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Svalbard Government Profile 2017

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Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: Svalbard (sometimes referred to as Spitsbergen, the largest island in the archipelago)
etymology: 12th century Norse accounts speak of the discovery of a "Svalbard" - literally "cold shores" - but they may have referred to Jan Mayen Island or eastern Greenland; the archipelago was traditionally known as Spitsbergen, but Norway renamed it Svalbard in the 1920s when it assumed sovereignty of the islands
Dependency statusterritory of Norway; administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice, through a governor (sysselmann) residing in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen; by treaty (9 February 1920) sovereignty was awarded to Norway
Government type
Capitalname: Longyearbyen
geographic coordinates: 78 13 N, 15 38 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Independencenone (territory of Norway)
Legal systemthe laws of Norway where applicable apply; only the laws of Norway made explicitly applicable to Svalbard have effect there; the Svalbard Act and the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, and certain regulations, apply only to Svalbard; the Spitsbergen Treaty and the Svalbard Treaty grants certain rights to citizens and corporations of signatory nations; as of May 2016, 43 nations had ratified the Svalbard Treaty
Citizenshipsee Norway
Executive branchchief of state: King HARALD V of Norway (since 17 January 1991)
head of government: Governor Kjerstin ASKHOLT (since 1 October 2015); Assistant Governor Berit SAGFOSSEN (since April 2016)
elections/appointments: none; the monarchy is hereditary; governor and assistant governor responsible to the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral Longyearbyen Community Council (15 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve four-year-terms); note = the Council acts very much like a Norwegian municipality
elections: last held on 6 October 2015 (next to be held October 2019)
election results: seats by party - Conservatives 5, Green Party 2, Labor Party 5, Liberals 3
note: the Council has jurisdiction only over Longyearbyen; its main responsibilities are infrastructure and utilities, including power, land-use and community planning, education, and child welfare; however, healthcare services are provided by the state
Judicial branchhighest court(s): none; note - Svalbard is subordinate to Norway's Nord-Troms District Court and Halogaland Court of Appeal, both located in Tromso
Political parties and leadersSvalbard Conservative Party [Torgeir PRYTZ]
Svalbard Green Party [Helga Bardsdatter KRISTIANSEN and Espen Klungseth ROTEVATN]
Svalbard Labor Party [Arild OLSEN]
Svalbard Liberal Party [Erik BERGER]
Political pressure groups and leadersNA
International organization participationnone
Flag descriptionthe flag of Norway is used
National anthemnote: as a territory of Norway, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" is official (see Norway)

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017