Ålesund town is the administrative centre of the municipality as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district. Ålesund municipality has a population of 42,982 as of 2010, while the greater Ålesund area has a population of 47,772 (this also includes most of neighboring Sula as well).

The port of Ålesund was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt) and it received town rights in 1848. On 1 January 1875, part of Borgund (population: 902) was transferred to the town of Ålesund. In 1922, another part of Borgund (population: 1,148) was transferred to the town of Ålesund. On 1 January 1968, most of the neighboring municipality of Borgund (population: 20,132) was merged into Ålesund. This merger more than doubled the population of Ålesund, for a new total population of 38,589. On 1 January 1977, the island of Sula and some small surrounding islets (population: 6,302) were separated from Ålesund to form a separate municipality.[Source]