Chief port and capital (from 1918) of Iceland, on the southwest coast on Faxa Bay; population (2006 est) 115,400. Fish processing is the main industry. Most of the city is heated by an underground water mains system, built in 1945, the source of the hot water being volcanic springs and geysers. It was a seat of Danish administration from 1801 to 1918, and has been the seat of the Parliament since 1843. Reykjavik is the world's most northerly capital.
Reykjavik is a Viking foundation, established by Ingólfur Arnarson in 874, its name meaning ‘Smoky Bay’, probably because of the geysers and steam coming from the ground. The settlement was originally a fishing village, gaining city status in 1786 and becoming an episcopal see in 1796. The present city is largely modern and has developed only since the late 19th century when the commercial fisheries grew. Over half of Iceland's population lives in or near the city and it is the centre of culture, commerce and government. It has two cathedrals, the newer of them, Hallgríms-kirkja, reaching a height of 75 m/246 ft; a university which was inaugurated in 1911; the Althing or Parliament house (1881); the mid-18th century Government Building; the National Library containing 300,000 printed books and 12,000 manuscripts; the National Museum (1863) housing Icelandic and Viking antiquities; the Árni Magnússon Institute, containing priceless saga manuscripts; and the City Hall (opened in 1992), a key administrative centre. Árbær Folk Museum and the Nordic House, devoted to the Nordic way of life, are in the outskirts of the city. Reykjavik has grown rapidly in recent times and there are substantial residential and industrial areas on the eastern side. There is also an airport.
Reykjavik – Next Door to Nature