Svalbard The Norwegian Archipelago Is Visa Free

Grace Higgins | April 2nd, 2020

Svalbard is the Norwegian archipelago if you translate the name of the place it is called “cold edge.” Which makes a lot of sense as it is very cold and at the edge of the world. It is famous as it is one of the only places in the world that is entirely visa-free. Situated between the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea, and the Arctic Ocean the little islands that make up Svalbard have an extremely small population. Simply due to the insane weather conditions, one has to deal with if living in Svalbard, the area is barely inhabited.

Norway, however, wants people to live in Svalbard and keep a footing in these lands. Therefore anyone can come and live there and work, without needing a visa. The only way someone can get deported from Svalbard is a violation of laws and regulations or by not having the means to support themselves. There are five little settlements across the main island known as Spitsbergen. Longyearbyen is the capital of the region and that is where most people reside, there is also a Russian settlement known as Barentsburg.

Even though Norway is part of the Schengen Area in Europe, Svalbard is not and remains a neutral territory. But you can only get into Svalbard by traveling through Norway so technically you would still require a Schengen Area visa to make it to the territory. Though if you hold a European Union passport than this point does not matter.

A funny fact about Svalbard is that weather conditions are so brutal, there is not a single tree growing on the island. The only vegetation you will find is moss and the occasional arctic flower. Polar bears are a real threat on the island when visiting Svalbard, tourists are told not to leave the settlements. And if they did decide to go walking around the snow then you should carry a rifle to defend yourself against the bears.

Despite the small population, the island celebrates four festivals, mostly to celebrate the changing of the polar nights. The Sunfest Week is for celebrating the end of the polar night, and then you also have several jazz festivals such as the Polar Jazz or the Dark Season Blues. Extreme tourism is one of the ways the economy of Svalbard survives.

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