Facts about Vestmannaeyjar
Vestmannaeyjar – The Westman Islands are a group of 15-18 islands, depending on how they are classed, and about 30 skerries sand rock pillars, located off the mainland’s south coast. The islands were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions along a 30-km long fissure lying southwest to northeast. The largest island is Heimaey, 13.4 km2.Most of the islands have steep sea cliffs, and are well vegetated. Bird hunting and egg collecting are traditional to the islanders’ culture.
A Norse timber church, a gift from the Norwegians to commemorate 1000 years since Christianity was accepted in Iceland, was consecrated on Heimaey. The only church of its type in Iceland, it has been situated at the Skans area where a stone wall, built after the Turkish invasion in 1627 occurred, has been rebuilt. Population 4,416.
Hunting and fishing are the traditional mainstays of the island economy. Rich fishing grounds surround the islands. For many years Heimaey was one of Iceland´s largest fishing stations. During the main season, people, from all places and walks of life, flocked here to work long hours and earn money. The population of the town trebled and the number of boats multiplied. Today, ships are larger and more technologically advanced, production has moved from landbased freezing plants to factory ships and consequently the hustle and bustle of the main season is much a thing of the past.