The northernmost cities in the world are unique in their climates and amount of sunlight. Due to their locations, these cities boast conditions that are like winter all year long. Snow, ice, and very cold temperatures are observed all year long in these northern settlements. In far areas of the north, summer months have 24 hours of daylight, while winter months have 24 hours of darkness.
Other characteristics of these northernmost regions include sparse vegetation due to frozen soil. Because crops can’t be grown in these areas, locals rely on fish and wildlife for their food. Most of these regions have industries centered around minerals, natural gas, and oil.
Because of their conditions, these cities typically have small populations.
The northernmost, permanentyl-inhabited place in the world is Alert, located in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. Alert is 817 kilometers (507.66 miles) from the North Pole. Alert has a population of just 62 people and is home to a military radio signal facility at Canadian Force Station (CFS Alert), a Environment Canada weather station, a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) observatory, and the Alert Airport.
The second-northernmost city in the world is Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway. Ny-Alesund is located Oscar II Land on the island of Spitsbergen. This town was founded in 1917 and was originally a coal-mining region. The town was then used for tourism and as a fishing port starting in the 1930s. However, it is now home to permanent research institutes from 10 countries and has a population just 35 people.
Another one of the world’s northernmost cities is Pyramiden, also located in Svalbard, Norway. Pyramiden was found by Sweden in 1910 and was sold to the Soviet Union in 1927. It was also once a coal-mining town, but was closed in 1998, with the last permanent inhabitant leaving on October 10, 1998. In 2012, Aleksandr Romanovsky became the first person to return to Pyramiden, and was joined by five others. Between its abandonment and Romanovsky's arrival, the buildings were largely preserved due to the cold weather. Today, it is home to a population between 4 and 15 people, mostly of caretakers. Pyramiden is accessible by boat or snowmobile from Longyearbyen.
The third northernmost city, Longyearbyen, is also located in Svalbard, Norway. In 1906, American John Munro Longyear started coal mining in the area and established Longeyearbyen, calling it Longyear City. The town was destroyed by the Germans in 1943 and was rebuilt. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement, with a population of about 2,368 (as of August 2019) and the administrative center of Svalbard. The town has many of the features enjoyed by other towns and cities, including schools, churches, air service, and public safety services. Although mining has ceased, tourism and research have increased in the area. Institutions such as the University Centre at Svalbard and the Svalbard Satellite Station have made Longyearbyen their home.
The fourth northernmost city in the world is Barentsburg in, you guessed it, in Svalbard, Norway. Barentsburg has a population of just under 500 people, making it the second-largest settlement in Svalbard. The town's inhabitants are almost entirely Russian or Ukrainian.
Other northernmost cities in the world include:
- Qaanaaq, Denmark
- Grise Fiord, Canada
- Resolute, Canada
- Dikson, Russia
- Arctic Bay, Canada