Akureyri is a small city in northern Iceland. It is Iceland's second largest urban area (after the Capital Region) and fourth largest municipality (after Reykjavík, Hafnarfjörður, and Kópavogur).
Nicknamed the Capital of North Iceland, Akureyri is an important port and fishing centre. The area where Akureyri is located was settled in the 9th century but did not receive a municipal charter until 1786. The town was the site of Allied units during World War II. Further growth occurred after the war as the Icelandic population increasingly moved to urban areas.
The area has a relatively mild climate due to geographical factors, and the town's ice-free harbour has played a significant role in its history.
Akureyri is located at 65°41′N 18°06′WCoordinates: 65°41′N 18°06′W and positioned on the west side of the inland end of the fjord Eyjafjörður.
It is surrounded by mountains, the highest being Kista (1,447 metres (4,747 feet); 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to the west) and another peak of 1,538 metres (5,046 feet) at the head of Glerádalur,15 kilometres (9.3 miles) to the SW. There is a narrow coastal strip of flat land; inland is a steep but low hill. In earlier times a few spits of land (Icelandic: eyri, thus Akur-eyri) jutted from the narrow coast, but a lot of land has since been reclaimed from the sea so that today the coastline is more even except for the largest spit, Oddeyri, which was formed by the river Glerá which runs through the town. It is thought that the name of the town is possibly derived from the name of a field which may have been situated near some of the sheltered locations by the river.
The body of sea between Oddeyri and the end of the fjord is known as Pollurinn ("The Pool") and is known for calm winds and a good natural harbour. Akureyri today is centered on Ráðhústorg (Town Hall Square) near the northwest corner of Pollurinn. The districts of Akureyri are: Innbær, the oldest part of town on the strip of land between the hill and Pollurinn south of the central area; Brekkan, on top of the hill; Oddeyri on the peninsula of the same name; and Glerárhverfi on the north bank of the Glerá (also referred to colloquially as Þorpið, 'the Village'). Because of the town's position at the head of a long fjord surrounded by high mountains, the climate is more typically inland than coastal, with greater variations in temperature (warmer summers, colder winters) than in many other inhabited parts of Iceland. However, the mountains shield the town from strong winds. The relatively warm climate (for its latitude) allows the Botanical Gardens to flourish without need of a greenhouse. The area around Akureyri has one of the warmest climates in Iceland even though it is only 100 km (62 mi) from the Arctic Circle.
Akureyri has a subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc) bordering a subarctic climate (Dfc) with cold though not severe winters and mild summers. The snow cover starts forming in late October and melts in April, yet snow can lie on the mountain peaks around Akureyri for the whole year. Akureyri is a very cloudy town, averaging only 1047 sunshine hours annually, with barely any sunshine between November and February, but precipitation is much lower than in southern Iceland because the prevailing winds are from the south — it is as little as a fifth as much as in Vík í Mýrdal.
The fishing industry has historically been a large and important part of the local economy. In recent years, other industry and business services have also begun. Higher education is also a growing sector in the local economy. Twenty percent of the work force is in the service industry.
Two of the five largest fishing companies in Iceland are headquartered in Akureyri, partly because of the ice-free port. Other large companies in Akureyri include Samherji, Norðurmjólk, Brim hf, and Vífilfell, the largest brewery in Iceland. Sjúkrahús Akureyrar (FSA/Akureyri Hospital) is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Corporations pay a tax rate of 18% to the national government, which is one of the lowest in the world. There are no additional local corporate taxes. Property tax, at 1.99%, accounts for most of the tax base. A local government deficit of ISK 1 billion (US$9 million) was anticipated in 2009 prompting a cut in salaries of the mayor, town councilors, and committee members by 10% and increases in local taxes and property taxes.
There are two high schools (gymnasiums) in Akureyri, one of them being the second oldest in Iceland. The Menntaskólinn á Akureyri is a junior college in Akureyri and so is the Verkmenntaskólinn á Akureyri (Akureyri Vocational College). The University of Akureyri (Háskólinn á Akureyri) was founded in 1987. There are 3 faculties or colleges, the Faculty of Business and Science, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Health Sciences. The university offers master's degrees in several subjects.