Ullensvang within Hordaland
|• Mayor (2003)||Solfrid Borge (Sp)|
|• Total||1,399 km2 (540 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,287 km2 (497 sq mi)|
|Area rank||61 in Norway|
|• Rank||245 in Norway|
|• Density||3/km2 (8/sq mi)|
|• Change (10 years)||-9.6 %|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|ISO 3166 code||NO-1231|
|Official language form||Nynorsk|
|Source: Statistics Norway.|
The number of inhabitants has shown a decrease of some 500 between 1980 and 2004. This development can be seen in light of the general depopulation of rural Norway. The major part of Ullensvang is located near the Hardangervidda national park, Europe's biggest mountain plateau (highest point, Haarteigen, 1,690 meters above sea level). The general population, however, is confined to the narrow mountainsides and valleys along the Hardangerfjord especially in the rural centers of Kinsarvik (administrative center) and Lofthus.
The municipality (originally the parish) is named after the old Ullensvang farm (Old Norse Ullinsvangr), since the first church was built there. The first element is the genitive case of the name of the Norse god Ullin (sideform of Ullr). The last element is vangr which means "field" or "meadow".
The coat-of-arms was granted on 8 November 1979. The arms are derived from the arms of nobleman from the area, Sigurd Brynjulvsson Galte, and they can be seen on his gravestone dating back to 1302 at the local church. As it is the oldest gravestone in the church, the arms were well known in the village, hence the choice for the arms of this knight as municipal arms.
Ullensvang used to be an annex of Kinsarvik parish, but in 1869 Ullensvang became the main parish and Kinsarvik became an annex to Ullensvang. At this time the municipality changed its name to Ullensvang.
Kinsarvik and Odda were separated from Ullensvang as municipalities of their own on 1 July 1913. Most of Kinsarvik was merged back into Ullensvang on 1 January 1964. Eidfjord was merged with Ullensvang from 1 January 1964 until 1 January 1977.
Ullensvang is Norway's biggest supplier of fruit, especially sweet cherries and apples. Every summer a cherry festival is held at Lofthus, where the Norwegian championship of cherry stone spitting is held (record: 14.24 meters, S. Kleivkaas). Each May a musical festival is held at Ullensvang Hotel (built in 1846), when musicians from all of Norway come to the village. The famous composer Edvard Grieg spent many summers at Lofthus, and the festival is held in his honor. During the summer, the population is doubled due to tourism. Attractions in addition to the previous mentioned, are the medieval churches at Lofthus (built in 1300 and Kinsarvik (built in 1160), several waterfalls, the flowering season in May, and museums at Aga, Utne, and Skredhaugen.