Counties of Norway

Counties of Norway
A geopolitical map of Norway, exhibiting its 19 first-order subnational divisions (fylker or "counties") with Svalbard and Jan Mayen

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Norway is divided into 19 administrative regions, called counties (singular Norwegian: fylke, plural Norwegian: fylker (Bokmål) / fylke (Nynorsk); until 1918 known as amt, pl. amter / amt). The counties form the primary first-level subdivisions of Norway and are further divided into 430 municipalities (kommune, pl. kommuner / kommunar). The capital Oslo is considered as both a county and a municipality.

There is some political disagreement on whether counties are a practical, economical or even necessary level of administration. See politics of Norway for more information.


List of counties

Below is a list of the Norwegian counties as they have been since 1919, 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 follows the coastline from the Swedish border in the southeast to the Russian border in the northeast. The number 13 was dropped from the system when the city of Bergen (county no. 13) was merged into Hordaland (county no. 12) in 1972.

ISO-code Arms County (Fylke) Administrative centre
01 Østfold våpen.svg Østfold Sarpsborg
02 Akershus våpen.svg Akershus Oslo
03 Oslo komm.svg Oslo City of Oslo
04 Hedmark våpen.svg Hedmark Hamar
05 Oppland våpen.svg Oppland Lillehammer
06 Buskerud våpen.svg Buskerud Drammen
07 Vestfold våpen.svg Vestfold Tønsberg
08 Telemark våpen.svg Telemark Skien
09 Aust-Agder vapen.svg Aust-Agder Arendal
10 Vest-Agder våpen.svg Vest-Agder Kristiansand
11 Rogaland våpen.svg Rogaland Stavanger
12 Hordaland vapen.svg Hordaland Bergen
13 Sogn og Fjordane våpen.svg Sogn og Fjordane Leikanger
14 Møre og Romsdal våpen.svg Møre og Romsdal Molde
15 Sør-Trøndelag våpen.svg Sør-Trøndelag Trondheim
16 Nord-Trøndelag våpen.svg Nord-Trøndelag Steinkjer
17 Nordland våpen.svg Nordland Bodø
18 Troms våpen.svg Troms Tromsø
19 Finnmark våpen.svg Finnmark Vadsø


Norway counties.svg



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 to 13th century

Counties (folkland) under the Borgarting, located in Viken with the seat at Sarpsborg:[1]

Counties (first three fylke, last two bilandskap) under the Eidsivating, located in Oplandene with the seat at Eidsvoll:[1]

Counties under the Gulating, located in Vestlandet with the seat at Gulen:[2]

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 ("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.[3]


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[4]–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.[5] 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.[6]

Len in 1660

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

  • Akershus len
  • Tunsberg len
  • Bratsberg len
  • Agdesiden len
  • Stavanger 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.[7]


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.[8]

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
    • Halsnøy klostergods
    • Hardanger amt
    • Nordlandene 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:[9]

  • 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


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

See also



  1. ^ a b "Lagting og lagsogn frem til 1797". Borgarting lagmannsrett. 
  2. ^ "Frå lagting til allting". Gulatinget. 
  3. ^ Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 77
  4. ^ Christian III, king of Denmark-Norway, carried out the Protestant Reformation in Norway in 1536.
  5. ^ Kavli, Guthorm (1987). Norges festninger. Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-18430-7. 
  6. ^ Len on Norwegian Wiki site
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Amt at Norwegian Wiki site
  9. ^ Danielsen (et al.), 1991, p. 153


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

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