Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund is the world's northernmost settlement with 30-35 permanent inhabitants.

Ny-Ålesund is the world's northernmost settlement with 30-35 permanent inhabitants. Ny-Ålesund boasts a post office, a gift shop and a pub. Ny-Ålesund was established as a coal mining community, but now that the mining industry has come to a halt the town serves as a research station for among other Arctic and atmospheric research. Ny-Ålesund was also the launching point for Roald Amundsen's North Pole flight in the airship 'Norge'.

Ny-Ålesund was first discovered in 1610, when coal deposits were discovered around Kongsfjorden. Not until the 1860s were they investigated more carefully. Ålesund-based Peter Brandal bought the claims in 1916 and established the company Kings Bay. The town, originally known as Brandal City and Kings Bay, was founded that summer when coal mining commenced. The first research installation, a geophysical station at Kvadehuken, was established in 1920. The mining was soon unprofitable and was kept running through state subsidies. In the mid-1920s the town was used for a series of airship expeditions towards the North Pole.

Kings Bay still runs this company town and has gradually transformed it into a research community. Kongsfjord Telemetry Station and Ny-Ålesund Airport, Hamnerabben commenced operations in 1967, and the following year the Norwegian Polar Institute established itself in Ny-Ålesund. Starting in the 1970s the town experienced a gradual growth in research and tourism, with the Norwegian Institute for Air Research an early agent. Cultural heritage became an area of focus from the 1980s and from 1992 the authorities permitted foreign research institutions to establish permanent stations in town.

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Markus Eichenbergen

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