The History of Svalbard - Timeline

A systematic history of Spitsbergen/Svalbard in timeline format and a work in progress. From whaling, hunting/trapping, exploration, science and tourism. Created by Arctic Nature Guide students on Svalbard based on the UNIS History of Svalbard course.

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The History of Svalbard - Timeline by Mind Map: The History of Svalbard - Timeline

1. Russian & Norwegian Hunting & Trapping

1.1. The Pomors (From the 12th Century onwards.

1.1.1. "Pomory" meaning people living near the sea

1.1.2. Came from the white sea

1.1.3. Small communities with focus on farming, fishing, hunting and trade

1.1.4. Especially sea mammals where hunted They followed prey into the arctic

1.1.5. Archeologist V.F Starkov claims that the pomors where here before Barentz in middle of 16th century.

1.1.6. Evidence of Pomor activity can be found all over Svalbard

1.1.7. Pomors hunted and travelled both in the winter and summer months

1.1.8. Several recorded wintering have taken place.

1.1.9. Hunting in winters focused mostly on land dwelling animals and birds. Hopefully they were picked up in the summer!

1.1.10. Little is known about the organization of Pomor hunting on Svalbard Activity might have peaked right before the 18th century The last expedition might have been in 1852

1.1.11. It's hard to say why the Pomors decided to stop coming to Svalbard. Theories include: Structural changes in Pomor economy Depletion of resources Focus on fishing More farming More trade

1.2. Norwegians 1820 ->

1.2.1. Northern Norway was very late in picking up hunting and trapping on Svalbard

1.2.2. Hammerfest was the first town to engage around 1820

1.2.3. Then Tromsø became the leading port around 1850

1.2.4. Many accidents early on forced Norwegians to focus on summer expeditions.

1.2.5. Sealing in the West Ice was a economically more important activity. The ice between Jan Mayen and Greenland, north of Iceland

1.2.6. Svalbard played a modest economic role.

1.2.7. From the 1890s winter trapping picked up again. Usually in small parties consisting of about 4-5 men

1.2.8. In practice, Svalbard was divided up into about 40 different "hunting grounds" in order to reduce competition.

1.2.9. Common practice was for merchants on the mainland to outfit parties and in return secured some of the catch.

1.2.10. Widespread poverty and unemployment in the 1920-30s could have made Svalbard seem like an attractive option.

1.2.11. 60% of winterers i 1895-1941 spent only 1 season on Svalbard 6% women

1.3. Depletion

1.3.1. Hunting and trapping took a toll on the wildlife on Svalbard

1.3.2. Reindeer became scarce and were protected in 1925.

1.3.3. A regulation regime was slow in coming

1.3.4. In 1970 a quota regime was introduced. Before that hundreds of bears and foxes where killed every year. Ironically, only a handful, about 1/4 of the catch was attributed to the wintering hunters and trappers.

2. 1194

2.1. The "Viking" Theory

2.1.1. Sval-Bard = Cold Edge?

2.1.2. Svalbard was renamed because of this theory

3. 2000

3.1. 2002

3.1.1. Svalbard Environment Law

3.1.2. Establishment of Longyearbyen Lokalstyre (Local Council)

3.2. 2007-08

3.2.1. International Polar Year

4. 2010

4.1. 2015

4.1.1. Spitsbergen Travel AS becomes a part of Hurtigruten AS

4.2. 2017

4.2.1. 39,800km2 of land and sea-area protected

5. 1500

5.1. Maps and geographical knowledge improve

5.2. Fats and oils needed i Europe

5.3. 1520

5.3.1. Beginning of Basque whaling in Labrador

5.4. 1550

5.4.1. Pomors on Svalbard? Archaologist V.F. Starkov has dated timber in Pomor sites on Svalbard to mid 16th century

5.5. 1553

5.5.1. Hugh Willowby discovers Svalbard? A journal from the expedition describes land Found by Russians and sent to England

