1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hammerfest

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HAMMERFEST, the most northern town in Europe. Pop. (1900) 2300. It is situated on an island (Kvalö) off the N.W. coast of Norway, in Finmarken amt (county), in 70° 40′ 11″ N., the latitude being that of the extreme north of Alaska. Its position affords the best illustration of the warm climatic influence of the north-eastward Atlantic drift, the mean annual temperature being 36° F. (January 31°, July 57°). Hammerfest is 674 m. by sea N.E. of Trondhjem, and 78 S.W. from the North Cape. The character of this coast differs from the southern, the islands being fewer and larger, and of table shape. The narrow strait Strömmen separates Kvalö from the larger Seiland, whose snow-covered hills with several glaciers rise above 3500 ft., while an insular rampart of mountains, Sorö, protects the strait and harbour from the open sea. The town is timber-built and modern; and the Protestant church, town-hall, and schools were all rebuilt after fire in 1890. There is also a Roman Catholic church. The sun does not set at Hammerfest from the 13th of May to the 29th of July. This is the busy season of the townsfolk. Vessels set out to the fisheries, as far as Spitsbergen and the Kara Sea; and trade is brisk, not only Norwegian and Danish but British, German and particularly Russian vessels engaging in it. Cod-liver oil and salted fish are exported with some reindeer-skins, fox-skins and eiderdown; and coal and salt for curing are imported. In the spring the great herds of tame reindeer are driven out to swim Strömmen and graze in the summer pastures of Seiland; towards winter they are called home again. From the 18th of November to the 23rd of January the sun is not seen, and the enforced quiet of winter prevails. Electric light was introduced in the town in 1891. On the Fuglenaes or Birds’ Cape, which protects the harbour on the north, there stands a column with an inscription in Norse and Latin, stating that Hammerfest was one of the stations of the expedition for the measurement of the arc of the meridian in 1816–1852. Nor is this its only association with science; for it was one of the spots chosen by Sir Edward Sabine for his series of pendulum experiments in 1823. The ascent of the Sadlen or the Tyven in the neighbourhood is usually undertaken by travellers for the view of the barren, snow-clad Arctic landscape, the bluff indented coast, and the vast expanse of the Arctic Ocean.