(Full name: Reykjavíkurhöfn
-- smoky bay)
Reykjavík is the capital (from 1918(*)) of Iceland, being home to over half
of the island's quarter-of-a-million population. It is the world's most
northerly capital city, and one of the smallest. In architectural and
historical terms the city itself is rather dull, however, it
dominates Iceland in all ways (e.g. politically, socially, culturally,
economically, and above all, psychologically). Everything that "is happening"
in Iceland happens here.
The city was the first
place in Iceland to be intentionally settled. The first settler, Ingólfur
Arnarson threw some pagan paraphenalia(**) overboard in 874, and built his
farm where they washed ashore. It was sited where modern day Áalstræti
crosses Suurgata, between the Tjörnin(***) and the sea. He went on to claim
the whole of the south-west of Iceland and set about planting his
hayfields at Austurvöllur, the town square.
The city itself is situated
on a peninsula (roughly), is served by an excellent public transport system,
and is named (surpisingly enough!) after nearby geothermal
features. The approximate population in 1988 was 93,000, but this has
risen in recent years to over 150,000.
(*) Between 1801 and 1918 it was seat
of the Danish administration of Iceland.
(**) High-Seat Pillars, if you
(***) The pond (see the song Börnin vi Tjörnina)