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Coordinates: 59°30′00″N 8°42′00″E / 59.500°N 8.700°E / 59.500; 8.700
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Telemark County
Telemark fylke
Scenery of Rjukan and Gaustatoppen in Upper Telemark district
Scenery of Rjukan and Gaustatoppen in Upper Telemark district
Telemark within Norway
Telemark within Norway
Coordinates: 59°30′00″N 8°42′00″E / 59.500°N 8.700°E / 59.500; 8.700
Disestablished1 Jan 2020
 • Succeeded byVestfold og Telemark
Re-established1 Jan 2024
 • Preceded byVestfold og Telemark
Administrative centreSkien
 • BodyTelemark County Municipality
 • GovernorFred-Ivar Syrstad (Ap)
 • County mayor
Sven Tore Løkslid (Ap)
 • Total15,298.2 km2 (5,906.7 sq mi)
 • Land13,832.4 km2 (5,340.7 sq mi)
 • Water1,465.7 km2 (565.9 sq mi)  9.6%
 • Rank#8 in Norway
 • Total175,546
 • Rank#13 in Norway
 • Density12.7/km2 (33/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years)
Increase +2.7%
Official language
 • Norwegian formNeutral
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNO-40[3]
Income (per capita)139,900 kr
GDP (per capita)219,404 kr (2001)
GDP national rank#12 in Norway
(2.38% of country)
WebsiteOfficial website

Telemark (pronounced [ˈtêːləmɑrk] ) is a county and a current electoral district in Norway. Telemark borders the counties of Vestfold, Buskerud, Vestland, Rogaland and Agder.[4] In 2020, Telemark merged with the county of Vestfold to form the county of Vestfold og Telemark.[5][6] On 1 January 2024, the county of Telemark was re-established after Vestfold og Telemark was divided again.

The name Telemark means the "mark of the Thelir", the ancient North Germanic tribe that inhabited what is now known as Upper Telemark in the Migration Period and the Viking Age.

In the Middle Ages, the agricultural society of Upper Telemark was considered the most violent region of Norway.[7] Today, half of the buildings from medieval times in Norway are located here.[8] The dialects spoken in Upper Telemark also retain more elements of Old Norse than those spoken elsewhere in the country.[9] Upper Telemark is also known as the birthplace of skiing.[9]

The southern part of Telemark, Grenland, is more urban and influenced by trade with the Low Countries, northern Germany, Denmark and the British Isles.

Telemark has been one of Norway's most important industrial regions for centuries, marked in particular by the Norske Skog Union paper mills in Grenland and the Norsk Hydro heavy water and fertilizer production in Upper Telemark.[10]

Telemark county was re-established on 1 January 2024, following a vote of the county council of Vestfold og Telemark on 15 February 2022 to split the newly established county into its respective counties that existed before the merger took place; Telemark and Vestfold.


The 13th century Eidsborg Stave Church in Tokke, Upper Telemark

Telemark county was established as the fief Bratsberg in the late Middle Ages, during Norway's union with Denmark. With the introduction of absolute monarchy in 1662 it became a county, and it was renamed Telemark in 1919 and was a county until 2020. The county administration was in the port town Skien, which was in the early modern period Norway's most important city, ahead of Christiania.

Telemark consists of several distinct historical regions. It takes its name from the largest of them, which is now called Upper Telemark, but which was historically simply called Telemark. Telemark is named for the Thelir (Þilir in Old Norse), the ancient North Germanic tribe that inhabited what is now known as Upper Telemark since the Migration Period and during the Viking Age. The Norse form of the name was Þelamǫrk. The first element is the genitive plural case of Þilir while the last element is mǫrk "woodland, borderland, march".

Traditional Telemark, i.e. Upper Telemark, is located in the inland and comprises more than two thirds of it according to its traditional definition. Both in medieval times and later (Upper) Telemark was the region of Norway with the most self-owning farmers.[11] It retained Norse culture to a larger degree than any other region in Norway, with respect to its more egalitarian organisation of society, religion, traditional values and language. Thus the people of Telemark were often described during the Middle Ages and early modern era as the most violent in Norway.[12] The dialects of Upper Telemark are also the dialects of Norwegian that are closest to Old Norse. The farmers of Telemark were marked by a strong-willed conservatism and belief in their traditional values that often defied the central authorities of Denmark-Norway; for example they held on to aspects of both Old Norse religion and later of Catholicism longer than other regions in Norway. (Upper) Telemark traditionally lacks cities entirely.

