Ny-Ålesund is located in the middle of Kongsfjorden, about 100 km north of Longyearbyen. This small, beautifully situated settlement with about 30 inhabitants (in summer increasing its number to 150 – scientists from 15 countries) is often referred to as the northern end of civilization. Everything is “the northernmost” here. In total, there are 60 buildings – the northernmost post office, a few hotels, a local historical museum, a cafe, a souvenir shop.
Ny-Ålesund also has its own marina and a landing field for small aircraft. It has also been an international arctic research centre and environmental monitoring centre since 1964. Currently, Ny-Ålesund is also a tourist center. Every year about 20,000 tourists visit this place.
Coal Deposits, the North Pole Expeditions and International Research Stations
The settlement developed after the discovery of coal deposits and the construction of a mine in 1917. Coal was mined for 45 years, with a break during the World War II. The production was very large, however, the mining conditions were difficult and despite modernisation, the safety of the entire project was often questioned. The mining ended with a tragic accident in 1962, in which 21 miners were killed and the prime minister of Norway was forced to resign from his position. Currently, you can see many remains from this period.
Ny-Ålesund was also the starting point for many historical expeditions to reach the North Pole. In the 1920s Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, Umberto Nobile and Lincoln Ellsworth stayed here. Amundsen's trip ended with a success in 1926, when together with Nobile and Ellsworth he reached the north pole on his airship Norge.
In Ny-Ålesund there are research stations of scientists from 15 countries. Because many experiments are carried out just outside the settlement, visitors are asked to walk only on roads and set trails. For this reason, there are no cellular networks or WiFi here, and for visitors the access to civilization is provided by a small, single-person booth with a small desk, a chair, an electric fire and a cable with the Internet.