History of Svalbard


History of Svalbard

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At the beginning of the 20th century, American, British, Swedish, Russian and Norwegian companies started coal mining. Norway's sovereignty was recognized by the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 with an addition that limited military use of Svalbard and that the other nations retained the rights to their settlements; five years later Norway officially took over the territory. Some historians claim that Norway was given sovereignty as compensation for its Merchant Fleet losses during WW I, when the Norwegian Merchant fleet played an important role supplying the UK. Only Norwegian and Russian settlements survived World War II.

From the late 1940s to the early 1980s the geology of the Svalbard archipelago was investigated by teams from Cambridge University and other universities (e.g., Oxford University), led by Cambridge geologist W. Brian Harland. Many of the geographical features of the isles are named after the participants in these expeditions, or were given names by them linked to places in Cambridge (see [http://miljo.npolar.no/placenames/pages/searchE.asp Norwegian Polar Institute] ).


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