The southernmost county in North Norway. Bordered by Troms to the north, Sweden to the east and Nord-Trøndelag to the south. The Norwegian Sea lies to the west. Stretching about 500 kilometres from the south to the north, Nordland has the longest coastline of the Norwegian counties.

Nordland covers an area of 38,327 km2 and has a population of 237,503 as of January 1, 2002. At six people per square kilometre there's plenty of room to roam about. The population in Norway's second largest county is about half the size of Oslo and accounts for 5% of all Norwegians.

Towns
The administrative centre is in Bodø, a town of roughly 41,000 inhabitants. The Nordland railway which was opened in 1962 ends in Bodø. Other major towns are Narvik, Svolvær, Mo i Rana, Stokmarknes, Sortland, Mosjøen, Sandnessjøen and Brønnøysund.

Municipalities
Nordland has 45 municipalities, ranging in size between 474 (Træna) and 41,760 (Bodø) inhabitants. 13 municipalities are bordered by the sea in all directions. Population per January 1, 2002 in parenthesis.

Træna municipality with its about 500 inhabitants is the second smallest in Norway and consists of over 1,000 islands of various size. The municipality covers an area of just 15 km2.

Geography
The coast of Nordland is heavily indented with thousands of skerries and islands. Inland, glaciers, mountains up to 2000 metres high and fertile valleys provides a rich flora and fauna. Europe's biggest population of White-tailed Sea Eagles - about 2000 breeding pairs - are found on the Nordland coast. In Tysfjord you'll find the northernmost population of European Lobster in the world.

In the middle of Nordland lies the second largest glacier in Norway, Svartisen ("The Black Ice"). It covers 375 km2 and is split in two parts; Østisen (148 km2) and Vestisen (221 km2). The glacier have shrunk considerably since 1750 when it was at its largest, but in recent years it has again started to grow. The arm of the Svartisen glacier called Engenbreen is a popular goal for tourists.

The Arctic Circle cuts Nordland in half across one of Norways national parks, Saltfjellet. The narrowest piece of Norway is also in Nordland. At the bottom of Tysfjord, the distance from the shore to the Swedish border is a mere six kilometres. In comparison, Norway's widest land is 429 kms across.

  • Largest lake: Røssvatnet, 218 km2. 231 metres deep and the second largest in Norway.
  • Highest mountain: Oksskolten in the Okstindan mountain range, 1,916 metres. Located in Hemnes municipality. Norway's national mountain Stetind rises 1,392 metres above Tysfjord municipality.
  • Largest island: Hinnøy: 2,198 km2. Half of the island is in Troms county. This is also Norway's largest island.

One notable geography feature of Nordland is the vast number of limestone cave and grotto systems. Most of them is located in the area around Svartisen and Saltfjellet, the longest being Okshola (or Kristihola) which is 11 kilometres long. The deepest is Ragge Javre Raige located in Tysfjord, 575 metres deep.

The westernmost point in Nordland and Norway is in the famous Lofoten Islands that stretches westwards like a finger from the mainland. The point is the small island Steinsøy at 4°30'12'' E.

Nordland has three of Norway's 21 national parks:

Miscellaneous
Nordland, like the rest of northern Norway, have relied on fish for centuries. The cod that each year between November and February comes to the Lofoten Islands at the end of the Gulf Stream to mate, have established Lofotfisket as a national term. The words Lofoten and fish are almost synonyms throughout Norway. Cod caught off Lofoten has its own name in Norway; skrei. From all over the land people gathered to harvest the riches of the sea, abandoning their farms for a couple of months each year. The fish was sold to buyers ashore, or in many cases transported south to Bergen and eastwards to Sweden, Finland and Russia in exchange for wares not easily grown or gathered in northern Norway.

In recent times, educational institutions, technology and tourism have emerged as trades equally important to fish. In the 1990's, large reservoirs of oil was discovered off the Nordland coast. There is currently a discussion going on in Norway on how to access the oil without damaging the fragile arctic environment.

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