Troms (pronounced [trums] ( listen); Northern Sami:
Romsa; Finnish: Tromssa) is a county in Northern Norway. It borders
Finnmark county to the northeast and
Nordland county in the southwest.
Norrbotten Län in
Sweden is located to the south and further
southeast is a shorter border with Lapland Province in Finland. To the
west is the
Norwegian Sea (Atlantic Ocean). The entire county, which
was established in 1866, is located north of the
Arctic circle. The
Troms County Municipality
Troms County Municipality is the governing body for the county,
elected by the people of Troms, while the
Troms county governor is a
representative of the King and Government of Norway. The county had a
population of 161,771 in 2014.
1 General information
1.2 Coat of arms
8 Photo gallery
9 See also
10.1 Other sources
11 External links
Troms has many fjords and mountainous islands; the highest mountains
Until 1919 the county was formerly known as
Tromsø amt. On 1 July
2006, the Northern Sami name for the county, Romsa, was granted
official status along with Troms.
The county (and the city of Tromsø) is named after the island
Tromsøya on which it is located (
Old Norse Trums). Several theories
exist as to the etymology of Troms. One theory holds "Troms-" to
derive from the old (uncompounded) name of the island (Old Norse:
Trums). Several islands and rivers in
Norway have the name Tromsa, and
the names of these are probably derived from the word straumr which
means "(strong) stream". (The original form must then have been
Strums, for the missing s see Indo-European s-mobile.) Another theory
Tromsøya was originally called Lille
Tromsøya), because of its proximity to the much bigger island today
called Kvaløya, that according to this theory was earlier called
"Store Tromsøya" due to a characteristic mountain known as Tromma
(the Drum). The mountain's name in Sámi, Rumbbučohkka, is identical
in meaning, and it is said to have been a sacred mountain for the
Sámi in pre-Christian times.
The Sámi name of the island, Romsa, is assumed to be a loan from
Norse – but according to the phonetical rules of the Sami language
the frontal t has disappeared from the name. However,
an alternative form – Tromsa – is in informal use. There is a
theory that holds the Norwegian name of
Tromsø derives from the Sámi
name, though this theory lacks an explanation for the meaning of
Romsa. A common misunderstanding is that Tromsø's Sámi name is
Romssa with a double "s". This, however, is the accusative and
genitive form of the noun used when, for example, writing "Tromsø
Municipality" (Romssa Suohkan).
Coat of arms
The coat of arms of
Troms was made by Hallvard Trætteberg
(1898–1987), and adopted by royal resolution on 15 January 1960. The
official blazon in Norwegian ("På rød bunn en gull griff")
translates to "On a field
Gules a griffin [segreant] Or."
Trætteberg chose to have the griffin as charge because that animal
was the symbol of the mighty clan of Bjarne Erlingsson on
the 13th century.
Balsfjord in central Troms
The 1505 m / 5000 ft Piggtind in the
Lyngen Alps, at the intersection
Storfjord municipalities. February 2009.
Troms is located in the northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula.
Due to the long distance to the more densely populated areas of the
continent, this is one of the least polluted areas of Europe. Troms
has a very rugged and indented coastline facing the Norwegian Sea.
However, the large and mountainous islands along the coast provide an
excellent sheltered waterway on the inside. Starting in the south, the
largest islands are: northeastern part of
Hinnøya (the southern part
is in Nordland), Grytøya, Senja, Kvaløya, Ringvassøya, Reinøy,
Vannøy, and Arnøy. Some of these islands, most noteworthy Senja,
have a rugged outer coast with steep mountains, and a more calm
eastern shore. There are several large fjords that stretch quite far
inland. Starting in the south, the largest fjords are Vågsfjorden,
Andfjorden (shared with Nordland), Malangen, Balsfjord, Ullsfjord,
Kvænangen (fjord). The largest lake is
Altevatnet in the
interior of the county.
Jiekkevarre reaching more than 1,800 m / 6,000 ft
(1,828.80 m) high from Balsfjord; February 2009.
