Fjordman: Visiting Malta and Svalbard

Visiting Malta and Svalbard

By Fjordman

Within the space of six months, I visited two archipelagos in the extreme south and extreme north of Europe: Malta and Svalbard. It was a fascinating set of contrasts. I spent a few days in Malta in late December 2016. This was my first visit there, but hopefully not the last.

Malta’s location in the southern Mediterranean has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base. Different peoples such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spaniards, Knights of St. John, French and British have ruled the islands. The Maltese also showed bravery during the Second World War. The country became a republic in 1974. Malta joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 and adopted the euro currency in 2008.

Valletta is the nation’s capital and largest city. It is named after Jean de Valette (1495-1568), a French nobleman and Grand Master of the Order of Malta. He and his forces fought bravely against numerically superior Ottoman forces during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.

Valletta’s impressive fortifications reminded me of another walled southern European city, the medieval Old Town on the Greek island of Rhodes. The fortifications in Valletta and the City of Rhodes were built by the Catholic order the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John to protect the islands against Islamic raids. However, if you visit the Old Town of Rhodes, you will see several mosques dating back to Ottoman times. On Rhodes, Christians fought bravely against the Turks, and lost. On Malta, Christians fought bravely against the Turks, and won.

Maltese is a strange dialect of Arabic, but with many Italian and English words due to historical influences. The Maltese language is the only Semitic language written with Latin characters. Today, the people of Malta are overwhelmingly supporters of the Roman Catholic Church. They are devout Christians who are proud of having beaten back Muslim invaders. And they will say this — in Arabic.

St John’s Co-Cathedral, a Roman Catholic co-cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is the most lavishly decorated church in Valletta. It is a must-see for any visitor. It also contains a famous oil painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. I also found it interesting to see an exhibition where locals had created many nativity scenes with the baby Jesus. This was obviously something they took very seriously.

The Megalithic Temples of Malta are impressive constructions for such small islands. Some of them are older than the Egyptian pyramids. The first ones from around 3600 BC predate the foundation of the ancient Egyptian state. They were built at the same time as the Sumerians developed a written language in Mesopotamia. The National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta gives a good overview of these developments.

I visited two of these megalithic temple complexes, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. Both are located on the main island of Malta. The neighboring island of Gozo also harbors some of these very ancient stone temples. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to visit Gozo in December 2016. The Azure Window was a famous limestone natural arch on Gozo. On March 8, 2017, it collapsed after a heavy storm. I had missed my one chance of seeing it.

During a taxi ride outside Valletta, I noticed some African and Middle Eastern asylum seekers in the small town of Marsa. Apparently, there was a reception center there. Yet I also saw some recent immigrants from the Middle East and Africa in Valletta. Most of them were young men. They were not tourists, like me, but they did not seem to be working, either.

I asked the taxi driver about this. He commented that if you talked to them, many of these immigrants freely stated that they simply want a better life for themselves by migrating to Europe. While that may be an understandable urge, I pointed that out that Africa will grow by more than one billion people in the coming 30 years, twice the population of the entire European Union. The global population growth in just a couple of days is enough to overwhelm a small nation like Malta, with less than half a million inhabitants.

I also commented to the Maltese taxi driver that the euro currency and perhaps the EU itself may collapse within a generation. Interestingly, he did not disagree with me in this view.

You will probably see more veiled Muslim women in Oslo or Stockholm in far northern Europe than you do in Valletta. However, I did see some of them. The Maltese people have suffered many Jihad attacks and slave raids by Muslims, as have other Europeans. They have fought fiercely and bravely for centuries to keep Muslim out of their lands. Now they are members of the EU. They are supposed to be “tolerant” and let Muslims in without resistance.

While Malta has received some migrants, most of the boat migrants in the Mediterranean have bypassed these southern islands. In late 2016 and early 2017, the bulk of the migration waves from Africa to Europe went via Libya to Italy. Some Western humanitarian organizations have essentially aided human traffickers and acted as taxis for illegal immigrants.

