Svalbard was discovered by Willem Barents in 1596. The history of Svalbard is the history of hunters, trappers, mining communities and amazing expeditions.
Svalbard has never been a place where people settle down for life, where family traditions are passed down from generation to generation. People came and left again. Svalbard's history is thus starkly set apart from that of other places. Only to a small extent could people depend on shared experience about the harsh conditions which they braved. The lore is full of tragedies; graves are the most common artefact. The history of Svalbard is usually subdivided into epochs depending on what raw material was exploited.