THIS tiny town is home to one of the world’s best preserved natural areas – featuring breath-taking ice caves, glaciers, and diverse wildlife.
But, the town is also home to a set of stringent and strange laws.
This is Longyearbyen, the glacial town on the island of Svalbard where polar bears, reindeer, caribou and birds have thrived.
One of the town’s residents, Cecilia Blomdahl says that: “The nature here is so overwhelmingly beautiful that it’s also terrifying at times.
“But it’s not only the nature that makes this place incredible it’s also the people.
“Since basically nobody’s born here on Svalbard, it means that everyone who lives here has made the choice to do.
“That means that you have a village full of pretty like-minded people with a passion for where they live.”
As a result, the islanders have adopted some seemingly strange regulations to protect their wildlife.
Due to the variety of birds on the island, including the likes of puffins and Arctic terns, no cats are allowed to enter.
Another law says that islanders must carry a gun with them at all times.
This 2012 law was enacted to ensure that anyone who was travelling outside of the main settlements could protect themselves from possible polar bear attacks.
The number of polar bears on the island is estimated to be over 3,000, compared to a seemingly meagre number of 2,500 humans – but attacks have been rare.
Only five such incidents have been reported on the island in the last few decades.
The law specifies that it is prohibited to use a weapon within the settlements, however. Many of the island’s public places have clearly marked signs reading “no firearms permitted”.
Legend also says that it is illegal to die in this tiny town.
However, the law actually only prohibits the burying of bodies in the town – as the freezing conditions will never allow for decomposition.
There is a cemetery on the island, but it stopped accepting new bodies in 1950s.
Legend has it that a handful of Norwegian miners were buried there in 1918 before their bodies were dug up 70 years later.
They are understood to be so well preserved that their systems still contained traces of a flu virus that killed them.
And on February 9, the Norwegian Government announced that they would be tightening their already strict regulations on the island.
“We are now tightening the environmental regulations in Svalbard to strengthen the protection of flora and fauna,” said the Minister of Climate and Environment, Andreas Bjelland Eriksen.
The new laws prohibit the use of unmanned drones, the use of snowmobiles on sea ice, and sea motor traffic must stay at least 150m away from walruses.
Some 60 per cent of the island is covered by glaciers, and visitors to the area have also been warned against breaking ice.
Local resident Blomdahl added that: “Living on Svalbard isn’t the easiest task, but it is very rewarding.”
Longyearbyern was first settled in 1906, and is one of the few places left in the world that you can move to without a visa.
Even though Svalbard has been owned by Norway since 1920, residents don’t need a visa from the EU – which is great news for Brits.