The Norwegian Town Where the Sun Doesn't Rise for two months

Norway, where the “Polar Night” lasts all winter—and where rates of seasonal depression are remarkably low.

Located over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø, Norway, is home to extreme light variation between seasons. During the Polar Night, which lasts from November to January, the sun doesn’t rise at all. Then the days get progressively longer until the Midnight Sun period, from May to July, when it never sets. After the midnight sun, the days get shorter and shorter again until the Polar Night, and the yearly cycle repeats.

Despite the city’s extreme darkness, past research has shown that residents of Tromsø have lower rates of wintertime depression than would be expected given the long winters and high latitude. In fact, the prevalence of self-reported depression during the winter in Tromsø, with its latitude of 69°N, is the same as that of Montgomery County, Maryland, at 41°N. While there is some debate among psychologists about the best way to identify and diagnose wintertime depression, one thing seems clear: Residents of northern Norway seem able to avoid much of the wintertime suffering experienced elsewhere—including, paradoxically, in warmer, brighter, more southern locations.