In terms of square mileage, at 262.55 square kilometres (101.37 sq mi), it is one of the smallest municipalities in Vest-Agder county; yet it is one of the largest in number of inhabitants. The municipality of Farsund has 9,705 inhabitants (2016), concentrated in three centres of population: the town of Farsund (population: 3,265), Vanse (population: 2,016), and Vestbygda (population: 1,123). Loshavn with its wooden buildings is located outside the town of Farsund. Other villages in Farsund include Ore, Rødland, and Sande.
The town of Farsund was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt), although it was already recognized as a trading center in 1795. The present municipality of Farsund was established on 1 January 1965 when the rural municipalities of Herad, Lista, and Spind were merged with the town of Farsund. On 1 January 1971, the Ytre og Indre Skarstein farms (population: 21) located along the western shore of the Rosfjorden were transferred from Lyngdal to Farsund.
The municipality is named Farsund, after the small island of Farøy, which lies in the narrow strait through which the Lyngdalsfjorden passes as it goes by the town. The island's name comes from the Norwegian word far which means "travel" or "journey" (similar to the English word farewell meaning "good journey"). The last element is sund which means "strait" or "sound".
The coat-of-arms has been used since 1900 or 1901. It shows four green linden trees (Tilia) on a yellow background. This was chosen to represent the town since linden trees stood in the center of the town for many years.
The Church of Norway has three parishes (sokn) within the municipality of Farsund. It is part of the Lister deanery in the Diocese of Agder og Telemark.
There is evidence of settlement in Farsund and Lista since the Stone Age.
Farsund held a strategic location in the Atlantic wall during World War II, with over 400 bunkers built in Farsund municipality, many that can be visited. Between 1940–1945, large Soviet prison camps were located at Lista, with prison camps at Kåde and Ore holding over 600 prisoners. The Soviet prisoners were used as forced labour to build Farsund Airport, bunkers, barracks, and fortifications .
Farsund previously had a hospital, which was closed down in 2007.
All municipalities in Norway, including Farsund, 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 municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Farsund is made up of 29 representatives that are elected to every four years. Currently, the party breakdown is as follows:
The largest industries are Alcoa Lista, an aluminium plant, and Farsund Aluminium Casting AS, which makes auto parts out of aluminium. Historically, shipping and fisheries have also been important. Farsund is the largest agricultural district in the county of Vest-Agder, having 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) productive land, 88 square kilometres (34 sq mi) of forest, and 11 square kilometres (4.2 sq mi) freshwater areas. Farsund was already organized as a trading centre in 1795, and in 1995 celebrated its 200-year jubilee.
Trade and shipping laid the foundation for prosperity, and "the city of the strait" was a period one of the world's largest shipping towns in relation to the size of population.
The municipality sits in southwestern Norway along the North Sea. The Fedafjorden and Listafjorden lie along the northwestern side of the municipality and the Lyngdalsfjorden lies in the eastern part of Farsund. The coastal municipality has two lighthouses: Lista Lighthouse in the west and Søndre Katland Lighthouse in the south.
Farsund Airport, Lista (FAN) was closed in 2002. The airport had from 1955 to 2002 scheduled traffic to Stavanger, Bergen and Oslo. Airlines which have frequented at Lista are among others Braathens SAFE, Norving and Air Stord.
The Airport was built by Luftwaffe in 1940, and they operated the airport with several fighter squadrons during World War II. After the war, the Royal Norwegian Air Force took over the airport, and for a period it was used as training camp for conscripts.
Today, the airport is privatized and is an industrial area with only minor GA-traffic.
Farsund has 3 primary schools, located in Farsund, Vanse, and Borhaug. Furthermore, there are two junior high schools, in Farsund and Vanse, and two high schools also located in Farsund and Vanse.Farsund is a town linked to the fjords. Its guest harbour was considered one of the best in Norway, and is full of boats in summer months.
Every year, Strandmila (5k / 10k run) takes place in Husenby Park. The course covers countryside trails, forest paths and sand beaches.