The administrative centre of Finnmark, Vadsø has a mixed Norwegian and Finnish heritage thanks to large-scale immigration from Finland in the 19th century. A monument at the north end of Tollbugata commemorates this cultural heritage. Vadsø is also renowned as a site for polar exploration, with several expeditions having started or ended here. Like other Finnmark towns, it was badly mauled in WWII, by both Russian bombers and retreating Nazi troops, and the modern centre is an unappealing aggregation of modern buildings as a result.