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Narvik, Norway

Narvik is a port city on the Ofotfjord in the northern part of Nordland county, opposite the Lofoten Islands. The city of 18,500 [2004] owes its existence to the rich iron mines of Northern Sweden. It was founded in 1887 as the Atlantic port for the Kiruna and GÀllivare mines, and was named Victoriahavn (Port Victoria) until 1898. Narvik is located at a bottle neck of Northern Norway, where the mainland is a narrow strip, only a few kilometers wide between the ocean and the Swedish border.

Today, the port is still key to the local economy, but has been joined by education, military bases and tourism. Popular local attractions include Killer-Whale safaris (late fall to winter)and various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping and mountain climbing. The dramatic terrain with its precipitous drops from mountain ranges into deep valleys provide scenic beauty and excellent alpine skiing trails.

In World War II, Narvik fell to the Germans when they invaded Norway on April 9, 1940. To prevent the Germans from shipping Swedish iron ore, a British expeditionary force briefly occupied the port from May 28June 9, 1940.

For the adventurous (and Scuba-certified), the waters surrounding Narvik are among the best shipwreck diving sites in the world, with several sunken German warships within reach.