Nordland is a county in Norway in the northern Norway region, bordering Troms in the north, Nord-Trøndelag in the south, Norrbotten County in Sweden to the east, Västerbotten County to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea) to the west. The county was formerly known as Nordlandene amt. The county administration is in Bodø. The remote Arctic island of Jan Mayen has been administered from Nordland since 1995.
In the southern part is Vega, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The history of Nordland is a tale about the gifts from the sea: One of the most productive seas in the world providing food all year since ancient times, the same sea creates a climate more moderate than any other place in the arctic; even the bedrock itself enriched by sea living organisms millions of years ago in the geological past.
Nordland is located along the northwestern coast of the Scandinavian peninsula in Northern Norway. Due to the large distance to the densely populated parts of Europe, this is one of the least polluted areas in Europe. Nordland extends about 500 kilometrs from Nord-Trøndelag to Troms.
Nordland has a rugged coastline, with many fjords. From south to north, the main fjords are Bindalsfjord, Vefsnfjord, Ranfjord, Saltfjord-Skjerstadfjord, Folda, Tysfjord, Ofotfjord (the longest) and Andfjord, which is shared with Troms county. The best-known is perhaps the Vestfjorden, which is not really a fjord, but an open stretch of sea between the Lofoten island group and the mainland. The Raftsundet strait, with its famous branch Trollfjord, is the shortest waterway connecting Lofoten and Vesterålen. The continental shelf is very narrow west of Andenes, nowhere else in Norway is the deep ocean only a few kilometres from shore. Saltstraumen whirlpool is just southeast of Bodø, and Moskenstraumen is located in southern Lofoten.
Steep mountains near the sea and an almost flat lowland area in between the mountains and the sea (Strandflaten, coastal brim) is very typical for the long coastline in Nordland, and Strandflaten often continues out from the shore, the result is numerous islands (skerries), of which Helgeland have thousands; these islands are usually mountainous, but with smaller or larger strandflate areas. The southern part of Norways largest island (apart from Svalbard), Hinnøya is in Nordland, as is the third largest island, Langøya. In the fjords, the coastal brim is much less developed: There might be a more gradual slope, with hills, towards the mountains, or no lowland at all. There are often valleys at the head of fjords (the fjord is an extension of the valley), usually with a river at the centre of the valley.
The Saltfjellet mountain range forms a natural border between Helgeland and Salten, and is where the Arctic Circle cuts through the county. The western part of this mountain range is dominated by steep mountains and fjord inlets, with glaciers stretching towards the sea, while the eastern part of the mountains is more gentle and rounded, with some forested valleys, and is well suited for hiking. The interior of Nordland, towards the border with Sweden, is dominated by the Kjølen Mountains (Scandinavian Mountains). The highest mountain in Nordland is Oksskolten (1,915 metres) in Okstindan range, the second highest is Suliskongen (1,907 metres) in Fauske, and the third is Storsteinfjellet (1,894 metres) in Narvik. Stetind in Tysfjord has been voted as Norway's national mountain.
Nordland has a very mild climate for the high latitude. Some islands, like Myken, Træna and Røst, have average temperatures of c. 1 °C in their coldest month, 25 °C above average for the latitude. Nordland covers almost 5° latitude, but temperatures are moderated by proximity to the temperate sea; the annual mean only varies from 5.6 °C on the southern coast to 4 °C on the northern coast (1961–90). Summers are somewhat longer in the south. Winters are colder in the interior, fjords will moderate temperatures in nearby areas. Mountain areas are colder all year, with much longer winters - snow cover can persist all year at the higher mountains. Annual snow accumulation can exceed 5 metres in the mountains - the main reason for the many glaciers in Nordland. Easterly winds give dry, sunny weather (the air must climb the Kjølen mountains), with warmth in summer and cold, clear air in winter. Southwesterly winds are common, bringing moist and mild air from the Atlantic ocean. Autumn and early winter is the wettest season along the coast of Nordland, while April - June on average is the driest. The strongest winds occur in late autumn and winter, as the Atlantic low pressure systems are strongest then. High pressure weather can occur in all seasons, and in summer this brings 24-hr sunshine north of the Arctic Circle.
Lurøy (115 metres), west of Saltfjell, averages 2,935 mm precipitation annually; the wettest location in North Norway and in the world at such high latitude. Some of the wettest areas along the coast (a narrow band) north to Glomfjord fulfills the climatic criteria for a temperate rainforest. East of the mountains, Saltdal has a mean annual precipitation of less than 300 mm. Narvik in the northern part of Nordland averages 830 mm. Temperatures will generally drop 0.7 °C as elevation increases by 100 metres. With mountains in almost all areas, alpine tundra is common in Nordland.
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