Spitsbergen spĭts´bərgən [key], formerly Vestspitsbergen, largest island (15,075 sq mi/39,044 sq km) of Svalbard, a Norwegian possession in the Arctic Ocean. It rises to Newtontoppen Mt. (c.5,650 ft/1,720 m), the highest point. It is indented by large bays including Isfjorden and Kongsfjorden. Spitsbergen contains the chief mining towns of Svalbard including Longyearbyen, the administrative center. Tourism and scientific research are also important. The Svalbard International Seed Vault, a global backup storage facility for the world's seed banks, is on Spitsbergen outside Longyearbyen. The island served as the starting point for polar expeditions of Nils Nordenskjöld, Salomon Andrée, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, Sir George Wilkins, and others.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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