The World's Northernmost Cities

The northern hemisphere is known for having more land than the southern hemisphere, but much of that land is undeveloped, and the areas that have evolved into large cities and towns are clustered in lower latitudes in places like the United States and Central Europe.

The largest city with the highest latitude is Helsinki, Finland, located at a latitude of 60°10'15''N. It has a metropolitan population of over 1.2 million. Meanwhile, Reykjavík, Iceland is the world's northernmost capital city with a latitude just under the Arctic Circle at 64°08'N with a population of nearly 129,000 as of 2019.

Large cities like Helsinki and Reykjavík are rare in the far north. There are, however, some small towns and cities that are located very far north in the harsh climates of the Arctic Circle above 66.5°N latitude.

The world's 10 northernmost settlements with a permanent population of over 500, arranged in order of latitude with population numbers included for reference:

of 10

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Longyearbyen houses
MB Photography / Getty Images

Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, Norway is the world's northernmost settlement and the largest in the region. Although this small town has a population of just over 2,000 people, it attracts visitors with the modern Svalbard Museum, the North Pole Expedition Museum, and the Svalbard Church.

  • Latitude: 78°13'N
  • Population: 2,144 (2015)
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Qaanaaq, Greenland

Sunrise in Qaanaaq in Northwest Greenland
Jenny E. Ross / Getty Images

​Also known as Ultima Thule, "the edge of known territory," Qaanaaq is the northernmost town in Greenland and offers adventurers the chance to explore some of the most rugged wilderness in the country.

  • Latitude: 77°29'N
  • Population: 656 (2013)
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Upernavik, Greenland

Just By Upernavik
Sanket Bhattacharya / 500px / Getty Images

Located on an island of the same name, the picturesque settlement of Upernavik typifies small Greenland towns. Originally founded in 1772, Uppernavik is sometimes referred to as "Women's Island," and has been home to many different nomadic tribes, including the Norse Vikings, throughout its history.

  • Latitude: 72°47'N
  • Population: 1,166 (2017)
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Khatanga, Russia

Shopping on a cold day in Siberia.
Martin Hartley / Getty Images

Russia's northernmost settlement is the desolate city of Khatanga, whose only real draw is the Underground Mammoth Museum. Housed in a giant ice cave, the museum is home to one of the largest collections of mammoth remains in the world, which are stored in the permafrost.

  • Latitude: 71°58'N
  • Population: 3,450 (2002)
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Tiksi, Russia

Rocky Shore By Sea Against Sky near Tiksi, Russia
Irina Vellenore / EyeEm / Getty Images

Tiksi is a popular last-stop destination for adventurers heading out into the Russian Arctic, but otherwise, this 5,000-population town doesn't have much of a draw for anyone who's not part of its fishing trade.

  • Latitude: 71°39'N
  • Population: 5,063 (2010)
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Belushya Guba, Russia

Belushya Guba, Russia
Anton Petrus / Getty Images

Russian for Beluga Whale Bay, Belushya Guba is a work settlement in the middle of the Novaya Zemlya District of Arkhangelsk Oblast. This small settlement is mostly home to military personnel and their family and experienced a population hike in the 1950s during nuclear experimentation that has since declined.

  • Latitude: 71°33'N
  • Population: 1,972 (2010)
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Utqiaġvik, Alaska, United States

Built Structure On Snow Covered Land Against Clear Sky near Barrow, Alaska
John Pusieski / EyeEm / Getty Images

Alaska's northernmost settlement is the city of Utqiaġvik. Around the turn of the 20th century, British settlers started calling the city Barrow, but in 2016, residents voted to officially return to the original Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. Although there's not much regarding tourism in Utqiaġvik, this small industrial town is a popular stop for supplies before heading further north to explore the Arctic Circle.

  • Latitude: 71°18'N
  • Population: 4,212 (2018)
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Honningsvåg, Norway

Honningsvåg, Norway
Michael Herdegen / 500px / Getty Images

As of 1997, a Norwegian municipality must have 5,000 residents to be a city. Honningsvåg was declared a city in 1996, exempting it from this rule.

  • Latitude: 70°58'N
  • Population: 2,484 (2017)
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Uummannaq, Greenland

Umanak in Greenland
Gonzalo Azumendi / Getty Images

Uummannaq, Greenland is home to the country's northernmost ferry terminal, meaning you can access this remote town by sea from any number of other Greenland ports. However, this town mostly serves as a hunting and fishing base rather than a tourist destination.

  • Latitude: 70°58'N
  • Population: 1,282 (2013)
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Hammerfest, Norway

Blue timen in Hammerfest
Tor Even Mathisen / Getty Images

Hammerfest is one of Norway's most popular and populated northern cities. It's close to both the Sørøya and Seiland National Parks, which are popular fishing and hunting destinations, as well as some small museums and coastal attractions.

  • Latitude: 70°39'N
  • Population: 10,109 (2018)
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Briney, Amanda. "The World's Northernmost Cities." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 28). The World's Northernmost Cities. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "The World's Northernmost Cities." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 8, 2023).