From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the municipality in Troms, Norway. For the fjord in Troms, Norway, see Balsfjorden.
Balsfjord kommune
Báhccavuona suohkan
Paatsivuonon komuuni
Coat of arms of Balsfjord kommune
Coat of arms
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
Country Norway
County Troms
District Nord-Troms
Administrative centre Storsteinnes
 • Mayor (2011) Ole-Johan Rødvei (H)
 • Total 1,496.93 km2 (577.97 sq mi)
 • Land 1,440.69 km2 (556.25 sq mi)
 • Water 56.24 km2 (21.71 sq mi)
Area rank 52 in Norway
Population (2012)
 • Total 5,502
 • Rank 180 in Norway
 • Density 3.8/km2 (10/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years) -2.5 %
Demonym(s) Balsfjording[1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code NO-1933
Official language form Bokmål
Data from Statistics Norway

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 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 municipality

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, Malangen (population: 1,425) was separated from it, leaving Balsfjord with 2,255 inhabitants. On 1 January 1875, a part of Lyngen (population: 7) was transferred to Balsfjord. On 1 January 1905, a part of Balsfjord (population: 5) was transferred to Målselv.

On 1 January 1964, most of Balsfjord was merged with most of neighboring Malangen 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 Målselv and the uninhabited Elvebakken farm was transferred to Storfjord. On 1 January 1966, the Sørelvmo area of Balsfjord (population: 131) was transferred to Målselv.[2]


Part of Balsfjord in February

The municipality is named after the 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.[3]


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.[4]


The Church of Norway has two parishes (sokn) within the municipality of Balsfjord. It is part of the Indre Troms 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, 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.

Municipal council[edit]

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Balsfjord is made up of 19 representatives that are elected to every four years. Currently, the party breakdown is as follows:[5]

Balsfjord Kommunestyre 2015–2019
Party Name 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


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[6]


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. Retrieved 2015-12-01. 
  2. ^ Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå. 
  3. ^ "Balsfjord" (in Norwegian). Store Norske Leksikon. 2010. 
  4. ^ Norske Kommunevåpen (1990). "Nye kommunevåbener i Norden". Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  5. ^ "Table: 04813: Members of the local councils, by party/electoral list at the Municipal Council election (M)" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway. 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. 
  6. ^ "eKlima Web Portal". Norwegian Meteorological Institute. 

External links[edit]