't allow heat to stay in, cheap heating out there I guess?

  18. I have been living in Norway for 2 years but never been to Tromsø and Svalbard. I am gonna regret if I don't travel there soon.

  19. Any issues with the drone in cold weather? DJI gives 0C as the lowest operating temperature but I have been looking to fly it during the winter.

  20. He is all about science yet not one shred of information other than the stunning visuals (which are truly beautiful IMO) how about "They monitor Vitamin D levels of all residents due to the extreme lack of sun year-round" nope, instead we get "in the summer it is still cold" ** he mentioned the university briefly **. What happened? this has to be part of a series, there is so much human physiology data that can be explored to peak interest, he did write in the description of the video section "More information soon". I say title it "First impression of Svalbard, the closest town to the north pole"

  21. 6:19 the look on my face when the nearest starbucks is more than 900miles away

  22. Was that cluster of snow mobiles banashed from Town? Seems puzzling to me; them parked way out there like that.

  23. thats a new time low making a selfie with a drone…. just kidding great video man keep it up!

  24. I've been tryna gets some facts on living in Svalbard lately as it is visa free for all nationals but hey! Are there single man there as I will be needing lots of cuddles and some jobs for me to do?

  25. Do you think it would make sense to build a giant dam between Svalbard and Greenland to prevent icebergs from flowing through the Greenland Sea? This could have a benefit at preventing sea level rise by keeping the ice in the Arctic.

  26. Next time check out Pyramiden – an abandoned Soviet mining town just across the Sassenfjorden. Now that would be a cool drone video. I will be posting a video (on foot, no drone) as soon as I have time to make edits to the footage (definitely not as professional as yours). I just came back so there was no snow on the ground. Also, you forgot to mention another fun fact besides more registered snowmobiles than people. There are also more polar bears than people in Svalbard 🙂 Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I didn't see one during my days there. Thank you for sharing!

  27. why don't you visit one the most hospitable and inhospitable places on earth, the open air prison called Gaza.

  28. I live in Canada and last winter was colder and longer than the one of 1980.
    Do not believe the (Things are warming up) BS.

  29. Just back from this place. This is the best travel vlog I’ve seen of Svalbard. Thank you

  30. No mowing grass, no skin cancer…. If you're tired of yard work, maybe this is worth a look!

  31. I don't know why this town, and I am talking about the man made part of it, looks much better than Barrow, Alaska, which in comparison looks like a dump. Of course, the surroundings are also magnificent to look at.

  32. how sad to think that these isolated, serene and majestically beautiful places on earth are going to be transformed into a landscape we will no longer be able to label as being truly unique and wonderfully wild.

  33. I watched this video about a month ago and last week my university sent an email to the earth and ocean science students about a coop program in collaboration with UNIS. I am thinking about going there for a semester but I dont know if i am gonna be able to cope with the weather and life in general in a place this extreme

  34. Is there any statistic on crime rates there? It sounds like a joke, but I wondered if in such remote places with relatively low number of inhabitants there are crimes committed?

  35. but…but.. the conservatives tell me that global warming is a myth! how could new trade routes be opening up? sounds like a massive conspiracy funded by the 2k residents of Svalbard to increase interest in their city!

  36. Derek ! WOW !
    Of any of your videos that I've watched, this is the most breathtakingly beautiful.
    The tone of your narration is perfect.
    Well done, my friend. Well done.

  37. not anymore avg daytime high above freezing 4 months of the year, approaching 6 months now and an overall average above freezing, ruining shallow permafrost already.

  38. Went there about five years ago. Great place. Went in July and temperature was 10 degs with no wind and blue sky. Beautiful place!

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