Halden is a town and municipality in the county of Østfold, Norway. The city of Halden (until 1928 named Fredrikshald) was established as a municipality 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The rural municipalities of Berg and Idd were merged with Halden 1 January 1967.
Halden is located on the Iddefjord, at the delta of the river Tista. The fjord represents the southern-most border between Norway and Sweden. Evidence of early human settlements in this region of Norway have been found, particularly in the Svinesund area of the municipality where rock carvings from the Nordic Bronze Age can be found.
Due to Halden's close proximity to the border with Sweden, the Fredriksten fortress was erected in Halden in the 17th century. The fortress replaced the former Norwegian border fortress Bohus that had been lost at the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658, when the province of Wiken, or Bohuslän, was ceded to Sweden. In 1718, the Great Northern War ended at Fredriksten when King Karl XII of Sweden was shot and killed while attempting to conquer the fortress.
Although Fredriksten was occupied by Nazi forces in World War II, it has never been captured by force by any invading army. The Swedes attempted to invade Halden six times between 1658 and 1814 but proved unsuccessful.
Halden is the only city mentioned in Norway's national anthem (along with Rome), with a reference to the town's citizens burning their own houses to prevent them being taken by the invading Swedes during king Karl XII attack on Halden, 4 July 1716.
In addition to being the location of one of Norway's largest IT departments at Østfold University College, the city is home to a large number of IT companies, thus the reference to information technology in the slogan. In the late 1960s, the most powerful mainframe computer in Norway at the time was located at Insitutt for energiteknikk's facilities in Halden.
One of Norway's two nuclear reactors is located in Halden. The Halden Boiling Water Reactor is a research reactor located 100 metres within Månefjell, adjacent to the Saugbrugs paper mill. It is in operation about 50% of the time and, in addition to research data, supplies steam to the mill. The reactor is operated by Institutt for energiteknikk (IFE), one of Halden's largest employers, and is the largest experimental facility operated for OECD Halden Reactor Project research. IFE's Man-Technology-Organisation laboratory is IFE's other major facility, and was opened by Norway's crown prince regent in March 2004. This new laboratory building houses the most recent incarnations of the Halden Man-Machine Laboratory (HAMMLAB) and Halden Virtual Reality Centre's (HVRC) VR laboratory. The OECD Halden Reactor Project (established in 1958) is one of the world's longest running international research collaborations, with 20 countries participating (2005) and the largest international research project in Norway. This ensures a steady influx of international guest scientists to the city. The fact that Norway has no commercial interest in nuclear power ensures that Halden is viewed internationally as a neutral location. In national politics, the reactor is controversial, however locally it has had support from the majority of political parties and the city's population. Some of the largest IT companies in Halden, such as Hand-El Skandinavia (now part of the OM Technology group) and ScandPower, are spin-offs from IFE.
With its rich history and Fredriksten fortress dominating the skyline, tourism is also an important industry for Halden. Fredriksten is one of Norway's most visited tourist locations, with over a quarter of a million visitors every year. Other popular attractions include a canal system, Rød mansion, and the Svinesund bridges. The fortress citadel houses several historical museums.
One of Norway's few curling centres lies in Halden. Halden Curling Center is host to East-Norway 1. division. In addition there is a separate amateur league with two divisions. Several curlers from Halden have won Norwegian championships and competed internationally.
Handball is also a very popular sport in Halden. Although there are no teams in a higher division, Halden has two clubs; Tistedalens Turn og Idretts Forening (TTIF), which plays in the 1.division, and Håndballklubben Halden (HKH), which both have teams for children, youth and adults.
Hiking, canoeing, boating, fishing, and gymnastics are also popular sports amongst Halden's population.
Two highly-esteemed recording studios are located in the Halden region: Hitsville and Athletic Sound. The recording artists that use these studios contribute to an unusually high quality music scene for such a small city. Artists that have recorded in Halden include Motorpsycho, DeLillos, Madrugada, Morten Harket, Paal Flaata, Kurt Nilsen, Margarets, Number Seven Dehli, CC Cowboys, Somebody's Darling and Tom Pacheco. Since rock and roll came to Halden in the 1950s, the city has also fostered nationally well-known local artists and bands including Tor Brynildsen, Saturday Cowboys, Young Lords, Henning Kvitnes, Ole I'Dole, and recently Crash!, Corazón, and Camaros.
The city's intimate theatre hosts frequent plays by national and local theatre groups, and occasionally serves as a concert hall.
Annual festivals in Halden include the Halden Day, a Food and Wooden Boat Festival (July), a Croquet Festival (August), and the Bom-Kræsj-Bang cultural festival (April). In July 2006, The Down on the Farm country/roots festival, which was very popular in the 1980s and early 90s, was resurrected.
Artists born in Halden that are represented in the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo include Thomas Fearnley (1802-1842) and Jacob Mathias Calmeyer (1802-1883). Fearnley is locally exhibited at the manor house Rød Herregård. Other significant artists that lived in Halden, but were not born there, include Johannes Fintoe (1786-1870) and Heinrich August Grosch (1763-1843). Grosch's son, Christian Heinrich Grosch (1801-1865), who moved with his parent to Halden at the age of ten, became an influential architect, whose works include seventy-eight churches (including Immanuels Kirke in Halden), the Bank of Norway, the Oslo Stock Exchange, and the original university buildings in Oslo.