Since the seventeenth century, people from many countries have been involved in Svalbard within fields such as whaling, fishing, research, mining and tourism. For a long time, they went about their business in a land that did not belong to any particular state. Svalbard was an international free-for-all, meaning that there were no rules, no regulations, no tribunals to solve conflicts. The situation was workable as long as activities were limited to whaling and research, for the area was large and conflicts rare.
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