Jurisdiction Project

Jan Mayen

This desolate, arctic, mountainous island was named after a Dutch whaling captain who indisputably discovered it in 1614 (earlier claims are inconclusive). Visited only occasionally by seal hunters and trappers over the following centuries, the island came under Norwegian sovereignty in 1929. The long dormant Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg volcano resumed activity in 1970; the most recent eruption occurred in 1985. It is the northernmost active volcano on earth. It has two parts: larger Nord-Jan and smaller Sør-Jan, linked by an isthmus 2.5 km wide (1.6 mi).

A territory of Norway, it has been administered from Oslo through the county governor (fylkesmann) of Nordland since August 1994; however, authority has been delegated to a station commander of the Norwegian Defense Communication Service. The laws of Norway apply where applicable and the flag of Norway is used. Coastline is 124.1 km The volcanic island is partly covered by glaciers, although there is some moss and grass. Lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m Highest point: Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg 2,277 m

Located in Northern Europe, this island lies between the Greenland Sea and the Norwegian Sea, 600 km northeast of Iceland and 950 km west of Norway. Jan Mayen has 124.1 km of coastline. Jan Mayen is 53.6 km long and width is 2.5 - 15.8 km.

Latitude and Longitude:
71 00 N, 8 30 W

Time Zone:
GMT -4

Total Land Area:


Arctic maritime with frequent storms and persistent fog.

Natural Resources:
There is no arable land, permanent crops or exploitable natural resources on this island.


Total GDP:

Per Capita GDP:

% of GDP per Sector:
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% of Population Employed by Sector
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External Aid/Remittances:

Economic activity is limited to providing services for employees of Norway's radio and meteorological stations on the island.

Labour Force:

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)

Economic activity is limited to providing services for employees of Norway's radio and meteorological stations on the island. Current crew is a total of 18, running the Loran-C navigation station, the meteorological station and maintaining the infrastructure - buildings, roads, airstrip, and power station.

Niche Industry:



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Number of Airports: 1
Jan Mayen airfield = Jan Mayensfield Jan Mayensfield was established in 1961 due to the lack of a useable harbour in combination with bad weather conditions at Jan Mayen. Every second month the station gets supplies by plane. Crew-shifts are also done by plane. Most air transport is done by The Royal Norwegian Air Force and their fleet of Locheed C-130 Hercules.

Number of Main Ports: 0
Offshore anchorage only.





Other Forms of Transportation:
Jan Mayen is free to visit with some restrictions and challenges. The runway is not open for commercial air traffic. Jan Mayen has no harbour and no regular shiparrivals. The only way to visit Jan Mayen is by ship. A company that actually arranges trips to Jan Mayen is the norwegian company Ecoexpeditions. Important: The Jan Mayen station is not equipped to assist or supply any visitors! Restrictions for non-norwegian visitors: If your stay is less than 24 hours, permission is to be granted in advance by local police authorities represented by the Jan Mayen Station Commander. If your stay is more than 24 hours, permission is to be granted in advance by Norwegian police authorities represented by the Commissioner of Salten Police District, Bodø.

Economic Zones:
territorial sea: 4 nm contiguous zone: 10 nm continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Energy Policy:

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)


Official Currency:

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions: 0
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions: 0
Number of Insurance Companies: 0


Financial Services:


Public Ownership:

Land Use:
The Jan Mayen island is owned by the Norwegian government, and most of the island is a nature reserve. Largest land use listed as ‘other’ at 100% (2001).


Marine Activity:

In the early 1600s, Dutch whalers established several whale oil boilers on the island where they extracted oil from the blubber of whales. When whaling was at its highest more than 1000 men were based on the island during the summer months. They also established fortifications on the island to protect their bases from plundering. Some years ago two big guns were found in the area where the main whaling station was. As a result of the hunting activities the Greenland whale nearly disappeared and whaling near Jan Mayen came to an end between 1640 and 1650.

