governor=Rolf Einar Mortensen (Ap)
lat_deg=70| lat_min=20| lat_sec=36| lon_deg=30| lon_min=51| lon_sec=17
utm_zone=36W| utm_northing=7805602 |utm_easting=0419483| geo_cat=adm2nd
Audio|Vardoe.ogg|Vardø ( _fi. Vuoreija, Vuorea, _se. Várggát) is a town and municipality in the county of Finnmark in the extreme northeast of Norway.

Vardø was established as a municipality on January 1, 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The law required that all cities should be separated from their rural districts - but because of low population, and very few voters, this was impossible to carry out for Vardø in 1838. (See also Hammerfest and Vadsø.)

The rural district of Vardø ("Vardø herred", after 1957 named Båtsfjord) was separated from the city 1868. (The eastern part of Båtsfjord was, however, again merged with Vardø January 1, 1964.)

The name

The Norse form of the name was "Vargøy". The first element is "vargr" m 'wolf', the last element is "øy" f 'island'.

The first element was later (around 1500) replaced with "varða" f 'cairn'.


The coat-of-arms is from 1895. It shows two fishing boats, a cod and a sunrise.

It also has a text in Latin: VARDØENSIS INSIGNIA URBIS. CEDANT TENEBRÆ SOLI. "The seal of Vardø city. The darkness must give way to the Sun."

Geography and climate

Vardø is the easternmost town in Norway, and it is actually east of Saint Petersburg, Kiev and Istanbul. The eastern part of Finnmark is in the same time zone as the rest of the country, even if it is more than an hour at odds with daylight hours.

The port of Vardø, on the Barents Sea, remains ice-free all year round thanks to the effect of the warm North Atlantic drift. Vardø is usually referred to as Norway's only mainland town in the Arctic climate zone, although this is not strictly correct since the town is located on an island about 2 km off the northeastern coast of the Varanger Peninsula. In July, the 24-hr average temperature is only 9.1°C, while the January average is a modest -5.1°C [] .

The island is connected to the mainland via an undersea tunnel (Norway's first such structure); the town's airport, Vardø Airport, Svartnes, and the settlement of Svartnes are located on the mainland opposite the tunnel entrance. Vardø is a port of call on Norway's Hurtigruten ferry service. The town is the northern termination of European route E75, which starts in Sitia, Crete.

Economy and tourism

Fishing and seafood processing remain Vardø's major sources of income, although tourism is starting to become an important economic factor.

Vardø's tourist attractions include Vardøhus Festning, a fortress dating back to the late 13th century, although the present structure dates from 1734, [ several sea bird colonies,] , two museums: one about the Pomor trade and the other about local history and birdlife, and remnants of German fortifications from World War II. The Yukigassen competition in Vardø is unique in Norway.

Vardøhus Festning is home to two rowan trees which are diligently nurtured and warmed in winter since these trees cannot normally survive in Vardø's cold climate, north of the Arctic tree line. Originally, seven trees were planted in 1960; the one that survived managed to blossom twice, in 1974 and 1981. The tree finally succumbed to cold weather in 2002, but two new saplings have been planted in its place.

The Globus II Radar

Since 1998, the town has housed a radar installation called Globus II. Its official purpose is the tracking of space junk; however, due to the site's proximity to Russia, and an alleged connection between the "Globus II" system and US anti-missile systems, the site has been the basis for heated controversy in diplomatic and intelligence circles. []


The municipality of Vardø with its seabird colonies of Hornøy and Reinøy are amongst the most interesting on this part of the coast. There is a small breeding population of Brunnich’s Guillemot as well as larger numbers of Razorbill and Common Guillemot.

See also

* Domen
* Yukigassen

External links

* [ Birding in the Vardø area]
* [ - tourist information about Varanger area (english)]
* [ Vardø - Finnmark's millennium town incl pictures (english)]

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