|Counties of Norway|
Norges fylker (Bokmål)
Noregs fylke (Nynorsk)
Norway is divided into 11 administrative regions, called counties (singular Norwegian: fylke, plural Bokmål: fylker; Nynorsk: fylke from Old Norse: fylki from the word "folk", Northern Sami: fylka, Southern Sami: fylhke, Lule Sami: fylkka, Kven: fylkki) which until 1918 were known as amter. The counties form the first-level administrative divisions of Norway and are further subdivided into 356 municipalities (kommune, pl. kommuner / kommunar). The island territories of Svalbard and Jan Mayen are outside the county division and ruled directly at the national level. The capital Oslo is both a county and a municipality.
In 2017, the Solberg government decided to abolish some of the counties and to merge them with other counties to form larger ones, reducing the number of counties from 19 to 11, which was implemented on 1 January 2020. This sparked popular opposition, with some calling for the reform to be reversed. The Storting voted to partly undo the reform on 14 June 2022, with Norway to have 15 counties from 1 January 2024. Three of the newly merged counties, namely Vestfold og Telemark, Viken and Troms og Finnmark, will be dissolved and the old counties they were created from will reemerge. The to-be-reestablished counties will see some minor border changes compared to when they were abolished, as some municipalities were merged across former county borders during the 2020 local government reform (no).
Below is a list of the Norwegian counties, with their current administrative centres. Note that the counties are administered both by appointees of the national government and to a lesser extent by their own elected bodies. The county numbers are from the official numbering system ISO 3166-2:NO, which originally was set up to follow the coastline from the Swedish border in the southeast to the Russian border in the northeast, but with the numbering has changed with county mergers.
The island territories of Svalbard and Jan Mayen lie outside of the county system of Norway. Svalbard is administered by the Governor of Svalbard, and Jan Mayen is administered by the County Governor of Nordland (but not part of Nordland).
|ISO-code||County||Administrative centre(s)||Largest municipality||Governor||Mayor||Area (km2)||Pop.||Official language form|
|03||Oslo||City of Oslo||Valgerd Svarstad Haugland||Marianne Borgen (SV)||454.12||700,000||Neutral|
|11||Rogaland||Stavanger||Bent Høie||Marianne Chesak (Ap)||9,377.10||475,000||Neutral|
|15||Møre og Romsdal||Molde||Ålesund||Else-May Norderhus||Jon Aasen (Ap)||14,355.62||270,000||Nynorsk|
|18||Nordland||Bodø||Tom Cato Karlsen||Kari Anne Bøkestad Andreassen (Sp)||38,154.62||239,000||Neutral|
|30||Viken||Oslo, Drammen, Sarpsborg||Bærum||Valgerd Svarstad Haugland||Roger Ryberg (Ap)||24,592.59||1,236,000||Neutral|
|34||Innlandet||Hamar||Ringsaker||Knut Storberget||Even Aleksander Hagen (Ap)||52,072.44||375,000||Neutral|
|38||Vestfold og Telemark||Skien||Sandefjord||Fred-Ivar Syrstad (acting)||Terje Riis-Johansen (Sp)||17,465.92||425,000||Neutral|
|42||Agder||Kristiansand||Gina Lund||Arne Thomassen (H)||16,434.12||299,000||Neutral|
|46||Vestland||Bergen||Liv Signe Navarsete||Jon Askeland (Sp)||33,870.99||632,000||Nynorsk|
|Steinkjer||Trondheim||Frank Jenssen||Tore O. Sandvik (Ap)||42,201.59||465,000||Neutral|
|54|| Troms og Finnmark
Romsa ja Finnmárku
Tromssa ja Finmarkku
|Tromsø||Elisabeth Aspaker||Ivar B. Prestbakmo (Sp)||74,829.68||248,000||Neutral|
Every county has two main organisations, both with underlying organisations.
