In This Norwegian City It's Illegal To Die

In This Norwegian City It's Illegal To Die

Longyearbyen is a small town without a long history located a stone's throw from the North Pole. But there's a notable local rule: it's forbidden to be born there...and to die there.

This may sound totally crazy, but this measure wasn't taken without reason. The bitter cold prevailing in the Svalbard Archipelago region simply conserves viruses, making them functional again after periods of dormancy.

In the year 2000, scientists who exhumed bodies of people who died in 1917 of a powerful influenza virus were surprised to discover that viral particles were still present on these corpses, well preserved by the polar cold. To prevent the return of these deadly bacteria, a ban on dying in Longyearbyen has been put in place.

Dying - an entire organization

As a result, people near the end of their life are sent to the capital, Oslo, 2000 km away. Births are also prohibited in the village, since the latter doesn't have a hospital.

Slate reports that these two measures aren't the only crazy bans in force in Longyearbyen. It's also forbidden to have a cat - that means the birds can sleep easy. People have to take off their shoes every time they go into a shop and alcohol (which is very cheap) is rationed. Finally, unemployed people are not allowed to live long in Longyearbyen. This city is really original... 

 

• Emma Jensen
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