Sofus Arctander was born in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway. was the son of Hans Steenbuch Arctander (1801-1885) and Martha Dahll Nielsen (1804-1896). When he was eight years old, hi family moved to Kristiansand in Vest-Agder.He was a teacher and librarian in Selje and Nordfjordeid. He took his a law degree at the University of Christiania in 1870. Arctander studied economy and philosophy at the University of Lund in 1871.
Arctander lived at Hadsel in Nordland (1872-1884). He was deputy judge and then acting district stipendiary magistrate before establishing himself as a lawyer in 1875. In 1880 he became bailiff in Hadsel.
In 1877, Arctander was elected deputy Member of the Parliament of Norway for the County of Nordland. From 1880 to 1884 he was a permanent member. He participated actively in the founding of the Liberal Party in 1882. Arctander was re-elected to Parliament for the period 1889-1891 and 1900-1906. Arctander subsequently become mayor of Kristiania 1908-1920.
He was Minister of the Interior 1884–1885, Norwegian state secretary in Stockholm 1885–1886, Minister of the Interior 1886-1888, Norwegian Minister of Trade 1905–1907, acting Prime Minister 1905 and Minister of Trade 1907–1908 and 1910. 
In 1887, he was promoted to Commander with Star (Commander 1st Class) of the Order of St. Olav. Arctander also was appointed a Grand Cross of the Order of Dannebrog (Denmark) and a Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star (Sweden). He was an honorary member and co-founder of the Nordlendingenes Forening, an association of people who have emigrated from the counties in Northern Norway. In 1912 he was awarded the Petter Dass Medal (Petter Dass-medaljen). Arctander died in the Lifjell Mountains of Telemark one day in August 1924, the exact date uncertain. He had been missing for some days when he was found dead.
- Knut Dørum. "Sofus Anton Birger Arctander". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- Per Fuglum. "Sofus Arctander". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- "Sofus Arctander, Acting Prime Minister 1905". regjeringen.no. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- "Petter Dass medaljen". Nordlendingenes Forening. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- Fuglum, Per. "Sofus Arctander". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Godal, Anne Marit (ed.). "Signy Arctander". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Norsk nettleksikon. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- "Det norske statsråd 1814-: III Personer 1814-". Government.no. Archived from the original on 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
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