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Vadsø [²vɑdsøː] (About this soundlisten) (Northern Sami: Čáhcesuolu; Kven: Vesisaari) is a municipality in Finnmark County, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Vadsø, which is also the administrative centre of Finnmark county. Other settlements in Vadsø include Ekkerøy, Kiby, Krampenes, Skallelv, Valen, and Vestre Jakobselv.

Vadsø kommune

Čáhcesuolu gielda  (Northern Sami)
Vesisaaren komuuni  (Kven)
Reste der Festung Vadso.JPG
Flag of Vadsø kommune
Official logo of Vadsø kommune
Finnmark within
Vadsø within Finnmark
Vadsø within Finnmark
Coordinates: 70°04′24″N 29°44′59″E / 70.07333°N 29.74972°E / 70.07333; 29.74972Coordinates: 70°04′24″N 29°44′59″E / 70.07333°N 29.74972°E / 70.07333; 29.74972
Established1 Jan 1838
Administrative centreVadsø
 • Mayor (2015)Hans-Jacob Bønå (H)
 • Total1,257.85 km2 (485.66 sq mi)
 • Land1,233.68 km2 (476.33 sq mi)
 • Water24.17 km2 (9.33 sq mi)  1.9%
Area rank77 in Norway
 • Total6,033
(Decrease from last year)
 • Rank173 in Norway
 • Density4.9/km2 (13/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years)
Demonym(s)Vadsøværing [1]
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNO-2003
Official language formBokmål [2]

The 1,258-square-kilometre (486 sq mi) municipality is the 77th largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Vadsø is the 173rd most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 6,033. The municipality's population density is 4.9 inhabitants per square kilometre (13/sq mi) and its population has decreased by 0.5% over the last decade.[3][4]

General informationEdit

View of the town of Vadsø

The village of Vadsø was granted town status in 1833. In 1838, the town of Vadsø and the entire rural district surrounding the Varangerfjorden were established as the new municipality of Vadsø (see formannskapsdistrikt). The law required that all towns should be separated from their rural districts, but because of a low population and very few voters, this was impossible to carry out for the municipality of Vadsø in 1838. (This was also true in the towns of Hammerfest and Vardø.)

In 1839, the western district (population: 598) was separated to become the new municipality of Nesseby. This left Vadsø with 388 residents. In 1858, Vadsø municipality changed again: Nesseby Municipality (population: 706) was merged back into Vadsø and the district of Vadsø located south of the Varangerfjorden (population: 1,171) was separated to form the new municipality of Sør-Varanger. This change resulted in a population of 2,050 in Vadsø municipality. In 1864, the western district of Nesseby (population: 866) was separated into a separate municipality once again, leaving Vadsø with 1,367 residents.

On 1 January 1894, the rest of the rural district (population: 1,296) surrounding the town of Vadsø was separated to form the new municipality of Nord-Varanger. This left just the town of Vadsø remaining in the municipality of Vadsø which now had 1,114 residents. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee. On 1 January 1964, the municipality of Nord-Varanger (population: 1,587) was merged with the town of Vadsø (population: 3,353) to form the present-day Vadsø Municipality.[5]


The municipality is named after the town of Vadsø. The name of the town comes from the island Vadsøya, since that was the original townsite. The Old Norse form of the name would be *Vazøy, *Vatsøy, *Vassøy; the eldest references to the town show the forms Vasthøen (1520) and Vaadsøenn (1567).[6] The first element is the genitive case of vatn which means "water" and the last element is øy which means "island". Therefore, the meaning of the name is "the island with drinking water".[7]

Coat of armsEdit

The coat of arms is from modern times; they were granted on 20 February 1976. The arms show the head of a reindeer stag in silver on a red background. The reindeer is the main domestic animal in the municipality and thus of great economic importance.[8][9]

The street of Tollbugata in Vadsø
Fishing boats on land in Vadsø


The Church of Norway has one parish (sokn) within the municipality of Vadsø. It is part of the Varanger prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland.

Churches in Vadsø
Parish (sokn) Name Location Year built
Vadsø Vadsø Church Vadsø 1958
Vestre Jakobselv Church Vestre Jakobselv 1940
Skallelv Chapel Skallelv 1961


In the 16th century, the settlement of Vadsø consisted of a fishing village and the old Vadsø Church, located on the island of Vadsøya. The settlement later moved to the mainland. Pomor trade led Vadsø to be a major trading centre in this part of Norway. Township privilege was granted in 1833, and soon settlers came from Finland and the northern part of Sweden, which suffered from famine.

