National Geographic : 1928 Aug
Photograph by Oscar Ialldin FOR YEARS A NO MAN'S LAND OF THE FAR NORTH; NOW A VALUED COAL MINEAND POLAR AIR STATION Questing for a new route to Cathay and the Spice Islands which should be free of Portuguese control,Williams Barents and Jacob Heemskerk, in 1596, forced their toy ships through Arctic ice and saw parts of the west and north coasts of a high, snow-covered country. "The land," wrote Barents in his log, "consisted only of mountains and pointed hills, for which reason we gave it the name Spitsbergen." Itwas atfirst believed tobeapart of Greenland and was subsequently claimed by Denmark. Then it was found to be an independent island and was formally annexed byEngland in1614. Of late years the group was a bone of contention; Norway, Sweden, and Russia claimed it. Norway finally received itbyatreaty signed atParis in 1920. Official possession was taken five years later. Safe Harbor, an inlet of Ice Fiord, seen from the top ofVarmland Range. Kjerulf Glacier tothe right.