Selfoss (town)

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Selfoss (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈsɛlˌfɔsː]) is a town in southern Iceland on the banks of the Ölfusá river. It is the seat of the municipality of Árborg. The Icelandic Route 1 runs through the town on its way between Hveragerði and Hella. The town is a centre of commerce and small industries with a population of around 10,000 (2023), making it the largest residential area in South Iceland.

View over Selfoss, looking south from the north bank of the Ölfusá river
View over Selfoss, looking south from the north bank of the Ölfusá river
Location of the Municipality of Árborg
Location of the Municipality of Árborg
Selfoss is located in Iceland
Location in Iceland
Coordinates: 63°56′N 21°00′W / 63.933°N 21.000°W / 63.933; -21.000
Country Iceland
ConstituencySouth Constituency
RegionSouthern Region
First settled1891
Incorporated as a municipality1946
 • Total2 km2 (0.8 sq mi)
 • Total9,683
 • Density3,137/km2 (8,120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
WebsiteOfficial website

History Edit

Overview Edit

Selfoss 1918. The original Ölfusá bridge, constructed in 1891 next to Tryggvaskáli, the oldest building in Selfoss.

Selfoss was settled by Þórir Ásason sometime after 1000, but the Sagas of Icelanders mention that Ingólfur Arnarson was there during the winter of 873-74, under the Ingólfsfjall mountain, which is west of the Ölfusá river.

In the summer of 1891, due to the lobbying of Tryggvi Gunnarsson, a member of the Alþing, the first suspension bridge was built over the Ölfusá. That was a major breakthrough in Icelandic infrastructure. The current bridge was built in 1945 after the original structure collapsed. The cabin built to house workers constructing the bridge is the oldest building in Selfoss, and was named Tryggvaskáli in honor of Tryggvi for his efforts to construct the bridge. After the construction the building was used for travellers' accommodation and dining, until 1974. The building was also the site of Selfoss's first school, telephone exchange and bank.[1]

The town of Selfoss developed as a result of the bridge, as the bridge made the town a logical centre for services for the surrounding agricultural region.

In 1900, the town was home to only 40 inhabitants, but by 1950 the population had climbed to around 1,000.

In 1931, the dairy firm Mjólkurbú Flóamanna and general store Kaupfélag Árnesinga were established. The two companies were the main employers in the area for several decades. During World War II the British stationed troops at Selfoss to guard the strategic bridge.

Population growth Edit

Today, with more efficient transportation, Selfoss benefits from its proximity to the Reykjavík area and is predicted to grow further in the coming years as businesses and residents relocate to the town because of lower property prices. This has also led to many relocating their homes from Reykjavík to the much calmer Selfoss. The population has more than doubled from 2000 to 2020, growing from around 4,500 residents to over 9,000 in 2023.[2]

Population growth of Selfoss
Year Population
1940 234
1950 967
1960 1,767
1970 2,397
1980 3,409
1990 3,915
2000 4,541
2005 5,334
2010 6,555
2015 6,840
2020 8,686
2021 9,056
2022 9,408
2023 9,683

Present day Edit

It enjoys low rates of unemployment and is the home of one of the largest colleges in the country; FSU Fjölbrautaskóli Suðurlands. In early August, the town holds a festival called "Sumar á Selfossi", meaning "Summer in Selfoss". Local residents decorate their gardens with ribbons, coloured according to neighbourhood, and a fete is held on the public grassland behind the civic library. The fete involves the selling of homemade goods on small stalls, performances by musicians and magicians on a temporary stage, and in 2011, a "Strongest Man" competition was held, with video recording by Icelandic television channel Stöð 2. In the evening, the revelry continues with a large bonfire and free fireworks display.

Former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer is buried near Selfoss at Laugardælir cemetery.[3]

2008 earthquake Edit

According to the United States Geological Survey, an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.3 occurred near Selfoss on the afternoon of Thursday 29 May 2008, causing considerable damage to some buildings and roads.[4][5] The earthquake was felt across southern Iceland, including in the capital Reykjavík and the airbase at Keflavik. At least 30 people were injured; however, there were no reports of human deaths.[6] A number of sheep in the Selfoss area were killed.[5]

New town center Edit

In the summer of 2021, a new pedestrianised town center was opened.[7] It consists of reconstructions of historical buildings from all across the country and is located right across from the bridge, next to the town hall. The largest building is the reconstructed 'Old Dairy' building, a dairy processing plant constructed in 1929 and demolished in 1954, now in use as a food hall including a skyr bar. It includes a new town square, shops, restaurants and a food hall. As a result of its success, in 2022 it was decided to expand the project with 40 new houses, including two hotels.[8]

Panoramic view of Selfoss

Sports Edit

The town biggest sports club is the UMF Selfoss multi-sport club, which was founded in 1936. In May 2019, the Selfoss men's handball team won the national handball championship for the first time.[9] In August 2019, the women's football team added the club's second major title in one year when it won the Icelandic Football Cup.[10] Its men's football team has played in the Icelandic leagues since 1966. The team spent two seasons in the top-tier Úrvalsdeild, in 2010 and 2012, but were relegated in both seasons.