There are mountains in all parts of Troms; the most alpine and
striking are probably the
Lyngen Alps (Lyngsalpene), with several
small glaciers and the highest mountain in the county, Jiekkevarre
with a height of 1,833 m (6,014 ft). Several glaciers are
located in Kvænangen, including parts of the Øksfjordjøkelen, the
last glacier in mainland
Norway to drop icebergs directly into the sea
(in the Jøkelfjord). The largest river in
Troms (waterflow) is
Målselva (in Målselv), and the largest (not the highest) waterfall
is Målselvfossen at 600 m (2,000 ft) long and 20 m
(66 ft) high. Marble is present in parts of Troms, and thus
numerous caves, as in
Salangen and Skånland.
Musvær; islands north of Kvaløya. The coast has fairly mild winters
but cool summer days.
Located at a latitude of nearly 70°N,
Troms has short, cool summers,
but fairly mild winters along the coast due to the temperate sea;
Torsvåg Lighthouse in
Karlsøy has January 24-hr average of
−1 °C (30 °F).
Tromsø averages −4 °C
(25 °F) in January with a daily high of −2 °C
(28 °F), while July averages 12 °C (54 °F) with high
of 15 °C (59 °F). Temperatures are typically below
freezing for about 5 months (8 months in the mountains),
from early November to the beginning of April, but coastal areas are
moderated by the sea: with more than 130 years of official
weather recordings, the coldest winter temperature ever recorded in
Tromsø is −20.1 °C (−4.2 °F) in February 1985. The
all-time high for
Troms is 32.7 °C (90.9 °F) recorded in
Skibotn July 10, 2014. Thaws can occur even in mid-winter. There is
often snow in abundance, and avalanches are not uncommon in winter.
With the prevailing westerlies, lowland areas east of mountain ranges
have less precipitation than areas west of the mountains.
Skibotn (elevation: 46 m or 151 ft) in
Storfjord is the
Norway which has recorded the most days per year with
clear skies (no clouds). Winter temperatures in
get down to −35 °C (−31 °F), while summer days can
reach 30 °C (86 °F) in inland valleys and the innermost
fjord areas, but 15 to 22 °C (59 to 72 °F) is much more
common. Along the outer seaboard, a summer day at 15 °C
(59 °F) is considered fairly warm.
Climate data for Tromsø,
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute
The aurora borealis is a common sight in the whole of Troms, but not
in summer as there is no darkness. As with all areas in the polar
latitudes, there are extreme variations in daylight between the
seasons. As a consequence of this, the length of daylight increases
(late winter and spring) or decreases (autumn) by 10 minutes from one
day to the next.
Sunrise and sunset times on the 15th of each month in Tromsø
11:31 – 12:17
08:16 – 15:43
06:07 – 17:41
04:43 – 20:48
01:43 – 23:48
03:44 – 21:50
05:56 – 19:20
07:54 – 17:04
09:25 – 13:32
Source: Almanakk for Norge; University of Oslo, 2010. Note: The sun is
below the horizon until 15 January in Tromsø, but the low sun is
blocked by mountains and not visible until 21 January.
Landscape with small farms and planted spruce. Dyrøy, May 2010
Salangen mountains; snow cover lasts usually into late April
or early May in the lowlands.
Reindeer near Tromsdalstind
Moose, red fox, hare, stoat, and small rodents are common in all of
Troms county. Brown bears are sighted in the interior parts of the
county in the summer. Other animals that can be seen are reindeer
(interior mountain areas, with Sami owners), wolverine (interior
mountain areas), otters (along the coast and rivers), lynx (in the
forests), and harbour porpoises in the fjords. Sperm whales, killer
whales and humpback whales are often seen in Andfjorden. Some of the
common birds are ptarmigan, sea eagles, seagulls, and cormorants.
