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In Westfjords Life Means Seabirds

Aug 17, 2007
Westfjords a distinct region, historically and geologically, with characters all of their own and abounding in contrasts too. Almost all visitors to the Westfjords go to West Iceland first and either heading by road for the looping fjord coast or the Strandir shore, or skirting the southern Westfjords after arriving by road or ferry. Whichever route is taken, it presents a stunning cross section of scenery and culture.

The Westfjords are Icelands most sparsely populated region apart from the highlands. Life means seabirds on rugged cliffs, Arctic foxes in their lairs, and little fishing villages huddled against sheer mountains where for centuries people have battled with the forces of nature to harvest the oceans riches. The main town has regional centre for services, scene of plenty of social and cultural activities and starting point for many tours.

Westfjords geological history of Iceland, from its formation 15 to 16 million years ago until about the time of the settlement in the 9th century, which is when volcanic activity ceased in the region.

The oldest rock formations are found in the Westfjords. Every kind of volcano is found here and water flows from the earth in every form, from cool, sparkling mineral water to Europes most voluminous hot spring, from which water pours at 97 degrees at a rate of 180 litres per second.

The landscape is shaped by erosion as much as volcanism. Its innumerable islands and formed the valleys of the Westfjords peninsula, where waterfalls cascade down steep mountain slopes.

The bird life of the region is also varied. The monarch of Icelandic birds is the white tailed eagle. In the Westfjords the three largest bird cliffs in Europe.

In olden times West Iceland were flourishing agricultural regions with plentiful food resources. Many of the Icelandic sagas took place here and in the Westfjords.

Historic sites in the region include home of the medieval chieftain. A Settlement Centre, where visitors can see two exhibitions featuring audio taped narrative. One on the settlement of Iceland and the other on Egill Skallagrimsson, the most colourful personalities of the Age of Settlement.

Two universities in have been growing rapidly in recent years. The Bifrost School of Business and the Agricultural University at Hvanneyri.

Through the centuries, the Westfjords have been primarily a fishing region, but today large areas are uninhabited, such as the wild Hornstrandir, which attracts many holidaymakers. Visitors can learn about the history of the region at the maritime museum at Bolungarvik and the Maritime Museum and also on organised hikes to historic sites.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Westfjords Rental Site
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