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Coordinates: 58°46′46.53″N7°40′6.45″E / 58.7795917°N 7.6684583°E / 58.7795917; 7.6684583


Agder fylke
Agder in Norway 2020.svg
Agder within Norway
Country Norway
County Agder
Region Southern Norway
County ID NO-42
  Total16,434.12 km2 (6,345.25 sq mi)
  Density19/km2 (48/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Egde, Egd,
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)

Agder [1] is a county (fylke) and historical district of Norway in Norway's southernmost region.

Before 1 January 2020, the region was divided in two counties, Vest-Agder and Aust-Agder. [2] Since the early 1900s, the term Sørlandet ("south country") has been commonly used for this region, sometimes with the inclusion of neighbouring Rogaland. Before that, the area was considered a part of Western Norway. [3]

The area was a medieval petty kingdom, and after Norway's unification became known as Egdafylki and later Agdesiden, a county within the kingdom of Norway. The name Agder was not used after 1662, when the area was split into smaller governmental units called Nedenæs, Råbyggelaget, Lister, and Mandal. The name was resurrected in 1919 when two counties of Norway that roughly corresponded to the old Agdesiden county were renamed Aust-Agder (East Agder) and Vest-Agder (West Agder). Even before the two counties joined in 2020, they cooperated in many ways; the University of Agder had sites in both Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder, as did many other institutions, such as the Diocese of Agder og Telemark, the Agder Court of Appeal, and the Agder Police District.


The name Agder is older than the Norwegian language. Its meaning is not known. Just as the Norwegian language derives from Old Norse, Agder derives from the Old Norse word Agðir. In the early Viking Age, before Harald Fairhair, Agðir was a petty kingdom inhabited by a people named after it, the Egðir. [3]

Nothing in Old Norse gives any hint as to the word's meaning; it was not produced (from known segments) in Old Norse, which means the name is older still. The Egðir are believed to be the same etymologically as the Augandzi people mentioned in the Getica of Jordanes, who wrote of Scandza (Scandinavia) in the 6th century. If Jordanes's Scandza is a palatalized form of *Scandia, then Augandzi is likely a palatalized form of *Augandii, residents of *Augandia. [4]

A name of that period would have to be closer to Proto-Germanic; in fact, a word of that period does present itself and fits the geographical lore of the times: *agwjō (meaning "island"), [5] which Jordanes and all his predecessors writing of Scandinavia believed it to be. A simple metathesis produces a possibly late form, *augjo-, but this derivation is speculative. There is no other evidence on Auganza, and its connection to Egder is hypothetical too.


Agder has 25 municipalities. [6]

No.Municipality No.NameCreatedFormer Municipality No.Former County
14201 Risør January 1, 20200901 Risør Aust-Agder
24202 Grimstad January 1, 20200904 Grimstad
34203 Arendal January 1, 20200906 Arendal
44204 Kristiansand January 1, 20201001 Kristiansand
1017 Songdalen
1018 Søgne
54205 Lindesnes January 1, 20201002 Mandal
1021 Marnardal
1029 Lindesnes
64206 Farsund January 1, 20201003 Farsund
74207 Flekkefjord January 1, 20201004 Flekkefjord
84211 Gjerstad January 1, 20200911 Gjerstad Aust-Agder
94212 Vegårshei January 1, 20200912 Vegårshei
104213 Tvedestrand January 1, 20200914 Tvedestrand
114214 Froland January 1, 20200919 Froland
124215 Lillesand January 1, 20200926 Lillesand
134216 Birkenes January 1, 20200928 Birkenes
144217 Åmli January 1, 20200929 Åmli
154218 Iveland January 1, 20200935 Iveland
164219 Evje og Hornnes January 1, 20200937 Evje og Hornnes
174220 Bygland January 1, 20200938 Bygland
184221 Valle January 1, 20200940 Valle
194222 Bykle January 1, 20200941 Bykle
204223 Vennesla January 1, 20201014 Vennesla Vest-Agder
214224 Åseral January 1, 20201026 Åseral
224225 Lyngdal January 1, 20201027 Audnedal
1032 Lyngdal
234226 Hægebostad January 1, 20201034 Hægebostad
244227 Kvinesdal January 1, 20201037 Kvinesdal
254228 Sirdal January 1, 20201046 Sirdal


Norway of the Viking Age was divided into petty kingdoms ruled by chiefs who contended for land, maritime supremacy or political ascendance and sought alliances or control through marriage with other royal families, either voluntary or forced. These circumstances produced the generally turbulent and heroic lives recorded in the Heimskringla .

For example, the Ynglinga saga tells us that Harald Redbeard, chief of Agðir, refused his daughter Åsa to Gudröd Halvdanson, on which event Gudröd invaded Agðir, killed Harald and his son Gyrd, and took Åsa whether she would or no. She bore a son, Halvdan (the Black), obviously named after his deceased grandfather, and later arranged to have Gudröd assassinated. Among the royal families these events seem to have been rather ordinary. Her word was the last in the argument, as her grandson, Harald Fairhair, unified Norway.

Kings of Agder

Legendary Kings

Monarchs of Agder: 790987

Prior to the Viking Age is a gap in the history of the region for a few hundred years, but in Jordanes we also find regions of the same but earlier forms of names, presumably also petty kingdoms under now unknown chiefs. The previous most credible source, Ptolemy, gives the briefest of sketches, only citing all of Norway as the Chaedini ("country people"). Perhaps the difference between kingdoms were not sufficiently important to cite them individually.

Prior to then the most credible and respected source, Tacitus in Germania Chapter 44 described the Suiones, who were divided into civitates (kingdoms?) along the coast of Scandinavia and were unusual in owning fleets of a special type of ship. These were pointed on both ends and were driven by banks of oars that could be rearranged or shipped for river passage. They did not depend on sail (so Tacitus says) but other than that they do not differ from Viking ships. These civitates went all the way around Scandinavia to the Arctic, or at least to regions of very long days, where they stopped.

It seems clear that in the Roman Iron Age Norway was populated by people of the same identity as Sweden, who were called the Suiones by Latin sources. In settling the coast at some point in prehistory they had been divided into civitates by the terrain. These states took on mainly geographical names or names of individuals or mythological characters. Agder was one of them.

After the unification of Norway by Harold Fairhair and army and allies in the 10th century, all the civitates became provinces (fylker) and after their conversion to Christianity they became dioceses or parishes. The development of Old Norse into local dialects and the dissimilation of customs due to isolation added an ethnic flavor to the area, which is cherished today.

Related Research Articles

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Gudrød the Hunter

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  1. "Arealstatistikk for Norge". Kartverket (in Norwegian Bokmål). 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  3. 1 2 Store norske leksikon. "Agder" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  4. Völundarhúsins, Freyia. "Augandzi (The Tribe and Kingdom of Agder, Norway)" . Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  5. "Indo-European Roots Appendix". The American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  6. List of Norwegian municipality numbers