West Norway Counties

Hordaland

Hordaland borders on Sogn og Fjordane, Buskerud, Telemark, and Rogaland. Hordaland is the third most populous county after Akershus and Oslo. County administration is located in Bergen. Before 1972, the city of Bergen was its own separate county, apart from Hordaland.

Hordaland is semi-circular in shape. It is located on the western coast of Norway, split from southwest to northeast by the long, deep Hardangerfjord, one of Norway’s principal fjords and a great tourist attraction. About half of the National Park of Hardangervidda is in this county. The county also includes many of the well-known waterfalls of Norway, such as Vøringsfossen and Stykkjedalsfossen. It also includes the Folgefonna and Hardangerjøkulen glaciers.

More than 60% of the inhabitants live in Bergen and the surrounding area. Other urban or semi-urban centers include Leirvik, Voss, and Odda.

Click here for a list of lighthouses in Hordaland

 

Sogn og Fjordane

Sogn og Fjordane borders on Møre og Romsdal, Oppland, Buskerud, and Hordaland. County administration is in Hermansverk in Leikanger municipality while the largest town is Førde.

Sogn og Fjordane is predominantly agricultural and is the only county in which all municipalities have declared Nynorsk to be their official written form of the Norwegian language.

Primarily a rural area with a scattered population, Sogn og Fjordane includes the largest glacier in mainland Norway, Jostedalsbreen, in the Breheimen mountain range, and the deepest lake, Hornindalsvatnet. There are many famous waterfalls located in the area. Ramnefjellsfossen (previously called Utigardfossen) is the tallest in Norway and third tallest in the world. Vettisfossen is one of Norway’s highest waterfalls with a vertical drop of 275 meters (902 ft). Both are located in the Jotunheim mountains. Cruise ships visit Sogn og Fjordane all summer because of the unique vistas created by high mountains and deep, blue fjords.

Sogn og Fjordane is home to the Urnes stave church and Nærøyfjord, which is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. There are several archipelagos, including Bulandet, Bremanger, and the islands around Florø. The westernmost point in Norway proper is Holmebåen in Solund municipality. The island of Unst, part of Shetland Islands is around 300 kilometers (190 mi) west of Holmebåen.

The terrain changes quite rapidly with mostly smaller mountains on the coastline, gradually increasing to taller mountains reaching more than 2,000 meters (6,600 ft). Because of the steep rise in elevation and fjords cutting through the terrain, the amount of precipitation is very high. Low pressure systems come in from the west and meet the mountains (a phenomenon known as orographic lifting) and cause rain and snowfall.

Click here for a list of lighthouses in Sogn og Fjordane