5.6. 1558

5.6.1. Mercator published Area of the Arctic The north pole as a big black rock with 4 channels

5.7. 1580

5.7.1. Whale stock was low in Labrador and the Basque needed new hunting grounds.

5.7.2. Still a growing need for oils in Europe

5.8. 1590s

5.8.1. William Barentz' expeditions in 1594-97 In search of the Northeast passage With 2 ships lead by Rijp and Heemskerk Found Spitsbergen on June 17th 1596 The expedition continues to the Northeastern coast of Nova Zemlya where the ship gets icebound. The expedition is forced to winter on the island

6. 1600

6.1. 1604

6.1.1. British begin hunting for Walrus on Bear Island (Bjørnøya)

6.2. 1606

6.2.1. Mercator's and Hondius' Map of the Arctic is published

6.3. 1611

6.3.1. Marks the beginning of whaling in Spitsbergen waters British pioneered Followed by Dutch, Basques and Danes A period often described as the "Company Period" Chartered companies were granted privileges by national authorities.

6.4. 1612

6.4.1. British claim that Hugh Willowby discovers Svalbard as a tactic to claim whaling rights.

6.5. 1618

6.5.1. British and Dutch whalers divide Svalbard amongst themselves Dutch focus their activity in Northwest Spitsbergen The British stayed in the south, occupying harbours and fjords. Other nations was left to compete for less attractive hunting grounds.

6.6. 1640

6.6.1. Land-stations developed and whaling is still concentrated around the Northwestern and Southern parts of Spitsbergen, as well as on Edgeøya.

6.7. 1642

6.7.1. The Dutch abolish their "Noordsche Comagnie" Opens up the hunting grounds for private enterprise Consequently the number of actors increased significantly.

6.8. 1650

6.8.1. Marks the beginning of pelagic whaling Whalers moved into the open sea and hunted along the ice edge in the Northern Atlantic, from Cape Farewell on Southern Greenland to Spitsbergen. Some started experimenting with boiling blubber on board. Some more lucky than others.

6.9. 1680

6.9.1. End of land based whaling. Land stations was abandoned in favour of pelagic whaling A method that involved flensing of the whale alongside the ship and storing blubber for boiling later

7. 1700

7.1. 1720

7.1.1. Marks the end of the exploration era of Spitsbergen

7.2. 1760s

7.2.1. Marks the beginning of scientific exploration

7.3. 1764 & 1766

7.3.1. Vasili Yakovlevich Chichagov's expeditions The goal was to find the Northeast Passage sailing along the coast of Northern Siberia First one to actively include science into a polar expedition Organised by Mikhail Lomonosov Chichagov was put in charge of three ships, the "Chichagov", the "Panov" and the "Babayev". Both Expeditions failed to reach their goal

7.4. 1773

7.4.1. Constantine John Phipps heads north with the ships "Racehorse" & "Carcass" The ships sailed north of Spitsbergen but were prevented by fields of ice from advancing further. The "Carcass" was commanded by Skeffington Lutwidge, an admiral of the Royal Navy The goal was to reach the North Pole but the expedition also had a scientific program. Phipps brought with him Dr Charles Irving as naturalist and doctor, accompanied by Olaudah Equiano, and Israel Lyons as astronomer. Phipps was the first European to describe the polar bear and the ivory gull, which were included in his "A Voyage towards the North Pole"

8. 1800

8.1. est. 100.000 whales killed

8.2. 1820

8.2.1. Hammerfest in Norway becomes the first arctic port and Norwegian hunting picks up Some winter expeditions set out Many accidents made Norwegians focus mostly on summer expeditions

8.3. 1845

8.3.1. Captain Sir John Franklin departs from London in search for Northwest Passage Two ships: HMS "Erebus" & HMS "Terror" Ship icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island The entire expedition, 129 men + Franklin, was lost.

