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The polar bear kingdom of Svalbard

During the winter, the darkness of the long Arctic night envelops the unspoiled Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, but we've got a gallery of lovely 'summer' pictures for you to enjoy – with plenty of ice and snow!

At the far limits of Europe, set in the Arctic Ocean, midway between Norway and the North Pole, lies the archipelago of Svalbard, a wild and unspoiled wonderland of white. Over half the area is covered by glaciers and permanent snow, and the wildlife of the Arctic roams a kingdom of ice almost untouched by man.

The long Arctic night takes over in winter, but in the summer months it's possible to take a boat and discover the local fauna – polar bears a speciality – the icy landscapes and numerous protected areas. Here you'll find the Austfonna – the largest glacier in Norway and one of the largest in the world; you can explore the coal mines, visit the world seed store or take a trip to the only three inhabited islands: Spitbergen, Bjornoya and Hopen. This remote archipelago, whose name means "cold coast", is a major centre for scientific research bases and offers the chance of an unforgettable experience as you journey in exploration of its imposing natural wonders.


Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Summertime is the best season to visit the Svalbard archipelago and maybe even take a dip in the icy waters / © Jens Henrik Nybo / Innovation Norway 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Over half the area of this white wonderland is covered by glaciers and permanent snow / © Jens Henrik Nybo / Innovation Norway 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
The Austfonna is Norway's biggest glacier, and one of the biggest in the world / © Jens Henrik Nybo / Innovation Norway 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
In Poolepynten visitors can get up close to the walruses / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Atlantic walruses gorge themselves on the clams that grow on the shallow shelf of the Barents Sea / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
One of the best ways to see the fauna of this remote archipelago is to take a cruise round the islands / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
An armed guide is present for all outdoor activities as a precautionary measure against the polar bears getting too close / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Bjornoya - Bear Island - is half way between North Cape and Spitzbergen / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Even in summer, the visitor to Svalbard finds himself surrounded by a landscape of icy mountains / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
The unsullied natural habitat of the Svalbard archipelago makes the area very important, and many of the 3,000 inhabitants are engaged in scientific research / © Trekking & Aventura 

Svalbard archipelago, Norway
The only way to get around is by boat, and the sea is often icebound and impassable in winter / © Trekking & Aventura 

Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago
Around half of the 3,000 polar bears who inhabit the Barents Sea rear their young on the remote islands / © Eva Rodriguez-Viajes Tuareg 

Polar bear, Svalbard archipelago
Polar bears are the iconic monarchs of this icy kingdom where reindeer and arctic foxes also live 

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