Kirkenes (Northern Sami: Girkonjárga, Kven and Finnish: Kirkkoniemi, Russian: Киркенес) is a town and administration center in Sør-Varanger municipality in Troms and Finnmark county. The city has 3,492 inhabitants as of 1 January 2020. The promontory between Pasvikelven and Langfjorden was formerly called Piselvnes. When a church was built on the headland in 1862, the place name was changed to Kirkenes.


The city is the end point for the E6 and for the Hurtigruten. If you include the settlements Hesseng, Sandnes and Bjørnevatn, which are located in the immediate vicinity, in the urban area, the city has 7209 inhabitants (1 Jan 2005, Statistics Norway). In Kirkenes, the city center streets are signposted with both the Latin and a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet - Norwegian, Finnish and Russian. About 10 percent of the population in Kirkenes itself are Russians.

The main industry in Kirkenes was mining for many years. At most, the mining operation had 1,500 employees. In 1996, operations at AS Sydvaranger ceased, but in 2009 work began on preparing the mines for new operations. In recent times, tourism has taken over as the most important industry in Kirkenes.

There is currently optimism in Kirkenes, among other things in connection with planned oil extraction in the Barents Sea. In February 2006, Sydvaranger was sold to Norberg Eiendom by the owners, Sør-Varanger municipality and Varanger kraft for NOK 102 million. Nordberg Eiendom temporarily sold Sydvaranger on to Tschudi Shipping on 1 May 2006. Tschudi Shipping listed Sydvaranger Gruve on the Australian Stock Exchange through the owner company Northern Iron Limited, and through the listing financed the start-up of new mining operations. The work of preparing the mining area for new operation and upgrading of old equipment began in January 2009. It is expected that the first shipment of iron ore will take place during the latter half of 2009. In this connection, the privately owned railway line Kirkenes – Bjørnevatnbanen has been taken into use. again.

In Kirkenes you will also find the Barents Secretariat. The Barents Secretariat was established in the autumn of 1993, six months after the signing of the Kirkenes Declaration, which marked the start of the Barents cooperation. The main task of the Barents Secretariat is to develop Norwegian-Russian cooperation in the north. Every year, the Barents Secretariat is awarded a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is distributed to Norwegian-Russian cooperation projects in the Norwegian and Russian parts of the Barents region.

The Høybuktmoen military camp is located approx. 14 km from Kirkenes, and houses the garrison in Sør-Varanger (GSV). The city's airport, Høybuktmoen Airport, has daily departures to Oslo and Tromsø, as well as the rest of Finnmark. In the summer there is a weekly departure to Germany, and the airport has just been expanded with its own international part.