9. 1400

9.1. 1490s

9.1.1. Europeans start looking for the sea-route across the pole British and dutch explorations begin

10. 1900

10.1. Geology and land claim begins

10.1.1. The begginnning of coal mining and mineral exploration

10.1.2. High-time of polar exploration Media becomes interested with polar heroes and expeditions.

10.2. 1905

10.2.1. Union of Sweden and Norway dissolves Norway begins to lobby for sovereignty of Spitsbergen.

10.3. 1905-08

10.3.1. The British Spitsbergen Coal and Trading Company is established. Established "Advent City" Later moved to Hiorthamn

10.4. 1905-15

10.4.1. Arctic Coal Company Only stable coal company on the island 50,000 tons/year Employed 200-300 people In the end sold to Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani

10.5. 1909

10.5.1. Robert Peary claims to have reached the North Pole on April 6th. Accompanied by Matthew Henson and four Inuit men

10.5.2. Peary's claim remains highly disputed and controversial.

10.6. 1910-14

10.6.1. Svalbard conferences take place in Christiania Norway, Sweden and Russia were supposed to draft an international treaty. The was proposed a joint administration by the three states, a so called condominium No conclusion was made and the matter was put to rest. Scientists expressed concern about the excessive harvesting of natural on Svalbard and called for restrictions on hunting and land use

11. 1910

11.1. 1910-20

11.1.1. Northern Exploration Company Bought most of Ernest Manfield's land occupations Owned 10,000km2 of land Tried to mine coal, iron and marble Didn't make any money.. The signing of the Svalbard Treaty marked the end of NEC. The company goes bankrupt in 1929

11.2. 1916

11.2.1. Arctic Coal Company (ACC) was sold to Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK)

11.3. 1919

11.3.1. Paris Peace Conference Questions of sovereignty was raised Russia was not invited.

11.4. 1910

11.4.1. Pyramiden (The Pyramid) is founded by Sweden Named after the neighbouring mountain "Pyramiden"

12. 1920

12.1. 1920-26

12.1.1. Anglo Russian Grumant company something builds Grumant

12.2. 1920-30s

12.2.1. Economic crisis Going to Svalbard to "try your luck" seems like a good idea.

12.3. 1920

12.3.1. The Svalbard Treaty Svalbard is a part of Norway The treaty establishes Norway's full and undivided sovereignty over Svalbard. Non-discrimination Citizens and companies from all treaty nations enjoy the same right of access to and residence in Svalbard Taxation Taxes collected can only benefit Svalbard. Military restrictations No military installation can be built on Svalbard Environment conservation Norway have sole responsibility to protect Svalbard's natural environment

12.4. 1925

12.4.1. The Svalbard Treaty in full effect

12.4.2. Reindeers are protected

12.4.3. Sysselmannen (The Governor) is introduced. Incorporating functions of police, as well as civil administration and government official.

12.4.4. The Svalbard Mining Code According to the Svalbard Treaty, Norway was responsible for elaborating a Mining Code for Svalbard Establishes that states that have signed the Svalbard Treaty, and legally founded companies in these countries, have the right to prospect for, extract and exploit coal, mineral oil and other minerals or rocks that can be extracted by mining. Details the legal aspects of prospecting, discovery, stakes, the relationship to the landowner, mining operations and safety at work.

12.5. 1926

12.5.1. Bird & Bennet claims to have flown to the North Pole Later questioned because of fuel consumption.

12.6. 1926

12.6.1. Nobile, Amundsen and Ellsworth does a transpolar flight in the airship "Norge" and end up in Alaska Amundsen takes all the credit Nobile is not amused

12.7. 1927

12.7.1. Nobile flies the airship "Italia" from Rome to Ny Ålesund to the North Pole. They crash on the way back towards Svalbard Amundsen dies in rescue attempt

