The South is very mountainous, with a top to 1431 m (Hornsundtind).
It is in 1596 that the Dutchman Willem Barents discovered this area
that he called Spitsbergen (pointed mountain). The Vikings had discovered
this island since 1194 that they called Svalbard (cold coasts).
Van Mijenfjorden, with an area of 533 km2 and a length of 70 km is
the second largest fjord on Spitsbergen after Isfjord. Akseløya
is an 8,5km long and 1km wide island, lying across the fjord mouth.
Hornsund is a medium size fjord (30 km length, 12-15 km wide) with
a maximum depth of 260 m. Hornsund is a spectacular fjord with several
bays and fourteen glaciers flowing into the sea.
The Polish Polar Station at Polar Bear Bay (Isbjørnhamna) in
Hornsund fjord, carries out research in various branches of geophysics
and the study of polar environment.
In addition there are numerous Norwegian, British, US and German scientists
also undertaking marine biological work in the area.