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Svalbard is both larger and further north than most people realise. The archipelago is located about halfway between Tromso and the North Pole. The name Svalbard means "cold coast", and the first written mention of the archipelago appears in 12th century Icelandic texts. The name Svalbard refers to the group of islands stretching from Bjornoya in the south to Rossoya in the north that represent Europe's northernmost point at over 80 degrees north.
Even though people have been visiting Svalbard for years, it was not until 1990 that the Norwegian authorities permitted general tourism.