The sheltered valleys in the interior of
Troms have the highest tree
line (summer warmth and length is the limiting factor), with downy
birch reaching an elevation of 700 m (2,300 ft) on the
southern slope of Njunis; all over
Troms county birch trees forms the
tree lines, often 200 metres (660 ft) above other trees. Rowan,
aspen, willow, grey alder, and bird cherry are common in the lower
Hiking in early summer
Scots pine reaches an elevation of almost 400 m (1,300 ft)
in Dividalen, where some of the largest trees are 500 years old.
The upper part of the valley is protected by Øvre Dividal National
Park, which was enlarged in 2006. In 2011, the Rohkunborri
National Park (571 square kilometres or 220 square miles) was
Bardu municipality, bordering
Sweden and only a few
kilometers south of Øvre Dividal National Park.
The inland valleys, like Østerdalen (with Altevatnet), Kirkesdalen,
Dividalen, Rostadalen, Signaldalen, and Skibotndalen, are perfect for
summer hiking, with their varied nature, mostly dry climate and not
too difficult terrain, although there are many accessible mountains
for energetic hikers.
Reisadalen is one of the most idyllic river valleys in Norway; from
Nordreisa the valley stretches south-southeast, covered
with birch, pine, grey alder, and willow. The northern part of the
valley is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide, with 1,200-metre
(3,900 ft) high mountains on both sides; the southern part of the
valley narrows to a few hundred metres (canyon), with increasingly dry
climate. The valley floor is fairly flat with little height difference
for 70 km (43 mi) (to Bilto); the Reisa river can be
navigated by canoe or river boat for much of this distance. The salmon
swim 90 km (56 mi) up the river, and some 137 different
species of birds have been observed. Several rivers cascade down into
the valley; the Mollisfossen waterfall is 269 m
(883 ft). The valley ends 120 km (75 mi) southeast
of Storslett, as the vast and more barren Finnmarksvidda plateau takes
over. Reisa National Park protects the upper part of the valley.
Small farms and mountains in Lenvik; June 2007.
Many villages are located at the head of fjords; this is Nordkjosbotn
at the head of Balsfjord, 1-hr drive south of Tromsø.
Agricultural area near
Harstad in 1930
The city of Tromsø, in the north central part, is the county seat and
Arctic seaport, and seat of the world's northernmost university,
renowned for research about the aurora borealis. The University of
Tromsø has an astrophysical observatory located in
Tromsø is the only municipality in the county with a strong
population growth; most of the smaller municipalities experience
decreasing populations as the young and educated move to the cities,
often in the southern part of Norway.
Harstad is a commercial centre
for the southern part of the county, and has been chosen by
its main office in Northern Norway.
Along the coast and on the islands, fishing is dominant. Important
ports for the fishing fleet are Skjervøy,
Tromsø and Harstad. There
is also some agriculture, especially in the southern part, which has a
longer growing season (150 days in Harstad).
Balsfjord is often
regarded to be the most northern municipality with substantial
agricultural activity in Norway, although there is also agriculture
The Norwegian armed forces is a vital employer in Troms, having the
seat of the 6th army division, Bardufoss Air Station, helicopter wings
and radar stations in the county. There are hospitals in Tromsø
(university hospital and main hospital for North Norway) and Harstad.
The busiest airport is
Tromsø Airport. The southern part of
Harstad/Narvik Airport, Evenes
Harstad/Narvik Airport, Evenes and Bardufoss Airport, and in
northeast there is Sørkjosen Airport. The E6 cuts through the county
Gratangen in the south to
Kvænangen in the north
and then into Finnmark. The E8 road runs from
Nordkjosbotn and the
Skibotn valley. There are several large bridges;
some of the largest are Tjeldsund Bridge, Mjøsund Bridge, Gisund
Tromsø Bridge and Sandnessund Bridge. There are several
undersea road tunnels; Rolla to Andørja (in Ibestad),
the mainland (Tromsø),
Skjervøy to the
mainland. The roads are well maintained, but have to go long detours
around fjords. For this reason passenger boats are fairly popular, for
Tromsø and Harstad, and there are also commercial
flights inside Troms.
There is no railway in Troms. But the government of
expressed interest in building a railway from the Finnish rail network
to port facilities at Skibotn, although they point out that they can't
finance much of the cost.
