Voss within Hordaland
|• Mayor (2007)||Hans Erik Ringkjøb (Ap)|
|• Total||1,806 km2 (697 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,732 km2 (669 sq mi)|
|Area rank||38 in Norway|
|• Rank||75 in Norway|
|• Density||8.0/km2 (21/sq mi)|
|• Change (10 years)||1.3 %|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|ISO 3166 code||NO-1235|
|Official language form||Nynorsk|
|Source: Statistics Norway.|
Voss was established as a municipality on January 1, 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). Vossestrand was separated from Voss on January 1, 1868 and Evanger was separated from Voss on January 1, 1885. All of Vossestrand and the main part of Evanger were merged back into the municipality of Voss on January 1, 1964.
The Old Norse form of the name was Vǫrs, and this might have been the old name of Vangsvatnet. If this is the case, the name probably is derived from the word vǫrr which means "wave" or "sea". (-s is a common suffix in old Norwegian place names.)
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The arms are based on the seal of Peter who was the owner of the farm Finne in Voss, which was one of the largest farms in Western Norway in the Middle Ages. He used a silver deer on a red background as his personal coat-of-arms in 1303. His son also used a deer on his seals as did most of their relatives until 1460. The shape and position of the deer changed between the different persons, but it always was the main figure.
According to legend, the people of Voss were forcibly converted to Christianity by king Olav, who later became St. Olav. A stone cross situated in the town of Vossevangen is said to have been erected at this time. The town contains a stone church from 1277, with a 16th-century excentric, octagonal steeple. Just outside the town is Finnesloftet, a 13th-century wooden guildhall believed to be the oldest profane wooden building in Northern Europe.
After the German invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, Voss was the main point of mobilisation for the Norwegian Army in the west, as the city of Bergen had already fallen on the first day of the invasion. Although most of the troops mobilised here were transferred by railway to the fighting in the east of the country, the German forces, advancing towards Voss along the railway line from Bergen and from the Hardangerfjord, were met with stiff resistance. In Hardanger, some of the Germans climbed up the mountains from Ålvik while the rest went through Granvin. To break down this resistance, the town of Voss was bombed by the Luftwaffe on 23 and April 24, and the surrounding countryside on April 25. Nine people lost their lives in the bombing, which completely destroyed the old wood-built town centre. On April 26, the German forces entered the town, which remained occupied until May 8, 1945.
In 1964, the municipality was enlarged with the incorporation of neighbouring Vossestrand and Evanger, which had up until then been separate municipalities within the traditional district also known as Voss.
Voss has a wide range of habitats, everything from high barren mountains to rich fertile valleys. The large areas of coniferous forests provide food and shelter for a whole host of species, while the many wetland areas are regarded as some of the most interesting birding habitats in the county. There is a bird reserve at Lønaøyane with marked paths and a tower hide. Over 155 species have been seen at this locality. Many are common Scandinavian species, but the area has also produced the unexpected like the Great Egret, European Hobby, and Woodlark.
Voss sits in a location surrounded by snow-capped mountains, forests, lakes and fast flowing white water rivers. This has led to its development as a notable center of skiing, water sports, skydiving, paragliding and other adventure sports. The area hosts the Ekstremsportveko (Extreme Sports Week) every year in the last week of June, which is regarded as the world's premier extreme sports festival. Bømoen, the local airstrip, is home to Skydive Voss, one of the largest dropzones in Norway, as well as a gliding club. The rivers provide various levels of white water, attracting kayaking, rafting and river boarding. Kite surfing and Para-bungee may been seen on lake Vangsvatnet. The ski area, to the north of the town, is accessible via a cable car, Hangursbanen from the town. There is also chair lift access from Bavallen, a short distance to the northeast of Voss.
The town's proximity to the Sognefjord and its position between Bergen and Flåm on the scenic railway have made it popular with tourists. One of the sights on the road to Flåm is the waterfall Tvindefossen.
The Voss Museum displays several old farmsteads, including the larger than life stone statue of Lars O. Kindem. Next to the open-air part, there is a museum building with over 20,000 items from traditional farm life.
- Gisle Fenne - World Cup silver medalist in biathlon
- Odd Lirhus - World Cup winner in biathlon
- Gro Marit Istad Kristiansen - world champion in biathlon
- Astrid Lødemel - World Cup silver medalist in alpine skiing
- Jori Mørkve - biathlon, relay bronze winner in the World Championships in Antholz
- Kristian Ystaas - footballers
- Jon Istad - World Championship Gold in 1966 biathlon shooter + king
- Sjur Røthe - Cross-Country
Voss is a winter sports center and has in recent times been the home of many world-class athletes in several winter sports, most prominently biathlon, but also alpine skiing, nordic skiing and freestyle skiing. In all, athletes from Voss have won 6 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 7 bronze medals at winter Olympic games. Athletes from Voss have been present, representing Norway, at every winter Olympic games except one since 1948 Winter Olympics, the exception being 1972.
- Jan Einar Thorsen - 1994 Winter Olympics, bronze medal winner in downhill
- Eirik Kvalfoss - 1984 Winter Olympics (biathlon, sprint)
- Kristen Skjeldal - 1992 Winter Olympics (cross-country skiing, relay)
- Kari Traa - 2002 Winter Olympics (freestyle skiing, moguls)
- Egil Gjelland - 2002 Winter Olympics (biathlon, relay)
- Lars Bystøl - 2006 Winter Olympics (ski jumping, K90)
- Hilde Synnøve Lid - 1994 Winter Olympics bronze medal winner in freestyle
- Lars Leiro - former Transport Minister
- Jon Lilletun (1945-2006) - Minister in the Ministry of Education and Research from 1997-2001 (KrF)
- Ingvild Bryn - news anchor in NRK
- Rune Hauge - football agent
- Arne Hjeltnes - presenter of TV2
- Guri Solberg - presenter of TV2
- Trond Egil Soltvedt - former Sheffield Wednesday Footballer
- Lars Tvinde - actor
- John Anderson - founder and publisher Skandinaven
- Lars Fletre - sculptor
- Canute R. Matson - Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois
- Knute Nelson - US Senator
- Torkild Rieber - chairman of Texaco
- Knute Rockne - American football player and coach, who is commemorated by a memorial in Vossevangen
- Aad J. Vinje - Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
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