Sortland (Norwegian) or Suortá (Northern Sami)[3] is a municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Vesterålen. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Sortland. Other population centres in Sortland include , Holand, Holmstad, Liland, Sigerfjord, Strand, and Vik. The Norwegian Coast Guard has its northern base in Sortland, called Kystvaktskvadron Nord.

Sortland kommune

Suorttá suohkan
View of Sortland from Strandheia mountain

Nordland within
Sortland within Nordland
Coordinates: 68°42′31″N 15°16′51″E
Administrative centreSortland
  Mayor (2015)Tove Mette Bjørkmo (Ap)
  Total721.92 km2 (278.73 sq mi)
  Land697.32 km2 (269.24 sq mi)
  Water24.60 km2 (9.50 sq mi)  3.4%
Area rank155 in Norway
  Rank112 in Norway
  Density14.9/km2 (39/sq mi)
  Change (10 years)
Demonym(s)Sortlending [1]
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNO-1870
Official language formNeutral [2]

In 1997, the municipal council declared "town status" for the urban area of Sortland. Sortland is the largest town and commercial centre in Vesterålen. The town of Sortland is located close to the Sortland Bridge which crosses the Sortlandsundet strait and connects the two large islands of Langøya and Hinnøya by road. Since a lot of houses in the town are painted blue, Sortland is sometimes referred to as "the blue city".

The 722-square-kilometre (279 sq mi) municipality is the 155th largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Sortland is the 112th most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 10,401. The municipality's population density is 14.9 inhabitants per square kilometre (39/sq mi) and its population has increased by 7.5% over the last decade.[4][5] In January 2012, the number of citizens in Sortland reached 10,000 for the first time.[6]

General information

The municipality of Sortland was established in 1841 when it was separated from the large Hadsel Municipality. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee. On 1 January 1963, the Holm area (population: 65) along the Gavlfjorden was transferred from Langenes Municipality to Sortland. Also on that date, the area around the inner and western part of the Eidsfjorden (population: 1,360) was transferred from Hadsel Municipality to Sortland.[7] On 1 January 2000, the area surrounding the Godfjorden was transferred from Kvæfjord Municipality (and Troms county) to Sortland (and Nordland county).[8]


The municipality (originally the parish) is named after the old Sortland farm (Old Norse: Svortuland), since the first Sortland Church was built there. The first element is the genitive case of a river name Svorta and the last element is land which means "land" or "farm". The river name is derived from svartr which means "black/dark".[9]

Coat of arms

The coat of arms were granted on 15 March 1985. It shows a gold-colored castle gate on a blue background. The gate symbolizes Sortland as the gateway to the Vesterålen region with its many lakes. The arms were based on the seal used by the municipality since the 1960s, which also showed a (natural) gate in a landscape. The blue colour symbolises the blue sea.[10]


The Church of Norway has one parish (sokn) within the municipality of Sortland. It is part of the Vesterålen prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Sør-Hålogaland.

Churches in Sortland
Parish (sokn)Church NameLocation of the ChurchYear Built
SortlandIndre Eidsfjord ChurchHolmstad1970
Sigerfjord ChurchSigerfjord1933
Sortland ChurchSortland1901


The municipality of Sortland is located on the islands of Langøya and Hinnøya in the Vesterålen archipelago. The municipality surrounds the inner part of the Eidsfjorden and the Sortlandssundet strait. There are several bridges in the municipality including Djupfjordstraumen Bridge, Kvalsaukan Bridge, and Sortland Bridge. The Sortland Bridge is located just north of the town of Sortland. One of the main roads through the municipality is Norwegian County Road 82. The mountain Møysalen and part of Møysalen National Park are located in southern Sortland.

Midnight Sun and Aurora Borealis

The midnight sun occurs from May 23 to July 23. Great places to observe the midnight sun includes the Sortland Bridge, Ramnflauget, Godfjorden, Holm, and Skytterhaugen in the Vestmarka residential area. Because of Sortland's high latitude, there is no real darkness between late April and mid-August.

