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The people of Svalbard

Our guide to the tough, resolute and fascinating people who call Longyearbyen, Svalbard, home. Part of our Svalbard special.


The priest

Leif Magne Helgesen is the world’s northernmost priest, and pleasingly unorthodox – the rugged 53-year-old Lutheran pastor oversees services at the small wooden church, welcoming Polish Catholics, Orthodox Russians, Buddhist Thais and godless scientists. “Everyone’s welcome,” he says. “This is a strong community and we stick together.”

Meet Heidi, the glaciologist

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