In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Svalbard (also known as Spitsbergen), a small polar archipelago off the northern coast of Norway. Svalbard is by far the most northerly place we’ve covered on the show, lying roughly midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, around 580 miles (930 km) north of Tromsø, Norway. The archipelago consists of nine main islands, the main island being Spitsbergen, which makes up over half of the land area. In total, Svalbard has a land area of around 24,209 square miles (62,700 square km), making it similar in size to Sri Lanka or the US state of West Virginia. There are only 2,500 permanent residents here, most of whom live in the main city of Longyearbyen. First settled as an arctic whaling base in the 17th century, the islands later saw the establishment of coal mining towns, but in recent years Svalbard’s main economic lifeline has been tourism and arctic research, both of which have boomed recently. Due to its extreme northern latitude, in the summer, the sun does not set on Svalbard for 4 months, while in the winter the archipelago goes weeks without any sunlight at all. Svalbard is also notable for being home to the Global Seed Vault, while as of 2012, all residents must carry a gun while travelling outside an established settlement, in case they encounter one of the many polar bears that live nearby.
Thanks to Dr Ciaran McDonough (@metamedievalist), Sonja Murto, Aengus Ó Maoláin and Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling) for talking to us about their first-hand experiences visiting or living in Svalbard. They were invaluable to giving us a full picture of the place.
Pack ice at Svalbard – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
Nesting birds – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
Arctic fox – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
Svalbard reindeer – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
The Svalbard coast – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
Mountains in Svalbard – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
A polar bear in Svalbard – photo by Roxana Cremer (@cloudcycling on Instagram)
The northernmost statue of Vladimir Lenin, at Pyramiden – photo by Aengus Ó Maoláin
It’s a long way from anywhere! Signposts – photo by Aengus Ó Maoláin
Some further reading:
More on the Pomors, believed to be some of the earliest inhabitants of this region can be found here.
“Elegy for the Arctic” by Ludovico Einaudi is a very striking video made by Greenpeace showing the condition of the arctic ice around Svalbard as a result of climate change, which is well worth a watch.
In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Faroe Islands, an autonomous group of islands in the North East Atlantic. Home to almost 50,000 people and with historical links to Denmark, Faroe Islands is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark, but has a distinct culture all of its own, in part due to their isolation and remoteness from the Danish mainland (and pretty much everywhere else also.)
The Faroe Islands have probably been inhabited since approximately 300 AD onwards according to archaeological evidence, but the first full settlement was established by legendary figure Grimur Kamban. The Faroe Althing, may be the oldest parliament in the world if, as thought, it was established in approximately 900AD. Faroe Islands were occupied by the British during World War 2 in order to prevent invasion by Nazi Germany. Fishing has always been a mainstay of the economy and advances in technology versus depleted fishing stocks have had opposing impacts on the fragile fortunes of the archipelago.
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In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we return to the north of North America and explore Newfoundland, a Canadian island in the North Atlantic.At over 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 sq mi), Newfoundland is the world’s 16th-largest island, and Cape Spear, just south of the capital, St Johns, is the easternmost point of North America, excluding Greenland. Newfoundland has long been a sparsely populated and harsh land, with residents traditionally relying heavily on fishing to survive. The area has a significant Gaelic heritage, with strong connections to Ireland and Britain. Modern-day Newfoundland has a population of just under half a million, and is the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Table of Contents:
[01:57] Early history – indigenous peoples and pushy Catholics
[09:00] Eric the Red – bad egg/ass
[13:00] Soil update – no codding you
[20:10] As usual the British turn up
[25:40] 80 Days Guest Dr Philip Hiscock – with some local knowledge
[30:00] The French arrive and shrug disinterestedly
[41:54] Beothuk people try to avoid conflict… uh oh
[47:40] Census, politics and telegraphy
[54:11] World wars, & reluctant Canadification
[1:09:06] I’m here from the government and I’m here to help (resettlement, cod & seals)
[1:20:24] 9/11 “We’re diverting you to Newfoundland. All of you.”
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
Thanks this week to Dr Jenn Jones and Jeffrey Doker, who backed our Kickstarter campaign. Your t-shirts should be on their way to you already. Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on http://www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code – just listen in to the episode for exact details.