General Information about Alta

Read about our community – a dynamic centre for development and growth in the North.

Bilde av nordlys

For thousands of years people have been attracted to this community at the head of the Alta fjord. Lush, green and hospitable – Alta is a sheltered oasis in the otherwise cold and windswept Finnmark landscape. Halfway between the grim, barren mountain plateau and the wet, stormy coast, Alta offers tree-clad valleys, pleasant temperatures and no more rain than the Sahara.

In the course of 50 years, Alta has grown from being a small agricultural community into the most populous municipality in Finnmark. The community is a trading and service centre for large parts of West Finnmark and North Troms. The municipality is also Finnmark’s educational centre and a junction for traffic between the north and south of Norway.

Alta offers marvellous scenic experiences all year round. Its well-developed public services, many-sided cultural life, and, not least, the countryside and landscape around Alta all make it a good place to live. And exciting experiences summer and winter alike, combined with good facilities for overnight accommodation, courses and conferences, makes Alta a good place to visit.

- Welcome to Alta!

History
The oldest traces of people in Alta are almost 10.000 years old. The extensive finds in the Komsa mountain at the heart of Alt district have given rise to the name “Komsa culture” – a culture that has many features in common with those further south. This indicates that the people arriving in Alta had followed the coast northward. The findings in Alta is among the oldest in Norway.

In the last century Kåfjord, less than 20 km from the centre of Alta, was a major mining centre in Finnmark. A distinctive industrial community grew up around the copper mines, with Englishmen and Swedes among those involved in mining activities. Towering over Kåfjord is the Haldde mountain, with the world’s first northern lights observatory on its peak, 904 metres above sea level. During the first half of this century the observatory played an important role in the development of geophysical and meteorological research. Today the building has been partly renovated and is open to the public.

As in most of Finnmark, the people of Alta suffered forced displacement and burning of their property during World War II. But not everybody let themselves be evacuated. Some hid in turf huts and caves in the mountains. You can visit one of these turf huts at Lerretsfjord. When peace came in 1945 only the churches were left standing. But the people buckled to and rebuilt their country. Today you can still see many examples of the distinctive reconstruction period architecture in Finnmark.

Nature and environment
In Alta the seasons are different. Spring, with singing brooks and brilliant-coloured crocuses is just a short interlude for a few weeks in June, rapidly relieved by a short an intense summer, when the never-setting sun may lead to tropical nights and busy beaches. Autumn is beautiful in Alta. Shrubs and lichen clothe the mountains and plateaux in red, yellow and orange. When the berries ripen and the hunting season sets in, there is no better place on earth. But the autumn is soon taken over by snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures.

For winter is the dominant season at 70 degrees North. Snow and frost have Alta in their grip from October to April. But the people who live here dress accordingly and make the most of the winter. With skis on our feet, astride on a snowscooter or with dog teams and sledges we spend most of the winter in the mountains. And we are forever fascinated by the mystical winter light. When the northern lights play across the dome of the sky on a late January night, the cold is forgotten. And at the end of January, after to months’ absence, the sun appears above the horizon and lighter days are in sight.

In Alta nature is different. Memorable experiences line up on your doorstep, and where else can you find a landscape so varied – with its mountains, endless plateaux and vast forests? The Alta river offers year-around recreation. In addition there are innumerable lakes and rivers where you can go fishing and actually land a catch! The Alta fjord with its many arms gives plenty of opportunity for boating and sea angling. Not for from the centre is Latari, our own local beach, in case you would like to go for a swim.

Read more about Alta on Wikipedia

Go to our tourist information site for more information