The mountainous Norway is bordered in the north by the Arctic Ocean and lies at approximately the same latitude as Alaska, and is thus subjected to an oceanic polar climate.
About one-third of its lands lie beyond the 66th Parallel, including its northern extremity, Jan Mayen Island and the Svalbard Archipelago.
Officially annexed to the Norwegian territory in 1929, Jan Mayen Island was discovered more than 400 years ago by Dutch whalers. Measuring only 377 km2, it is in fact a volcano that emerged from the Arctic Ocean several thousand years ago.
Virtually uninhabited, it is used as a meteorological base for Norway, which has possessed installations there since 1921.
The Svalbard Archipelago, on the other hand, is a region of complex politics. Although under the administration of Norway since 1920, its islands can be freely inhabited and occupied by other nations.
With its 61,022 km2, the Archipelago is covered in the vast majority by ice, and ranks among the most northerly lands of the planet. Barely 3,000 souls live here, mainly on coal mining, fishing and scientific research.
Norway plays a particularly important role in the Arctic, as it is the guardian of several important access seaways. Furthermore, the Norwegian Polar Institute has earned international recognition on scientific research on polar territories.
Favoring the economic and social development of its Arctic islands, this Scandinavian country nevertheless is prepared for all eventualities and specially trains its army for any confrontations which might arise in the Arctic.
Norwegian Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage, Fridtjof Nansen explored Greenland, and Otto Sverdrup discovered islands in the Canadian Arctic - which he claimed for Norway and then sold back to Canada.
Today, Norway hosts the Arctic Council secretariat in Tromsø as well as many other international Arctic institutions secretariats, including APECS and CliC project Office.