Long and narrow, green and fertile, rugged and wild; Nordland is a county of contrasts and surprises

The most beautiful coastline in the world

The county of Nordland stretches for 500 kilometres (310 miles) between the counties of Northern Trøndelag and Troms, with the distance between the most northerly point at Andenes and the most southerly point at Bindal some 800 kilometres (497 miles) . Helgeland, the landscape in the far south of Nordland, is south of the Arctic Circle, while the rest of the county lies north of the Arctic Circle and experiences the Midnight Sun and the Polar Night.

Thousands of islands

The coastline of Nordland is among the most ragged in the whole of Norway, with skerries and archipelagos made up of tens of thousands of islets and reefs. The most north-westerly region of Nordland ‒ the Lofoten Islands, Vesterålen and outer Ofoten – consists of great, mountainous archipelagos with a more sheltered, inner green side and a windswept outer side.

Mountains and fjords

Mainland Nordland has a coastal and fjord landscape, with relatively densely populated farming communities among high mountains. The mighty Saltfjellet mountain with the Svartisen glacier forms a barrier along the Arctic Circle. Farthest inland is Kjølen, the chain of mountains that forms the border with Sweden, with peaks exceeding 1,900 metres (6,233 ft) .

Mild and green

Nordland enjoys the mildest climate in the world at these latitudes. Winters are mild, while summers are relatively warm, and plenty of precipitation ensures a green, fertile landscape. On south-facing slopes broadleaf forests grow, and there are good conditions for farming.

Scattered populations

Settlement patterns in Nordland stretch from densely populated fishing villages in the outermost parts of the region to the fjords and the inland valleys. Regular boat services go out to the outermost archipelagos and efficient catamarans ply the waterways between the major coastal towns. The rail line of Nordlandsbanen runs up to Bodø, while Narvik is the railhead of the Ofoten railway going into Sweden. 12 airports are found throughout Nordland.

Coastal culture

Nordland has been exporting cod for 1,000 years, and the Lofoten fishery in the winter is the biggest cod fishery in the world. The coast with its culture of boat-building, boat-houses, trading settlements, “dunvær” (eider duck keeping) and “rorbuer” (fishermen’s cabins) defines the character of the people and the landscape. Sami language and culture also go very far back in Nordland, and are today found in small pockets in fjord-side and inland areas.

Dried fish, fertiliser and solar cells

The primary industries of fishing and agriculture sustain life among the scattered populations of Nordland, and many places are experiencing growth as a result of fish farming. Many coastal communities combine the fishing industry with tourism. Plentiful hydro-electricity has also provided the basis for a power-intensive artificial fertiliser and smelting industry. Some of the old industrial towns are now adapting to new technology, such as Narvik and Mo i Rana.

Facts about Nordland

  • Area: 38,460km2 (14,845 sq. miles)
  • Population: 237,500

Cities and towns:

  • Bodø: pop. 48,000
  • Mo i Rana: pop. 25,000
  • Narvik: pop. 18,200
  • Mosjøen: pop. 13,300
  • Sortland: pop. 9,800