In 2009, Svalbard had a population of 2,753, of which 423 were Russian and Ukrainian, 10 were Polish and 322 were other non-Norwegians living in Norwegian settlements. The largest non-Norwegian groups in Longyearbyen in 2005 were from Thailand, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Germany. Svalbard is among the safest places on Earth, with virtually no crime.
Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on the archipelago, the seat of the governor and the only town to be incorporated. The town features a hospital, primary and secondary school, university, sports center with a swimming pool, library, culture center, cinema, bus transport, hotels, a bank, and several museums. The newspaper Svalbardposten is published weekly. Only a small fraction of the mining activity remains at Longyearbyen; instead, workers commute to Sveagruva (or Svea) where Store Norske operates a mine. Sveagruva is a dorm town, with workers commuting from Longyearbyen on a weekly basis.
Ny-Ålesund is a permanent settlement based entirely around research. Formerly a mining town, it is still a company town operated by the Norwegian state-owned Kings Bay. While there is some tourism at the village, Norwegian authorities limit the access to the outpost to minimize impact on the scientific work. Ny-Ålesund has a winter population of 35 and a summer population of 180. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has outposts at Bjørnøya and Hopen, with respectively ten and four people stationed. Both outposts can also house temporary research staff. Poland operates the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund, with ten permanent residents.
Barentsburg is the only remaining Russian settlement, after Pyramiden was abandoned in 1998 (although as of April 2010, a small Russian community of 15 to 20 people exists at Pyramiden, involved mainly in dismantling and transporting usable equipment to Barentsburg). A company town, all facilities are owned by Arktikugol, which operates a coal mine, although operation has been halted since 2006. In addition to the mining facilities, Arktikugol has opened a hotel and souvenir shop, catering to tourists taking day trips or hikes from Longyearbyen. The village features facilities such as a school, library, sports center, community center, swimming pool, farm and greenhouse. Pyramiden features similar facilities; both are built in typical post-World War II Soviet architectural and planning style and contain the world's two most northerly Lenin statues and other socialist realism artwork.
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“A multitude of little superfluous precautions engender here a population of deputies and sub-officials, each of whom acquits himself with an air of importance and a rigorous precision, which seemed to say, though everything is done with much silence, Make way, I am one of the members of the grand machine of state.”
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