Grenland and the Skien fjord are flatter regions located closer to or at the coast. Historically Grenland referred to what is now called Midt-Telemark, but over time the name Grenland has come to refer to the Skien fjord area. The latter is traditionally characterized by its cities and its involvement in seafaring and trade. It also includes several larger agricultural properties and estates, as well as industry. The culture and social structure are more urban, far less traditional, more influenced by contact with continental Europe and far less egalitarian. The most important city of the region, Skien, was historically one of Norway's most important cities, although its importance declined after the Napoleonic Wars. The playwright Henrik Ibsen was a native of Skien, and many of his plays are set in places reminiscent of the city and area.

During the Dano-Norwegian union the traditional regions of Telemark and Grenland/the Skien fjord became the fief (len) and later county (amt) of Bratsberg (Bradsberg). The fief and county was named after the farm Bratsberg, since this was the seat of the governor. In 1919 Bratsberg county was renamed Telemark. Despite this, Grenland retains a separate identity that is distinct from Telemark proper; the minority in the Storting voted for the name Grenland–Telemark in 1918.

Upper Telemark, particularly Kviteseid, is known as the birthplace of skiing as a modern sport. Telemark lent its name to Telemark skiing, a style invented by Sondre Norheim, and the characteristic Telemark landing of ski jumping. Telemark is also known as the centre of the Bunad movement. Telemark has more buildings from medieval times than any other Norwegian region.


Mountain landscape in Vinje, Upper Telemark
Coastal landscape in Langesund, Lower Telemark

Telemark is located in southeastern Norway, extending from the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in the North to the Skagerrak coast in the South. Telemark has a varied and scenic landscape, including a rugged coastline, valleys, lakes, hills mountains, and mountain plateaus.[9]


The international road E18 goes through the southern parts of Telemark, namely Grenland and the municipality of Kragerø. E134, another important motorway and the fastest route between Oslo and Bergen, goes through the municipalities of Vinje, Tokke, Kviteseid, Seljord, Hjartdal and Notodden. RV36, stretching from Porsgrunn to Seljord, links the E18 and E134 motorways.

Telemark is well served by railways. The Sørlandet Line runs through the traditional districts of Vestmar and Midt-Telemark, serving the municipalities of Drangedal, Nome, and Sauherad. Grenland is primarily served by the Vestfold Line, but also has connections through the Bratsberg Line which runs between Skien and Notodden.

From Langesund, Fjordline operates ferry services to Sweden and Denmark.

The main bus lines in the region are operated by Telemark Bilruter, serving western and middle parts of the region, and Nettbuss which serves the middle, eastern and southern parts of the region. Drangedal Bilruter serves the Vestmar region.


Historical population
Source: Statistics Norway.[13]
Religion in Telemark[14][15]
religion percent

The largest population centres are Skien, Porsgrunn, Notodden, Rjukan and Kragerø. Other important places are , Seljord, Fyresdal and Vinje.

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms of Telemark is from modern times (1970). It shows an old type of battle axe, significant for the county.

The county coat of arms valid from 1 January 2024 is a redesigned version of the county coat of arms for Telemark county from 1970 until the county merger in 2020.

Notable telemarkinger/teledølar[edit]


Telemark county with Upper Telemark (traditional Telemark) in red

The county is conventionally divided into traditional districts. Traditionally the county is mainly divided into Upper Telemark (historically called simply Telemark or more recently Telemark proper) and Grenland. Upper Telemark is sometimes subdivided into Vest-Telemark and Aust-Telemark. The name Lower Telemark traditionally refers to Grenland and Midt-Telemark, but was more of an administrative region than a cultural one. Regardless of definition, Upper Telemark constitutes the largest part by far. For example, the modern provostship of Upper Telemark comprises 12 municipalities and more than 80% of Telemark, also including Midt-Telemark.

An additional district, Vestmar is disputed. The district borders of this county are highly overlapping and to a certain extent undefined and/or disputed.


Rank Name Inhabitants[18] Area km2 District
1 Scheen, Skien kommune Skien 54,942 722 Grenland
2 Porsgrunn kommune Porsgrunn 36,397 161 Grenland
3 Bamble kommune Bamble 14,061 282 Grenland
4 Notodden kommune Notodden 13,049 856 Aust-Telemark
5 Bø i TelemarkMidt-Telemark 10,444 518 Midt-Telemark
6 Kragerø kommune Kragerø 10,380 289 Vestmar
7 Nome kommune Nome 6,515 389 Midt-Telemark
8 Tinn kommune Tinn 5,691 1,858 Aust-Telemark
9 Drangedal kommune Drangedal 4,060 998 Vestmar
10 Vinje kommune Vinje 3,676 2,740 Vest-Telemark
11 Seljord kommune Seljord 2,888 672 Vest-Telemark
12 Kviteseid kommune Kviteseid 2,403 626 Vest-Telemark
13 Siljan kommune Siljan 2,340 203 Grenland
14 Tokke kommune Tokke 2,201 907 Vest-Telemark
15 Hjartdal kommune Hjartdal 1,573 741 Aust-Telemark
16 Nissedal kommune Nissedal 1,448 789 Vest-Telemark
17 Fyresdal kommune Fyresdal 1,287 1,110 Vest-Telemark
Total Telemark fylke Telemark 173,355 13,173



