Reykjavík, Iceland


According to abbreviationfinder, Reykjavík is the capital and main port of Iceland, inside the always ice-free Faxabucht (Faxaflói) on the west coast, (2019) 128 800 residents (conurbation 222 800 residents).

Reykjavík, including the neighboring municipalities of Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, Mosfellsbær, Seltjarnarnes and Garðabær, forms an agglomeration of 217,900 residents; almost 63% of the total population of Iceland live here. The city is the seat of government, parliament and the Supreme Court as well as a Protestant and a Catholic bishop. As the country’s cultural center, Reykjavík is a stronghold of art, music and literature. The city is home to a university (since 1911), a private university (since 1998), scientific institutes (including the fishing industry, genetic engineering and biotechnology), an art academy, the national archive, library, museum and gallery, the Museum of Iceland’s Cultural Heritage, an open-air museum, Natural history museum, national theater, concert hall and conference center Harpa (2011).

Almost all of Iceland’s imports and most of its exports are handled via the new port of Reykjavík; the old port is a passenger port, a landing stage for cruise ships and the location of a fishing fleet. The industry mainly includes the food industry (including meat, fish processing, dairy products), medical and communication technology and software development. After overcoming the banking crisis (2008), finance and trade have also regained their old importance. – A special feature is the heating of the city with natural hot water, some of which has been drilled right near Reykjavík (since 1930/43; today over 300 wells).


The cityscape is characterized by relatively young buildings; Lake Tjörnin lies in the middle of the “old town” near the harbor. Next to the parliament building is the Lutheran cathedral church (consecrated in 1796, rebuilt in 1847). The Hallgrimskirkja, also Lutheran (consecrated in 1986), is much larger; With a height of 74.5 m, the church defines the silhouette of the city and has become Reykjavík’s landmark.


Reykjavík was founded as a Viking settlement in 877 after the conquest of the Norwegian Ingólfur Árnason (870/874), but only received city rights in 1786. In 1843 the Althing took its seat in Reykjavík. In 1903 the city became the official seat of the Danish Ministry of Icelandic Affairs, in 1918 the capital of the now independent Iceland and in 1944 the Republic of Iceland.

Thingvellir National Park (World Heritage)

Several volcanoes frame the national park. The Thingplatz, where the Althing met as a legislative assembly from 930 to 1798, lies on its lava-covered ground. The site is a symbol of Iceland’s independent history and one of the oldest parliaments in the world.

Thingvellir National Park: Facts

Official title: Thingvellir National Park
Cultural monument: National park, surrounded by four volcanic systems, including a shield volcano (1,060 m high); from 930 to 1798 the place of the Althing, the legislative assembly of the Free Iceland, one of the oldest parliaments in the world
Continent: Europe
Country: Iceland
Location: Thingvellir, in southwest Iceland, about 50 km east of Reykjavik
Appointment: 2004
Meaning: Unique symbol of the historical self-confidence of the Icelanders

Thingvellir National Park: history

at 930 First traditional legislative assembly, “Althing”, mainly by Norwegian Vikings
1000 Assumption of Christianity by the congregation
1928 Appointment of Thingvellir as a national park
June 17, 1944 Proclamation of the Republic of Iceland

Surtsey volcanic island (World Heritage)

The island was formed from 1963 to 1967 by submarine volcanic eruptions off the south coast of Iceland. It is a godsend for science, because there, free of human interference, a lot of information about the colonization by plants and animals can be collected. The island, built of loose rock, is losing height due to erosion and will probably have sunk again below sea level by the beginning of the next century.

Surtsey Volcanic Island: Facts

Official title: Surtsey volcanic island
Natural monument: Volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean, 32 km off the south coast of Iceland (size: 1.4 km², protected area 65.5 km²; altitude: up to 154 m above sea level); Part of the Westman Islands; created between 1963 and 1967 by volcanic eruptions in the Atlantic
Continent: Europe
Country: Iceland
Location: Westman Islands
Appointment: 2008
Meaning: Completely untouched volcanic area protected from human civilization; natural laboratory for investigating the colonization processes of animals and plants on new land; Starting point for a large number of scientific findings on evolutionary, geological and ecological processes
Flora and fauna: Volcanic rock with 335 species of invertebrates, 89 species of birds, 60 vascular plants with 75 species of moss, 71 lichens and 24 fungi (status 2004).

Reykjavík, Iceland