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Arctic island prepares to become world's first time-free zone

Thursday, June 20th 2019, 4:30 pm - A new take on 'endless summer'

For 69 days every summer the sun doesn't set on Sommarøy, Norway.

A small island north of the Arctic Circle, Sommarøy is known for its white sand beaches and spectacular scenery. But now it wants to be known for another, unique reason -- residents of Sommarøy want the town to be recognized as the world's first (and, so far, only) 'time-free zone'.

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"Every summer from May 18th to July 26th, we who live here enjoy our lives without the time zone," say the residents behind the push to abolish time. "We do what we want when we want."

Once the sun rises on May 18th, Sommarøy is bathed in constant sunlight for 1656 hours straight, thanks to the tilt and position of the planet in its orbit.


On the day of the summer solstice, points along the Arctic Circle see 24 hours of sunlight. Points further north, like Sommarøy, get a longer stretch of time in the sun. And at the top of the world, right at the geographic North Pole, the sun rose in mid-March and won't set until the end of September -- 187 days of Midnight Sun.

The island lies at about the same latitude as Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq) on Victoria Island in Nunavut.

SEE ALSO: Time-lapse shows 24 hours of Midnight Sun

On the opposite side of the year, Sommarøy is plunged into the polar night -- constant darkness from November 26th to January 16th. So perhaps it's not so strange they want to make the most of the sunshine while they have it.

"There's constantly daylight, and we act accordingly," said islander Kjell Ove Hveding in a statement. "In the middle of the night, which city folk might call '2 a.m.,' you can spot children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim."

"We have discussed more and more about how our clock takes us time, rather than give us," Hveding told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

While the island waits for the official ruling from the government in Oslo, they're taking time into their own hands -- and off of their wrists. The railings of the bridge that connects the Sommarøy with the mainland are covered with timepieces, reminding travellers that, at least while on the island, your time is what you make of it.

Sources: Time Free Zone | Northern Norway | University of Guelph | Tages-Anzeiger


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