Alta (Norway)

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coat of arms map
Coat of arms of the Alta commune
Alta (Norway)
Basic data
Commune number : 5403
Province  (county) : Troms and Finnmark
Administrative headquarters: Alta
Coordinates : 69 ° 57 '  N , 23 ° 17'  E Coordinates: 69 ° 57 '  N , 23 ° 17'  E
Surface: 3,849.6 km²
Residents: 20,789  (Feb 27, 2020)
Population density : 5 inhabitants per km²
Language form : Bokmål
Postal code : 9510-9518
Mayor : Thomas Fredrik Kristiansen  ( Ap ) (2019)
Located in the province of Troms and Finnmark
Location of the municipality in the province of Troms og Finnmark

Audio file / audio sample Alta ? / i (NorthSami:Álaheadju,Álaheadju gielda;Kven:Alattion komuuni) is amunicipalityand city in thenorthern Norwegianprovince (Fylke) ofTroms and Finnmark. The city of Alta is located in the municipality of the same name and is its administrative seat.

20,789 people live in the Alta municipality (as of February 27, 2020). The city of Alta accounts for around 12,000 of these. For several years it was the northernmost town in the world with more than 10,000 inhabitants, after the Siberian city ​​of Tiksi lost this status in the 1990s due to population decline and before the population of Hammerfest grew to over 10,000 in 2013.


Midnight sun on the Altafjord

The municipality of Alta is located in the middle of the province of Troms og Finnmark and surrounds the Altafjord . Lake Iešjávri lies on the southeastern border .

It borders the municipalities of Kvænangen and Loppa to the west and the municipalities of Hammerfest , Porsanger and Karasjok to the east . The municipality of Kautokeino joins in the south . The northern border of the municipality of Alta is formed by the Atlantic Ocean and the municipality of Hasvik . The town of Alta is located on the south bank of the Altafjord just west of the mouth of the Alta River (Norwegian: Altaelv ) in the Altafjord. The city and municipality are located north of the Arctic Circle .

In the city of Alta, the sun does not set from May 16 to July 26 and does not rise from November 24 to January 18. In the winter months Alta is considered to be one of the best areas for observing the northern lights . Alta (city) is about 230 km away from the North Cape . 9 km to the east is the town of Kvenvik .


In Alta there is a sub-polar climate, which - as on the entire Norwegian coast - is very much moderated by the influence of the North Atlantic Current. The port of Alta is ice-free all year round and the average temperatures are much higher than in other places that are at a similar northern latitude (e.g. Barrow (Alaska) ). The average annual rainfall is around 420 mm.

Climate data from Alta
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) −4 −5 −2 3 8th 13 17th 15th 10 5 0 −3 O 4.8
Min. Temperature (° C) −9 −9 −7 −2 4th 9 12 11 6th 1 1 −4 O 1.1
Precipitation ( mm ) 32 26th 25th 20th 22nd 34 54 47 42 50 37 38 Σ 427
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


The present city was founded in 1704 by immigrant Finns . In 1826 a copper mine opened 20 km west of the city on the Kåfjord , in which copper ore was mined until 1909 . The mine was the first major industrial venture in Northern Norway and drew numerous miners - some from England and Sweden  - to the region.

During the Second World War , the city of Alta was almost completely destroyed. Only the Altakirke (Altakirche) remained undamaged. After the end of the war, the reconstruction took place, which was not based on the historical building fabric. Accordingly, today's cityscape is almost exclusively characterized by modern buildings.

In 1976 the city of Alta was given the current city arms. It shows a Stone Age spearhead and thus refers to the numerous Stone Age finds in the region.

On June 3, 2020, a landslide occurred in which a piece of land around 650 meters wide on the west side of the Kråknes headland between Alta and Talvik broke away. Eight houses sank into the sea, the residents were able to get to safety.



On the western edge of the city of Alta, the Norwegian state road 93 coming from the south joins the European road 6, which runs in an east-west direction . The European route 45 begins in Alta . The place can therefore be easily reached by car. Alta also has the largest airport in the former Finnmark province . Alta is thus a transit station for many travelers.

Although the city of Alta has a port, passenger shipping only plays a subordinate role. The Hurtigruten no longer calls at Alta. In Alta commune, as in all of Finnmark, there is no railroad .


Center of the city of Alta

In addition to fishing and the fish processing industry, mining ( copper ) and tourism play an economic role. Attractions for travelers are the landscape, the northern lights , as well as dog sledding and snowmobiling .

Alta is also a student town with the Finnmark University of Applied Sciences and, due to the climate, agriculture and forestry are also practiced.

Quartzite mining is one of the most important industries in Alta . Alta quartzite has a long tradition and is an exclusive export item that was installed at Tokyo Airport and on the border between Singapore and Malaysia , among other places . From a petrographic point of view, however, "Alta-quartzite", or rather "Alta quartzite", is not a slate rock, but a mica quartzite that is mined in platy form, like slate in slabs. The rock is extremely hard, therefore very abrasion-resistant and absolutely frost-proof. It is mainly used as floor panels, wall cladding and stairs. The mica quartzite in Alta is over 600 million years old.


Northern Lights Cathedral Alta

Northern Lights Cathedral

The Northern Lights Cathedral was inaugurated in 2013.

Rock carvings

Rock carving in Alta

The area of ​​today's Alta was already inhabited 15,000 years ago. The early settlement is impressively demonstrated by the rock carvings that can be seen on a 5 km long nature trail of the Alta Museum . The oldest date from the Stone Age and are approx. 6200 years old, the youngest 2500 years. In order to make the figures carved into the rock more visible, archaeologists have repainted them with red paint.

The rock carvings are on the UNESCO -run list of world cultural heritage .

Fjord landscape and recent traces of history


At the Kåfjord , a branch of the Altafjord, are the remains of a copper mine that was closed in 1909. The site of the former mine is accessible through a 2.9 km long nature trail.

Somewhat above the Kåfjord is the oldest observatory built for observing the northern lights , which is no longer in operation today. It is accessible from the Kåfjord via a footpath and has 10 beds for hikers.

To the west of the city, in the village of Kåfjord , is the privately operated Tirpitz Museum , also on the Kåfjord , in which objects from the German battleship Tirpitz are exhibited. The Tirpitz was stationed in the Altafjord for several years during the Second World War.

About 25 km northwest of Alta is another branch of the Altafjord - the 31 km long and about one kilometer wide Langfjord . Surrounded by mountains, some of which are over 1000 m high, it is particularly beautiful.

Altaelv and Sautso

Alta Canyon Sautso

A little above the town, the Altaelv flows through the approximately 10 km long and 300-420 m deep canyon Sautso , Sami Čávžu ( 69 ° 46 ′ 0 ″  N , 23 ° 42 ′ 11 ″  E ) . The canyon can only be reached by hikers as there are no roads to access it.

The Altadamm was built a good bit upstream from the canyon. The construction of this dam led to numerous demonstrations. The Norwegian government launched one of the largest police operations in Norway's history to remove the protesters who had chained themselves together. A lone activist even tried to blow up a bridge on the access road to the dam. However, he did more damage to himself than to the bridge.


Alta is the home of the Alta IF football club

sons and daughters of the town

Town twinning

Web links

Commons : Alta  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statistisk sentralbyrå - Befolkning
  2. GeoNames geographical database ( Memento from November 30, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ Sofie Dege Dimmen, Ida Louise Rostad, Idun Aalbu Rasmussen, Jo Hermstad Tronsen: Åtte bygninger feid på sjøen i jordskred i Alta. June 3, 2020, accessed June 5, 2020 (Norwegian).