Barentsburg is the only inhabited Russian mining settlement in Spitsbergen. It is located in the east of Gronfjorden, 55 km south of Longyearbyen. As there are no roads between the villages, you can only get there by snow scooter, helicopter or ship.
The name of the village comes from a Dutch sailor Willem Barents, who was the first to discover Svalbard.
The first houses were built here by the Norwegians in 1912. Then the estate was sold to the Dutch company, and the town gained its current name. Since 1932, the village has been in the Russian hands and a government company Arktikugol (i.e. the polar coal).
In the 1960s till 1980s, getting a job here was a 'dream come true' for many Russians. The work was well paid, the employees used the facilities available here - a sports center and a cultural center. Food imported from the continent was tasty and most importantly - free. Some products such as vegetables, milk, meat or eggs were produced locally. However, there have been a few incidents here which have discouraged many potential employees from working here. The most famous one was the plane crash of an airplane carrying 141 people to Barentsburg, which crashed in Longyearbyen in 1996. A year later, there was a large fire in a mine, in which 23 people perished. In total 47 people have died here since 1989.
In its best time, the town had a population of about 1000 people. However currently there are about 400 inhabitants, including 30 children. The only residents are mining families. There are several public buildings on the site, such as a school, a hospital, a sports center, a textile factory, a hotel, and even a souvenir shop. It sounds ordinary, but the true explorers will soon discover that the school has only three teachers for... three students, a hospital - two doctors - a dentist and a surgeon, and the hotel is totally empty.
The whole city makes quite a gloomy and depressing impression. Many buildings are damaged and shabby-looking. The characteristic Soviet style is prevailing here. In the centre, of course, there is a stone bust of Lenin and on a nearby hill, like in Hollywood, there is a proud inscription "Miru Mir", meaning "world peace."