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Barentsburg

Barensberg is a Russian mining settlement in the Norwegian Arctic. The area had been claimed by a Norwegian company in 1912, when Spitsbergen was still ‘No Man‘s Land’, but it was sold to a Dutch company in 1920, that then passed the mine on to a Russian company in 1932. Finally, it became property of the Russian state-owned mining company Trust Arktikugol in 1933. With architecture deeply rooted in socialist building tradition, Barentsburg had obviously seen better days in the past, during the years of the Soviet Union. There were no more than about 300 people living in Barentsburg at the time we were there, including several families with children. The town relies entirely on mainland Russia for food and coinage. There have been instances in which not enough food was sent, and aid packages were sent from Longyearbyen. Also, the coal company has been known not to pay employees until they finish their three-year contract and return to Russia.

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