Counties of Norway

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Counties of Norway
Norges fylker  (Bokmål)
Noregs fylke  (Nynorsk)
Nye fylker -
Category Unitary unit
LocationFlag of Norway.svg  Norway

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 considered both a county and a municipality.


In 2017 the 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. [1] However, two of the newly merged counties (Viken [2] [3] and Troms og Finnmark [4] ) have seen popular opposition before, during, or after the mergers, and have stated their desire to split up again, with one (Vestfold og Telemark) seeing opposition in the area of one of the two former counties constituting it. [5] Some opposition parties have stated their willingness to undo any of the aforementioned mergers if they win a majority in the next general election if the residents of the area so choose. [6]

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 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-codeCountyAdminis­trative centre(s)Most populous munici­palityGovernorMayorArea (km2)Pop.Official language form
03Insigne Anslogae.svg  Oslo City of Oslo Valgerd Svarstad Haugland Marianne Borgen (SV)454.12700,000Neutral
11Rogaland vapen.svg  Rogaland Stavanger Bent Høie Marianne Chesak (Ap)9,377.10475,000Neutral
15More og Romsdal vapen.svg  Møre og Romsdal Molde Ålesund Else-May Norderhus Jon Aasen (Ap)14,355.62270,000 Nynorsk
18Nordland vapen.svg  Nordland Bodø Tom Cato Karlsen Kari Anne Bøkestad Andreassen (Sp)38,154.62239,000Neutral
30Viken vapen.svg  Viken Oslo, Drammen, Sarpsborg Bærum Valgerd Svarstad Haugland Roger Ryberg (Ap)24,592.591,236,000Neutral
34Innlandet vapen.svg  Innlandet Hamar Ringsaker Knut Storberget Even Aleksander Hagen (Ap)52,072.44375,000Neutral
38Vestfold og Telemark vapen.svg  Vestfold og Telemark Skien Sandefjord Per Arne Olsen Terje Riis-Johansen (Sp)17,465.92425,000Neutral
42Agder vapen.svg  Agder Kristiansand Stein Arve Ytterdahl Arne Thomassen (H)16,434.12299,000Neutral
46Vestland vapen.svg  Vestland Bergen Lars Sponheim Jon Askeland (Sp)33,870.99632,000 Nynorsk
50Trondelag vapen.svg  Trøndelag


Steinkjer Trondheim Frank Jenssen Tore O. Sandvik (Ap)42,201.59465,000Neutral
54Coat of arms of Finnmark county and Troms county.svg  Troms og Finnmark

Romsa ja FinnmárkuTromssa ja Finmarkku

Tromsø Elisabeth Aspaker Ivar B. Prestbakmo (Sp)74,829.68248,000Neutral

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 receives 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

Counties (folkland) under the Borgarting, located in Viken with the seat at Sarpsborg: [7]

Counties (first three fylke, last two bilandskap ) under the Eidsivating, located in Oplandene with the seat at Eidsvoll: [7]

Counties under the Gulating, located in Vestlandet with the seat at Gulen: [8]

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.


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. [9]


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 [10] 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. [11] 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.[ citation needed ]

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. [12]


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.[ citation needed ]

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: [13]

Fylke (2nd period)

Counties of Norway between 1972 and 2018 Norges valgkretser.png
Counties of Norway between 1972 and 2018

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 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. 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-codeCountyAdmini­strative centreArea (km2)Pop. (2016)County
after 1 January 2020
01Ostfold vapen.svg  Østfold Sarpsborg 4,180.69290,412 Viken vapen.svg Viken
02Akershus vapen.svg  Akershus Oslo 4,917.94596,704
06Buskerud vapen.svg  Buskerud Drammen 14,910.94278,028
03Insigne Anslogae.svg  Oslo City of Oslo 454.07660,987 Insigne Anslogae.svg Oslo
04Hedmark vapen.svg  Hedmark Hamar 27,397.76195,443 Innlandet vapen.svg Innlandet
05Oppland vapen.svg  Oppland Lillehammer 25,192.10188,945
07Vestfold vapen.svg  Vestfold Tønsberg 2,225.08245,160 Vestfold og Telemark vapen.svg Vestfold og Telemark
08Telemark vapen.svg  Telemark Skien 15,296.34172,527
09Aust-Agder vapen.svg  Aust-Agder Arendal 9,157.77115,873 Agder vapen.svg Agder
10Vest-Agder vapen.svg  Vest-Agder Kristiansand 7,276.91182,922
11Rogaland vapen.svg  Rogaland Stavanger 9,375.97470,907 Rogaland vapen.svg Rogaland
12Hordaland vapen.svg  Hordaland Bergen 15,438.06517,601 Vestland vapen.svg Vestland
13Not in use from 1972 onwards [lower-alpha 1]
14Sogn og Fjordane vapen.svg  Sogn og Fjordane Hermansverk 18,623.41109,623
15More og Romsdal vapen.svg  Møre og Romsdal Molde 15,101.39265,181 More og Romsdal vapen.svg Møre og Romsdal
16Not in use from 2018 onwards [lower-alpha 2]
17Not in use from 2018 onwards [lower-alpha 2]
18Nordland vapen.svg  Nordland Bodø 38,482.39241,948 Nordland vapen.svg Nordland
19Troms vapen.svg  Troms Tromsø 25,862.91164,613 Coat of arms of Finnmark county and Troms county.svg Troms og Finnmark
20Finnmark vapen.svg  Finnmark Vadsø 48,631.0475,886
50Trondelag vapen.svg  Trøndelag [lower-alpha 2] Steinkjer [lower-alpha 3] 41,254.29450,496 Trondelag vapen.svg Trøndelag
  1. Formerly used for Bergen county, merged into Hordaland on 1 January 1972
  2. 1 2 3 Formerly used for Nord-Trøndelag (#17) and Sør-Trøndelag (#16) counties, merged as Trøndelag on 1 January 2018
  3. Steinkjer is the administrative centre, but the county mayor is seated in Trondheim. Steinkjer and Trondheim are sometimes named as co-capitals

Fylke (3rd period)

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. [15]

New fylker

See also

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  10. Christian III, king of Denmark-Norway, carried out the Protestant Reformation in Norway in 1536.
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