The town also has a basketball club named Körfuknattleiksfélag Selfoss. Its men's team has had spells in the top-tier Úrvalsdeild karla. Part of the local college and the club serve as a development academy for young players that attend the school.

Transport Edit

The Ölfusá bridge, reconstructed in 1945.

Selfoss sits on Route 1, the Icelandic ring road, and is the first major stop east of Reykjavik. The bridge over the Ölfusá river, called Ölfusárbrú, is an important link in southern Iceland, and the genesis of the town's location. The original bridge was constructed in 1891 but collapsed when a milk truck traversed the bridge in 1944. The current Ölfusá bridge was opened a year later in December 1945.

Heavy summer traffic is a problem during the summer in Selfoss. The Ölfusá bridge is only a two lane bridge and traffic is routed through the town centre. It carries practically all of the traffic to the south of the country, a significant bottleneck. This is planned to be replaced by a new bypass road just north of the town and new 4-lane bridge over the Ölfus river, with current plans seeing it complete by 2026.[11]

Strætó bs. operates multiple daily buses (bus numbers 51 and 52) to and from Reykjavík, as well as buses headed towards Höfn and Landeyjarhöfn (for Vestmannaeyjar) in the east. There are also a limited service (bus numbers 72 and 73) to south Iceland desinations such as Laugarvatn, Reykholt and Flúðir.

Selfoss Airport is a privately run airstrip located just to the southwest of the town.

Geography Edit

Selfoss is located about 11 km inland from the southwestern coast of Iceland, and 50 km from Reykjavík. It is the major town and the administrative seat of the Southern Region. The closest other towns are Eyrarbakki, Stokkseyri and Hveragerði.

Climate Edit

Similar to the rest of the southern coast of Iceland, Selfoss has a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfc) with cool summers and cold winters, although relatively mild for its high latitude. Precipitation is abundant year round, with October usually seeing the most precipitation.

Climate data for Reykir í Ölfusi (1972-2000), 11.8 km (7.3 mi) from Selfoss
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.5
Average high °C (°F) 2.0
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.3
Average low °C (°F) −2.8
Record low °C (°F) −19.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 94.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 17.7 16.8 18.4 16.8 15.2 16.2 16.1 16.9 16.8 18.8 16.1 18.1 203.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 21.9 47.5 101.0 139.8 161.6 152.8 144.6 122.0 112.2 79.8 42.1 15.0 1,140.3
Source 1: Icelandic Met Office (extremes 1957-2015 for Eyrarbakki-11 km (7 mi) from Selfoss) [12][13]
Source 2: Icelandic Met Office (precipitation 1961-90 for Lækjarbakki precipitation station in the town of Selfoss, precipitation days 1961-90 for Forsæti-17 km (10 mi) from Selfoss) [14][15]

Notable people Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "Saga Hússins – Tryggvaskáli". Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  2. ^ "Mannfjöldi eftir þéttbýlisstöðum, kyni og aldri 1. janúar 1998-2023". Hagstofa Íslands - Talnaefni. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  3. ^ "Life Is Rescues". The New Yorker. 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  4. ^ "Strong earthquake rocks Iceland". BBC. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  5. ^ a b "Magnitude 6.3 - ICELAND REGION". United States Geological Survey. 2008-05-29. Archived from the original on January 11, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  6. ^ "Earthquake strikes Iceland, causing some injuries". International Herald Tribune. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  7. ^ "Meirihluti kaus með breytingum í Árborg". Fréttablaðið. 2018-08-18. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  8. ^ Hreiðarsson, Magnús Hlynur (2022-10-14). "13 milljarðar í annan áfanga nýja miðbæjarins á Selfossi - Vísir". (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  9. ^ Valur Páll Eiríksson (22 May 2019). "Selfoss Íslandsmeistari í fyrsta sinn". RÚV (in Icelandic). Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  10. ^ Ingvi Þór Sæmundsson (17 August 2019). "Sjáðu sigurfögnuð Selfyssinga og bikarinn fara á loft". Ví (in Icelandic). Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  11. ^ Hreiðarsson, Magnús Hlynur (2022-11-09). "Ný Ölfusárbrú verður ekki klár fyrr en 2026 - Vísir". (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  12. ^ "Climatological Data for Eyrarbakki". Icelandic Meteorological Office. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Climatological Data for Reykir í Ölfusi". Icelandic Meteorological Office. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Climatological Data for Lækjarbakki". Icelandic Meteorological Office. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  15. ^ "1961-90 Precipitation Normals for Forsæti". Icelandic Meteorological Office. Retrieved 24 November 2016.

External links Edit