Longyearbyen is the prime settlement on Svalbard and its capital. It has only 1,700 residents. The settlement was founded in 1906 by John Munroe Longyear, "Byen" is Norwegian for "the city". Until the early 1990s the coal mining industry was the chief employer in Longyearbyen. The daily life surrounded only around the mining business. Today, the community offers a wide range of activities and services. There is a swimming hall, a big sports hall, a grocery store, three pubs, three hotels, several tourists shops, and one night club. In general, the population of Longyearbyen is rather young, with many small children. The opening of Longyearbyen airport in 1975 added a new component to tourism. New lodging opportunities have sprung up in Longyearbyen which tallies about 20,000 travel-related overnight stays per year.
A high percentage of the tourists come in the spring and summer. The spring is very prevalent since Spitsbergen is one of the few places in Norway where you can drive a snowmobile in the territory without special authorization.
From February until November several tour operators provide a wide range of guided trips. This is the world's most northern settlement which is easily reached so that itself is a tourist attraction.
Visit the Gallery Svalbard it displays a number of artworks made by Kare Tveter featuring wonderful Svalbard motifs. The gallery also houses a unique map and book collection; the Svalbard Collection. Thomas Widerberg has photographed and put together a collage of pictures called Arctic Light Over Svalbard.
Or you can visit the Svalbard Church. The Svalbard Church is used for a magnitude of other activities. A huge and peaceful fireplace lounge in the church is open a couple of evenings a week. Both concerts and lectures are offered from time to time in the church grounds.