Svalbard is a Norwegian-controlled archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The largest island is Spitsbergen. Almost all the human inhabitants live there. The Gulf Stream brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic Ocean. It has a major impact on the climate in parts of northwestern Europe, including Svalbard. Its climate is Arctic, but Spitsbergen enjoys significantly higher temperatures than places at the same latitude in Russia or Canada.

If you visit in the winter, as I did, Malta can be slightly chilly and windy. Even in mid-winter, however, Valletta, Malta is usually warmer than Longyearbyen, Svalbard is in mid-summer. When I visited in May 2017, the temperature in Longyearbyen hovered around minus 5 degrees Celsius (23F). It rarely gets higher than 15 degrees above (59F) during the summer.

The most striking contrast between Malta and Svalbard is population. The population density of Svalbard is about 0.045 human beings per square kilometer. The population density of Malta is more than thirty thousand times greater than this. Svalbard is substantially larger than Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands), but has fewer than three thousand inhabitants. Much of Svalbard is covered by glaciers. It looks a little bit like northern Europe may have done during the last Ice Age.

I took a direct flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen with the airline Norwegian. The trip lasted nearly three hours, making it probably the longest domestic flight in Europe, at least outside of Russia. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and “capital” of Svalbard. In the summer, its harbor is usually ice-free and can be visited by ships.

Located at a latitude of 78°N, Longyearbyen is closer to the North Pole than to Oslo. It is a modern community of families with a university campus, a newspaper, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, shops, museums, kindergartens, a church and various cultural activities. It is the world’s northernmost settlement of any kind with greater than 1,000 permanent residents.

Known as Longyear City until 1926, the town was established by the American coal miner John Munro Longyear (1850-1922). He started coal mining there in 1906. Operations were taken over by the Norwegian company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani in 1916.

The second-largest settlement in Svalbard is the mining community Barentsburg, located 40 km to the south-west of Longyearbyen. The small research station of Ny-Ålesund on Spitsbergen is claimed to be the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. A few settlements are farther north in Canada or Greenland, but these are populated by rotating groups of researchers or military personnel. There are families with children living on Svalbard, with schools operating in both Longyearbyen and Barentsburg.

Svalbard is Norway in some ways. It has Norwegian telephone numbers and postal addresses and uses Norwegian kroner for commercial transactions. Yet it is not quite like the mainland. For instance, Norway is a member of the Schengen Area. Svalbard is not. Activities on Svalbard are regulated by the unique Svalbard Treaty from 1920. All countries that have signed this treaty recognize Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard. Yet commercial activities on the islands should be equally open to all countries that have signed the agreement.

I was told that the last country to sign the Svalbard Treaty was North Korea. Does that mean that North Koreans can start coal mining or running dog sled tours for Chinese tourists there tomorrow? Technically yes, they can. However, they must respect Norwegian law, they cannot use their own national currency there and, most importantly, they cannot set up any military base there. Svalbard is a demilitarized zone.

Barentsburg is populated by Russians and Ukrainians. They seem to get along well there, despite tensions in the Ukraine. The relationship between Russians and Norwegians has been good for years, even during the Cold War. Barentsburg has a statue of Lenin dating back to Soviet times. But it also has a museum, a brewery/pub, a hotel and a small Orthodox Church.

More people have snowmobiles than cars in these settlements. There are only a few kilometers of roads where you can drive a car. If you want to travel between Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, you use snowmobile, ship or helicopter.

Coal is still mined in Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, yet on a smaller scale than before. Most of the coal is exported. Some of it is used in local coal power plants to generate electricity for the settlements. Tourism and research have become increasingly important to sustain and employ the people living in Svalbard.

Svalbard has two species of land mammals: The Arctic fox and the Svalbard reindeer. The polar bear spends most of its time on the ice and is thus considered a marine mammal. The small, short-legged Svalbard reindeer is a unique local breed. They have few natural enemies and are therefore not shy. The preferred prey of polar bears are seals. You can see wild reindeer walking around inside the human settlements in the middle of the day.

