The Norwegian town of Longyearbyen looks like an Arctic wonderland and fresh out of a fairytale with its northern lights and snow spread all over the landscape. But a lesser known fact about the town is that it actually has a law that makes dying illegal for the 2,000 odd residents living there.
As bizarre as it sounds, dying has been banned on the island since 1950. The law was brought into effect after it was discovered that bodies in the cemetery weren't decomposing due to the extremely chilly temperatures in the region, The Sun reported.
Back in the 2000's, when scientists had made the morbid discovery, they tested corpses buried in the area, who had succumbed to the 1917 influenza virus. To their surprise – samples of the virus were still present in those bodies. The residents of the island had no idea that they were living among the deadly virus all this while.
This has led to the graveyard no longer taking any new inhabitants as they are afraid that the lack of decomposition might cause the lingering viruses to spread diseases throughout the island. This means even the ones who have lived on the island all their lives cannot get buried there.
For the terminally ill residents of the island, they are shipped off and flown hundreds of miles to the mainland of Oslo to live out the remainder of their days until they die. The island even lacks old people's homes or any kind of hospice care arrangements, so they have to be moved well ahead of their death too.
Jan Christian Meyer, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said: "If you seem to be about to expire, every effort will be made to send you to the mainland." Cremation urns are allowed to be buried in the graveyard within the island, but not many people opt for that.
But dying isn't the only problem the island is faced with; expectant mothers cannot give birth within the island because there is no hospital – leading them to fly out weeks ahead of their due date, only to returns weeks after the baby is born.
The location of the island is one of the northernmost regions on the planet poses multiple other unique challenges for life residing there. For months, there's no lights and only darkness from dawn to dusk.
Polar bears roam in the wilderness just outside of town and despite the government's efforts at keeping wild animals at bay, spotting them in the snowy terrain is not uncommon. Even cats are banned in the area to protect the region's bird population.
Visitors are expected to take their shoes off in every building and residents have a restriction on how much alcohol they can buy a month, due to the relatively low prices of alcohol on the island.
Another absurd rule of the island is that only residents with jobs are allowed to live there. Only people able to sufficiently support themselves can live there to deal with the hard conditions.