Jan Mayen is an artic volcanic island that belongs to Norway. It is located about 400 miles north of Iceland, 300 miles east of Greenland, and 600 miles west of Norway. The island actually consists of two parts: Nord-Jan and Sor-Jan. Nord-Jan is the larger, northeast section of the island, while Sor-Jan is the smaller southwest. Both are joined together by an isthmus, which happens to be the location of the island’s two largest lakes, Sorlaguna and Nordlaguna.

Jan Mayen is barely inhabited. There are about a dozen or two people living on the island. Most of the residents are employees of Norway’s meteorological and radio stations located on the island, or personnel of the Royal Norwegian Defense Force. During the winter, the population dwindles, whereas it doubles during the summer when maintenance workers are brought in.

Jan Mayen has no notable tourist attractions, except wildlife viewing of whales, foxes, and polar bears.

While there is an airstrip for planes to land, there aren’t any regularly scheduled commercial flights to the island. Visitors can reach the island by private flight or dock on the offshore anchorages.

Jan Mayen Island was first discovered in 1614 by Dutch explorer Jan Jacobs May van Schellinkhout. Some historians, however, believe that an Irish monk and sailor may have sighted it first in the early 6th century when he ventured north and came back reporting the discovery of a black island. During the first half of the 17th century, the Dutch engaged in commercial whaling of the Greenland right whale. They stopped in 1640 after the mammal was hunted almost to extinction.

In the early 20th century, Norwegian trappers began spending winters on the island to hunt the polar bears and foxes. They ended this practice in 1920 and opened up a meteorological station in 1921. The following year, Norway annexed the island.