There are no trees on in this region, just a few small bushes and some grass. The reindeer eat whatever sparse vegetation they can find on the islands. It is illegal to pick flowers, which are rare, but legal to pick up fossils, which are plentiful.

It is claimed that there are more polar bears than people living in Svalbard, with perhaps 3000 polar bears and around 2700 humans settled there. Due to the danger of polar bears, any person traveling outside the settlements must be equipped with appropriate means of frightening and chasing off bears. Firearms are necessary equipment. Several people have been killed by polar bears in Svalbard, also in recent years. They are apex predators weighing hundreds of kilos.

On the other hand, there is very little crime. The local communities are small and transparent. Any person showing criminal tendencies will be deported. There is a post office and a small bank in Longyearbyen. Yet if you rob the bank, you can’t really go anywhere, unless you want to swim thousands of kilometers to the mainland.

Longyearbyen has a hospital for emergencies, but it is small and has a limited capacity. If a major accident happens, those who are injured will normally be transported by airplane to the hospital at Tromsø, the largest city in northern Norway. Women who are pregnant are expected to leave for the mainland and come back after they have given birth. It is not legal to be buried in Svalbard. The permafrost makes burials difficult.

Longyearbyen has pubs and several restaurants with decent food. The restaurant Huset (“The House”) even has a wine cellar with thousands of bottles of fine wine.

In one of the restaurants, I tried an Arctic menu with reindeer sausages, plus meat from mink whale and seal. Reindeer meat is quite common in Scandinavia. Whale meat is also reasonably common in Norway. It was the first time I had eaten seal, though. It reminded me a little bit of liver. Whale meat is tricky to get right. I had eaten whale before when it tasted like cod liver oil. This whale meat was well prepared and tasted almost like beef.

I first visited Svalbard in 1998. Since then, more ethnic groups have joined the local community there. They no longer include merely Norwegians and other Europeans, but also Thais and Filipinos. I saw at least one man from the Middle East, who was driving a taxi. However, I did not see any veiled Muslim women. There are many Somalis living in Scandinavia. I did not see any of them in Svalbard.

In sharp contrast to the rest of Scandinavia, there is no welfare state in Svalbard, and no social benefits to collect. You must be able to support and take care of yourself, or you must leave for the mainland. The tax rates are low, at 16% or less. These tax revenues are used locally for infrastructure and other necessities. For strategic reasons, the Norwegian state also provides some funds to ensure that there is a constant Norwegian presence on the archipelago.

Many food items are obviously more expensive than on the mainland due to transportation costs. Fresh fruits or vegetables are not cheap. However, if you want to buy a bottle of cognac or fine wine, doing so can sometimes be cheaper in Svalbard than elsewhere in Norway. Taxes on alcohol in Norway are so high that transporting bottles literally half-way to the North Pole can still make them cheaper than buying them in the state-run wine monopoly.

Apart from food, the main costs of living in Svalbard will be housing expenses. There is a shortage of housing, and the price you pay for rent is quite high per square meter. On the downside, you also have 3-4 months without any sunlight during the dark season. Sure, the Northern Lights are spectacular. You also have months of midnight sun during the summer.

The long, cold and dark winter season will be a challenge for some people. If you can handle that, Svalbard is an exotic place to live. It is usually not a problem to get applicants for most jobs there. Svalbard today may have restaurants, a supermarket, hotels and Asian tourists, but it has still retained a little bit of the original “Arctic Wild West” feeling.



For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.

40 thoughts on “Fjordman: Visiting Malta and Svalbard

  1. Malta is one of the islands (just like todays Greek Chios) that was completely depopulated as a result of the first wave of islamic conquest.
    The inhabitants either killed or enslaved.
    Due to its central location and its safe natural harbour (for the stormy winter season) it played a major role for muslims in dominating the Mediterranean Sea.

    It was only some years later that Malta was effectively reinhabited again.
    This time mostly with muslims, but who later turned to Christianity when again Europeans (Normans) regained control over Malta.
    And that is also the cause why the Maltese language (or Malti like they call it) basically is an arabic dialect written with Latin script.

