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Reykjavik City Map

Reykjavik is the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude at 64o08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxafloi Bay. With a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the Greater Reykjavik Area) it is the heart of Iceland's economic and governmental activity.


Reykjavik is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which Ingolfur Arnarson is said to have established around 870. Until the 18th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population and governmental activities.

Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland. The Reykjavik area coastline is characterized by peninsulas, coves, straits, and islands.

During the Ice Age (up to 10,000 years ago) a large glacier covered parts of the city area, reaching as far out as Alftanes. Other parts of the city area were covered by sea water. In the warm periods and at the end of the Ice Age, some hills like Oskjuhlio were islands. The former sea level is indicated by sediments (with clams) reaching (at Oskjuhlio, for example) as far as 43 m (141.08 ft) above the current sea level. The hills of Oskjuhlio and Skolavorouholt appear to be the remains of former shield volcanoes which were active during the warm periods of the Ice Age.

After the Ice Age, the land rose as the heavy load of the glaciers fell away, and began to look as it does today. But the capital city area continued to be shaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, like the one 4500 years ago in the mountain range Blofjoll, when the lava coming down the Ellioa0 valley reached the sea at the bay of Ellioavogur.