The Svalbard Archipelago is the northernmost territory of Europe outside of Russia and the gateway to the Arctic. Only sparsely inhabited by humans, mostly for commercial reasons, the Svalbard islands represent a largely pristine, if very frozen, wilderness. Because of this it is one of the best places anywhere to view Arcitc wildlife, especially Norway’s most popular native residents, the majestic Polar Bear.
Svalbard had no indigenous human population, but may have been explored as early as the Middle Ages. Throughout its history only a relatively small number of people inhabited the islands, largely in the whaling and mining industries. Because of this most of the area on the islands is largely untouched wilderness. During the 20th century, Norway established over two dozen parks and nature reserves in Svalbard to protect the wildlife there.
The islands of Svalbard are home to a wide variety of Arctic life, both land and marine. Species of Polar Bear, Reindeer and Arctic Fox roam the parks of the region. The nearby seas are full of magnificent marine animals that once attracted whalers and other hunters but now which swim freely, including whales and seals. Svalbard is also one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of a walrus.
The Svalbard Archipelago is exgtremely remote, being located seven hundred miles off the coast of Norway and more than two thousand miles from Oslo. The islands are must be reached by plane or boat, and once there the wilderness areas are extremely inaccessible. The parks throughout the islands are generally open sites. Web: www.svalbard.net (official tourism website of Svalbard).