The Westman Islands are a group of fifteen islands, situated just off the south coast of Iceland. The main island, Heimaey, has a population of about 5,000. No port in Iceland registers bigger catches than this one and the island is simply buzzing with life. Here, there are some truly spectacular sights. The islanders have made their living from the sea from the days of the first settlers, the perfect natural harbour and tall cliffs tenanted by multitudes of puffin, fulmar and guillemot being two important factors in this community's prosperity. To this day local men hop expertly from ledge to ledge collecting eggs, attached to a lifeline held by an anchor man at the top of the cliff. A boat trip round the islands with their sheer basalt cliffs and eroded arches rising out of the deep sea explains to the visitor why only one island is inhabited. At 2am on the night of january 23rd 1973, a massive eruption began in the eastern part of Heimaey. Almost all of the 5,000 inhabitants were safely evacuated to the mainland. The eruption lasted for over 5 months and caused extensive damage to the town, burying houses under lava and ash. Only a few weeks after the eruption ended, the population had returned to clean up and continue their lives.