Akureyri is Iceland’s fourth most populous municipality. At the end of 2011 the population numbered approximately 18,000. Grímsey and Hrísey islands are also within the jurisdiction of Akureyri. The Book of Settlement reports that the first settler in the area was Helgi, “the Skinny” Eyvindarson who arrived in the 9th century. In 1778, the first house was built and permanent residence began. Eight years later Akureyri became a township together with five other towns in Iceland. This was at the behest of the Danish king who wanted to improve living conditions in Iceland by encouraging urbanization which was virtually unknown at that time.
Akureyri lost its township prerogatives 1836, but regained them in 1862. Farmers in Eyjafjörður established organizations to strengthen their position against the Danish merchants. They founded the KEA cooperative which played a substantial role in the growth of the town of Akureyri, supporting a number of industrial companies in the town, many of which specialized in processing agricultural products.