Spitsbergen spĭts´bərgən [key], formerly Vestspitsbergen, largest island (15,075 sq mi/39,044 sq km) of Svalbard , a Norwegian possession in the Arctic Ocean. It rises to Newtontoppen Mt. (c.5,650 ft/1,720 m), the highest point. It is indented by large bays including Isfjorden and Kongsfjorden. Spitsbergen contains the chief mining towns of Svalbard including Longyearbyen , the administrative center. Tourism and scientific research are also important. The Svalbard International Seed Vault, a global backup storage facility for the world's seed banks, is on Spitsbergen outside Longyearbyen. The island served as the starting point for polar expeditions of Nils Nordenskjöld , Salomon Andrée , Roald Amundsen , Richard Byrd , Sir George Wilkins , and others.

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