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Meet The Tiny Town Where No One Is Allowed To Die

Natural World Safaris

If you're planning your next vacation, consider a trip north of the Arctic Circle to Svalbard, Norway.

The most northerly occupied territory on Earth has a lot to draw in tourists: stunning vistas, polar bears, and an unusual town where no one is allowed to die.

But as it turns out, the village of Longyearbyen has a good reason to outlaw death.

Back From The Dead

As you might have guessed, Longyearbyen passed its unusual law because things just won't stay dead in the town.

But it's not zombies the village is worried about, but tiny microbes.

A Spanish Influenza ward in 1918.Wikimedia

In 1950, researchers discovered that bodies buried in the town's cemetery still contained microbes of the Spanish Influenza in their lungs.

The disease wiped out somewhere between 50 and 100 million people from 1918 to 1920, killing off as much as 5% of the world population.

The permafrost underneath Longyearbyen is simply too cold to kill off the deadly virus, or other illnesses stored in the human body.

Anthrax Outbreaks

You might think the village's fear of a new super virus spreading from the cemetery are overblown, but the truth is it has happened before.

A veterinarian inspects reindeer.Russian Emergency Ministry

In 2016, a Siberian heatwave unleashed anthrax spores buried in permafrost.

The deadly infection killed more than 2,300 reindeer before it was contained.

The risk to Longyearbyen's 2,100 residents isn't so dire, but the town still chooses to take it seriously.

And that makes life way up north a little more complicated.

Burial Ban

To keep diseases and parasites from spreading, burials have been strictly forbidden in Longyearbyen since 1950.

Anyone who is terminally ill or elderly is shipped to Oslo, in mainland Norway, to peacefully live out their final days.

Longyearbyen, Norway.The Culture Map

Villagers who die unexpectedly have their bodies rushed out of town to be disposed of properly.

The only way you can spend your final moments in Longyearbyen is to be cremated - since the flames are hot enough to burn up any viruses.

Longyearbyen Laws

As you might have noticed, living so close to the North Pole can make you a little eccentric.

Longyearbyen's ban on dying isn't the town's only unusual law.

Villagers are also encouraged not to give birth in town, since it's a fair distance from the only (very small) hospital in Svalbard.

There is also a ban on the amount of liquor each resident is allowed to buy each month. Which isn't a bad idea, considering how remote and cold the town is.

Rare birds, and bears, call Svalbard home.Spitsbergen Travel

But the strangest Longyearbyen ban is against cats.

It turns out the island is so rich in rare birds that importing feline pets is strictly forbidden. Fish and hamsters are allowed, but dogs require a special permit.

Of course, Longyearbyen isn't the only place to pass strange laws.

Copycat Laws

A handful of towns have followed Longyearbyen's lead, passing laws against death.

Small towns in France, Brazil, and Spain have tried to outlaw death. Usually, the law is a clever way of handling a municipal cemetery that's getting overcrowded.

Sellia, Italy also outlawed dying.Trip Suggest

The historic town of Sellia, Italy also banned dying to raise awareness for its local health crisis.

The town's aging population were forbidden from passing away, and charged 10 euros if they didn't get a yearly health check to prevent their deaths.

It's definitely bizarre, but Sellia's mayor Davide Zicchinella says the stunt got almost a fifth of the town's population to sign up for health checks.

Try And Explain These

Now that we've had a few laughs about the rest of the world, let's acknowledge that America has its own fair share of goofy laws.

In Alaska it's illegal to give a moose a beer, and you need a special permit to feed garbage to hogs in Arizona.

Don't even think of drinking in Alaska, Mr. Moose.Wikimedia

Idaho went in the opposite direction: instead of legislating, say, whether it's okay to eat people, state law gives you a handy loophole.

In extreme cases where you must eat someone to survive, it's a-okay and totally legal.

Don't ask us what inspired them to pass that one.

Does your town or city have any weird laws?

[H/T: WN]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.