12th January, 2021
By Andrei Tapalaga
The little gems hidden in our world are plentiful and interesting. However, there is one place on Earth that beats them all. In the small settlement named Longyearbyen in the center of Svalbard, in Norway, there are some very peculiar laws that are always followed by its 2000 citizens.
This settlement is known as the closest town to the north pole, therefore in the winter period night can last for up to four months. 120 days without natural light due to its geographical position. Besides being quite a cold place, this small town started to attract many tourists, not only for its fascinating history but also for its importance in the future of humanity.
The history behind the settlement
Longyearbyen was created as a settlement due to all the workers from the coal mine, at the time being one of the biggest coal mines in Scandinavia. Near the 2000s when the mine became depleted the workers never left, therefore they settled, creating this small town and living mainly on the land, as well as on the growing tourism.
Due to this, the people in Longyearbyen have implemented some harsh laws that to outsiders may not make sense, but to their style of life due to the extreme weather they are surrounded by, they are only logical. As the town kept evolving, more people wanted to join this quiet “end of the world,” not only for the simple lifestyle, but also for the long and dark winters which may seem somber, but that are actually really beautiful.
Not allowed to die or give life
Two very extreme laws made by the people living in Longyearbyen are not being allowed to die nor to give birth. The reason why you are not allowed to die in the settlement is that you cannot bury someone in snow as they will decompose very slowly. This would attract polar bears that are one of the biggest dangers to the settlers. Therefore, in case someone is feeling very ill to the point where they might die, they will be sent to the Southern side of Norway to be given better medication or in the worst case bury the person.
The second law of not being allowed to give birth in the settlement is because the settlement does not have a maternity due to its small population. In order to avoid any risks during labor, they highly recommend that the person that is pregnant will go to the closest city or town that has a maternity. Once again, to avoid any unnecessary death.
Another interesting law that does actually make more sense is that cats are not allowed in the settlement. This is because cats could hunt the birds in the settlement, making them extinct. So rather than taking a unnecessary risk, they avoid it. Living in such an extreme place you must take the least amount of risks as possible if you want to survive.
Something else that is very interesting and quite attractive to tourists is the seed bank that has been created in the place of the old coal mine. The seed bank has been created to protect most types of plants that have been discovered and some which are extinct. The bank at the moment holds over 800,000 seeds of different types and the number is increasing. This bank has been created in case a natural catastrophe happens in the future, or even a nuclear war.
*Andrei Tapalaga wrote this in Medium