From the consolidation to a single kingdom, Norway was divided into a number of geographic regions that each had its own legislative assembly or Thing, such as Gulating (Western Norway) and Frostating (Trøndelag). The second-order subdivision of these regions was into fylker, such as Egdafylke and Hordafylke. In 1914, the historical term fylke was brought into use again to replace the term amt introduced during the union with Denmark. Current day counties (fylker) often, but not necessarily, correspond to the historical areas.
Counties (folkland) under the Borgarting, located in Viken with the seat at Sarpsborg:
Counties (first three fylke, last two bilandskap) under the Eidsivating, located in Oplandene with the seat at Eidsvoll:
Counties under the Gulating, located in Vestlandet with the seat at Gulen:
Counties under the Frostating, located in Trøndelag with the seat at Frosta:
Counties not attached to a thing:
Finnmark (including northern Troms), the Faroe Islands, the Orkney Islands, Shetland, the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Iceland and Greenland were Norwegian skattland ("taxed countries"), and did not belong to any known counties or assembly areas.
From the end of the 12th century, Norway was divided into several syssel. The head of the syssel was the syslemann, who represented the king locally. The following shows a reconstruction of the different syssel in Norway c. 1300, including sub-syssel where these seem established.
From 1308, the term len (plural len) in Norway signified an administrative region roughly equivalent to today's counties. The historic len was an important administrative entity during the period of Dano-Norwegian unification after their amalgamation as one state, which lasted for the period 1536–1814.
At the beginning of the 16th century the political divisions were variable, but consistently included four main len and approximately 30 smaller sub-regions with varying connections to a main len. Up to 1660 the four principal len were headquartered at the major fortresses Bohus Fortress, Akershus Fortress, Bergenhus Fortress and the fortified city of Trondheim. The sub-regions corresponded to the church districts for the Lutheran church in Norway.
These four principal len were in the 1530s divided into approximately 30 smaller regions. From that point forward through the beginning of the 17th century the number of subsidiary len was reduced, while the composition of the principal len became more stable.
From 1660 Norway had nine principal len comprising 17 subsidiary len:
Len written as län continues to be used as the administrative equivalent of county in Sweden to this day. Each len was governed by a lenman.
With the royal decree of 19 February 1662, each len was designated an amt (plural amt) and the lenmann was titled amtmann, from German Amt (office), reflecting the bias of the Danish court of that period.
After 1671 Norway was divided into four principal amt or stiftsamt and there were nine subordinate amt:
From 1730 Norway had the following amt:
At this time there were also two counties (grevskap) controlled by actual counts, together forming what is now Vestfold county:
In 1760 Norway had the following stiftamt and amt:
From 1919 each amt was renamed a fylke (plural fylke(r)) (county) and the amtmann was now titled fylkesmann (county governor).
The county numbers are from the official numbering system ISO 3166-2:NO, which originally was set up to follow the coastline from the Swedish border in the southeast to the Russian border in the northeast, but the numbering has changed with county mergers. The number 13, 16 and 17 were dropped, and the number 50 was added to account for changes over the years. The lack of a county number 13 is due to the city of Bergen no longer being its own county, and is unrelated to fear of the number 13.
In 2018, Sør-Trøndelag was merged with Nord-Trøndelag into the new county of Trøndelag, and several followed.
|ISO-code||County||Administrative centre||Area (km2)||Pop. (2016)||County after
1 January 2020
1 January 2024
|03||Oslo||City of Oslo||454.07||660,987||Oslo|
|07||Vestfold||Tønsberg||2,225.08||245,160||Vestfold og Telemark||Vestfold|
|13||Not in use from 1972 onwards [a]|
|14||Sogn og Fjordane||Hermansverk||18,623.41||109,623|
|15||Møre og Romsdal||Molde||15,101.39||265,181||Møre og Romsdal|
|16||Not in use from 2018 onwards [b]|
|17||Not in use from 2018 onwards [b]|
|19||Troms||Tromsø||25,862.91||164,613||Troms og Finnmark||Troms|
In 2017 the Norwegian government announced the merge of the existing 19 fylker into 11 new fylker by 2020. As a result, several government responsibilities were transferred to the new regions.