Special Report

The Northernmost Town in the World

The northernmost place in the world is the North Pole, also called the Geographic or Terrestrial North Pole or the True North Pole. The earth sits on its axis at this point on the globe. Additionally, there is the North Magnetic Pole, which moves slightly every year, but is currently about 310 miles south of the True North Pole. (Can you answer these real “Jeopardy!” clues about the Earth?)

Neither Pole has a permanent population, so one must go further south to find places that are inhabited permanently – and among those, the northernmost town in the world is Ny-Ålesund, on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

A common assumption about “north” revolves around the impression that it always means “cold.” That assumption has been undermined by the fact that one area of the Arctic recently reported a temperature of 100º F. Eventually, the ice cap at the top of the world may get so small as to be inconsequential. (Temperatures will doubtless be rising in America, too, even in the coldest towns in every state.)

To determine the northernmost towns in the world, 24/7 Tempo examined several sets of data. Among the distinctions that must be made is what constitutes a town and what constitutes a city. The southernmost city in the world, Puerto Williams, at the tip of Chile close to the Antarctic. is called a city by the Chilean government though it has only 2,874 inhabitants.

Click here to see the northernmost towns in the world

None of the northernmost towns in the world claim a similar distinction. All are considered towns or hamlets, and one, Pyramiden in Svalbard – located on an archipelago almost as far north as people can travel in Norway – is actually an abandoned Soviet mining camp with no businesses other than a tourist hotel, whose staff comprise the only permanent residents.

The northernmost town in the world, however, is Ny-Ålesund, also in Svalbard. It only has 35 residents, most of whom are researchers and scientists. It was founded in 1917 as a coal-mining center. According to The World Atlas, “Kings Bay, an office of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, owns and operates the settlement making sure the infrastructure functions correctly.”