Westfjords

The Westfjords or West Fjords (Icelandic: Vestfirðir, ISO 3166-2:IS: IS-4) is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland and an administrative district. It lies on the Denmark Strait, facing the east coast of Greenland. It is connected to the rest of Iceland by a 7-km-wide isthmus between Gilsfjörður and Bitrufjörður. The Westfjords are very mountainous; the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills. These indentations make roads very circuitous and communications by land difficult. In addition many of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months of the year. The Vestfjarðagöng road tunnel from 1996 has improved that situation. The cliffs at Látrabjarg comprise the longest bird cliff in the northern Atlantic Ocean and are at the westernmost point in Iceland. The Drangajökull glacier is located in the north of the peninsula and is the fifth-largest of the country, but the only glacier of the region.

Vestfirðir
The Vestfirðir area
CountryIceland
SeatÍsafjörður
Area
  Total22,271 km2 (8,599 sq mi)
Population
 (2007)
  Total7,300
  Density0.3/km2 (0.8/sq mi)

Population

The lack of flat lowlands in the area limits the potential for agriculture, which is mostly restricted to low-intensity sheep grazing near the fjords. Good natural harbors in many of the fjords and their proximity to fishing areas are vital for the local economy. The Westfjords are very sparsely populated: the total population in 2007 was 7,380. The district capital and by far the largest settlement is Ísafjörður (population around 4000).

Population decline
year population % of Iceland's population
1920 13,443 14.24%
1930 13,133 12.09%
1940 13,130 10.80%
1950 11,300 7.83%
1960 10,507 5.86%
1970 10,050 4.91%
1980 10,479 4.53%
1990 9,798 3.80%
2000 8,150 2.86%
2007 7,309 2.32%

Main settlements in the Westfjords

Climate

The box is for Goltur, at the tip of the peninsula 20 km (12 mi) northwest of Ísafjörður. Westfjords is generally the coldest area at sea level in Iceland, because of the East Greenland Current.

Climate data for Goltur
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10
(50)
10
(50)
11
(52)
11
(52)
17
(63)
18
(64)
19
(66)
18
(64)
15
(59)
15
(59)
13
(55)
11
(52)
19
(66)
Average high °C (°F) 1
(33)
2
(35)
3
(37)
4
(40)
7
(44)
9
(49)
11
(51)
11
(51)
7
(45)
5
(41)
4
(40)
2
(35)
6
(42)
Daily mean °C (°F) −2
(29)
0
(32)
1
(33)
2
(36)
4
(40)
7
(45)
8
(47)
8
(47)
6
(42)
3
(38)
3
(37)
0
(32)
3
(38)
Average low °C (°F) −3
(26)
−2
(29)
−1
(30)
1
(33)
2
(36)
5
(41)
7
(44)
7
(44)
4
(40)
2
(35)
1
(34)
−1
(30)
2
(35)
Record low °C (°F) −11
(12)
−10
(14)
−13
(9)
−7
(19)
−4
(25)
−2
(28)
2
(36)
1
(34)
−3
(27)
−5
(23)
−9
(16)
−9
(16)
−13
(9)
Average relative humidity (%) 75 77 76 79 77 82 83 81 82 79 80 78 79
Mean daily sunshine hours 6 9.2 12.7 16.6 20.7 23.4 21.5 18.1 13.9 10.3 6.9 4.6 13.7
Source: Weatherbase[1]

Law

In 1615, 32 shipwrecked Basque whalers were killed by locals, after which the magistrate made it law that any Basque person seen in the region should be instantly killed. This law was repealed in May 2015.[2]

See also

References

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