There Is A Town In Norway Where It's Illegal To Die
Death is a natural part of life - we might not want to think about it, but we're all going to have to deal with it.
You wouldn't think, then, that a place would be able to outlaw dying. Even if they could, you'd think that it would have little effect.
But that's where you'd be wrong. In the very north of Norway there is a town called Longyearbyen and no-one has died there since the 1950s.
OK, that's a little bit misleading - of course the people who live there still die, but it is illegal to die there. Usually they are flown out of the settlement before they die to live out their final days somewhere else.
There's a damn good reason for that too.
Longyearbyen is basically the end of the world. It sits on the island of Svalbard at the very north of Norway in the Arctic Circle.
You see, being part of the Arctic Circle means that the temperature very rarely goes much higher than freezing, even during the middle of the summer. This means that the ground is in a state of permafrost - it's frozen and it never fully unfreezes.
This means that if you were to die in the area you could be buried there, but your body would be preserved in the freezing ground without ever decomposing. Grim, no?
This presents a few issues. For starters, it limits the amount of space that you have available to bury people in. If people are just freezing and hanging around then you are eventually going to run out of room.
However, that's not the main issue. One thing that they are not short of up in that part of the world is space.
The real issue is that if the people are completely frozen and well preserved underground, whatever killed them is also being preserved under the ground with them.
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In 1918 there was a worldwide flu epidemic (also known as the 'Spanish flu') that killed off nearly five percent of the whole population of the world. Between 50 and 100 million people were killed, including 11 people in Longyearbyen.
They were buried on the island, but when residents discovered that the permafrost was stopping the dead from decaying in 1950, they stopped the practice and changed the law so nobody could be buried there out of fear of disease.
Of course, they were right. Back in the 1990s a group of scientists wanted to study the dead on the island and they dug up one of those killed by the flu. Sure enough, the flu virus that had killed him was still going strong, preserved for future generations.
If 100-year-old flu viruses aren't enough to put you off life in Longyearbyen, it's got other features that might make life difficult too.
The sun doesn't come out for half the year, which must be a bummer. Also, you can't go wandering around outside without a rifle because a polar bear will rip your face off.
There are laws that ban cats to protect birds on the island, so prepare to be disappointed if cats are your thing.
Oh, and you are only allowed to buy a certain amount of alcohol each month.
Apart from that it's great.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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