At the Heart
No less than eight different counties make up the area known as “The East”. The national capital of Oslo is at the heart, part of what is know as the Oslo Region. This dynamic area consists of over one-third of the country´s total population and include the counties of Buskerud, Telemark, Oppland, Hedmark, Akershus, Vestfold, Østfold, and of course the capital city/county of Oslo.
The East is thriving economically, a multicultural society with Norwegian traditions meeting the global society. It is the home of Lillehammer, the host of the XVII Winter Olympic Games, called by the International Olympic Committee as “The Best Games Ever”, the historic city of Kongsberg, thousands upon thousands of cultural and music events each year, and much of the Norwegian population.
Norway Communicates encourages you to explore – both in person as well as on the Internet. Let us take a quick look at the different counties in this region to get you started.
Lillehammer, host to the XVII Winter Games and applicant for the 2016 Youth Olympic Games, is the county seat of Oppland. Tourism is one of the largest industries here, with the major towns being Gjøvik, Otta, Fagernes, and of course, Lillehammer. In addition to spectacular natural wonders and literally every sports possibility that you can imagine, the county has many industry, business, and educational opportunities. Take a closer look at Oppland at the Official County Site, a good place to start.
In many ways, Hedmark is the sister county to Oppland, sharing a common border as well as one of Europe’s deepest lakes – and a famous tourist attraction – Lake Mjøsa. Hedmark was also the proud host of many events in the 1994 Winter Games, with skating events taking place at Hamar, the county seat. Located in the northeastern part of The East, Hedmark shares a border with Sweden, with the main cities being Elverum, Konsvinger, Tynset and of course, Hamar. You should know more – and we suggest that you begin at the official site of the county government, or if you are a tourist, see the country’s best tourism site Visit Norway.
They say that you can find all of Norway in Telemark, a county of high mountain vistas, deep valleys and rivers and lakes tapering gracefully to the sea with a coastline that beckons during the summer months and charms all other times of the year. Historic points are many, including Rjukan, where a “heavy water” installation was raided during World War II, hastening the end of the war. This raid has been immortalized in the movie “The Heroes of Telemark.” The largest cities in Telemark county include Skien, Porsgrunn, Notodden, Rjukan and Kragerø. Interested? Find out more about Telemark at the official website that welcomes you to this friendly and accessible county.
Here you will find mountains and nature, easily balanced with cities such as the county seat of Drammen. The west embraces the Hardangervidda National Park (see The Realm of the Mountain Kingdom) and is primarily a highland county with a good percentage of its area lying over 150 meters above sea level. Here you can find skiing in well-known resorts such as Geilo and Hemsedal, and you can explore the vast forests where you will likely see moose or even reindeer in the higher plains. Moving down towards the sea – as Buskerud has a coastline on the Oslo Fjord as well – you will find bustling and energetic cities such as the county seat of Drammen as well as others that include historic Kongsberg, Hokksund as well as Hønefoss. Travel the famed Hallingdal or traverse the high mountain passes as you explore this wondrous county that is not to be missed.
Oslo & Akershus
The Norwegian capital city of Oslo is at the heart of the Oslo Region, and although Oslo and Akershus are two different counties they are so interrelated that we will look at them together. These sister counties have a growing and healthy economy, a highly educated population, cultural and music activities every day of the year – all nicely balanced with a friendly and accessible way of life.
Akershus is known as “The Green Belt” and embraces the city/county of Oslo on all sides - a perfect compliment to the “Blue and Green and the City in Between”. It is a county of contrast – forests, lakes and mountains in balance with high-tech companies working closely with high-brainpower educational and research institutions. There are 22 municipalities in Akershus, with the largest population being Bærum with a population of over 100,000 and Asker just to the west with a population of just over 50,000.
For more on the vibrant capital city, see Norway Communicates Oslo. If you would like know more about Akershus, a good place to start is right here. Do you want to do business here? Oslo Teknopol is the place for you if you want to explore more about Oslo and the Oslo Region’s international industries within Maritime, Energy, Life Sciences, ICT, Culture, and more.
The county of Østfold has that rare balance of historical traditions, industry and stunning nature that reflects well the slogan “The Heartland of Scandinavia”. Here you will find a close relationship with the sea and the world beyond – shown quite distinctly at the historic forts at Halden and Fredrikstad as well as the many reminders of the Bronze Age people who occupied this region thousands of years ago. The county shares a long border with Sweden to the south and east, adding another dimension to the cities that are strong and vibrant here, including the county seat of Sarpsborg, Moss, Halden and the largest city here – Fredrikstad. Whatever your interests, you will find something here in Østfold.
Situated directly across the Oslo Fjord from Østfold we find the county of Vestfold. Known for its shipping prowess and business successes, the county is also a playground for those who love the sea, with its islands and coastline an attractive destination for those who want to enjoy the long summers here. The main cities here include Larvik, known for being the birthplace of the famous Kon-Tiki explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The county seat is Tønsberg, Sandefjord is a historic whaling town, and Horten is well-known for its electronic cluster as well as being the home of the Norwegian Centre of Expertise Micro- and Nanotechnology. Want to learn more about Vestfold? Take a look at the officia county website.