Counties of Norway

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A geopolitical map of Norway, exhibiting its 18 first-order subnational divisions (fylker or "counties"), along with Svalbard and Jan Mayen
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Norway is divided into 18 administrative regions, called counties (singular Norwegian: fylke, plural Norwegian: fylker (Bokmål) / fylke (Nynorsk) from Old Norse: fylki from the word "folk"); until 1918, they were known as amter. The counties form the first-level subdivisions of Norway and are further divided into 422 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 considered both a county and a municipality.

In 2017 the government decided to abolish the current counties and to replace them with fewer, larger administrative regions (regioner).[1]

List of counties

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 number 13, 16, and 17 were dropped and the number 50 was added to account for changes over the years. (There is no connection between the lack of a county number 13 and the belief that 13 is an unlucky number.)

ISO-code County (Fylke) Administrative centre Governor Area (km2) Population (2016)
01 Østfold våpen.svg Østfold Sarpsborg Anne Enger 4,180.69 290,412
02 Akershus våpen.svg Akershus Oslo Nils Aage Jegstad 4,917.94 596,704
03 Insigne Anslogae.svg Oslo City of Oslo Marianne Borgen (Mayor) 454.07 660,987
04 Hedmark våpen.svg Hedmark Hamar Sigbjørn Johnsen 27,397.76 195,443
05 Oppland våpen.svg Oppland Lillehammer Kristin Hille Valla 25,192.10 188,945
06 Buskerud våpen.svg Buskerud Drammen Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl 14,910.94 278,028
07 Vestfold våpen.svg Vestfold Tønsberg Erling Lae 2,225.08 245,160
08 Telemark våpen.svg Telemark Skien Kari Nordheim-Larsen 15,296.34 172,527
09 Aust-Agder våpen.svg Aust-Agder Arendal Øystein Djupedal 9,157.77 115,873
10 Vest-Agder våpen.svg Vest-Agder Kristiansand Ann-Kristin Olsen 7,276.91 182,922
11 Rogaland våpen.svg Rogaland Stavanger Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa 9,375.97 470,907
12 Hordaland våpen.svg Hordaland Bergen Lars Sponheim 15,438.06 517,601
13 No longer used[a]
14 Sogn og Fjordane våpen.svg Sogn og Fjordane Hermansverk Anne Karin Hamre 18,623.41 109,623
15 Møre og Romsdal våpen.svg Møre og Romsdal Molde Lodve Solholm 15,101.39 265,181
16 No longer used[b]
17 No longer used[c]
18 Nordland våpen.svg Nordland Bodø Odd Eriksen 38,482.39 241,948
19 Troms våpen.svg Troms Tromsø Bård Magne Pedersen 25,862.91 164,613
20 Finnmark våpen.svg Finnmark Vadsø Gunnar Kjønnøy 48,631.04 75,886
50 Nord-Trøndelag våpen.svg Trøndelag Steinkjer[d] Frank Jenssen 41,254.29 450,496
  1. ^ Formerly used for Bergen county, merged into Hordaland on 1 January 1972
  2. ^ Formerly used for Nord-Trøndelag (#17) and Sør-Trøndelag (#16) counties, merged into Trøndelag on 1 January 2018
  3. ^ See reference B
  4. ^ Steinkjer is the administrative centre, but the county mayor is seated in Trondheim. Steinkjer and Trondheim are sometimes named as co-capitals


Norway counties.svg

Responsibilities and significance

Every county has two main organisations, both with underlying organisations.

  1. The county municipality (no: Fylkeskommune) has a county council (Norwegian: Fylkesting), whose members are elected by the inhabitants. The county municipality is responsible mainly for some medium level schools, public transport organisation, regional road planning, culture and some more areas.
  2. The county governor (no: Fylkesmannen) is an authority directly overseen by the Norwegian government. It surveills the municipalities and receive complaints from people over their actions. It also controls areas where the government needs local direct ruling outside the municipalities.


Fylke (1st period)

From the consolidation to a single kingdom, Norway was divided into a number of geographic regions that 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.

Fylke in the 10th-13th centuries

Finnmark (including northern Troms), the Faroe Islands, the Orkney Islands, Shetland, the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Iceland and Greenland were Norwegian skattland ("tax countries"), and did not belong to any known counties or assembly areas.


Syssel in 1300

From the end of the 12th century, Norway was divided into several syssel. The head of the various 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.[4]


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[5]–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.[6] The sub-regions corresponded to the church districts for the Lutheran church in Norway.

Len in 1536

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.[7]

Len in 1660

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.[8]


With the royal decree of February 19, 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.[9]

Amt in 1671

After 1671 Norway was divided into four principal amt or stiftsamt and there were nine subordinate amt:

Amt in 1730

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:

Amt in 1760

In 1760 Norway had the following stiftamt and amt:[10]

Fylke (2nd period)

From 1919 each amt was renamed a fylke (plural fylke(r)) (county) and the amtmann was now titled fylkesmann (county governor).


In 2017 the Norwegian government announced the merge of the existing 19 fylker into 11 regions by 2020 (and Trøndelag by 2018). Each region (plural regioner) would be led by a regionleder (region leader), which would be equivalent to the current position of fylkesmann.[12]

Proposed new regions
  • Region Nord-Hålogaland* (By merging Finnmark and Troms counties in 2020)
  • Region Nordland (No change, same as Nordland county)
  • Region Trøndelag (No change, same as Trøndelag county)
  • Region Møre og Romsdal (No change, same as Møre og Romsdal county)
  • Region Vestlandet (By merging Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane counties in 2020)
  • Region Rogaland (No change, same as Rogaland county)
  • Region Agder (By merging Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder counties in 2020)
  • Region Telemark og Vestfold (no) (By merging Vestfold and Telemark counties in 2020)
  • Region Innlandet (By merging Hedmark and Oppland counties in 2020)
  • Region Viken (By merging Akershus, Buskerud, and Østfold counties in 2020)
  • Region Oslo (No change, same as Oslo county)
  • Proposed name

See also



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Lagting og lagsogn frem til 1797". Borgarting lagmannsrett. 
  3. ^ "Frå lagting til allting". Gulatinget. 
  4. ^ Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 77
  5. ^ Christian III, king of Denmark-Norway, carried out the Protestant Reformation in Norway in 1536.
  6. ^ Kavli, Guthorm (1987). Norges festninger. Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-18430-7. 
  7. ^ Len on Norwegian Wiki site
  8. ^ Jesperson, Leon (Ed.) (2000). A Revolution from Above? The Power State of 16th and 17th Century Scandinavia. Odense University Press. ISBN 87-7838-407-9. 
  9. ^ Amt at Norwegian Wiki site
  10. ^ Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 153
  11. ^ "Fylkespolitikerne sier ja til Trøndelag fylke" (in Norwegian). NRK. 
  12. ^ Regionreform by Regjeringen


  • Danielsen, Rolf; Dyrvik, Ståle; Grønlie, Tore; Helle, Knut; Hovland, Edgar (2007) [1991]. Grunntrekk i norsk historie (1 ed.). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 978-82-00-21273-7. 
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