stefansson-wrangel-09-31-024v

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14 THE ADVENTURE OF WRANGEL ISLAND

Islanders—men from more than a dozen countries. We
talked much of the importance of Spitsbergen, to which
Britain then had (it seemed to us) a stronger claim than
any other nation. From the British point of view (and
in the absence of such secret information as may repose
in Government archives), I have thought it one of the
serious blunders of the Paris Conference that they gave
away Spitsbergen to Norway, not one-half aware of its
mineral riches, not one-fourth informed as to its real
climate, and apparently not at all conscious of its poten-
tial importance as a flying center. From the point of
view of Spitsbergen itself, it may be a blessing to be
under an advanced country that is not too large to
pay attention to it. To Norway itself, the arrangement
gives a wonderful pioneering opportunity. Although the
group is not quite so strategically placed in the Arctic
as the Hawaiian Islands are in the Pacific, I fancy it
will not be more than two or three decades until air lines
radiate from Spitsbergen somewhat as steamship routes
do now from Honolulu.

We talked of various other arctic islands from this
point of view and among them of Wrangel, the history,
climate and resources of which we knew, and the impor-
tance of which seemed clear to us.

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