13. 1930

13.1. 1935

13.1.1. Sysselmannen now resides permanently in Longyearbyen. Consisting of an office of 3-4 people.

13.1.2. The Soviet Union signs The Svalbard Treaty

13.2. 1931-32

13.2.1. Trust Arktikugol establish itself on Svalbard and buys Barentsburg, Pyramiden and Grumant.

14. 1940

14.1. 1941

14.1.1. Operation "Gauntlet" Allied operation with the objective to destroy the rich coal mines together with associated equipment and stores, before Nazi-Germany could make use of it. Evacuation of both Norwegian and Russian nationals. Ship traffic heading for Spitsbergen was redirected to allied territory

14.2. 1943

14.2.1. Operation "Citronella" German attack on Spitsbergen to destroy all allied weather stations. Included warships "Tirpitz" & "Scharnhorst" + 9 destroyers. Lay waste to Barentsburg, Grumant and Longyearbyen

14.3. 1944

14.3.1. Soviet foreign minister Molotov demanded an annulment of the Svalbard Treaty and expressed that the responsibility for the archipelago should be shared between Norway and the Soviet Union. The Norwegian government "begins" a redraft of the treaty to "quiet down" the Russians. Called off by the Norwegian parliament in 1947 USSR had troops of in northern Norway at the time and it was a good time for Molotov to flex his muscles.

14.4. 1945

14.4.1. The beginning of Svalbard as an international research platform.

14.5. 1946

14.5.1. Russian and Norwegians return to Svalbard to begin rebuilding USSR take over of Pyramiden from the Swedes Both countries see the importance of having a presence on Svalbard for political reasons.

14.6. 1949

14.6.1. Norway joins NATO

15. 1950

15.1. 1951

15.1.1. Svalbard is included in the NATO defence area

15.2. 1952

15.2.1. Walrus are protected

15.3. 1955

15.3.1. Geese are protected

15.3.2. Regulations for hunting and trapping established

15.4. 1957-58

15.4.1. International Geophysical Year Marked the end of the cold war. 67 countries participates Both USA and Russia launch arctic satellites

16. 1960

16.1. 1963

16.1.1. Eiders are protected

16.1.2. Coal mining in Ny-Ålesund is closed down for good

16.2. 1967–74

16.2.1. ESRO radars are established in Ny-Ålesund Russian protest Norway grants access to inspectors and Russia calms down

16.3. 1965

16.3.1. Construction of an airport in Ny-Ålesund begins. The Russians had protested the building of this airport since the idea was laid forth in 1956.

17. 1970

17.1. 1970

17.1.1. Stone-age theory is formed based on findings of flint.

17.1.2. Expansion of the Governor's office

17.1.3. Hunting quotas are introduced

17.2. 1971

17.2.1. Svalbard Council was established but had no real decisive power.

17.3. 1973

17.3.1. Polar Bears are internationally protected Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears

17.4. 1973

17.4.1. Svalbard Environmental Protection Act 2 big nature reserves 3 large protected parks are established Large number of bird sanctuaries

17.5. 1975

17.5.1. Svalbard Airport opens up

17.6. 1976

17.6.1. Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) is nationalised by Norway and is no longer private enterprise.

17.7. 1978

17.7.1. Hopen air crash incident A Russian spy-plane crash on Hopen Norway gets hold of the "Black Box" Causes tension between the two nations

18. 1980

18.1. Trawling for clams banned only after a few years.

18.2. 1988

18.2.1. Spitsbergen Travel AS

19. 1990

19.1. 1996

19.1.1. EISCAT Studies the interaction between the sun and the earth.

20. Background Information

20.1. Svalbard as a "Resource Frontier"

20.1.1. Visits from the south on a seasonal basis Exploitation and exploration

20.2. In modern times Svalbard can be described as an "Arctic colony".

20.2.1. Impact can be defined as an observable effect on or change in environment caused by activity and processes. Human processes Human harvesting of mammals has caused severe impact on the environment Natural processes What is more valuable? Unspoilt wilderness? Or cultural landscapes?

