Saturday, June 23, 2007

You Can Check Out Anytime I Want

The Arctic archipelago of Svalbard has become a haven for immigrants,
because an unusual treaty says they do not need a visa or permit to work and
live there ... Longyearbyen is Svalbard's biggest settlement and has about 1,800 residents...The treaty was signed by World War I victors in Paris in 1920. It gave sovereignty over Svalbard to Norway, conditional on there being no barrier to entry...Longyearbyen, named after John Munro Longyear, the American coal miner who founded the town in 1906, lies in a glacial valley on the edge of a fjord. It now has a university, hospital, school and hotels, restaurants and shops. East Europeans also live and work in Longyearbyen and the pizzeria is run by Iranian brothers. In all, there are about 25 nationalities living in the town...But there are two hitches to Svalbard life - the weather, temperatures in winter can fall to -40C, and limited social services. The governor has the right to throw people off the island if they cause trouble or cannot find work or accommodation. (al Jazeera English, ATSRTWT)

(nod to KL, who got thrown off the island LONG ago)