Counties of 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.

Counties of Norway
Norges fylker  (Bokmål)
Noregs fylke  (Nynorsk)
CategoryUnitary unit
Location Norway

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-code County Adminis­trative centre(s) Most populous munici­pality Governor Mayor Area (km2) Pop. Official language form
03  Oslo City of Oslo Valgerd Svarstad Haugland Marianne Borgen (SV) 454.12 693,494 Neutral
11  Rogaland Stavanger Bent Høie Marianne Chesak (Ap) 9,377.10 479,892 Neutral
15  Møre og Romsdal Molde Ålesund Rigmor Brøste Jon Aasen (Ap) 14,355.62 265,238 Nynorsk
18  Nordland Bodø Tom Cato Karlsen Kari Anne Bøkestad Andreassen (Sp) 38,154.62 241,235 Neutral
30  Viken Oslo, Drammen, Sarpsborg Bærum Valgerd Svarstad Haugland Roger Ryberg (Ap) 24,592.59 1,241,165 Neutral
34  Innlandet Hamar Ringsaker Knut Storberget Even Aleksander Hagen (Ap) 52,072.44 371,385 Neutral
38  Vestfold og Telemark Skien Sandefjord Per Arne Olsen Terje Riis-Johansen (Sp) 17,465.92 419,396 Neutral
42  Agder Kristiansand Stein Arve Ytterdahl Arne Thomassen (H) 16,434.12 307,231 Neutral
46  Vestland Bergen Lars Sponheim Jon Askeland (Sp) 33,870.99 636,531 Nynorsk
50  Trøndelag


Steinkjer Trondheim Frank Jenssen Tore O. Sandvik (Ap) 42,201.59 468,702 Neutral
54  Troms og Finnmark

Romsa ja Finnmárku Tromssa ja Finmarkku

Tromsø Elisabeth Aspaker Ivar B. Prestbakmo (Sp) 74,829.68 243,311 Neutral

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.

Len in 1660

From 1660 Norway had nine principal len comprising 17 subsidiary len:

  • Akershus len
  • Tunsberg len
  • Bratsberg len
  • Agdesiden len
  • Stavanger len
  • Bergenhus len
  • Trondheim len
  • Nordlandene len
  • Vardøhus 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.

Amt in 1671

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

  • Akershus amt
    • Smålenene amt
    • Brunla amt
  • Agdesiden amt
    • Bratsberg amt
    • Stavanger amt
  • Bergenhus amt
  • Trondheim amt
    • Romsdalen amt
    • Vardøhus amt

Amt in 1730

From 1730 Norway had the following amt:

  • Vardøhus amt
  • Tromsø amt
  • Nordlands amt
  • Nordre Trondhjems amt
  • Søndre Trondhjems amt
  • Romsdalen amt
  • Nordre Bergenhus amt
  • Søndre Bergenhus amt
  • Stavanger amt
  • Lister og Mandals amt
  • Nedenes amt
  • Bratsberg amt
  • Buskerud amt
  • Oplandenes amt
  • Hedemarkens amt
  • Akershus amt
  • Smaalenenes amt

At this time there were also two counties (grevskap) controlled by actual counts, together forming what is now Vestfold county:

  • Laurvigen county
  • Jarlsberg county

Amt in 1760

In 1760 Norway had the following stiftamt and amt:[13]

  • Akershus stiftamt
    • Opplands amt
    • Akershus amt
    • Smålenenes amt
    • Laurvigen county
    • Jarlsberg county
    • Bratsberg amt (eastern half)
  • Agdesiden stiftamt
    • Bratsberg amt (western half)
    • Nedenes amt
    • Lister and Mandal amt
    • Stavanger amt
  • Bergenhus stiftamt
    • Romsdal amt (southern half)
  • Trondheim stiftamt
    • Romsdal amt (northern half)
    • Nordlands amt
    • Vardøhus amt

Fylke (2nd period)

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-code County Admini­strative centre Area (km2) Pop. (2016) County
after 1 January 2020
01  ØstfoldSarpsborg 04,180.69290,412 Viken
02  AkershusOslo 04,917.94596,704
06  BuskerudDrammen 14,910.94278,028
03  OsloCity of Oslo 00.454.07660,987 Oslo
04  HedmarkHamar 27,397.76195,443 Innlandet
05  OpplandLillehammer 25,192.10188,945
07  VestfoldTønsberg 02,225.08245,160 Vestfold og Telemark
08  TelemarkSkien 15,296.34172,527
09  Aust-AgderArendal 09,157.77115,873 Agder
10  Vest-AgderKristiansand 07,276.91182,922
11  RogalandStavanger 09,375.97470,907 Rogaland
12  HordalandBergen 15,438.06517,601 Vestland
13 Not in use from 1972 onwards [lower-alpha 1]
14  Sogn og FjordaneHermansverk 18,623.41109,623
15  Møre og RomsdalMolde 15,101.39265,181 Møre og Romsdal
16 Not in use from 2018 onwards [lower-alpha 2]
17 Not in use from 2018 onwards [lower-alpha 2]
18  NordlandBodø 38,482.39241,948 Nordland
19  TromsTromsø 25,862.91164,613 Troms og Finnmark
20  FinnmarkVadsø 48,631.04075,886
50  Trøndelag [lower-alpha 2] Steinkjer[lower-alpha 3] 41,254.29450,496 Trøndelag
  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 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
  • Troms og Finnmark, by merging Finnmark and Troms counties in 2020
  • Nordland, no change, same as Nordland county
  • Trøndelag, no change, same as Trøndelag county
  • Møre og Romsdal, no change, same as Møre og Romsdal county
  • Vestland, by merging Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane counties in 2020
  • Rogaland, no change, same as Rogaland county
  • Agder, by merging Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder counties in 2020
  • Vestfold og Telemark, by merging Vestfold and Telemark counties in 2020
  • Innlandet, by merging Hedmark and Oppland counties in 2020
  • Viken, by merging Akershus, Buskerud, and Østfold counties in 2020
  • Oslo, no change, same as Oslo county

See also



  1. "Dette er Norges nye regioner". Archived from the original on 9 March 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  2. Lilleås, Heidi Schei. "Monica Mæland om Viken-dramaet: Vil ikke spekulere". Nettavisen.
  3. Lars Roede, "Viken og Innlandet: Amatørmessige logoer og uhistoriske navn," Aftenposten, 11 January 2020
  4. Grønning, Trygve (2021-03-17). "Fylkesrådslederen om sammenslåingen: – Staten har påført oss dype sår". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  5. Nå er Telemark og Vestfold slått sammen, Telemarksavisa
  6. "Foreslår å legge ned Troms og Finnmark fylke". Folkebladet (in Norwegian Bokmål). 2020-01-22. Archived from the original on 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  7. "Lagting og lagsogn frem til 1797". Borgarting lagmannsrett. Archived from the original on 2011-11-21.
  8. "Frå lagting til allting". Gulatinget. Archived from the original on 2015-04-09.
  9. Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 77
  10. Christian III, king of Denmark-Norway, carried out the Protestant Reformation in Norway in 1536.
  11. Kavli, Guthorm (1987). Norges festninger. Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-18430-7.
  12. 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.
  13. Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 153
  14. "Fylkespolitikerne sier ja til Trøndelag fylke" (in Norwegian). NRK. Archived from the original on 2016-08-28.
  15. moderniseringsdepartementet, Kommunal- og (7 July 2017). "Regionreform". Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.


  • 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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