    These historical facts of course are rarely mentioned.
    Funny to note in Wikipedia, they speak of an “expulsion of the muslims”.
    I just wonder why it is then that their language has survived.

    • Keeps me going back to the question, “what would the world be like if there had never been an avaricious Islam?”. It’s a deeply sad thing to ponder…

      • If Satan hadn’t invented Islam, he would have thought of something else. But it appeals to the worst in human nature, so it was always going to have plenty followers.

        As we all know by now, there are no hard copies of documents with Adolf Hitler’s signature on them, explicitly ordering the top Nazis to commit the worst of their crimes. The theory today (according to Ian Kershaw) is that the Nazis were “working towards the Fuhrer”. That is to say, they did what they thought their leader would like, in the hope that he would recognise their efforts (and reward them) afterwards.

        According to this understanding of Nazi-ism, Hitler was only able to articulate his dreams, and having been inspired by these visions, his followers looked inside their hearts and found the evil lurking within – and let it take them over.

        Same with Islam. It’s a Satanic “gateway drug”. Take it once, and you’ll end up losing your humanity, and going ever deeper into the darkness.

      • The classical Gothic kingdoms in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula would have survive. No Dark Ages for Europe. The world would probably be 500 years ahead in terms of technological advancement.

      • Quite likely we could witness a unified Christian Mediterranean region.
        And Renaissance maybe would`ve started some centuries earlier.
        We wouldn`t even speak of the Middle Age as a dark age.
        The Silk road would`ve never been blocked by the Muslims, the Byzantine Empire would`ve survived.

        Maybe the Americas would`ve been discovered a bit later.
        Because the Muslim blockade of trading routes was the reason Europeans searched for another way to Asia.
        There wouldnt`ve been something like the Conquistadores, because they developed from the warrior tradition of the Reconquista.
        Spain would`ve quite likely stayed a Visigoth Empire.

      • Well, perhaps not so more more advanced as you think. Early Christianity was not as tolerant of science or of free thought as we now picture it.

        About the time the monk Gerbert was accused of sorcery because he understood the elements of geometry, the Caliph Aziz-Billah founded the university of Cairo, the greatest Mohammedan institution of learning. This was two hundred years before the organization of the university of Paris, and the lectures at the mosque of El-Azhar are said to have been attended by twelve thousand students. Munk was of opinion that Arabic philosophy reached its apogee with Averrhoës, who was born about 1120.[ 106] Certainly he was the last of a famous line which began at Bagdad three centuries earlier; and Hauréau, in describing the great period of Saint Thomas at Paris, dwelt upon the debt Western learning owed to the Saracens.

        The splendour of Haroun-al-Raschid is still proverbial. The tales of his gold and silver, his silks and gems, almost surpass belief, and even in his reign the mechanical arts were so advanced that he sent a clock to Charlemagne.

        Humboldt considered the Arabs as the founders of modern experimental science, and they were relatively skilful chemists, for they understood the composition of sulphuric and nitric acid, and of aqua regia, beside the preparation of mercury and of various oxides of metals. As physicians they were far in advance of Europe. While the
        Church healed by miracles, and put experimental methods under her ban, the famous Rhazes conducted the hospitals of Bagdad, and in the tenth century wrote a work in ten books, which was printed at Venice as late as 15 10. Practitioners of all nations have used his treatise on small-pox and measles; he introduced mild purgatives, invented the seton, and was a remarkable anatomist. He died in 932.

        William of Tyre stated that the Frankish nobles of Syria preferred the native or Jewish doctors; and though Saladin sent his physician to Richard, Richard never thought of sending an Englishman to Saladin when afterwards attacked by illness.

        Even as late as the middle of the thirteenth century little advance seems to have been made in Europe, for one of the most curious phenomena of the crusades was the improvement in the health of the army of Saint Louis after it surrendered. During the campaign various epidemics had been very fatal; but when the soldiers were subjected to the sanitary regulations of the Egyptian medical staff, disease disappeared.

