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Balsfjord kommune

Báhccavuona suohkan
Paatsivuonon komuuni
View of Nordkjosbotn
View of Nordkjosbotn
Official logo of Balsfjord kommune
Troms within
Balsfjord within Troms
Balsfjord within Troms
Coordinates: 69°18′17″N 19°12′13″E / 69.30472°N 19.20361°E / 69.30472; 19.20361Coordinates: 69°18′17″N 19°12′13″E / 69.30472°N 19.20361°E / 69.30472; 19.20361
Administrative centreStorsteinnes
 • Mayor (2015)Gunda Johansen (Ap)
 • Total1,496.91 km2 (577.96 sq mi)
 • Land1,440.83 km2 (556.31 sq mi)
 • Water56.08 km2 (21.65 sq mi)  3.7%
Area rank52 in Norway
 • Total5,653
 • Rank186 in Norway
 • Density3.9/km2 (10/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years)
Demonym(s)Balsfjording [1]
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNO-1933
Official language formBokmål [2]

Balsfjord (Northern Sami: Báhccavuotna or Kven: Paatsivuono) is a municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Storsteinnes. Other villages include Mestervik, Mortenhals, and Nordkjosbotn.

The 1,497-square-kilometre (578 sq mi) municipality is the 52nd largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Balsfjord is the 186th most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 5,653. The municipality's population density is 3.9 inhabitants per square kilometre (10/sq mi) and its population has increased by 2.2% over the last decade.[3][4]

The municipality surrounds two fjords: Malangen and Balsfjorden, surrounded by comparatively rich farmlands under majestic peaks including the southern end of the Lyngen Alps.

General information[edit]

Balsfjord was originally a part of the great Tromsøe landdistrikt municipality, but it was separated from this in 1860 to form its own municipality. Balsfjord had an initial population of 3,610. On 1 January 1871, the northwestern part of the municipality (population: 1,425) was separated from it to create the new Malangen Municipality. This left Balsfjord with 2,255 inhabitants. On 1 January 1875, a part of Lyngen Municipality (population: 7) was transferred to Balsfjord. On 1 January 1905, a part of Balsfjord (population: 5) was transferred to Målselv Municipality.

During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee. On 1 January 1964, most of Balsfjord Municipality was merged with most of neighboring Malangen municipality to form a new, larger municipality of Balsfjord (population: 6,993). Also on that day, the Skogli ved Heia area (population: 2) was transferred to the neighboring Målselv Municipality and the uninhabited Elvebakken farm was transferred to the neighboring Storfjord Municipality. On 1 January 1966, the Sørelvmo area of Balsfjord (population: 131) was transferred to Målselv Municipality.[5]


Part of Balsfjord in February

The municipality is named after the local fjord: Balsfjorden (Northern Sami: Báhccavuotna). The meaning of the first element is uncertain, but is likely associated with the Norse god Baldr or the Old Norse word bals meaning lump.[6][7]

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms is from modern times; they were granted on 21 November 1986. The arms show a yellow plough on a red background. This symbolizes the fact that the main source of income in the municipality is agriculture. The plough also symbolizes that the municipality is at the northernmost border on which grain can be grown in Norway.[8]


The Church of Norway has two parishes (sokn) within the municipality of Balsfjord. It is part of the Indre Troms prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland.

Churches in Balsfjord
Parish (Sokn) Church Name Location of the Church Year Built
Balsfjord Balsfjord Church Balsfjord 1856
Nordkjosbotn Church Nordkjosbotn 1987
Storsteinnes Chapel Storsteinnes 1968
Malangen Malangen Church Mortenhals 1853
Mestervik Chapel Mestervik 1968


Stabben: A stone previously used as worship place by the Sami people. Located at Sand.
Balsfjord church.

The Sami people were the original inhabitants of the area, but around 1800 new settlers came from Finland, from the coast, and from Southern Norway, and today very few traces of Sami culture survive. From the 18th century until the 20th century, trappers from Balsfjord were active in the Arctic, hunting in areas from Greenland to Novaya Zemlya.

Mindekirken movement[edit]

According to the book Tromsø City History (Norwegian: Tromsø by Histori) written by Nils Andreas Ytreberg (1896–1987) (published in Norwegian), during the mid-19th century, Balsfjord became the religious home of a group of "mindekirken" or "freechurch dissenters" who split from the state church parish in Tromsø. The mindekirken movement in the Troms region was led by the seminary student, Johannes Andreas Johannessen Bomstad (born at Balsfjord on 23 August 1821), who split from the state church at the age of 28, under the leadership of the first Norwegian mindekirken movement leader, Rev. Lammers from Oslo. In 1856, Bomstad and his original followers established their own church which they called the "Free Apostolic Christian Church" in Balsfjord.

