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Barentsburg

Trip Planner Europe  /  Norway  /  Svalbard  /  Barentsburg
Barentsburg is the second-largest settlement on Svalbard, with about 500 inhabitants, almost entirely Russians and Ukrainians. It is the site of the Barentsburg Pomor Museum.HistoryNamed after Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, the town is a mining town, with coal mining conducted by the Soviet company Arktikugol since 1932. The population has declined over the decades; in its heyday, over 1,000 Soviet citizens inhabited Barentsburg.StatusAlthough Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources. Russia, along with Norway (via the Sveagruva mine and Mine 7), maintains mining operations on Svalbard as a result. Russia maintains a consulate in Barentsburg, the northernmost diplomatic mission of any kind in the world. Barentsburg still has a Norwegian mail address and Norwegian phone numbers.Economic basisBarentsburg started as a Dutch mining town in the 1920s. In 1932 the Dutch sold their concession to the Soviet Union. Since 1932 the Russian state-owned Arktikugol Trust (Russian for "Arctic Coal") has been operating on Svalbard. The main economic activity is coal mining by the Arktikugol (Арктикуголь) company. The coal is usually exported to Northern European buyers. The town relies entirely on mainland Russia for food and coinage. There have been instances in which not enough food was sent, and aid packages were sent from Longyearbyen. Tourism is now being developed, but does not yet generate enough income to revive the town.
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