Tromsø in 1900;
Tromsø was for many decades an important base for
hunting and whaling in the Arctic.
Source: Statistics Norway.
Troms has been settled since the early stone age, and there are
prehistoric rock carvings at several locations (for instance Ibestad
and Balsfjord). These people made their living from hunting, fishing
The first of the current ethnic groups to settle in the county were
the Sami people, who inhabited Sapmi, an area much larger than today's
Archeological evidence has
shown that a Norse iron-based culture in the late Roman
(200–400 AD), reaches as far north as
Karlsøy (near today's
Tromsø), but not further northeast.
The Norse with their iron and agriculture settled along the coast and
in some of the larger fjords, while the Sami lived in the same fjord
areas, usually just into the fjord and in the interior. From the
10th century, Norse settlements start to appear along the coast
further north, reaching into what is today the county of Finnmark.
Southern and mid-
Troms was a petty kingdom in the Viking age, and
considered part of Hålogaland. Ottar from
Hålogaland met King Alfred
the Great around 890. The Viking leader
Tore Hund had his seat at
Bjarkøy. According to the sagas,
Tore Hund speared King Olav
Haraldsson at the Battle of Stiklestad. He also traded and fought in
Bjarmaland, today the area of
Arkhangelsk in northern
Trondenes (today's Harstad) was also a central Viking power centre,
and seems to have been a gathering place.
Religion in Troms
The Kven residents of
Troms are largely descendants of Finnish
immigrants who arrived in the area before the 19th century from
Finland because of war and famine. They settled mainly in the
northeastern part of Troms, in the municipalities of Kvænangen,
Gáivuotna - Kåfjord
Gáivuotna - Kåfjord and Storfjord, and some
Balsfjord and Lyngen.
Troms county currently has a total of 24 municipalities.
Harstad (#7) on 1 January 2013, and that is not reflected
on the map below.
Municipalities of Troms
Bjarkøy (merged with
Gáivuotna - Kåfjord
Trondenes Church, the only medieval church in Troms
Skjervøy Church in northern
Troms at night, February 2004
Harstad is at the southern tip of Troms
Norway (Rekvika, Troms, Norway)
Summer evening in Jøkelfjord, Kvænangen.
^ "Offisielt samisk namn for Troms" (in Norwegian). Statens
navnekonsulenter. Retrieved 9 January 2006.
^ "Troms" (in Norwegian). Arkivverket.no.
^ "Hallvard Trætteberg: fylkesvåpen" (in Norwegian).
^ Yr coldest recordings in February
^ "eKlima Web Portal". Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
^ "Sunrise and daylight in Tromsø". Gaisma.
^ "Katainen: Railway to
Arctic Ocean is a great opportunity". Barents
^ Projected population – Statistics Norway
^ Urbańczyk, Przemyslaw (1992). Medieval
Arctic Norway. Warsaw,
Poland: Institute of the History of Material Culture, Polish Academy
of Sciences. pp. 56–67. ISBN 978-83-900213-0-0.
^ Bjarmeland (Store norske leksikon)
Norway – Church of Norway.
Norway – Members of religious and life stance
communities outside the Church of Norway, by religion/life stance.
Haugan, Trygve B, ed. (1940). Det Nordlige Norge Fra Trondheim Til
Midnattssolens Land. Trondheim: Reisetrafikkforeningen for Trondheim
Moen, Asbjørn (1998). Nasjonalatlas for Norge: Vegetasjon. Hønefoss:
Statens Kartverk. ISBN 9788290408263.
"24-hr averages, 1961–90 base period". Norwegian Meteorological
Tollefsrud, Jan Inge; Tjørve, Even; Hermansen, Pål (1991). Perler i
Norsk Natur – En Veiviser. Aschehoug. ISBN 9788203166631.
Almanakk for Norge. University of Oslo. 2010.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Troms.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Troms.
Troms touring association
Counties of Norway
Møre og Romsdal
Sogn og Fjordane
Coordinates: 69°49′04″N 18°46′55″E / 69.8178°N