Due to the opening the Sotra Bridge to the mainland in 1971 and its proximity to Bergen, the population has grown from less than 7,000 to over 20,000, and it has as of 2008 one of the highest growth rates in Norway. The result is major traffic jams over the bridge every day. A highway that leads to Bergen has reduced the traveling time to only fifteen minutes from the community centre at Straume on Litle-Sotra.
The municipality (originally the parish) is named after the farm Fjell (Old NorseFjall), where the first church was built. The name is identical with the modern Norwegian word fjell or "mountain". The oldest form of the name was Undir Fjalli which means "under/below the mountain". Before 1918, the name was written Fjeld.