Bear island is seperated from the rest of Svalbard by a distance of 120 nautical miles northwards to Sørkapp on Spitsbergen. The island has almost the shape of a triangel with point southwards. The geographical extreme points lie between 74,20 - 74,31 North and 018,45 - 019,16 East. The surface area is 178 km2, with greatest lenght (North-South) about 20 km and width 15,5 km. The southern part of the island is a mountain area with largely flat tops with hight of between 360-440 m. The land falls steeply to the sea, and in some places in overhanging. Bear island's highest mountain on the east coast, Miseryfjellet with the summits Urd(536) Vardan (462) and Skuld (454). In addition to some few huts, the only inhabitable houses are the Bjørnøya radio and meteorological station. Otherwise there are only ruins from earlier operations in connection with coal quarrying and hunting. At tunheim in the northeastern part of the island the Devonian coal-seams have been worked. The occurrence of coal has been known since 1609. In the course of time a number of Russian and Norwegian whaling, sealing and hunting expeditions have been wintering there. Permanent settlement did not take place till coal-mining began in 1916. The island has been scientfically investigated and mapped by Swedish and particulary Norwegian expeditions. Bear island has a small race of arctic fox. The polar bear only appears when the pack ice comes down to the island. Both the arctic fox and polar bear are totally protected. In the sea the are the bearded sea and ringed seal (snadd). The walrus was formerly common, but in later times it is a rear guest. The snow bunting and ptarmigan are the only land birds, whereas the sea bird fauna is very rich. The bird cliffs around the southern point are among the richest in the northern hemisphere. From one year to another, the island is visited by bird types which normally belong in more southerly latitudes. There is rich fishing around the island. On the island ther are about 700 lakes covering about 11 % of the island.