        The Arabs had a strong taste for mathematics, and were familiar with most of the discoveries which have been attributed to astronomers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

        As early as 1000 spherical trigonometry was in use, and Aboul-Hassan wrote an excellent treatise on conic sections. In 833 the Caliph El-Mamoun, having founded observatories at Bagdad and Damascus, caused a degree to be measured on the plain of Palmyra. By the thirteenth century the Arabic instruments werecomparatively perfect. They had the astrolabe, the gnomon, the sextant, and the mariner’s compass, and Aboul-Wafa determined the third lunar variation six hundred years before Tycho Brahe.

        Adams, Brooks. The Law of Civilization and Decay: An Essay on History (Kindle Locations 1286-1309). Transcript. Kindle Edition.

        • Sorry, but that`s proislamic [material I deem fallacious].
          It was muslims who destroyed and plundered intellectual institutions like the Athenaeum in Nimes and in Constantinople.
          They also raided the great Monastery on the Monte Cassino and its library (like in so many places).

          Monte Cassino like every larger Monastery could be defined as a “university” or “High school” when one compares it with so called islamic universities or medrassas.

          Where btw. only so called islamic sciences were teached on a official level.
          Mainly Tafsir, Fiq and Ilm al-Qira`a.
          Everything else was teached in private lessons.
          While the curriculum for every educated person in Western Europe consisted of the Septem artes liberales (you can Google for it).

        • To astuga,

          With all due respect, your “refutation” of the article I submitted actually addressed no points in it at all. Nothing. Nada.

          Generally, to refute an article or essay, you take one or several points and show that it is wrong. Or take a conclusion and show the conclusion is illogical or wrong.

          You refuted none of the assertions in the clipping and did not dispute any of the facts cited.

          I was actually hoping to get someone to show the article was incorrect, since it would simplify my thinking. But your counter-assertions are not responsive and don’t serve that purpose.

          • I didn`t refute your “Essay” or any part of it because I have better things to do then to waste my time with every single promuslim idealization and propaganda I met on the Web.
            The real (!) information is out there anyway, for everyone to see.

            But some food for thought: I don`t refer to Kepler, Galilei or Newton as Christian thinkers or Christian Scientists. Even though it would be more justified then with your muslims and islam.
            And maybe you want to think about, why it was that none of the islamic holy cities (Mekka, Medina) ever was the center of scholarship, the arts and science, in contrast to the holy cities of Christianity (Rome, Constantinople).

          • The clipping came from a book written in 1895 by a highly respected historian who was the grandson of John Quincy Adams.

            The Crusades took place in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. The age of enlightenment, Renaissance, and conquest of Constantinople occurred centuries afterwards. Perhaps your conceptions need a bit more complexity; or perhaps not, but you can’t dismiss accounts by respected historians with a wave of your hand.

            It’s quite conceivable there were times when Christian countries and institutions impeded progress and Muslim countries preserved it. I’d rather fit my concepts in a framework of facts than dismiss everything that doesn’t fit into my thinking.

            So, I’m reading a book by a widely respected historian who is very knowledgeable, and I’m supposed to say “hey, he spoke complimentary of Muslims in a certain time; he’s talking through his hat, I’m sure.”

            Brooke Adams was opposed to capitalism, and actually had some of the same critiques you would hear from a consultant for the Trump campaign. But, one has to open his mind in order to encompass new ideas. The economic concepts of libertarianism and classic liberalism have deep flaws, if you are a Trump advocate. But, is this something you’d be interested in discussing, or are you completely satisfied with your current outlook?

          • Listen, I can`t take anyone serious who doesn`t even know or want to recognize that the Byzantine Empire (with all its intellectual tradition) was part of Europe.
            Not only in todays Greece, but also in Southern Italy (up to the High Middle Ages), and Spain.
            So read your books that tell you just exactly what you want to hear and nothing more.

            Or should there still be hope for you?

          • For astuga:

            “But some food for thought: I don`t refer to Kepler, Galilei or Newton as Christian thinkers or Christian Scientists. Even though it would be more justified then with your muslims and islam.”

            If you actually read the clipping, rather than just the first sentence or so, to draw your conclusions, you’d see that Adams never refers to Mohammadan thinkers. He uses the adjective “Arab” to describe the Arab scientists.

