More foreigners on Svalbard

LongyearbyenLongyearbyen in Svalbard.Photo:svalbardblues.com

The proportion of foreigners who work in Svalbard has tripled in ten years. This could weaken Norwegian sovereignty on the archipelago.

In 2009, the proportion of foreigners who worked in Svalbard and Ny-Ålesund was 15%. According to new figures from the tax office in Longyearbyen and the Governor, the share has now risen to 36% TV 2 reported.

Today there are about 2,900 inhabitants of Svalbard. In the past ten years, there has been a decrease in the number of ethnic Norwegians by 12%.

‘’I think there is a lot we need to look at when it comes to Svalbard. We will be presenting our own strategy this year,” said Anniken Hauglie of Høyre (H), Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

She has just visited the island to hear about the challenges they face.

People from 52 nations are registered on the archipelago. Most people work in cleaning and in the restaurant and service industries. Many come as seasonal workers for shorter or longer periods.

A heavy Norwegian presence is important for Norway’s sovereignty since it is Norway that is “owner” and “driver” on Svalbard. That there are fewer Norwegians on the island is worrying Haugli admitted.

‘’The Svalbard policy is important to us. We have interests to safeguard there and a large Norwegian settlement is one of the means of securing them,’’ she told TV 2.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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