Barentsburg is the only Russian settlement on Svalbard. Photo: Thomas Nilsen(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Russia is increasing its presence on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. In course of the last two years the number of inhabitants in the Russian settlement of Barentsburg has gone up with more than 27 percent.
Barentsburg is the fastest growing settlement on Svalbard, which has a total population of approximately 2700 persons. By the end of 2012, 471 persons were living in Barentsburg, according to the Governor of Svalbard’s annual report. This is 101 more than by the end of 2010.
The number of inhabitants in Longyearbyen is also increasing. By December 31 2012 there were 2090 persons living in the town, 6 percent more than two years ago.
The increased Russian activity on Svalbard is connected to more scientific research and cooperation with research institutions. There are plans to develop tourism to Barentsburg and even to open a beer brewery in the village.
Barentsburg has undergone several visible changes during the last couple of years. The hotel, the mess, the hospital and the mining administration building have all been renovated. One of the apartment buildings have been fully renovated and 70-80 high-standard family apartments are ready for people to move in.
The number of Russians with permanent residence on Svalbard is of course nothing compared to the Soviet period. In 1990 there were 2407 persons living in Barentsburg.