name = Aurland
idnumber = 1421
county = Sogn og Fjordane

landscape = Sogn
capital = Aurlandsvangen
demonym = Aurlending
language = Nynorsk

munwebpage =
governor = Olav Ellingsen (Sp)
governor_as_of = 2003
arearank = 54
area = 1468
arealand = 1383
areapercent = 0.45
population_as_of = 2004
populationrank = 348
population = 1,803
populationpercent = 0.04
populationdensity = 1
populationincrease = -5.2
lat_deg=60 | lat_min=52 | lat_sec=5 | lon_deg=7 | lon_min=14 | lon_sec=36
utm_zone=32V | utm_northing=6749369 | utm_easting=0404607 | geo_cat=adm2nd

Aurland is a municipality in the county of Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. It is located in the traditional district of Sogn. The administrative center is the village of Aurlandsvangen. Other larger villages include Flåm, Undredal, and Gudvangen.

General information

The name

The name "Aurland" derives from the Old Norse words "aurr" (which means "gravel") plus "land" (which means "land" or "district").


Aurland's coat-of-arms is of modern origin. They were granted on 22 May 1987. The arms depict a goat's head. A goat was considered an appropriate symbol for the municipality since the area is famed for its production of goat cheese and goat farming. [cite web|url=|author=Norske Kommunevåpen|date=1990|title=Nye kommunevåbener i Norden|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]


Aurland was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The original municipality was identical to the Aurland parish "(prestegjeld)" with the sub-parishes "(sokn)" of Aurlandsvangen, Flåm, and Undredal.

In 1859, the sub-parish of Nærøy was created by separating it from the sub-parish of Undredal.cite web|url=|title=Some historical data on the 26 Kommunes|first=Oddvar|last=Natvik|date=9 Feb 2005|accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]


The Church of Norway has four churches within the municipality of Aurland. It is part of the Diocese of Bjørgvin and the Rural Deanery "(Prosti)" of Indre Sogn.


All municipalities in Norway, including Aurland, 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

The municipal council "(Kommunestyre)" of Aurland is made up of 17 representatives that are elected to every four years. For 2007–2011, the party breakdown is as follows: [cite web|publisher=Statistics Norway|url=|title=Members of the local councils|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008|date=2007] Infobox_Kommunestyre


The mayor "(ordførar)" of a municipality in Norway is a representative of the majority party of the municipal council who is elected to lead the council. Olav Johan Ellingsen of the Centre Party ("Senterpartiet") was elected mayor for the 2007–2011 term. [cite web|author=Aurland Kommune|title=Politisk organisering|date=24 Jan 2008|url=|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008 no icon]


The earliest inhabitants lived by hunting and fishing until they gradually started farming about 2,000 years ago. Agriculture is still important with the rich valley floors and abundant mountain pastures. As in all of western Norway, the area was overpopulated in the middle 1800s, and cotters were forced to clear land far up the mountainsides. This difficulty led to emigration and in the 20 year period after 1845, 1,050 people moved out of the community--most of them moving to America.

Tourism came to the community as early as the middle of the 19th century, in the form of sport fishing and hunting. Tourists from England were dominant during this time and one can still find English names for mountaintops, hunting cabins, and fishing holes.

Later, a different type of tourist came to the region. These tourists came to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. These tourists created a need for jobs in the form of transportation and lodging. Three or four ships would anchor in the Nærøyfjord at a time which created the need for scores of horse drawn carriages to take the tourists up to Stalheim hotel.cite web|url=|title=About Aurland|date=31 Oct 2003|publisher=Aurland Kommune|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]


Aurland lies 200 kilometers from the west coast of Norway in the south-eastern part of Sogn og Fjordane county, along the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. These are fingers of the world's longest and deepest fjord, the Sognefjord.

Aurland is bordered by two municipalities in Sogn og Fjordane county: (Lærdal to the north-east and Vik to the west), two municipalities in Hordaland county (Voss to the south-west and Ulvik to the south) and one municipality in Buskerud county (Hol to the south-east).

Most of the area is composed of fjords and mountains with small populated areas concentrated in the lower river valleys at Aurland, Nærøy, Undredal, Flåm, and Vassbygdi.

