Counties in the Mix Posted by on Feb 28, 2020 in Geography, History

Heisann og hoppsann!1”Heisann og hoppsann!” is a kind of nonsense greeting to get somebody’s attention in a ”fresh” way. It might be comparable to ”howdy!” or ”yo!” (in a rap song), but it’s maybe a little bit more childish. The Xmas song Musevisa contains the lyrics ”Heisann og hoppsann og fallerallera!” The words don’t really ”mean” anything, but ”hei” without the ending is hi; ”hopp” is jump; ”falle” is to fall. When Norwegians woke up after this year’s nyttårsfeiring (New Year celebrations), the map of the country had changed. (No, it wasn’t because of a collective champagne bakrus – hangover…) In the beginning of 2020, the number of Norwegian fylker (”counties”) officially went from 18 to 11, and a lot of people suddenly found themselves in a new political reality. Here’s an update for all readers. 🙂

Norske menn i hus og hytte… (Norwegian men in house and cabin…) So goes a famous line of Ja, vi elsker, the Norwegian national anthem. (Yes, the name of that song indeed means ”Yes we love”!) Of course, very few Norwegians – men or women –actually live hele året (the whole year) in their hytter… Most live in a hus in a bygd (”village”) or by (town, city), in a kommune [comMOONeh] (municipality), in a fylke

Here’s a map of fylkene in 2019:

(Image courtesy of Júlio Reis and João David Tereso at Wikimedia Commons, CC License.)

(If you check Kari’s old article about Norwegian counties, you’ll see that Trøndelag used to be split in a Northern (Nord-) and a Southern (Sør-) part – they were joined in 2018, making the number of fylker drop from 19 to 18.)

And whoa! here’s a map of the great New Year makeover:

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, no license.)

Can you spot sammenslåingene (the ”mergers”)?

Hordaland + Sogn og Fjordane = Vestland (Westland)

Aust-Agder + Vest-Agder = Agder

Vestfold + Telemark = Vestfold og Telemark

Oppland + Hedmark = Innlandet (The Inland)

Buskerud + Akershus + Østfold = Viken (The Cove)

Troms + Finnmark = Troms og Finnmark

Of course, it always takes some time to get used to a forandring (change), and as far as I can understand it from people and media in Norway, reactions to the new (and bigger) fylker have been mixed. One thing that bothers me personally is the name Vestland, because it is almost identical to Vestlandet – the larger region of Western Norway! 🙂

On the other hand, I love the name Viken, which has roots in the Viking Age. According to one explanation I heard, the word viking itself originally meant a pirate who was hiding in a … vik with his ship, ready to attack!

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Anders P. pedersen:

    Maybe I missed it in a previous post, but I am not sure what “Heisann og hoppsann!“ translates to in American English. The translation apps give a weird variety of translations.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Anders P. pedersen @Anders Sorry for not adding a translation. ”Heisann og hoppsann!” is a kind of fresh greeting, like ”howdy y’all”. I’ll add a footnote.