Audio|Honningsvaag.ogg|Honningsvåg at 70° 58' N, in Nordkapp municipality, claims to be the northernmost city in Norway and even in the world. Legislation effective from 1997 states that a Norwegian city must have 5,000 inhabitants, but Honningsvåg with its population of 2,575 was declared a city in 1996. It is situated at a bay on the southern side of Magerøya island, while the famous North Cape and its visitors center is on the northern side. It is a port of call for cruise ships, especially in the summer months. Honningsvåg Airport is located 4 km outside the town.

People have lived in this area as far back as 10,300 years ago. The sea was probably the main food supplier for this prehistoric settlement. Indeed, the ice-free ocean (southwestern part of the Barents Sea) provides rich fisheries even today, and tourism is also important. And, due to the proximity of the temperate sea water, winter temperatures in Honningsvåg are much milder than one would expect at this latitude (January 24-hr average is -4°C). Even at 71°N, many private gardens in Honningsvåg have trees, although rarely more than 4 m tall.

Honningsvåg is known to be a city with a happy social environment, especially in the summertime when almost 500 other Nordic people come from other places to work in Honningsvåg within the tourist industry.

Hurtigruten has one of its main stops in Honningsvåg on its lengthy route all over the Norwegian coast. From 11:45 am to 03:15 pm the ships dock in the port of Honningsvåg, generating heavy tourist activity in the city.

The famous dog Bamse came from Honningsvåg.

The city status

The status of Honningsvåg as a city is a point of contention between the inhabitants of Honningsvåg and Hammerfest which many foreigners may find strange, given the small size of both of these places. In Norwegian the word 'by' can mean both town and city and Norwegian does not distinguish between the terms in the same way as English or other languages do. The translation of the word into English is thus ambiguous and can be chosen as one sees fit. If both Hammerfest and Honningsvåg were to be defined according to British tradition, neither of them would be considered cities, as neither has a university or a cathedral. Both of them would, however, be considered towns, given the status of both settlements as economic hubs of the surrounding areas and the status as municipal centers.

The name

The Norse form of the name was probably "*Hornungsvágr". The first element is then the genitive case of a disappeared name of a mountain: "*Hornungr". This (hypothetical) name could have been an older name of the mountain Storefjell (literally just 'big mountain' - a tall and hornlike mountaintop near Honningsvåg), and it is then derived from the word "horn" n 'horn'. The last element is "vágr" m 'bay'. The full meaning of the name is then 'the bay lying beneath the mountain "*Hornungr".

External links

* [http://www.northcape.no - history and culture of the North Cape area]
* [http://nordkapp.custompublish.com/index.php?cat=2941 Information from Nordkapp municipality]
* [http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=40660 Visitnorway.com - about Honningsvåg]

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