is a county (fylke)
, bordering Telemark
. In 2002 there were 102,945 inhabitants, which is 2.2% of the total population in Norway. Its area is 9,212 km²
. The county administration is in Arendal
The county, which is located at the Skagerrak coast, extends from Gjernestangen at Risør to Kvåsefjorden at Lillesand. The inner parts of the area includes Setesdalsheiene and Austheiene. About 77% of the inhabitants live at the coast, where the main built area is. Tourism is important, as Arendal and the other coastal towns are popular attractions.
The county includes the islands of Tromøy, Justøya and Sandøya. The interior of the county encompasses the traditional district of Setesdalen, through which the Otra river flows to the coast.
The meaning of the name is '(the) eastern (part of) Agder
'. (The word aust
is the nynorsk
form of 'east'.) See also Vest-Agder
Until 1919 the name of the county was Nedenes amt. The amt was named after the farm Nedenes (Norse Niðarnes), since this was the seat of the amtmann ('governor'). The first element is the genitive case of the rivername Nið (now Nidelva), the last element is nes n 'headland'. The meaning of the rivername is unknown.
The coat-of-arms is from modern times (1958). It shows two golden beams
Since the census of 1769, Aust-Agder has experienced a steady population growth: from 29,633 to 79,927 in 1900, and to 102,848 in 2001. These figures are deceptive, however, as they do not count the exodus to the United States
. It began with a flow of people from Setesdalen
like the swarm of bees of Jordanes
in the early 19th century. They were looking for work and cultural improvement in the cities of the coast, but they often continued on to the United States.
The system of municipalities, or kommuner, was established in Norway in 1837, based on previously existing parishes. Norway had been ceded to Sweden by Denmark 1814, at which it promptly rebelled and won the right of self rule, though nominally part of Sweden. In 1905 Norway declared total independence. Meanwhile, the kommuner did not remain the same, but new ones were formed, old ones broken up, and land was passed between kommuner.
Currently Aust-Agder County has a total of 15 municipalities:
- Evje og Hornnes