"Rev. Bomstad" and his followers were said to have struggled and protested against the Tromsø state church minister and the Troms Bishop's religious rulings, eventually leading to a riot in the town of Tromsø, when state-church members yelled at Bomstad and his fellow dissenters to "go back to Kautokeino (A small village in the most northern districts of Norway)". In 1862, Bomstad led a group of "mindekirken colonists" to America, traveling first to Bergen, where they sailed in mid-May 1862 aboard the Sleipner, arriving at the inland port of Chicago, Illinois on 2 August 1862. Their voyage was also noteworthy as the first transatlantic voyage sailing directly from Europe to the port of Chicago (other previous transoceanic ships disembarked first at Quebec City, Canada.) After arriving in Chicago, the mindekirken colonists traveled overland to the area of St. Peter, Minnesota, where they remained during the "Dakota War of 1862".

Rev. Bomstad left St. Peter traveling by mule to Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, where near the east bank of a lake (previously called "Lake Lillian"), he became the founding father of Lake Lillian, Minnesota in May 1864 (one hour ahead of the town's next settler, Mr. O.E. Hart, previously of New York). After staking his original claim, a month later on 3 June 1864, Rev. Bomstad led the rest of the colonists from St. Peter to their new settlement at Lake Lillian, where they built dugout shelters to live in that first year (on the site later occupied by the First M.E. Methodist Church of Lake Lillian.) A few months later he and his family finished building and moved into their log cabin home.

Balsfjord panorama


All municipalities in Norway, including Balsfjord, are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, unemployment and other social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads. The municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor.[9] The municipality falls under the Nord-Troms District Court and the Hålogaland Court of Appeal.

Municipal council[edit]

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Balsfjord is made up of 19 representatives that are elected to four year terms. The party breakdown of the council is as follows:

Balsfjord Kommunestyre 2020–2024 [10]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)6
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)2
 Conservative Party (Høyre)4
 Red Party (Rødt)1
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)6
Total number of members:19
Balsfjord Kommunestyre 2016–2019 [11]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)10
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)2
 Conservative Party (Høyre)3
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti)1
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)3
Total number of members:19
Balsfjord Kommunestyre 2012–2015 [12]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)12
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)4
 Conservative Party (Høyre)6
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti)1
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)3
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)1
Total number of members:27


Climate data for Storsteinnes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 71
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 10.4 10.6 8.8 9.1 7.6 9.6 12.7 12.4 13.1 13.4 12.3 12.0 132.0
Source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute[13]


Farming is the single most important industry, although there is also some manufacturing. The Tine dairy factory at Storsteinnes is one of the largest producers of the Norwegian brown cheese (brunost). They also make their own brand of cheese, called Balsfjord, from goat's milk.

Bukkhammeren: rock carving from 4600 BCE at Tennes.


European route E6 and European route E8 meet at the village of Nordkjosbotn, making it a major crossroad.


Apart from the impressive scenery, attractions include the 6000-year-old rock carvings at Tennes (close to the Balsfjord Church), the old trading centre of Nordby, a Sami camp at Heia open over the summer months and the 18th century sawmill at Aursfjord. There is also a smaller field of rock carvings at Åsli. The Malangen Brygger resort on the water's edge has opened on the Malangen Peninsula and will expand further in May 2010 when a hotel and conference centre open.

Notable people[edit]

Notable people that were born or lived in Balsfjord include:


  1. ^ "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet.
  2. ^ "Forskrift om målvedtak i kommunar og fylkeskommunar" (in Norwegian).
  3. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå (2018). "Table: 06913: Population 1 January and population changes during the calendar year (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  4. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå. "09280: Area of land and fresh water (km²) (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  5. ^ Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå.
  6. ^ "Balsfjord" (in Norwegian). Store Norske Leksikon. 2010.
  7. ^ Rygh, Oluf (1911). Norske gaardnavne: Troms amt (in Norwegian) (17 ed.). Kristiania, Norge: W. C. Fabritius & sønners bogtrikkeri. p. 125.
  8. ^ "Civic heraldry of Norway - Norske Kommunevåpen". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  9. ^ Hansen, Tore, ed. (2016-05-12). "kommunestyre". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  10. ^ "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2019 - Troms og Finnmark". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  11. ^ "Table: 04813: Members of the local councils, by party/electoral list at the Municipal Council election (M)" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  12. ^ "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2011 - Troms Romsa". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  13. ^ "eKlima Web Portal". Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Archived from the original on 2004-06-14.

External links[edit]