Marine Life:
Arctic Char

Critical Issues:
A dispute between Norway and Denmark regarding the fishing exclusion zone between Jan Mayen and Greenland was settled in 1988 granting Denmark with the greater area of sovereignty.



Political System:
A territory of Norway; since August 1994, administered from Oslo through the county governor (fylkesmann) of Nordland; however, authority has been delegated to a station commander of the Norwegian Defense Communication Service.

Political Parties:

Important Legislation:
The laws of Norway, where applicable, apply

Principal Taxes:
Personnel pay 7.8% social security tax, 2% retirement savings tax and 8% state tax

Associated Power:

The island is a part of Norway. Norway is divided into 19 counties. Jan Mayen is governed by Nordland county. Norway is a constitutional monarchy.



There are no indigenous inhabitants. Personnel operate the Long Range Navigation (Loran-C) base and the weather and coastal services radio station. There are currently 18 personnel and as many as 30 during the summer when heavy maintenance is performed.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population

The main purpose of the military personnel is to operate a Long Range Navigation (Loran-C) base. The support crew, including mechanics, cooks and a nurse are among the military personnel. Both the LORAN transmitter and the meteorological station are located a few kilometers away from the settlement Olonkinbyen (English: The Olonkin City), where all personnel live.

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up



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 The first documented discovery of the island happened in the early 1600 when Dutch and English whalers sailed in the area in search of new hunting grounds. The island is named after the Dutchman Jan Jacobs May van Schellinkhout who visited the island in 1614. His first mate did some mapping of the coast and named the island Jan Mayen. At the beginning of this century Norwegian trappers began to spend the winters on Jan Mayen. Their main prey was blue and white foxes and an occasional polar bear. Overexploitation of the fox population resulted in a fast decline of the hunting profit, and in addition the barren island and unpleasant living conditions made the hunting come to an end in the 1920's. Beerenberg has erupted six times between 1732 and 1985. The most recent eruptions were in 1970, 1973, and 1985. The Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen has operated seismic stations on Jan Mayen (as part of the National Seismic Network of Norway) since 1961. The 3 stations on Jan Mayen (Olonkin City , Ulla and Liberg) are use to make daily locations of the local seismicity as well as recording far away earthquakes.


Recent Significant Events:
Official Norwegian activity on Jan Mayen has been continuos since 1921 when the first meteorological station on the island was established. Weather reports from Jan Mayen are important for weather forecasting in Norway and the Norwegian Sea and in 1922 the Norwegian Meteorological Institute annexed the island for Norway. By Royal Decree of 8th May 1929 Jan Mayen was placed under Norwegian sovereignty and by law of 27th February 1930 the island was declared a part of the Kingdom of Norway. In 1959 a new era came to Jan Mayen. NATO decided to build a radionavigation system called LORAN, which stands for "Long Range Navigation". Jan Mayen was chosen as one of the transmitter sites working together with transmitters on the Norwegian mainland, in Germany, on the Faeroes and Iceland. The Norwegian defence Communication Administration (NORECA) was given the task to establish and operate the two stations in Norway. All machinery, building materials and equipment for the new station was transported by ship and since Jan Mayen has no harbour the load was landed by small boats and rafts, often in rough sea. This was both hard and difficult work, and not without danger. The new station was called Olonkin City, named after one of the real veterans of Jan Mayen. The building complex contains living quarters, mess facilities and most of the technical functions necessary to operate the station. In 1960 an Additional LORAN transmitter was installed. This required more construction work and in that period a small landing strip for aircraft's was built. Since then most of the transports to the island have been with planes. The first plane landed on Jan Mayen in 1961 and since then we have had about twelve landings every year. In 1962 the meteorological station moved again to a site near the airstrip. Their crew are living in the NODECA station. Thus, all activity on the island is done along a 5-km long strip of the south-eastern shore. In 1960 the station crew was up to 40 men. Today this is reduced to only 18 people.

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:





Useful Links:

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Institute of Island Studies
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Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 4P3

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