The Northernmost Cities And Towns Of The World

The town centre of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
The town centre of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

When most people think of their dream home location, they likely think of a tropical beach house. But for many, home is in a land of constant winter conditions such as cold temperatures, ice, and snow. Lifestyles are different in the far reaches of the northern hemisphere where summers mean 24 hours of daylight and winters mean 24 hours of darkness. Vegetation is sparse in these locations and mainly consists of herbs, grasses, mosses, and lichens. The frozen soil does not permit plants with deeper root systems. Since the conditions are not ideal for crops, food typically comes from wildlife and ocean fish. The industry in these areas is based on mineral resources and oil and natural gas deposits. Below, this article takes a look at life in the northernmost cities and towns in the world.

Life in the Northernmost Cities and Towns


The four northernmost towns are all located in Norway, the farthest of which is Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago. Founded in 1917 as a coal mining town, today, it serves as a research base for around 35 people. Kings Bay, an office of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, owns and operates the settlement making sure the infrastructure functions correctly. Most of the researchers focus on environmental and atmospheric issues. Their lives are confined to the settlement because roads only exist within its borders; their only option is to use snowmobiles.


With an even smaller population, Pyramiden in Svalbard, Norway is the next most northern town. At any given time, between 4 and 15 people live here although it once had around 1,000 residents. Like Ny-Ålesund, this settlement was founded as a coal mining community and ownership changed hands in 1927 when it was sold to Russia (then-Soviet Union). Today it is owned by Arktikugol, a Russian coal mining company who employs the residents to perform maintenance and upkeep on the buildings.


The first town on the list with a significant population size is Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway. Around 2,075 people live here and enjoy educational services, churches, cultural facilities, transportation infrastructure, air service, and public safety services. This settlement also began as a coal mining town although mining operations have since nearly stopped. In the 1990’s, the locality went through a process to make it more like a traditional town rather than a mining company encampment. A significant percentage of residents, around 23%, moved away in the early 2000’s, presumably because of the difficulty of life so far north.


The next town is also the last in Norway. Barentsburg in Svalbard has a population of 470. Russia and Norway operate mining endeavors here which was the reason for the town’s establishment in the 1920’s. Today, residents rely on Russia for food and currency. At times, Russia hasn’t sent sufficient food rations, and the neighbors in Longyearbyen have sent emergency help. The two settlements are close to each other but are not connected by roadways. To reach each other, people must go by boat, helicopter, or snowmobile. To say that life here is secluded would be an understatement.

Other Cities/Towns

Other towns and cities located in the northernmost parts of the world are all located in Greenland, Canada, and Russia. These countries are all known for their northern locations and arctic-like conditions. None of them has a population as large as Longyearbyen in Norway.

Tourism Opportunities

Many tourists search for remote locations to “get away” from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Other travelers are wildlife enthusiasts and those searching for pristine natural surrounding. Still, others are tired of lounging on sandy beaches and hoping for a unique vacation escape. All of this can be found in the world’s northernmost cities. Even the smallest and most remote of these locations, Pyramiden, offers a hotel with a small museum. Tourist facilities are not very developed however so only the most adventurous of travelers should attempt a visit. Many of these towns are hoping to develop their tourism industry as a way to supplement and enhance the economy.

The Northernmost Cities And Towns Of The World

1Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Norway3578°55′30″N 011°55′20″E
2Pyramiden (Russian), Svalbard, Norway4–1578°39′22″N 016°19′30″E
3Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway2,07578°13′00″N 015°33′00″E
4Barentsburg (Russian), Svalbard, Norway47078°04′00″N 014°13′00″E
5Qaanaaq, Greenland, Denmark65677°29′N 69°20′W
6Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island, Canada13076°25′N 82°53′W
7Resolute, Cornwallis Island, Canada22974°41′N 094°49′W
8Dikson, Russia67673°30′N 80°31′E
9Arctic Bay, Baffin Island, Canada82373°02′11″N 085°09′09″W
10Upernavik, Greenland, Denmark1,18272°47′N 56°09′W

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