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The municipality called Hammerfest by og landdistrikt was established on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). It included the town of Hammerfest and the vast rural district surrounding it. The law required that all towns should be separated from their rural districts, but because of low population, and very few voters, this was impossible to carry out for Hammerfest in 1838. (See also: the towns of Vadsø and Vardø.) Eventually, on 1 January 1852, the rural district was separated from the town of Hammerfest to form the new municipality of Hammerfest landdistrikt (later renamed Sørøysund). The northern district of Maasø was separated in 1839, and the southern district of Kvalsund was separated in 1869. On 1 January 1992, the municipality of Sørøysund was merged with the town of Hammerfest to form a new, larger municipality of Hammerfest.
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