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The Hardangerfjord as seen from Odda.
Hardangerfjord south and east of Bergen

With a length of 179 km (111 mi), the Hardangerfjord in the county of Hordaland in Norway is the third largest fjord in the world and the second largest in Norway. The surrounding district is called Hardanger.

The Hardangerfjord starts at the Atlantic Ocean just south of Bergen (SW Norway). Here the fjord penetrates in a north easterly direction until it meets the grand mountain plateau of Hardangervidda. The longest branch of the Hardangerfjord is Sørfjorden which cuts south about 50 km from the main fjord. Its maximum depth is more than 800 m (2,624 ft) just outside Norheimsund in the middle of the fjord.

About 10,000 years ago the Scandinavian land mass started to rise up as enormous glacial ice started to melt. The lower parts of the valleys became flooded, and so created what we today know as the Hardangerfjord. The valley was originally not only made through glacial erosion but by the high pressure melting water which pushed its way beneath the ice.

Norway's third largest glacier is found on the Folgefonn peninsula, a part of the Hardangerfjord. With its three parts, the Folgefonn glacier covers an area of 220 km2 (85 sq mi), and is an area which in 2005 became protected as a national park.

The history of the fjord goes far beyond its Viking history, back to the time of hunters on the surrounding mountains, and later on, farming along this fertile area which today is considered the fruit orchard of Norway. Later the fjord became the birthplace for a large tourism influx to Norway, and in 1875 Thomas Cook started weekly cruise departures from London to the Hardangerfjord, due to its spectacular nature, glaciers and grand waterfalls. Soon after this many of the major waterfalls became the power source for large industries in fjord settlements such as Odda.

Today the Hardangerfjord is witness to a renaissance in tourism and new infrastructure for travellers has once again become an industry for the local communities along the fjord.

The fjord has good conditions for fish farming. Fish farms yearly produce more than 40.000 tons of salmon and rainbow trout (2002) and makes the Hardangerfjord one of four major fish farming regions in the world.

Hardangerfjord's melt-water is also bottled at source to form the product Isklar, sold worldwide.

The contemporary fjord is divided among the 13 municipalities Bømlo, Eidfjord, Etne, Granvin, Jondal, Kvam, Kvinnherad, Odda, Sund, Sveio, Tysnes, Ullensvang and Ulvik. The total number of inhabitants for all these municipalities is only a bit more than 70 thousand - on a total area of 8,471 km².

Side fjords which connect with Hardangerfjord[edit]

Hardangerfjord sunset

From west to east:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Svein Ulvund's collection (Beautiful pictures, not exclusively from the Hardangerfjord, but also from nearby places. Daily updated! Please note the search feature, to be used, e.g., with Hardanger and 2007.)

Coordinates: 60°10′N 6°00′E / 60.167°N 6.000°E / 60.167; 6.000