Bjørnøya byörn´öyä [key], island, 69 sq mi (179 sq km), in the Barents Sea, c.275 mi (440 km) N of Norway; southernmost island of Svalbard . It rises to 1,759 ft (536 m). There are polar fox and polar bear on the island. Probably known to Norsemen in the 12th cent., it was rediscovered by Willem Barentz , the Dutch navigator, in 1596, and was formally annexed by Norway in 1915. It is also known as Bear Island.
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