            It’s another example of how it’s better to not comment on something you haven’t read.

          • For astuga:

            “Listen, I can`t take anyone serious who doesn`t even know or want to recognize that the Byzantine Empire (with all its intellectual tradition) was part of Europe.”


            Neither I nor the segment I quoted said anything about Constantinople. Which, by the way, ceased to be a real power after 1205, when it was conquered and sacked by the Crusaders, who wanted the riches of an allied Christian country more than they wanted to fight the Mohammadans.

            It just goes to show, like I said, how much better it is to actually read what you’re critiquing.

    • That’s a curious one, astuga. When I visited in 1999, I heard that Malti was derived from Puni (the Phoenicians began trading there around 800 bc), but Wiki gives this a minor footnote.

      Lovely place, and Brits don’t need to take adaptors for their electrical appliances!

      • Every country has periods in its past it wishes to forget or to present them in a better light.
        There are surely more vibrant stories then to be the descendant of muslim invaders and their slaves who later turned to Christianity and mixed with many other peoples who later lived on Malta and Gozo.

        You know Palestinians derive from the Philistines.
        Blacks in the US are all the descendants of African Kings.
        And not many French would recognize that Napoleon was just a bloodthirsty parvenu and their revolution a bloody mess without real reason. 😉

    • Ottoman Turkey in 1565 brought 30,000 to 40,000 attackers and siege supplies to Malta and lost badly. 14 years earlier, they had raided with 10,000 and were beaten off on the main island of Malta and diverted to the smaller island in the archipelago–Gozo–where they overran the citadel and carried almost the whole population, around 6000, into slavery. The 1551 raid helped spur the fortification push that allowed the knights and Maltese to stand off and ruin the Turks in 1565. Reference wikipedia, if you don’t have access to Bradford.

      Build walls. Build navies. Repel slavers.

  2. Beautiful report, Fjordman – how I envy you your trips to Svalbard and I thank you for the wonderful picture you have drawn. I have never been any further north in Norway than the Lofoten Islands but I do know Malta very well. I was stationed there in my youth and have been back many times since both on business and to research the history of ‘The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.’ Love that place and its people – the medieval military architecture at Senglea, Birgu and and the Star Fort of St. Elmo are quite awesome. Thanks again, you have prompted some fond memories here.

  3. “there is no welfare state in Svalbard, and no social benefits to collect”
    No wonder you did not see any “refugees”.

    – Recently read that a couple of Pakistanis had opened a mosque in the far north of Canada (Iqaluit). These fellows can be found in the farthest reaches of the planet. Remarkable, really.

    – Thank you for the photographs.

    • Remarkable? But doesn’t it make you wonder exactly why they are there?
      There’s one further north, Inuvik, and just what would sand rats from the hot middle east be doing there, and why would they ever want to live there, in cold, snow, and unbearable swarms of mosquitoes during the few weeks of ‘summer’?

      • Probably for the little girls to molest, or to sell drugs.

  4. I would gladly live in Svalbard – all that far northern quiet – except it appears everyone lives in apartments. So you go all the way up there to get away from it all and you have to endure your neighbor’s love of Abba — no thanks.

    • One could do a lot worse than Abba! Come to America and listen to Rap. No thanks.

  5. I think the Amazon show “Fortitude” was supposed to be at least partly filmed in Svalbard. Nobody ventured out of town without a high-powered rifle.

  6. I’ve been to Malta. I had my photo taken at the Siege Bell. I must recommend Ernle Bradford’s The Great Siege and James Holland's Fortress Malta.

    Interestingly, I commented a few times on an article in the online version of the Times of Malta a few years back. The issue was whether Mohammedans should be allowed to “pray” publicly – on the seafront at Sliema. (While people were trying to walk past, etc.)

    I pointed out that this was somewhat sacrilegious, given that the Knights of Malta had given their lives across the bay at the fort at the end of Valletta. I also pointed out that the threats made by the Mohammedans of a “backlash” if they were not allowed to perform thier Satanic rituals openly in the middle of a Christian country were really not on. (And the threats of violence were typical of the Mohammedan “faith” – as anyone familiar with the history of Malta should know without me pointing it out to them.)

