Vadsø - where the sky meets the sea
A multi-cultural town with arctic nature at its best on display.
In the far north east of Norway, where the sky meets the sea lies Vadsø, glittering in summer's midnight sun and winter's northern lights. Arctic nature is at its best in Vadsø. The majority of the 6,200 inhabitants of this council area live in town, but some of them have remained in the other small communities. The largest of these is Vestre-Jakobselv, where many of the inhabitants have Finnish roots. The local council area skirts the Varanger fjord and many small communities, both "Norwegian" and "Finnish", are dotted around the area.
Vadsø offers many opportunities for fishing, hunting and hiking in an area of unspoilt natural beauty. The town itself covers a relatively small area, therefore it is easy to find the attractions: Vadsø Museum celebrates Finnish immigration, the Finnish language and Finnish culture. Exhibits include remains of fishing implements and two old town buildings that have survived despite the fact that the town was almost completely destroyed during the war. You will find the immigrant memorial by Finnish sculptor Ensio Seppänen in the town centre. The mooring mast of the airship “Norge”, that was used by Roald Amundsen in 1926 and Umberto Nobile in 1928 in their arctic expeditions, is also found here.
Traditionally, fishing has been the main industry here and as early as in the 16th century, Vadsø was a large fishing village. Today Vadsø is the seat of the county council for Finnmark and tertiary service industries have become more important than the primary industries.
In the 16th century, the settlement of Vadsø consisted of a small fishing village and the old Vadsø Church, both located on the island Vadsøya. The settlement moved over to the mainland later on. Because of the Pomor trade, Vadsø became a major trading centre and township was granted in 1833. In 1866-68 there was a famine in Finland and northern Sweden, and soon after settlers from both countries came to Vadsø. Finnish rapidly became the language of the majority. Still today some households in Vadsø speak Finnish. Unlike most places in Finnmark, a number of wooden houses survived the raids from the Second World War, and you can still see them in the city centre.