Vestmannaeyjar, (“The Westman Islands”) a group of 15–18 steep and rocky islands, with green mountain sides and ridges. All the islands come from submarine eruptions, the oldest from about 10,000 years ago and others from 5,000 years ago when the mountain Helgafell erupted and the Ofanleitishraun lava field was formed. In 1963 there was a submarine eruption which went on for almost 5 years and eventually formed the island Surtsey. Then, in 1973, there was an eruption on the only inhabited island of the group, Heimaey. No lives were lost, though almost 400 of the 1,200 houses of the town were buried under lava from the new volcano Eldfell (“Fire mountain”). Before the town was evacuated in the 1973 eruption the population was 5,300, now it’s 4,219. The islands of Vest­mannaeyjar are famous for the millions of birds in puffin and other sea bird colonies there. The hunting of puffins is widely practiced throughout the islands and each year thousands of fulmar and guillemot eggs are collected from the cliffs by locals who lower each other on long ropes to get at them. Since 1900 Heimaey has been one of the most important fishing towns in Iceland. A very good aquarium is located there, an historical museum and a library. A replica of a 11th century wooden church has been build in the Islands as a gift from Norway on a occation of the 1000th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity in the year 2000 to commemorate the arrival of Hjalti Skeggja­son and Gissur the White in Iceland in 1000 AD, whose mission was to convert Icelanders to the new faith. The church was to be built in the place where the two first landed on their way to Þingvellir. A special Vestmanna­eyjar activity is Sprangan at Skip­hellar (“Ship caves”) where children and teen­agers practice lowering each other and swinging along the cliffs on ropes. Informtion Centre in the Museum building by City Hall. Ferry connections between Vest­manna­­eyjar and Bakki.