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Lower level municipality map of Iceland
Iceland

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Politics and government of
Iceland



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The municipalities of Iceland are local administrative areas that provide a number of services to their inhabitants such as kindergartens, elementary schools, waste management, social services, public housing, public transportation, services to senior citizens and handicapped people. They also govern zoning and can voluntarily take on additional functions if they have the budget for it. The autonomy of municipalities over their own matters is guaranteed by the constitution of Iceland.

The municipalities are governed by municipal councils which are directly elected every four years. Municipal elections were last held on May 27, 2006. The sizes of these councils vary from three members in the smallest municipalities to fifteen in the largest one. Most municipalities except for the very small ones hire an executive manager who may or may not be a member of the municipal council. these managers are usually referred to as mayors (bæjarstjóri / borgarstjóri) in the mostly urban municipalities but "commune manager" (sveitarstjóri) in the rural or mixed municipalities.

The origin of the municipalities can be traced back to the commonwealth period in the 10th century when rural communities were organized into communes (hreppar) with the main purpose of providing help for the poorest induviduals in society. When urbanization began up in Iceland durin the 18th and 19th century. several independent townships (kaupstaðir) were created. The role of municipalities was further formalized during the 20th century and by the end of the century there was no longer any distinction made between urban and rural municipalities. The trend in recent years has been to transfer more functions and power from the state to the municipalities. this has called for larger municipalities. The government encourages municipalities to merge but has taken a different approach to the issue than governments in other Nordic countries where forced amalgamation is regularly carried out (such as the municipal reform in Denmark that will take effect in 2007). Instead the process is voluntary. Municipalities negotiate possible mergers between themselves and the merger has to be agreed upon by the people of each municipality in a referendum. A similar approach is used by the Faroese government. Municipalities with fewer than 50 people may be merged with others by force though.

The number of municipalities peaked in the mid-20th century. There were 229 of them in 1950. In 1995 their number had reduced to 170. In the year 2000 the number of municipalities in Iceland was 124 but after the Municipality election in 2006 the number was down to 79.[1]

In population of these 79 range from 50 to 118,000 and by area they range from 2 km² to 8884 km². The average population in January 2008 is about 4000.[2]

Following is a list of Icelandic municipalities ranked by population in January 2008 [2], showing that urbanization is still going on.

  • Salmon coloured cells show a decrease in population of the municipality.
  • Green cells show a more than average growth.
  • LightGreen cells show growth. but average or less.
Rank Municipality Population
Jan. 1, 2008
Change since
Jan. 1, 2007
Growth
percentage
Total Iceland 313376 5704 +1.85%
1 Reykjavík 117898 1256 +1.08%
2 Kópavogur 28665 1140 +4.14%
3 Hafnarfjörður 24895 1144 +4.82%
4 Akureyri 17278 456 +2.71%
5 Reykjanesbær 13282 1330 +11.13%
6 Garðabær 9931 375 +3.92%
7 Mosfellsbær 8166 650 +8.65%
8 Árborg 7590 279 +3.82%
9 Akranes 6359 383 +6.41%
10 Fjarðabyggð 5133 -580 -10.15%
11 Seltjarnarnes 4446 -25 -0.56%
12 Fljótsdalshérað 4075 -578 -12.42%
13 Vestmannaeyjar 4036 -48 -1.18%
14 Sveitarfélagið Skagafjörður 4028 -55 -1.35%
15 Ísafjarðarbær 3955 -135 -3.3%
16 Borgarbyggð 3747 37 +1%
17 Norðurþing 2973 -38 -1.26%
18 Grindavíkurbær 2762 61 +2.26%
19 Sveitarfélagið Álftanes 2372 96 +4.22%
20 Hveragerði 2284 100 +4.58%
21 Fjallabyggð 2188 -92 -4.04%
22 Sveitarfélagið Hornafjörður 2122 -59 -2.71%
23 Dalvíkurbyggð 1948 -10 -0.51%
24 Sveitarfélagið Ölfus 1931 85 +4.6%
25 Rangárþing eystra 1739 43 +2.54%
26 Sandgerði 1726 66 +3.98%
27 Snæfellsbær 1703 -6 -0.35%
28 Rangárþing ytra 1544 16 +1.05%
29 Sveitarfélagið Garður 1449 -38 -2.56%
30 Sveitarfélagið Vogar 1227 115 +10.34%
31 Húnaþing vestra 1150 -17 -1.46%
32 Stykkishólmur 1102 -40 -3.5%
33 Eyjafjarðarsveit 1007 3 +0.3%
34 Bláskógabyggð 972 44 +4.74%
35 Vesturbyggð 921 -18 -1.92%
36 Grundarfjarðarbær 913 -36 -3.79%
37 Bolungarvík 905 3 +0.33%
38 Blönduóssbær 897 5 +0.56%
39 Hrunamannahreppur 792 6 +0.76%
40 Seyðisfjörður 713 -13 -1.79%
41 Dalabyggð 708 27 +3.96%
42 Vopnafjarðarhreppur 700 -12 -1.69%
43 Hvalfjarðarsveit 683 75 +12.34%
44 Þingeyjarsveit 681 -19 -2.71%
45 Flóahreppur 581 22 +3.94%
46 Skeiða- og Gnúpverjahreppur 535 7 +1.33%
47 Sveitarfélagið Skagaströnd 529 -3 -0.56%
48 Strandabyggð 499 -8 -1.58%
49 Mýrdalshreppur 487 -9 -1.81%
50 Langanesbyggð 480 -40 -7.69%
51 Skaftárhreppur 466 -21 -4.31%
52 Djúpavogshreppur 451 -10 -2.17%
53 Húnavatnshreppur 448 -17 -3.66%
54 Hörgárbyggð 417 6 +1.46%
55 Skútustaðahreppur 399 -8 -1.97%
56 Svalbarðastrandahreppur 389 8 +2.1%
57 Grímsnes- og Grafningshreppur 377 1 +0.27%
58 Fljótsdalshreppur 366 -160 -30.42%
59 Grýtubakkahreppur 353 -16 -4.34%
60 Tálknafjarðarhreppur 290 -3 -1.02%
61 Reykhólahreppur 266 11 +4.31%
62 Aðaldælahreppur 259 2 +0.78%
63 Súðavíkurhreppur 214 -11 -4.89%
64 Breiðdalshreppur 213 -33 -13.41%
65 Akrahreppur 203 -19 -8.56%
66 Kjósarhreppur 191 9 +4.95%
67 Arnarneshreppur 171 -5 -2.84%
68 Ásahreppur 171 13 +8.23%
69 Borgarfjarðarhreppur 146 -2 -1.35%
70 Eyja- og Miklaholtshreppur 128 -12 -8.57%
71 Svalbarðshreppur 115 9 +8.49%
72 Skagabyggð 105 9 +9.38%
73 Grímseyjarhreppur 103 4 +4.04%
74 Kaldrananeshreppur 103 2 +1.98%
75 Bæjarhreppur (Strandasýslu) 98 -2 -2%
76 Skorradalshreppur 61 5 +8.93%
77 Tjörneshreppur 60 0 0%
78 Helgafellssveit 58 0 0%
79 Árneshreppur 48 -1 -2.04%

See also

References

External links

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