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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Eskifjörður town in East Fjords

Updated: Jan 12, 2022


Eskifjörður town
The small town Eskifjörður in the East Fjords in Iceland

The town of Eskifjörður has been around for a long time, and its origin can be traced back to a history of trading and fishing, similar to most of the towns and villages in Iceland. In the late 18th century, the trading company Örum&Wulff built a house and started trading in the area after the notorious Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly ended. Eskifjörður became a certified trading post at the end of the 19th century. Then, in the last quarter of the 19th century, Norse entrepreneurs started herring fishing in Iceland, with their center of operation in Eskifjörður. This venture enhanced the economy of the small village in a country that largely depended on agriculture.


The lively town had a vital export harbor

Wharf at Eskifjörður town
The wharf for small boats in Eskifjörður town

Soon enough, Icelandic entrepreneurs learned about the profit associated with fishing and fish exporting, and overall economic activity in Eskifjörður thrived in the last decades of the 19th century. Consequently, Eskifjörður became one of the busiest exporting harbors in Iceland. So, at that time, Eskifjörður had a lot to offer for a country that had suffered from epidemics, famines, and eruptions for centuries and was more or less dependent on agriculture as a means of survival. People from all over the East Fjords and the southern part of Iceland started to settle in the town.


Like many coastal villages, the motorboats made a difference

Single family home in Eskifjörður village
Old single family home in Eskifjörður village

As the fishing activity was already an essential base for the town’s economy early in the 20th century, the town quickly adjusted to technical development, and motorboats arrived in 1905. This was an excellent setup for the growth of Eskifjörður, and the town flourished until the third decade, when most things fell apart with the catch declining and prices in foreign markets dropping. In the fifties and the sixties, most economic activities were connected to fishing and fish processing, which is still the primary source of livelihood. It was during those years that most of the town’s infrastructure was being built, including government and municipal service buildings. Among those projects were houses for the district magistrate and a doctor, a health service building, schools, and a new harbor. The town also has an excellent camping site with good facilities and an exceptional swimming pool.


Eskifjörður is a growing town with an excellent economy

Swimming pool in Eskifjörður
Swimming pool in the town Eskifjörðru in East Fjords Iceland

Today, Eskifjörður is a thriving town with a population of approximately 1.100 inhabitants as of January 2022. The village has a strong economy and is part of the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð, which embraces seven small, attractive towns and villages and beautiful fjords. The municipality offers good services for the residents and has a healthy economy based mainly on fishing and fish processing. Although it is much disputed, the aluminum smelter in Reyðarfjörður has also, in recent decades, contributed substantially to the development of the economy. Eskifjörður has not developed as a tourist attraction or focused on service to tourists; it is more like a village you drive through. The swimming pool, however, is both beautiful and one of the best in the eastern region, and it is well worth adding a few kilometers to your drive if you are driving through the Ring Road. The town also has a good camping site and a grocery store in addition to offering accommodations.


Old houses in Eskifjörður
There are many beautiful old houses in Eskifjörður village in the East Fjords

The merging of the towns and villages into a single municipality was a smart move in the East Fjords and helped develop the overall economy. The recently built tunnels between the towns in the East Fjords have also significantly contributed to the development of the area. It is much easier to drive through the tunnels instead of the difficult mountain passes or the long fjord and peninsula roads.


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