Wild and beautiful nature dominate the community from the fjords to mountaintops that are 1,200 to 1,800 meters above sea level. There are two permanent glaciers in Aurland: Storskavlen and Blåskavlen.cite web|url=|title=About Aurland|date=31 Oct 2003|publisher=Aurland Kommune|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]



Aurland has a typical inland climate with mild winters at the lower levels, early springs, and warm summers. A yearly average of 470 millimeters of precipitation make Aurland one of the driest areas in Norway. In comparison, Bergen has 2,500 mm of precipitation per year.cite web|url=|title=About Aurland|date=31 Oct 2003|publisher=Aurland Kommune|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]


Aurland has rich and varied flora, which is more typical of eastern rather than western Norway. The mountain plant life is especially rich since the bedrock contains calcium rich deposits of phyllite.cite web|url=|title=About Aurland|date=31 Oct 2003|publisher=Aurland Kommune|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]


The oldest bedrock in Aurland is the Precambrian rock which thrusts through younger layers in the north-eastern part of the municipality. Above the bedrock we find, in varying thickness, a layer of phyllite. The third layer is massive out-thrust rocks, called the "Jotundekket". The rocks in this covering are magmatic, formed a little below the earth's crust.

Part of the scenery took its shape 9,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age. The ice's advance was either halted or continued, according to the climatic conditions, and moraine ridges and gravel terraces were deposited along the glacier front. They are still visible today south of the Flåm church.cite web|title=Aurland Municipality|url=|first=John Erik|last=Johnson|accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]

On the western side of the Aurlandsfjord, there is rock that was pushed up into mountain ranges several million years ago. The fjord itself was gouged out of an earlier valley. Aurlandsvangen is typical of the lower areas, lying on an old river delta--the land is very flat and fertile. The mountainsides are steep causing frequent rock slides and avalanches.cite web|url=|title=About Aurland|date=31 Oct 2003|publisher=Aurland Kommune|accessdaymonth=19 June|accessyear=2008]


UNESCO World Heritage Site

The West Norwegian Fjords of Geirangefjord and Nærøyfjord were added to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list in 2005. The two fjords are situated 120 km from each other and they are separated by the Jostedalsbreen glacier. The World Heritage Site possesses a unique combination of glacial landforms at the same time as each area is characterised by its own outstanding beauty. The Nærøyfjord areas in this site stretch through the municipalities of Aurland, Lærdal, Vik, and Voss.cite web|title=Aurland|url=||accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]

Aurlandsdalen Valley

The Aurlandsdalen valley is a well known hiking trail in Norway with its fabulous nature and contrasting countryside. The valley is rich in history and packed with culture. One can take the hike in several stages: From Geiteryggen where the path starts, it is a four hour hike to Steinbergdalen. There are beautiful views of mountain peaks, snow glaciers, and lakes. In Steinbergdalen you will find Steinbergdalen mountain lodge which opened in 1895.cite web|title=Aurland Municipality|url=|first=John Erik|last=Johnson|accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]

Flåmsbana Railway

The Flåm Railway is a masterpiece in engineering which is one of the most exciting railway journeys in the world. This journey from Flåm to Myrdal is twelve miles long (19 km), a descent of 2,838 feet (866 m). It has 20 tunnels with a total length of almost four miles (6 km). 80% of the Flåm railway has a gradient of 55%. To cope with the enormous change in height over such a short stretch, the track runs partly through tunnels which spiral in and out of the mountainside. The gradient is quite exceptional for a normal railway and the carriages are fitted with five different brake systems, any one of which is sufficient to stop the train.cite web|title=Aurland Municipality|url=|first=John Erik|last=Johnson|accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]

Undredal Stavkyrkje

The Undredal stave church is a simple, small one-nave church that was built around 1150. It is located in the village of Undredal. It is one of the oldest preserved stave churches in Norway.cite web|title=Aurland|url=||accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]

Vangen Kyrkje

The Vangen Church was built in 1202. It was built by an ancient family who lived in Aurland in the Viking Age and Middle Ages. The church is built in the early Gothic style influenced by English architecture. A document written in 1714 tells us that the English merchants used to stay in Aurland during long periods to buy different articles and they are supposed to have taken part in the building of the church. Most likely they were have been the master builders.

In 1725, the Danish-Norwegian government in financial problems and King Frederick IV sold the church. The church remained as private property until the late 1800s. Then the municipality bought Vangen church back for 500 kroner.

At the last restoration in 1926, the original colors and designs were uncovered. Then the ceiling was taken away and the baldachin over the pulpit was brought back again. A new altarpiece was made. The Norwegian artist Emanuel Vigeland has made the stained glass windows (two of the windows in the chancel illustrate the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the one in the middle is Jesus Christ, the Savior.cite web|title=Aurland Municipality|url=|first=John Erik|last=Johnson|accessdaymonth=20 June|accessyear=2008]


*Kjelfossen is located near the village of Gudvangen
*Kjosfossen can be seen from the Flåmsbana railway
*The Stegastein viewpoint was constructed in 2006 with a spectacular view of the surrounding fjords and valleys.

External links

* [ Aurland and Lærdal Tourist Board]
* [ Myrdal]
* [ Official Website of Aurland]


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