Giske is an island municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. The municipality lies north-northwest of the town of Ålesund in the traditional district of Sunnmøre. The municipal centre is Valderhaugstrand. Other population centres include the villages of Roald (on Vigra island) and Alnes and Leitebakk (both on Godøya island). The municipality is part of the Ålesund Region.
The 41-square-kilometre (16 sq mi) municipality is the 413th largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Giske is the 132nd most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 8,292. The municipality's population density is 208 inhabitants per square kilometre (540/sq mi) and its population has increased by 22.4% over the last decade.
Giske Municipality was established on 1 January 1908 when it was separated from the large municipality of Borgund. The initial population of the new municipality was 1,708 and it included the islands of Valderøya, Godøya, and Giske. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee. Then on 1 January 1964, the neighbouring Vigra Municipality (on the island of Vigra) was merged into Giske Municipality. The newly enlarged municipality had a population of 4,644.
The municipality is named after the farm and island of Giske (Old Norse: Gizki), since the first Giske Church was built there. The name is (probably) identical with the word gizki which means "tablecloth" or "rag" (maybe because the island is small and flat).
The coat of arms was granted on 14 June 1985, but it has old roots. It is a gold lion rampant (i.e. in walking position) guardant (i.e. facing the viewer) on a blue shield. The arms are based on the old seal of Erling Vidkunsson, who already used the lion on his seal in 1355. His family was one of the most wealthy and influential families in the county, and had their origins and estate on Giske.
The Church of Norway has three parishes (sokn) within the municipality of Giske. It is part of the Nordre Sunnmøre prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Møre.
All municipalities in Norway, including Giske, are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, unemployment and other social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads. The municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor. The municipality falls under the Sunnmøre District Court and the Frostating Court of Appeal.
The municipality is composed of four main islands: Giske, which gives its name to the municipality because of its historical importance, Vigra, which is where Ålesund's airport is located, Valderøya, where the municipal administration is located, and Godøya. There are also many smaller islands within its boundaries. The Alnes Lighthouse, Erkna Lighthouse, and Storholmen lighthouse are all located on islands in the municipality.
The main islands are all connected to the mainland of Norway by a network of tunnels and bridges. Godøy Tunnel connects Godøy to Giske island. Giske Bridge connects Giske island and Valderøy. A causeway connects Vigra island and Valderøy island. All islands are connected to Valderøy island which is where the main Valderøy Tunnel connects the whole municipality to Ellingsøya island in Ålesund Municipality. Finally, the Ellingsøy Tunnel connects that island to the town of Ålesund.
Giske is the site of Mjelthaugen, an ancient burial place dating from the Bronze Age. The site was the location of excavations in 1847, 1867 and 1878. Giske is also the place where, according to Snorre Sturlason, Harald Fairhair had his hair cut after uniting Norway. The historic Giske Church is also located on the island of Giske.