It Is Illegal For Anyone To Die In This Norwegian Town


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The 2000 residents in the remote town of Longyearbyen have to deal with 24/7 darkness during winters, constant threat of polar bears and along with that, another strange law that they are not supposed to die in the town. The town is located on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard which is about halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. It is so cold in the town that dying has been illegal there since 1950 when the locals discovered that the bodies were not decomposing in the cemetery because the weather was very frigid.

In 1998, when scientists exhumed the corpses of those who died of the flu pandemic in 1918, they were able to extract live samples of the deadly virus. The town is inhabited mostly by the local miners. The residents were scared of the disease spreading when they found that the bodies are not decomposing. After that, it was made illegal for anyone to be buried in the local graveyard. However, cremation urns are allowed to be buried there. Very few people have taken up the option and the terminally ill generally leave the island and fly to the Norwegian mainland where they spend their last days. Jan Christian Meyer, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said,¬†“If you seem to be about to expire, every effort will be made to send you to the mainland.”

In the town, very few births have taken place. There is a small hospital in Svalbard and pregnant women are encouraged to travel to the mainland before their due date. This is not the only reason for why you should not move there. The town is so far north that it stays dark there in the winters for four months. There is zero difference between night and day for nearly three of these four months.

There are almost 1000 polar bears living locally and they are also a threat to the local residents. On the bright side, you are guaranteed to see the Northern Lights there, so the town might be worth a visit. Provided, you don’t die there!

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