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Svalbard (Norway) and Jan Mayen (Norway)

Last modified: 2001-09-22 by elias granqvist
Keywords: svalbard | jan mayen | norway | europe | spitzbergen | spitsbergen |
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Flag of Svalbard and of Jan Mayen = flag of Norway

See also:

Status of the flag

Just for the record, the Norwegian dependencies in the Arctic are Svalbard (Spitzbergen) and Jan Mayen. The national flag of Norway is the appropriate flag.

Neither Jan Mayen, nor Svalbard, nor the Antarctic dependencies have flags of their own.

Jan Oskar Engene, 19 November 1995, 16 October 1997

Geography and politics

Svalbard (Spitzbergen) and Jan Mayen are two distinct dependencies of Norway, put here together according to the ISO-3166.

Until 1994 Jan Mayen and Svalbard was governed by the Sysselmann (Governor) of Svalbard. Maybe this is the reason why they share an ISO-code. From August 1994 the administration of Jan Mayen was taken over by the Fylkesmann (County Governor) of Nordland. As others have noted, Jan Mayen has permanently staffed defence and meteorological stations.

Jan Mayen is an integral part of the Kingdom of Norway, just like Svalbard is. Consequently, neither are dependencies in the usual sense of that term. The only Norwegian dependencies are Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land. All three dependencies are situated in Antarctica and have no permanent inhabitants.

Franciae Vexilla # 16/62 (December 1999) has its main contribution on Svalbard archipelago, with a very limited flag-related content.

- Between 1896 and 1913, private post stamps were released, one of them showing the "first blazon of Svalbard". The shield is azure with a polar bear, a white star in chief and another, tilted white star in point. A scroll above the shield reads SPITSBERGEN.

- In 1989 were adopted the arms of the Norwegian governor : an azure shield with silver islands fimbriated in gold and golden scripture (in chief SYSSELMANNEN, in point SVALBARD). The position was suppressed in 1994 when the archipelago was attached to the fylke (county) of Nordland.

- The flag of Svalbard is rectangular with blue and white vairs, charged with a golden armed lion fimbriated in black.

Ivan Sache, 19 December 1999

As far as I know, the 1989 "arms" are only an unofficial logo used by Sysselmannen (the governor) in advertisements, etc. These "arms" have never been officially approved by the proper authorities. The proper insignia for the governor is the Norwegian national coat of arms.

The position of sysselmann (governor) is still valid and Svalbard has not been attached to the county of Nordland. Svalbard is a separate administrative entity.

I suppose FV used an article in Nordisk Flaggkontakt. In that article the information that the Norwegian-lion-on-a-field-of-vair-blue-and-white was a proposal that was never approved was printed in bold to avoid misunderstandings.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 December 1999


Some time ago I saw a flag associated with Svalbard (perhaps in the Norman flags poster). It was horizontal a three band with a whale in center. I don't remember exactly and I can't find the drawing that I made then, but seems that I recollect Y-W-B with a whale. Today I have more details about the flag: the upper stripe is red (quoted as "rood" in dutch) and rest is according my description. I can't understand the article (being in Dutch) but seems that is a flag related with Wilhem Barentz and the Nederlandsche Noordsche compagnie (c. 1600).

Jaume Ollé, 28 July 1999

The Dutch Noordsche Compagnie (Nordic Company) was founded 27 January 1614 by patent from the States General. It received the monopoly for whaling in the area between Nova Zembla and Street Davis. On Spitsbergen (Dutch for Svalbard) the settlement Smerenburg was founded. The company was dissolved in 1642, due to competition from both the Danish Islandic Company and Dutch cities who broke the monopoly. In 1645 the States General gave the whaling free for competition.
Source: Nijhoffs Geschiedenis-lexicon Nederland en BelgiŽ, 1981.

I've seen twice small (unclear) depictions of paintings with the Dutch tricolour and the whale in the centre, waving on what seems to be a whaling station. However I don't have further information, and I still have some questions:

1) was it the flag of the Dutch Nordic Company, or of private whalers?

2) on the photo's of the paintings I saw, in one the whale is facing the hoist of the flag, on the other facing the fly. Which is correct (I presume the first)?

3) is the whale spirting water or not?

4) did the upper stripe change from orange to red, like the national flag itself, or did only one of these versions exist? (BTW, I think the yellow mentioned by Jaume must have been light orange).

Mark Sensen, 31 July 1999

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