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Akureyri – The Heart of the North

  • Published in Society
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The Regional coordinators meeting of the Northern Forum will be held in Akureyri, Iceland, November 3rd–6th 2014. The municipality of Akureyri welcomes the delegation from The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) as well as all other participants from the regions and towns of the Northern Forum and other guests.
In the last few years, Akureyri has grown rapidly and established itself as an important commercial and service base for most of the region outside the capital area surrounding Reykjavik. The population of Akureyri today is around 18.000 people.

The community is based on good education, strong family values, relatively small industries, service and culture.
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In 1987 the University of Akureyri was founded, but other educational institutions in town include six elementary schools, two junior colleges, eleven kindergartens, two art schools and a music school. All this in a town of just a few thousand persons! So it’s evident that Akureyri truly place high emphasis on good education for its citizens.

Being the biggest town outside of the Reykjavík area, Akureyri has plenty of cafés, restaurants and activities, but is still small enough to offer the quietude of the countryside. The town has therefore become a favourite among tourists, both foreign and Icelandic.
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Akureyri has a rich and colourful history, not only reflected in its relatively large number of museums, but also in the town itself, especially the older part, situated south of the centre, where you can see beautiful and well-preserved houses from earlier centuries.

The town is one of the largest fishing and fish processing centers in the country. High-tech freezer and fresh fish trawlers and white fish factories have nearly one thousand employees, but the University and the Regional Hospital are two of the largest employers in town – and so is the municipality itself. The Hospital is an integral part of the Icelandic Health System and by far the largest hospital outside of the capital area. Akureyri Hospital focuses, amongst other things, on emergency care.

It is therefore obvious why Akureyri is sometimes referred to as The Heart of the North.
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Our municipality has been an active member of the Northern Forum since 2003 and is the only Icelandic member in this association of regions and countries in the North and in the last few years Akureyri has become a center for Arctic research institutes, activities and events. This has been officially established by the Icelandic government and we now host a great diversity of conferences, workshops and lectures on Arctic issues.

One of the great pillars in this field of work is The Stefansson Arctic Institute, which operates under the auspices of the Icelandic Ministry for the Environment. The institute was established in 1998 and bears the name of the Icelandic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjálmur Stefánsson.
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Two of the Arctic Council’s secretariats are also located in Akureyri: CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) and PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment), not to forget the new Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IACN), founded last year, which main goal is to increase the visibility and understanding of Arctic issues and create a link between the institutes and organisations working on those issues in Iceland.

Furthermore, the University of Akureyri has shown high ambitions in establishing fruitful collaboration with Arctic institutions and researchers. It goes without saying, that the growing role of Akureyri in Arctic activities and cooperation is highly appreciated and supported by Akureyri City Council, and it is our belief that much has yet to be done in this field of work.
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We welcome you all to Akureyri – The Heart of the North!