Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland and is located on the peninsula of the Seltjarnarnes at the bottom of Faxaflói bay. The city has 216 878 residents in 2017. Reykjavík is located in a harsh environment with magnificent views to the surrounding mountains. The city is Iceland’s economic and cultural center.
The service industry and industry employ most of the city’s residents. Industry is particularly important in connection with fishing. This applies, among other things, to fish processing, freezer series, fish canning and fish oil production. Otherwise there are other food industry, graphic, workshop, textile and clothing industries. In the vicinity there is production of fertilizers and aluminum.
Tourism is Iceland’s fastest growing trade route; from having 1.8 million tourists in 2016, that figure rose to 2.4 million in 2017. The industry accounted for 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2016 and is the fifth most important trade route. In 2017, the tourism industry had 1783 employers and 26,800 employees, according to Statistics Iceland. The tourism industry employs more than the fishing industry. Reykjavik is the biggest tourist magnet and gateway to all the others. The majority of visitors are tourists who combine a stopover in Iceland with a trip between the US and Europe. The increase also has a downside; The tourists themselves believe that there are too many tourists and black labor has gained widespread use, mainly with cheap labor from Eastern Europe.
Transport and Communications
Reykjavík is the country’s communication center with the country’s largest and most important port. Iceland’s second largest airport (Vatnsmýri) is located in Reykjavík and is responsible for domestic traffic and flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, while most of the international traffic goes over Keflavík, about 40 kilometers southwest of the city.
Until the port of Reykjavík was expanded in the years 1913–1917, the city was without a port. Then larger vessels had to anchor outside the city and the cargo was brought in with smaller boats. In 1968, a new port facility with container terminal was put into operation in Sundahöfn east of the city center, while the Reykjavík port is today used by trawlers and the coastguard. From here, car ferries go to Akranes.
Public transport is well developed, Hlemmur and Lækjartorg are the most important bus terminals.
Public institutions and buildings
Reykjavík is home to Alþingi, the ” Everything Parliament “, which houses the parliament, Arnarhvóll with the government and the university, which was founded in 1911. Iceland’s National Museum, National Library, National Theater, as well as the art museums at Kjarvalsstađir, Hafnarhus and Asmundarsafn are also here. The Nordic House cultural center was inaugurated in 1968. The Norwegian Embassy in Iceland is located in Reykjavík.
At the harbor is the concert hall and conference center Harpa, where the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera are located. Harpa opened in 2011.
Höfði is best known for the 1986 summit between Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It was originally the French consultant’s house in Iceland, but is now owned by Reyjavik and used for official receptions and meetings. The legend tells that it also houses a ghost, the white lady.
Reykjavík was designated a European cultural city in the year 2000.
Centrally located in the town is the small lake Tjörnin, which is partly ice-free in winter due to the warm water. In the northwestern corner of the pond lies the city’s new town hall from 1992, which connects water and nature and is deliberately designed to draw bird life into the city. Here is also the tourist information in Reykjavik.
Close by is Alþingi, built in 1881, and the cathedral from the mid-1800s. The buildings are partly incoherent; it consists mostly of detached houses, but blocks are also found, usually in concrete. Most houses are heated by hot water from hot springs, partly from Reykir 16 kilometers away and partly from boreholes in Reykjavík.
Government buildings, the National Library and the National Theater are approximately at the site of the first settlement. On a hill southwest of the city center is the Hallgrim Church, Iceland’s largest church, with distinctive architecture. In front of the church stands the Leiv Eiriksson Monument, a gift from the United States. Close to the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) is the Nordic House.
The president lives at Bessastaðir just off Reykjavík.
The old harbor area, where the Harpa Culture House is located, was built in the years between 1913 and 1917 and is a colorful and increasingly popular residential area where various marine activities, such as whale watching, are gathered. Here is also the Vikin Maritime Museum.
Öskjuhlíð is a beautiful forest area around the Perlan Geological Museum, which is one of Reykjavik’s most visible landmarks. The area is in the middle of the city and a popular recreation area with a well-developed network of hiking trails.