You can’t meet your maker in the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, located north of the Arctic Circle in the Svalbard archipelago. It’s not allowed. In fact, death has been banned in this frigid town of around 2,000 residents since 1950, when it was discovered that the bodies buried in the local cemetery were not decomposing properly. Residents of Longyearbyen who are near death are flown to the mainland to spend their last days.
No cats, no shoes, no death:
- Scientists have studied some of the corpses preserved by the permafrost in Longyearbyen. Tissue from one male corpse contained live samples of the influenza virus that killed millions of people around the world in 1918.
- There are no facilities on the island for caring for the elderly. In fact, there isn't even a hospital, so expectant mothers travel to the mainland weeks before their due dates.
- There are other unusual customs in Longyearbyen. Cats are banned in order to protect the Arctic bird population, and visitors are expected to take off their shoes in every building that they enter.