Rapid atrial arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AF) predispose to ventricular arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death and stroke. Identifying the origin of atrial ectopic activity from the electrocardiogram (ECG) can help to diagnose the early onset of AF in a cost-effective manner. The complex and rapid atrial electrical activity during AF makes it difficult to obtain detailed information on atrial activation using the standard 12-lead ECG alone. Compared to conventional 12-lead ECG, more detailed ECG lead configurations may provide further information about spatio-temporal dynamics of the body surface potential (BSP) during atrial excitation. We apply a recently developed 3D human atrial model to simulate electrical activity during normal sinus rhythm and ectopic pacing. The atrial model is placed into a newly developed torso model which considers the presence of the lungs, liver and spinal cord. A boundary element method is used to compute the BSP resulting from atrial excitation. Elements of the torso mesh corresponding to the locations of the placement of the electrodes in the standard 12-lead and a more detailed 64-lead ECG configuration were selected. The ectopic focal activity was simulated at various origins across all the different regions of the atria. Simulated BSP maps during normal atrial excitation (i.e. sinoatrial node excitation) were compared to those observed experimentally (obtained from the 64-lead ECG system), showing a strong agreement between the evolution in time of the simulated and experimental data in the P-wave morphology of the ECG and dipole evolution. An algorithm to obtain the location of the stimulus from a 64-lead ECG system was developed. The algorithm presented had a success rate of 93%, meaning that it correctly identified the origin of atrial focus in 75/80 simulations, and involved a general approach relevant to any multi-lead ECG system. This represents a significant improvement over previously developed algorithms.