About Norðurþing

Facts and figures

Húsavík harbour

The total number of inhabitants in Norðurþing is approximately 2900, about 86% of the population live in Húsavík (2200) and the small villages Raufarhöfn (200) and Kópasker (120).  The remaining population lives in rural areas, mostly east of Húsavík.


The municipality is one of the largest in Iceland in geographical terms or a total of 3800 km2.  The road from Húsavík to Raufarhöfn, the northernmost village in the municipality is 138 km long.

Norðuþing runs three elementary schools as well as being one of four municipalities which jointly run an elementary school serving children from rural areas south of Húsavík.  It also runs a music school in connection with all elementary schools and three kindergartens, or playschools.  Big emphasis is on cooperation between all elementary schools, the music schools and kindergartens.

There are four swimming pools and sports halls in Norðurþing, three ports, three general service stations, three public libraries, four local community houses and three fire departments.

In addition to overseeing and organizing festivities in connection with holidays such as the National day, Christmas and New Years, the municipality is responsible for three local cultural "fairs" in three different locations.  In the fall, Raufarhöfn focuses on a week of culture and entertainment, cultural day in Kópasker is in the first Saturday of December and the Húsavík festival, Sweet days and Swedish days, are held in the third week of July.

Culture and daily life

Kids playing in the snow

The cultural life in Norðurþing is blooming.  It's important in a flourishing town that cultural live is robust so everyone can find something to their liking.  The main industry in Norðurþing is service, tourism and fishery.  In recent years tourism has grown enoumously and Húsavík has become known as the Whale watching capital of Iceland.  Diverse services are provided all around Norðurþing including, hotels, camping sites, restaurants, shops, swimming pools, golf course, marked hiking trails and various museums such as folk museum, maritime museum, whale museum, phallological museum and earthquake exhibition.

Music plays a big part in the cultural life in Norðurþing much of which is because of the high standard of the The Norðurþing School of Music.  Many local conserts are held each year where students or former students of the School of Music perform.  There are number of choirs in Norðurþing where everyone can find something to their liking. 

Candy days, the big cultural festival, takes place in Húsavík at the third week in July each year.  Locals and visitors enjoy all the best that local artists have to offer and many other artists also make their way to Húsavík to take part in this amazing festival.

Further information about events in Norðurþing can be found on www.visithusavik.com  There you can also find a video where you can take a glance of the magic of Norðurþing!

The Nature

DettifossNorðurþings is known for natural beauty and some of the most spectacular pearls of Icelandic nature can be found within its boundaries.  Such as the waterfall Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, the spectacular rock formations in Ásbyrgi and the Melrakkaslétta arctic tundra with ample bird life and remarkable landscape. 

Norðurþing offers many opportunities for visitors as well as the inhabitants in recreation and travel, whale watching is big in Húsavík and some of the best places for bird watching in Iceland can be found in Norðurþing and the surrounding areas like Mývatn.

The History

Skjalfandi bayThe Swedish explorer Garðar Svavarsson was the first man to discover that Iceland is an island. He wintered in Húsavík four years before the settlement of Ingólfur Arnarson. Left behind upon Garðar’s departure was Náttfari whom many consider the first permanent settler of Iceland. This region fully satisfied the demands made by the settlers with regard to the quality of land and potential for sustenance. The lay of the land made it better suited for average size family farms than for large manors, which were fewer here than elsewhere in North Iceland. A large number of settlers are identified in Landnáma, the book of settlements, and many burial mounds of the first settlers have been found in Southern Þingeyjarsýsla.

Around the year 963, descendants of settlers decided to convene their district assembly at Þingey Island in Skjálfandafljót. This assembly is referred to several times in written sources during the period of approx. 950–1250. Such sources are often sagas relating to local heroes, such as Þorgeir Þorkelsson of Ljósavatn who became renowned for his decisive role in the conversion to Christianity in 1000. He is also said to have thrown his images of the old heathen gods into a waterfall in Skjálfandafljót which henceforth was named Goðafoss (Water fall of the Gods).

FishermanThe Swedish explorer Garðar Svavarsson was the first man to discover that Iceland is an island. He wintered in Húsavík four years before the settlement of Ingólfur Arnarson. Left behind upon Garðar’s departure was Náttfari whom many consider the first permanent settler of Iceland. This region fully satisfied the demands made by the settlers with regard to the quality of land and potential for sustenance. The lay of the land made it better suited for average size family farms than for large manors, which were fewer here than elsewhere in North Iceland. A large number of settlers are identified in Landnáma, the book of settlements, and many burial mounds of the first settlers have been found in Southern Þingeyjarsýsla.

Around the year 963, descendants of settlers decided to convene their district assembly at Þingey Island in Skjálfandafljót. This assembly is referred to several times in written sources during the period of approx. 950–1250. Such sources are often sagas relating to local heroes, such as Þorgeir Þorkelsson of Ljósavatn who became renowned for his decisive role in the conversion to Christianity in 1000. He is also said to have thrown his images of the old heathen gods into a waterfall in Skjálfandafljót which henceforth was named Goðafoss (Water fall of the Gods).