    Not too surprisingly, the comments were edited. I haven’t been back.

  7. I haven’t seen it in many years but there is a very good Norwegian film from the 1980’s called “Orions belte”. It was shot in Svalbard and it shows the absolutely beautiful scenery.

    It’s also a excellent dramatic film filled with the cold war politics and tensions between the Norwegians and Soviets at that time. Definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

  8. Incidentally, I was once talking with a (real!) refugee, who was having a bear of a time getting his claim accepted (here in Canada – unlike many fake ones).

    He was quite obviously desperate. I mentioned to him that if all else fails, Svalbard might be an option. He considered it. It certainly made him feel better to know that it was a possibility. Fortunately, his claim was finally accepted (after MANY years in limbo).

    Incidentally, he has never collected public assistance.

    I’m 100% sure that he’s a real refugee. Why? Because unlike the majority of fake ones, there’s a thing that did NOT do upon getting Permanent Residence (and later citizenship): visit his home country. That’s how you know that a refugee is fake… they go back to the country of their oppression as soon as they won’t lose their status for it. When they don’t, you know that they’re real. Few are real.

  9. Fjordman,

    You have to read A. J. Quinnell.

    Man on Fire and The Blue Ring in particular.

    And of course: The Mahdi.

    (Note that all of Quinnell’s books have now been made available on Kindle. But not that one!)

  10. Svalbard looks like a nice place; a chilly version, say, of Norfolk Island a couple of decades ago when they were still allowed to run their own affairs. But far from appearing liberal – with the exceptions of the recommendation to carry loaded firearms outside the settlements and the allowance to openly carry unloaded firearms within them – the Svalbard weapons laws are about on a par with Australia’s – strict requirements for storage, transport and permits; tight control on where and under what circumstances you can shoot; confiscation and severe punishment for transgression.

    Incidentally, here in Australia, where openly carrying a firearm in an urban area would result in a massive police response, they are currently planning to ban ownership of more classes of long arms while doing away with the presumption of innocence in the case of firearms owners whose homes are broken into and legally held and stored firearms are stolen, determining automatically that they should defend a charge of criminal negligence for being a victim of a particular crime.

    • Australia had an almost complete ban on firearms in the 1990’s. Apparently they relented somewhat, but according to your report, are now reverting to type. Coincidental with a crime wave by Muslim immigrants and indigenous Maoris, I presume.

      The pretense that gun control lowers crime is wearing rather thin by now, so gun control, like support of immigration, is simply a leftist dogma, rather than a policy to be defended by rational means. In fact, both immigration and gun control are meant to dissolve traditional culture and communities in preparation for autocratic, unaccountable, globalist, centralized governments.

      Slightly, but not completely offtopic, the Coudenhove-Kalergi dogma of race-mixing
      actually makes a pretty interesting distinction between the carriers of the culture of a nation, and the urban entrepreneurs who do not have the same identifications. He calls them people of character versus people of intellect. Needless to say, it is the people of character who would most prize the ability to possess firearms.

  11. Just a short, innocent observation; for some curious reason, it never seems to occur to E.U people that Coudenhove Kalergi might have been disastrously wrong. (as present events appear to show)

  12. A lovely essay from Fjordman. A pleasant break from all the (essential) doom and gloom at GoV. Great photos too.

    I haven’t Wiki’d it, but I’d always understood the language of Malta to be an Italian (or rather Sicilian) dialect massively infused with Arabic words, not the other way round. Either way, common Maltese surnames (Sydney Australia had such a huge population of Maltese when I was growing up that I was always puzzled by the fact I couldn’t find it on a world atlas) show this weird admixture: Zammit, Zahra, Micallef, Vella, Camilleri, Azzopardi, Grech, Fenech and Borg. (As a child I met people with these surnames, often multiples of them). The first three are Arabic-derived and the middle three Italian derived, the last three who knows.

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