20.2.2. Human populations are growing Greater load on the environment Increased mobility Rising living standards

20.3. Polar Research

20.3.1. Multinational

20.3.2. Expensive

20.3.3. National and individual pride

20.4. Polar Exploration

20.4.1. National and individual fame

20.4.2. Usually by ship, but later by air and in the end by land/ice

21. 1880

21.1. 1882-83

21.1.1. First International Polar Year An initiative by Karl Weyprecht 12 research stations built

21.2. 1890

21.2.1. Norwegian hunting and trapping picks up speed Usually in very small parties of 3-4 people.

21.2.2. Public opinion of annexation of Spitsbergen grows positively Possibly inspired by polar hero Mr. Nansen

21.3. 1896

21.3.1. Salomon August Andrée (S.A.Andrée) Arctic Balloon Expedition Supported by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, King Oscar II and Alfred Nobel The exploration project was the subject of enormous interest and was seen as a brave and patriotic scheme The goal of the expedition was to reach the North Pole in the balloon "Ørnen" - "The Eagle" The winds never allowed Andrée and his men to begin the expedition...

21.4. 1897

21.4.1. Salomon August Andrée Arctic Balloon Expedition Andrée tries again one year after his failed mission Supported by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, King Oscar II and Alfred Nobel Andrée refuses to acknowledge early danger signs His untested "drag-rope" rudder technique The untested balloon delivered straight from Paris The fact that he had no way to actually steer the balloon Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel lifted off from Svalbard in July 1897 After 2 days the balloon crash into the pack ice

21.5. 1899

21.5.1. Søren Zachariassen of Tromsø First to make money selling coal

22. 1850

22.1. Marks the beginning of tourism

22.2. Stocks of Greenland Whale (Bowhead) are depleted and there are few to none individuals left in the waters.

22.3. Tromsø in Norway takes over as the leading arctic port.

22.3.1. Still focusing mostly on summer expeditions

22.4. Marks the beginning of Swedish hegemony/leadership/dominance

22.4.1. Nordenskiold lobbies for sovereignty for Sweden/Norway

22.5. 1852

22.5.1. Last recorded Pomor expedition to Spitsbergen

22.6. 1858-73

22.6.1. Adolf Erik Nordenskiold's expeditions in the Arctic 1861 Takes part in Otto Martin Torell's Spitsbergen expedition 1864 Leads the expedition for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1868 Nordenskiold goes furthest north in the steamer "Sofia". He get's stuck in the ice and almost wreck 1872-73 Expedition in the iron steamer "Sofia", and reached the highest northern latitude (+81° 42 min) then attained in the eastern hemisphere.

22.7. 1865

22.7.1. Captain Nils Fredrik Rønnbeck and harpooner Johan Petter Aidijärvi sails Northeast of Spitsbergen, looking for new hunting grounds. They find what is believed to be Franz Josef Land and in the diaries call it "Northeastern Spitsbergen". The two never announce their findings, trying to keep hunting grounds a secret.

22.8. 1869

22.8.1. Lamont arrives at Svalbard in the "Diana" Established the Diana mine. For personal and expedition use

22.9. 1871

22.9.1. Swedish government inquires European states whether they would object to an annexation of Spitsbergen to Norway. Approval would bring Spitsbergen under the union of Sweden and Norway The inquire was based on A.E Nordenskiold's wish to establish a colony on Kapp Thordsen Most nations didn't bother with objecting, Norway was skeptical and Russia protested heavily The initiative was then put to rest.

22.10. 1872

22.10.1. A.B Isfjorden is established as the first industrial company by Adolf Erik Nordenskiold

22.11. 1872-74

22.11.1. Austro-Hungarian North Pole expedition Lead by Karl Weyprecht and Julius von Payer The goal of the expedition was to find the Northeast passage. Secondary goal was the North Pole. Instead the expedition finds and names Franz Josef Land, which was then unclaimed territory. "Pure geographical exploration must step back in favour of 'scientific objectives'"