Longyearbyen, the seat of the Governor of Svalbard, is located in a narrow valley along the shores of Adventfjorden a small tributary of Isfjord, the largest fjord system in Svalbard. It extends 100 kilometers (60 miles) into the island of Spitsbergen. Nine large tidewater glaciers, with a combined ice-front of 21 kilometers (13 miles), as well as dozens hanging glaciers drain into the fjord.
The town’s 2,100 inhabitants exist in one of the most northern settlements on Earth, making their living by a combination of coal mining, education and tourism. Because of the town’s extreme isolation, proximity to wildlife, and Svalbard’s pristine environment, unique laws exist that are found in few other places. All individuals venturing outside of town are required to carry a rifle for protection against polar bears, possessing a cat is illegal, no one is allowed to be buried here and how much alcohol can be purchased each month is restricted.
Longyearbyen was named after the American industrialist John Longyear whose Arctic Coal Company began mining here in 1906.