The Port of Tromso is just west of Norway’s mainland on the eastern shores of Tromsoya Island about 93 kilometers north-northeast of the Port of Narvik. Well within the Arctic Circle, the Port of Tromso is the major Arctic fishery in Norway. Its industries are mostly related to fishing, sealing, shipping, and the processing and storing of fish. In 2007, about 65.5 thousand people lived in the Port of Tromso.
Due to its location far north, the sun shines 24 hours a day from May to July, and from April to August, twilight last so long that there is no real darkness for four months. The Port of Tromso is also in the zone of the Aurora Borealis and, due to its location, it enters the zone about 6 in the evening and leaves it about midnight, making it a great place to watch the Northern Lights.
People have lived in the area of the Port of Tromso since the late Ice Age. The first known culture in the region is the reindeer-herding indigenous Sámi culture. Ancestors of modern Norwegians came to the area of the Port of Tromso in the late 9th Century during the Vikings’ migrations, and Ohthere of Halogaland established a settlement south of today’s Port of Tromso.
The first church was constructed on the Island of Tromsoya during the 13th Century while King Hakon Hakonarson reigned. In the 17th Century, a fort was built on the site of the modern Port of Tromso. King Christian VII of Denmark-Norway issued a city charter in 1794 when about 80 people lived there, and the city was granted municipal status in 1838.
The Port of Tromso’s city center is home to the oldest wooden houses, the oldest from 1789, in North Norway. The Diocese of Halogaland was established in 1804. In 1827, the Port of Tromso’s harbor commission was established, and the first shipyard was created in 1848. During the 1800s, the Port of Tromso was often called the “Paris of the North” because it was more civilized than foreigners would expect of such an isolated community.
In the early 1800s, Arctic hunting began. By the mid-1800s, the Port of Tromso was a major hub for Arctic hunting, and it was trading with far-away places like Bordeaux in France to Arkhangelsk in Russia. By the end of the century, many Arctic expeditions were departing from the Port of Tromso. Explorer Roald Amundsen was one of the adventurers who recruited his crew in the Port of Tromso due to their experience with the climate and terrain.
The Northern Lights Observatory was founded in the Port of Tromso in 1927. During the Second World War, it was the seat of Norway’s government for a short time. Luckily, the Port of Tromso did not suffer damage during the war. However, almost a thousand German soldiers died aboard the German battleship Tirpitz when it was sunk near the island in 1944. After the war, thousands of refugees came to the Port of Tromso from Norway’s Finnmark province, which had been all but destroyed by the Germans anticipating attacks from the Soviet army.
Since the end of World War II, the Port of Tromso has grown rapidly. The population almost tripped between 1950 and 1964 when the city was merged with Tromsoysund, Hillesoy, and Ullsfjord. In 1998, the Norwegian Polar Institute was moved from Oslo to the Port of Tromso.