Narvik is the third-largest town and municipality in Nordland county, Norway by population. The administrative center of the municipality is the town of Narvik. Other villages in the municipality include Ankenesstranda, Beisfjord, Bjerkvik, Bjørnfjell, Elvegård, Skjomen, Håkvik, Hergot, Straumsnes, and Vidrek. The Elvegårdsmoen army camp is located near Bjerkvik.
Narvik is located on the shores of the
. The municipality is part of the traditional district of Ofoten of Northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle. The municipality of Narvik borders the municipality of Ballangen to the southwest, Evenes to the northwest, Bardu, Gratangen, Lavangen and Skånland (in Troms county) to the north, and Norrbotten County (Lapland) in Sweden to the south and east.
The modern city was founded in 1902. It grew up as an important ice-free port for Swedish iron ore exports. Before the port and the iron-ore railway was constructed there were only a few farms on the peninsula. During the first attempt to establish a port and railway, the place was called Victoriahamn (Victoria port), after the visit by Crown Princess Victoria of the joint kingdom of Sweden and Norway. When the iron ore railway (known as Ofotbanen in Norway) was finally built from 1898 to 1902 there was intense activity in Narvik and particularly in the mountains. Thousands of navvies poured in and created a temporary city at Rombaksbotn. The railway construction from Narvik through the wild mountains until the plateau on the Swedish side was a notable engineering achievement. The railway was electrified as early as 1923. Control of the iron ore fields at Kiruna and the port of Narvik was a key motive for German attack in 1940 and the allied intervention.
During and after the German invasion of Norway, Narvik was the scene of fierce battles between allied (British, French and Polish supporting Norwegian army) and German forces, and the war museum commemorates the events of 1940. The Battle of Narvik was the first real engagement between Allied and German troops after months of the phony war. The Battle of Narvik was a key event in the early phases of the war. The town was totally destroyed in the process and the fjord was full of shipwrecks. Today, the city offers several outdoor activities; in particular, alpine skiing is possible in the mountains around Narvik.
Situated 220 kilometers (140 mi) inside the arctic circle, Narvik is one of the most northerly towns in the world. However, the North Atlantic Current (extension of the Gulf Stream) gives Narvik a milder climate than one might expect for a town at this latitude. In addition, the mountains surrounding the town give shelter from the strong winds typical for coastal areas. Mean annual temperature is 3.8 °C (39 °F), and the growing season in the lowland is approximately 150 days, thus allowing inhabitants with an interest for gardening to grow many imported plants.
Summer lasts from the beginning of June until early September. Record high and low in July is 32.5 °C (91 °F) (9 July 2014) and 4 °C (39 °F). Record high and low in January is 11 °C (52 °F) and −20 °C (−4 °F). The all-time record low is −22.3 °C (−8 °F) on February 1, 1980. The wettest month is October and the driest month is May; annual precipitation is 830 millimeters (33 in).
Narvik has access to numerous outdoor activities. This is the best-known location in northern Norway for alpine skiing.