Polar night occurs in Sortland from 30 November to 12 January when the sun remains below the horizon and is not visible at all. The return of the sun is an occasion for celebration (pupils always claim to have spotted the sun before the actual return and hope to be given the day off in celebration). The polar night does not mean that it becomes totally dark. The experience of the winter with the uniqueness of the light, the northern lights, and snow is fantastic. Especially beautiful is the blue light southwards where the sky can also be colored in pink, just before it becomes dark.

Sortland and the Vesterålen region are perfect for observing the spectacular Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) phenomenon. The aurora borealis trails its multi coloured banner across the sky and the moon lights the scene making it a breathtaking experience. Pictures taken here have been presented in National Geographic Magazine.


The record high of 31 °C (88 °F) was set on July 29, 2018. The record low is −19 °C (−2 °F) recorded February 1966.

Climate data for Kleiva, Sortland (1961-90)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 0.0
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.1
Average low °C (°F) −4.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 135
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 17.0 15.2 14.4 13.9 11.2 11.7 13.2 12.0 16.3 19.0 17.2 17.5 178.6
Source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute[11]


All municipalities in Norway, including Sortland, 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.[12] The municipality falls under the Vesterålen District Court and the Hålogaland Court of Appeal.

Municipal council

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Sortland is made up of 27 representatives that are elected to four year terms. The party breakdown of the council is as follows:

Sortland Kommunestyre 2020–2024 [13]  
Party Name (in Norwegian)Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)5
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)2
 Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne)1
 Conservative Party (Høyre)7
 Red Party (Rødt)3
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)7
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)2
Total number of members:27
Sortland Kommunestyre 2016–2019 [14]  
Party Name (in Norwegian)Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)8
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)2
 Conservative Party (Høyre)11
 Red Party (Rødt)3
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)2
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)1
Total number of members:27
Sortland Kommunestyre 2012–2015 [15]  
Party Name (in Norwegian)Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)9
 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)4
 Conservative Party (Høyre)10
 Red Party (Rødt)2
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)1
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)1
Total number of members:27

Music and culture

Sortland has been regarded as one of the best music communities in Norway, and the local band Madrugada has been one of the best ones in the nation. Sortland Jazz Festival is an event organized by Sortland Jazz and Music Club, which takes place every autumn. Some of the world's leading jazz musicians have been participating.


Sortland is the largest commercial centre in Vesterålen with several indoors shopping centers and many small businesses. The retail turnover per inhabitant in Sortland is greater than in any other town in North Norway. Sortland is one of the few North Norwegian towns that have grown annually since the 1970s.

Notable residents


  1. "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet.
  2. "Forskrift om målvedtak i kommunar og fylkeskommunar" (in Norwegian).
  3. "Stadnamn og rettskriving" (in Norwegian). Kartverket. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  4. Statistisk sentralbyrå (2018). "Table: 06913: Population 1 January and population changes during the calendar year (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  5. Statistisk sentralbyrå. "09280: Area of land and fresh water (km²) (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  6. "Nyttårs-sortlending blir nr. 10.000" (in Norwegian). Bladet Vesterålen.
  7. Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå.
  8. "Endringer i de regionale inndelingene". Statistics Norway. 2018-02-23. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  9. Rygh, Oluf (1905). Norske gaardnavne: Nordlands amt (in Norwegian) (16 ed.). Kristiania, Norge: W. C. Fabritius & sønners bogtrikkeri. p. 393.
  10. "Civic heraldry of Norway - Norske Kommunevåpen". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  11. "eKlima Web Portal". Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Archived from the original on 2004-06-14.
  12. Hansen, Tore, ed. (2016-05-12). "kommunestyre". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  13. "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2019 - Nordland". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  14. "Table: 04813: Members of the local councils, by party/electoral list at the Municipal Council election (M)" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  15. "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2011 - Nordland". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
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