views updated

Longyearbyen (lông´yērbü´ən), town and administrative center of Svalbard, on Isfjorden, Spitsbergen island. It was founded (1905) as a coal-mining settlement by an American company and named after the American miner J. M. Longyear. Its coal mines were transferred to a Norwegian company in 1916. The town was destroyed (Sept., 1943) by German battleships but was quickly rebuilt; coal mining remains important to the economy. The Svalbard International Seed Vault, a seed bank designed as a global backup storage facility, is inside a mountain near the town.