68º-70º North, Troms is a county in North Norway, bordering Finnmark to the northeast and Nordland in the southwest. To the south is Norrbotten Län in Sweden and further southeast is a shorter border with Lapland Province in Finland. To the west is the Norwegian Sea (Atlantic ocean). The entire county is located north of the Arctic circle. The Gulf stream running up the cost gives the county a temperate climate.
Troms has a total of 158 650 inhabitants (2012). Major cities and municipalities (01.01.2006): Tromsø (63 596), Harstad (23 228), Lenvik (11 051), Målselv (6 658) and Balsfjord (5 569). More than a third of the countys population lives in the city of Tromsø. In Troms, three different cultures meet: the Norwegian, Sami and Kven cultures. Approximately 10% of the population are of Sami heredity.
Troms is an island county. Over half of the population of the county live on islands. Area is 25 848 sq km. Troms County has a total of 25 municipalities: Balsfjord, Bardu, Berg, Bjarkøy, Dyrøy, Gratangen, Harstad, Ibestad, Gáivuotna or Kåfjord, Karlsøy, Kvæfjord, Kvænangen, Lavangen, Lenvik, Lyngen, Målselv, Nordreisa, Salangen, Skånland, Skjervøy, Sørreisa, Storfjord, Torsken, Tranøy and Tromsø.
The main town of the county is Tromsø which is also a natural centre for North Norway. Tromsø (62,000 inhabitants as of 2005) is among the biggest centres of population in Norway. The city contains the world’s northernmost university, the University of Tromsø.
Harstad is situated on Norway’s largest island, Hinnøya, in the far south of the county. Harstad has 23,000 inhabitants (as of 2005). Several big oil companies have offices in town, which also makes Harstad the “oil town” of the North. Outside Harstad is Trondenes, a unique cultural-historical area where the Vikings left their mark.
Characteristic are the mountains bordering direct on the sea, the Lyngen Alps perhaps the best known by mountaineers.
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. Temperatures are typically below freezing for about 5 months (8 months in the mountains), from early November to the beginning of April. There is often snow in abundance, and avalanches are not uncommon in winter. Winter temperatures can get down to -35°C (-32°F), while summer days can reach 30°C in inland valleys and the innermost fjord areas, but 16 - 22°C (65°F) is much more common.
Moose, red fox, hare, stoat and small rodents are common in all Troms, and brown bears are sighted
in the interior in the summer. Other animals are reindeer (interior mountain areas), wolverine (interior mountain areas) otter (along the coast and rivers), lynx (inthe forests), and harbour porpoise in the fjords. Some of the common birds are ptarmigan, sea eagles, seagulls and cormorants (coast).
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 700 m on the southern slope of Njunis; in all Troms birch forms the tree line, often 200 m above other trees. Rowan, aspen, willow, grey alder, and bird cherry are common in the lower elevations. Scots Pine reaches an elevation of almost 400 m 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.
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. The salmon swim 90 km 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. Reisa National Park protects the upper part of the valley.
Principal industries are fishing and fisheries, agriculture, services, tourism and public service industries. The county is rich in resources and the location offers particular advantages, especially in the fields of fisheries and aquaculture, extraction of mineral resources, energy production and tourism. With the University of Tromsø and the colleges in Tromsø and Harstad the county has a considerable number of jobs within education and research particularly in the fields of science and medicine, particularly telemedicine.
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. The armed forces employ over 2,000 people in Central Troms.
In the south of the county there are areas with a long agricultural tradition. Farther north there are more and more instances of farms combining agriculture with other business activities. Much of Norway’s goat’s cheese is made from the milk of more than 20,000 dairy goats in the county. Traditional agriculture is being re-adjusted as farmers develop supplementary industries, such as tourism and the production of high-class niche products.
The population of Troms has harvested from the resources of the sea since time immemorial. A lot of the county’s trade is still related to the sea. The number of fishermen has been reduced, however, due to larger and more efficient fishing fleets. It is also evident that many consumers are willing to pay more for the highest quality seafood.
Troms industry is mainly tied to the fishing industry and related industries. Within the field of fisheries and aquaculture, development, research and an increase in competence will be large-scale areas of commitment in years to come.
The research in Tromsø plays a major role in the development of new business opportunities in the county. Competence and research have provided a breeding ground for development within fields such as marine biotechnology, information and communication technology, earth observation, satellite monitoring and space research.
Marine biology is an area of commitment with a huge potential. Business and industry in Troms has gradually become more integrated within the global economy, due to the fact that these new industries are mostly export industries. Consequently, business and industry are ever more dependent on global markets and international business conditions.
Transport by land, sea and air is well developed with Tromsø as the central point of the county´s transport system. Troms is the main port to the Arctic waters.
The multitude of islands and deep fjords presents great communicational challenges. Previously, the boat was the only alternative. Today, bridges and tunnels provide an increasing number of mainland connections. However, the terrain still presents major challenges because of factors such as the volume of snow and danger from landslides. Express boats and small aircraft cut down travel time to a minimum.
Fast boats carry goods and passengers up and down the coast. The coastal steamer is also an important means of transport that links many coastal communities together. Hurtigruten line has become internationally very popular tourist attraction.
The road network is well developed throughout the county. The county has no railway system. The closest railway station is situated in Narvik.
The largest airports, Evenes at Harstad, Bardufoss and Tromsø, connect the county with the rest of Norway and the world beyond. Tromsø airport has a direct service to Murmansk and Archangel in north-west Russia.
Troms has a well-developed education system, with a considerable number of primary and secondary schools. Higher education is offered at the University of Tromsø and at several colleges in both Tromsø and Harstad.
The university is a vital driving force in county and regional development terms. As the world’s northernmost university it has natural advantages and special competence within fields such as marine, polar, biomedical and community medicine research, as well as research relating to the culture, languages and social life of the Northern areas. Other prioritized areas include research on indigenous peoples and minorities. The university has approximately 6,500 students.
The localization of the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Polar Environmental Centre has further strengthened Tromsø’s position as an international centre of Arctic research.
Traditional North Norwegian culture occupies a strong position in Troms, regardless of whether it is Sami or Norwegian.
Festivals are popular in Troms. They attract artists and audiences from all over the both in the dark of winter, and under the midnight sun. The Festival of North Norway, which takes place annually in Harstad, is a big event. The Northern Lights Festival in Tromsø is an annual classical music festival. The Tromsø International Film Festival has developed into an internationally renowned film festival that offers films from all over the world. The Sami cultural festival Riddu Riddu in Kåfjord offers ethnic music and culture.
The Hålogaland Theatre is regional theatre serving the region of Nord-Norge. When established in 1971, it was the first regional theatre in Norway, and the first professional theatre in Nord-Norge. Many of its productions are staged in the regional Norwegian dialects. The varied schedule includes a mixture of genres, contemporary and classic drama, and musical and children’s theatre.
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