Svalbard, Spitsbergen is a land of contrasts. An outpost in the high
arctic wilderness, it is home to advanced high-tech operations. While polar
bears roam the provincial capital Longyear (Longyearbyen), close by the
satellite ground station complex “Svalsat” is host to NASA, ESA and the
Japanese Space Agency. More recently (2008) the Global Seed Vault was
constructed in Longyear’s permafrost, a secure storage facility designed to
preserve examples of the Earth’s plant seeds. Coal mining and fishing have
been Svalbard’s major industries for decades.