Arctic Bay by Wikimedia Commons
Can you imagine living your life in a town where minus 30 degrees is considered normal temperature for a considerable part of the year? Or not seeing a single ray of sun for almost half of the year? Well, for many people living up north, it is a reality that nobody questions, and I do not mean the army of scientists researching the Arctic region who leave after couple of weeks or months, but the actual inhabitants of the far north. Today’s post will provide you with insight to the world’s northernmost public settlements as well as take a look at Russia’s utopian project of a town covered by a huge cupola to shelter its citizens from the freezing weather.
Ny Alesund post office
by Wikimedia Commons
The world’s northernmost lively public settlement on the Spitsbergen Islands cannot boast the biggest population ever — only 35 people still have the courage to reside in such harsh conditions. Ny-Alesund belongs to the Kingdom of Norway and lies as far as 78°55′N 11°56′E. All the residents here work as a personell for one of the local scientific stations or accompany numerous tourists flocking to the island to see the northernmost inhabited spot on Earth and send a postcard from the northernmost post-office.
by Heather Thorkelson
However, while Ny-Alesund cannot really be considered to be a proper town, Longyearbyen certainly should be. Located on the western coast of Spitsbergen, this Norwegian village has 2,060 inhabitants and holds the proud title of the most northerly settlement with a population greater than 1,000. While the town’s economy mostly profits from coal mines, it is home to one of the biggest seed deposits in the world. Because of its remoteness and sound geology, Longyearbyen was chosen by the Global Crop Diversity Trust to host the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an underground facility storing millions of different crop seeds.
The northernmost Canadian settlement seems to be Arctic Bay on Baffin Island, an Inuit hamlet of 690 inhabitants. While the original mining community exists no more, Arctic Bay is still home to various recreational activities and the settlement is served by the annual sealift. I bet the people in Arctic Bay know how to make their shopping lists properly!
While most people living in such proximity to the North Pole are freezing all year long, Russians believe that they found the solution. 5,000 inhabitants of a future town, Umka, are about to live within a gigantic dome protecting them from the freezing temperatures. The town will be modelled according to Russian space program plans and will include facilities such as schools, parks, an aqua park, a cathedral, and hotels. Concerning energy and supplies, Umka is planned to be totally self-sufficient and the energy will be provided by a floating nuclear power station. The word is out that even Vladimir Putin was delighted by this idea. Seems a bit ambitious to me, but good luck up North, fellows!