Bjørnøya (Bear Island) is the southernmost part of Spitsbergen and is located at 74°30'N 19°Ø, about midway between the Norwegian mainland and Spitsbergen. Most of the island's 178 km2 are flat, with some mountainous areas in the south. The Miseryfjellet mountain is the tallest with 536 m. Approximately 1200 small lakes are scattered around the island.

kart over Bjørnøya

Bjørnøya. Map: Norwegian Polar Institute

Bjørnøya has a steep, almost unapproachable coastline which serves as a popular nesting site for colonies of sea birds. Around the southern tip of the island lies some of the biggest bird colonies in the world.

There is only one usable harbour on the island, Sørhamna. The climate is relatively warm, considering the latitude. The mean temperature for the warmest month (August) is 4.4°C and -7.4°C for the coldest month (January). This is due to the polar front that often surrounds the island on the eastern, southern and western side and which provides a growth in plankton that gives benefits up the food chain.

Bjørnøya nature reserve comprise the entire island except a small area surrounding the meteorological station. It was established in 1918 as a radio- and weather station and is still in use today.