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Sørvær is approximately 40km from Hasvik and has a population of about 200. When the first census was held in Finnmark in 1520, there were 31 families living in Sørvær. By 1697 it was reported that only 2 men were living in the village and by 1875 the population had only risen to 10 families (about 45 people) and up to 11 families in 1888.

Copyright © 2003, Roxrud Reklamebyrå

In addition, there were 16 ‘rorbuer' (cabins for fishermen from other parts of the country who took part in the traditional spring cod fishing) to give shelter to 192 men.  It was not before 5th June 1818 that Sørvær was granted the status of a trading post, when Henrich Cristian Floer agreed to pay a yearly tax to the authorities and hereby lay the foundation for Sørvær as a trading place.

From 1880 to 1899, the whaling company ‘Finnmarken' under the leadership of Svein Foyn operated a whaling station in Sørvær.  All the workers came from Tønsberg near Oslo.  The whaling season lasted from spring to Autumn, and as such all the workers were seasonal workers.

Like the other parts of Finnmark, Sørvær was destroyed by the withdrawing German forces in 1944.  When the inhabitants returned to Sørvær, the only ‘building' to survive the destruction was a latrine!  The city of Hamar (in southern Norway) was the first city to start a helping campaign for the areas in northern Norway devastated during the war.

The governor of Finnmark, Gabrielsen, suggested that Sørvær should get help from Hamar and the helpfulness of the people in Hamar was tremendous.  House building material and money to help erect a Water Station, a Community Centre and to support the education of the local youth were send to Sørvær.  In 1946, three acres were bought from the Alvestad brothers, and the 11 houses built on this ground were named ‘Hamar' houses.

Sørvær has throughout its history been a typical fishing village in which most of the population depend upon its maritime resources.  Situated on three small barren islets, making agriculture virtually impossible, fishing has become the only source of income throughout the centuries.  The Sørvær dialect varies from that spoken in Hasvik and Breivikbotn, since it has been significantly influenced by commercial fishermen from northern Troms, who came here to fish for spawning cod.

The Sørvær deep-sea fishing tournament is held each year and is part of  "Sørøydagene", a summer festival each July.  The fishing tournament takes place over two days (Friday and Sunday) and experienced anglers from all over Norway compete alongside the local fishermen.  During this period, the small village is full of festivity!

Sørvær is where you find the island's only hairdresser. Additionally, there's a grocery store and the post office, where you can purchase flowers, fishing tackle as well as a selected choice of books.  It is here in Sørvær where you find Sørvær Gjestehus which offers accommodation and a restaurant as well as a fully-licensed pub and bar. 

Copyright © 2003, Anne Olsen-Ryum

Copyright © 2003, Anne Olsen-Ryum