  • Atrå
  • Austbygdi
  • Bamble
  • Brevik
  • Brunkeberg
  • Dal
  • Drangedal
  • Eidanger
  • Eidsborg
  • Flatdal
  • Fyresdal
  • Gjerpen
  • Gransherad
  • Grungedal
  • Heddal
  • Helgen
  • Herre
  • Hitterdal, see Heddal
  • Hjartdal
  • Holla (Hollen)
  • Hovin
  • Hægland
  • Høydalsmo
  • Kilebygda
  • Kragerø
  • Kroken, see Drangedal
  • Kviteseid (Hvidesøe)
  • Old Kviteseid (Hvidesøe)
  • Langesund
  • Lisleherad (Lilleherred)
  • Lunde
  • Lårdal
  • Mo
  • Moland
  • Mæl
  • Mælum
  • Møsstrand
  • Nes
  • Nesland
  • Nissedal
  • Notodden
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Porsgrunn
  • Porsgrunn
  • Rauland
  • Rjukan
  • Sannidal (Sannikedal)
  • Saude
  • Sauherad (Saude)
  • Sauland
  • Seljord
  • Siljan
  • Skafså
  • Skien
  • Skåtøy
  • Slemdal, see Siljan
  • Solum
  • Stathelle
  • Tinn
  • Treungen
  • Tuddal
  • Tørdal (Tørrisdal)
  • Vestre Porsgrunn
  • Veum
  • Vinje
  • Vrådal
  • Ytre Flåbygd
  • Østre Porsgrunn
  • Øyfjell
  • Åmotsdal
  • Brevik Branch (LDS, 1852–1864)
  • Langesund Branch (LDS, 1852–1907)
  • Skien (Frie Apostoliske, 1856–1892)
  • Porsgrunn and Skien (Great Britain Consulate Birth Register, 1876–1891)
  • Kragerø (Great Britain Death Register), 1895


Former municipalities[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Martens, Irmelin (2021). Viking Age Swords from Telemark, Norway : An Integrated Technical and Archaeological Investigation. Cappelen Damm Akademisk N. ISBN 9788202696856.
  • Ruud, Jørund A. (1993). Telemark. Telemark fylkeskommune. ISBN 8299301912.


  1. ^ "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet.
  2. ^ "Forskrift om målvedtak i kommunar og fylkeskommunar" (in Norwegian). Lovdata.no.
  3. ^ Bolstad, Erik; Thorsnæs, Geir, eds. (2023-01-26). "Kommunenummer". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget.
  4. ^ Nikel, David (2019-04-30). "This Is Telemark, Norway". Life in Norway. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  5. ^ Selland, Svein-Gunnar; Lundbo, Sten (8 June 2018). "Telemark" – via Store norske leksikon.
  6. ^ "Nå er Telemark og Vestfold slått sammen". ta.no. 8 June 2017.
  7. ^ Norgeshistorie, Om; Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie (IAKH) ved UiO. "De voldelige telemarksbøndene - Norgeshistorie". www.norgeshistorie.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  8. ^ "Best på gamle teknikker". www.telen.no (in Norwegian). 1999-01-20. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  9. ^ a b c "Telemark". www.visitnorway.com. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  10. ^ Selland, Svein-Gunnar; Lundbo, Sten; Nilsen, Jan Erik; Thorsnæs, Geir (2020-01-29), "Telemark – tidligere fylke", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2020-06-04
  11. ^ Hans Jacob Orning, "Et lokalt maktspill", Norgeshistorie.no, 28 November 2016
  12. ^ Hans Jacob Orning, "De voldelige telemarksbøndene", Norgeshistorie.no, 28 November 2016
  13. ^ "Statistikkbanken". ssb.no. 26 May 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013.
  14. ^ Statistics Norway - Church of Norway. Archived 2012-07-16 at archive.today
  15. ^ "Statistics Norway - Members of religious and life stance communities outside the Church of Norway, by religion/life stance. County. 2006-2010". ssb.no.
  16. ^ "History – Snowshoe Thompson". snowshoethompson.org. 21 September 2011.
  17. ^ "John "Snowshoe" Thompson". postalmuseum.si.edu. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09.
  18. ^ "01222: Endringar i befolkninga i løpet av kvartalet, for kommunar, fylke og heile landet (K) 1997K4 - 2020K1". PX-Web SSB. Retrieved 2020-06-04.

External links[edit]