Finnish was rapidly becoming the language of the majority, and this continued for decades. As of 2016, Finnish is still spoken in some households. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, Vadsø suffered several air raids from the Soviet Union, which bombed German troops. However, there are, unlike most places in Finnmark, a number of 19th century wooden houses preserved close to the city centre, notably the house of Esbensen, built by a Norwegian, and the house of Tuomainen, built by a Finn. On the island of Vadsøya is the airship mast used by Umberto Nobile and Roald Amundsen for their expedition over the North Pole with the airship Norge in 1926, and used again on Nobile's flight with the airship Italia in 1928.[7]


All municipalities in Norway, including Vadsø, are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, unemployment and other social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads. The municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor.[10] The municipality falls under the Øst-Finnmark District Court and the Hålogaland Court of Appeal.

Municipal councilEdit

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Vadsø is made up of 21 representatives that are elected to four year terms. The party breakdown of the council is as follows:

Vadsø Kommunestyre 2020–2024 [11]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)7
 Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne)1
 Conservative Party (Høyre)5
 Red Party (Rødt)1
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)4
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)3
Total number of members:21
Vadsø Kommunestyre 2016–2019 [12]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)8
 Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne)1
 Conservative Party (Høyre)10
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti)1
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)3
 Vadsø List (Vadsølista)2
Total number of members:25
Vadsø Kommunestyre 2012–2015 [13]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)10
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)1
 Conservative Party (Høyre)7
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti)2
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)3
 Liberal Party (Venstre)2
Total number of members:25


The municipality of Vadsø forms the southern coast of the Varanger Peninsula, which is largely covered by birch forests on this more sheltered side (as opposed to the northern side). The Varangerfjorden flows along the southern coast of the municipality and the river Jakobselva runs along the western border of Vadsø. The small islands of Lille Ekkerøy and Vadsøya lie in the Varangerfjorden. The Varangerhalvøya National Park lies in a large part of the interior parts of the municipality.[7] The "midnight sun" is above the horizon from 17 May to 28 July (73 days), and the period with continuous daylight lasts a bit longer, polar night from 25 November to 17 January (54 days).


Climate data for Ekkerøy
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48
Source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute[14]



Situated on the shores of the Varangerfjorden the municipality of Vadsø is known for its interesting birdlife. Many of its coastal localities like Store Ekkerøy are internationally known for its rich and interesting birdlife. The harbor at Vadsø can produce all three species of eider, including the small and stunning Steller's eider.


River fishingEdit

Fishing permits (for salmon fishing) are sold for use on specific rivers, including Komag-elva.[15]


  E75 in Vadsø municipality
View of the northern lights

Vadsø Airport is located in Kiby, just to the east of the town. The town is also a port of call for the Hurtigruten coastal express boats. Vadsø is located along the European route E75 highway.[7]

Notable residentsEdit

International relationsEdit

Twin towns — Sister citiesEdit

Vadsø is twinned with the following cities:


  1. ^ "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet.
  2. ^ "Forskrift om målvedtak i kommunar og fylkeskommunar" (in Norwegian).
  3. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå (2018). "Table: 06913: Population 1 January and population changes during the calendar year (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  4. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå. "09280: Area of land and fresh water (km²) (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  5. ^ Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  6. ^ Indrebø, Gustav (1927). Norsk namneverk. p. 161.
  7. ^ a b c d Thorsnæs, Geir; Askheim, Svein, eds. (2018-01-10). "Vadsø". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  8. ^ "Civic heraldry of Norway - Norske Kommunevåpen". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  9. ^ "Kommunevåpen". Flags of the World. 28 June 2002. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  10. ^ Hansen, Tore, ed. (2016-05-12). "kommunestyre". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  11. ^ "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2019 - Troms og Finnmark". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  12. ^ "Table: 04813: Members of the local councils, by party/electoral list at the Municipal Council election (M)" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  13. ^ "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2011 - Finnmark". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  14. ^ "eKlima Web Portal". Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Archived from the original on 2004-06-14.
  15. ^ "Laksefiske for alle". Aftenposten. 19 July 2014. p. 11.

External linksEdit