A small cluster of islands off the south coast of Iceland. Only the largest, Heimaey is inhabited.
The islands were at one time home to Keiko the killer whale, the star of Free Willy.
The islands are named for Irish monks. The Old Norse word "Vestmenn", literally "west-men", was applied to the Irish.
In the year 1627 the islands were attacked by a fleet of Algerian pirates, who enslaved much of the population and took them to Algeria where most of them lived the rest of their lives in bondage.
The islands are famed in Iceland for their yearly festival, "Þjóðhátíð", which attracts a large portion of the nation's youth. The festival doesn't celebrate anything in particular, except drugs & alcohol, but has in the last century become a rite of passage for teenagers, and an exceptionally fun event for the alcohol-oriented.
The area is very volcanically active, like the rest of Iceland. There were two major eruptions in the 20th century. The Heimaey eruption of 1973 caused the island's 5000 inhabitants to be evacuated to the mainland and the Surtsey eruption of 1963 created the new island of Surtsey.