Most of the towns and villages around the coastline in Iceland owe their existence mainly to one or two prerequisites: rich fishing grounds and trading posts. Most of the small communities developed in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Fáskrúðsfjörður or Búðir as the village's name was before people gave it the same as the fjord, is no exception. The village has two other unusual and exciting angles in its history.
The French connection
In the nineteenth and twentieth century fishermen and entrepreneurs in the fishing and fish processing industry in Europe had noticed the enormously rich and lucrative fishing grounds around Iceland. This was even before most Icelanders realised the value of those resources in front of them, except for means of surviving. One nation that had the know-how and ability to take advantage of the fishing grounds was France. For more than four decades Fáskrúðsfjörður was the main base of operation for hundreds of vessels from France and the small village became more intergraded with foreign relations that any other town or village at that time. The French government had a consul in the small village, a doctor and a hospital, a chapel and even a morgue. Conditions for the fishermen were rough and circumstances challenging and many vessels lost at sea. The buildings from that time have all been renovated in an admirable fashion only a few years ago. The Frech hospital is now a modern hotel with good-quality restaurant. Inside the lobby is a small museum dedicated to the French fishermen.
The Coop Society that worked for the common people
Another fascinating angle for Fáskrúðsfjörður is more of a current history. It is one of the very few towns and villages around the coastline that survived the fishing quota law imposed by the Icelandic government late in the 20th century. From early on the Cooperative society in Fáskrúðsfjörður has been at the centre of its existence. The Fáskrúðsfjörður Coop Society, established in 1933, owned the largest fishing and fish processing company and still does. The copmpany has never sold the fishing quota from the community and has therefore provided the village with a stable economic position. It is a monument to both social and collective ownership and a contribution to democracy. Accordingly the village has an unusually strong financial foundation and is currently enhancing as the tourist industry is growing by the day in this small community.
A part of a stronger municipal to enhance the Eastern Region
Today Fáskrúðsfjörður is part of the Fjarðarbyggð Municipality, a community that includes four other villages in the south of the Eastern Region. The village provides an overall good service for its residents. It has an excellent preschool a primary and secondary school, a sports centre and healthcare. After the opening of the tunnel between Fákrúðsfjörður and Reyðarfjörður new employment opportunities opened for the residents as the village became a intergraded part of coherent advancing of the region. In Fáskrúðsfjörður you will find some nice accommodations and an excellent camping site if you are traveling in Iceland.
A tribute to the town of Fáskrúðsfjörður
Fáskrúðsfjörður in the East Region is one of the most interesting small villages in Iceland. It is one of the few small villages that survived the negative consequences of the fishing quota system, created by the Icelandic government late in the 20th century. The fishing quota was a milestone for changes in the lives of many towns and villages as the legislation ruined the economic foundation for many of them. Through an admirable resistance led by the local cooperative society in Fáskrúðsfjörður, the town never gave away their quota, and thus still has a strong economic base in the fishing industry. In recent years, tourism has increased after a remarkable renovation of the old French hospital. The hospital is now a hotel and a fascinating museum, about the harsh live of the French fishermen late in the 19th century who came fishing by the coast of Iceland. In recent years, many of the residences have renovated their houses and because of the historical connection to French fishing men and France, all of the streets are named both in Icelandic and French.
If you are going to visit the Eastern Region in Iceland you might be looking for a places to stay. Here you can book from a selection of accommodationin the Fáskrúðsfjörður region.