Voss

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is a municipality and a traditional district in Hordaland county, Norway. The administrative center of the municipality is the village of Vossevangen. Other villages include Bolstadøyri, Borstrondi, Evanger, Kvitheim, Mjølfjell, Oppheim, Stalheim, and Vinje.

The 1,806-square-kilometre (697 sq mi) municipality is the 38th largest by area in Norway. Voss is the 81st most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 14,514. The municipality's population density is 8.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (22/sq mi) and its population has increased by 5.3% over the last decade. [21]

Municipal history

Image
View of the Skulestadmo area

The parish of Voss was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). On 1 January 1867, a small area in northern Voss (population: 28) was transferred to the municipality of Hosanger. On 1 January 1868, the northern district of the municipality (population: 2,009) was separated to form the new municipality of Vossestrand. This left 7,592 residents in Voss. On 21 August 1868, an unpopulated area of northern Voss was transferred to Vossestrand. Then, on 1 January 1885, the western district of Voss (population: 2,045) was separated to form the new municipality of Evanger. This left Voss with 5,403 residents.

During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee. On 1 January 1964, the municipality of Voss (population: 10,575), the municipality of Vossestrand (population: 1,573), and most of the municipality of Evanger (population: 1,075) were all merged into a new, larger municipality of Voss. (The rest of Evanger was merged into the new municipality of Vaksdal.) [3]

On 1 January 2020, the neighboring municipality of Granvin will be merged into Voss, creating a larger municipality that will also be called Voss. [22]

Name

The Old Norse form of the name was Vǫrs, and this might have been the old name of lake Vangsvatnet. If this is the case, the name probably is derived from the word vǫrr which means "wave" or "sea". (-s is a common suffix in old Norwegian place names.) [4]

Coat-of-arms

The coat-of-arms is from modern times. They were granted on 8 July 1977. They show a gray deer on a red background. The arms are based on the seal of Peter who was the owner of the farm Finne in Voss, which was one of the largest farms in Western Norway during the Middle Ages. He used a silver deer on a red background as his personal coat-of-arms in 1303. His son also used a deer on his seals as did most of their relatives until 1460. The shape and position of the deer changed between the different persons, but it always was the main figure. [5]

Churches

The Church of Norway has six parishes (sokn) within the municipality of Voss. It is part of the Hardanger og Voss deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.

Churches in Voss
Parish (sokn) Church name Location Year built
Evanger Evanger Church Evanger 1851
Oppheim Oppheim Church Oppheim 1871
Raundalen Raundalen Church Raundalen 1921
Vinje Vinje Church Vinje 1871
Voss Voss Church Vossevangen 1277

History

Image
View of Voss Church

After the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940, Voss was the main point of mobilisation for the Norwegian Army in the west, since the city of Bergen had already fallen on 9 April. From Bergen and from the Hardangerfjord, the Nazis were met with stiff Norwegian resistance. In Hardanger, some of the Germans climbed up the mountains from Ålvik while the rest went through Granvin. To break down this resistance, the town of Voss was bombed by the Luftwaffe on 23 and April 24, and the surrounding countryside on April 25. Nine people lost their lives in the bombing, which completely destroyed the old wood-built town centre. On 26 April, the German forces entered the town, which remained occupied until 8 May 1945.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1951 9,433
1960 10,275 +8.9%
1970 13,765 +34.0%
1980 14,163 +2.9%
1990 14,035 −0.9%
2000 13,726 −2.2%
2010 13,902 +1.3%
2017 14,514 +4.4%
Source: .

In 1964, the municipality was enlarged with the incorporation of neighbouring municipalities of Vossestrand and Evanger, which had up until then been separate municipalities within the traditional district also known as Voss.

Government

All municipalities in Norway, including Voss, 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.

Municipal council

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Voss is made up of 43 representatives that are elected to four year terms. Currently, the party breakdown is as follows: [23]

Voss Kommunestyre 2015–2019
Party Name Name in Norwegian Number of representatives
Labour Party Arbeiderpartiet 16
Progress Party Framstegspartiet 2
Conservative Party Høgre 6
Christian Democratic Party Kristelig Folkeparti 2
Green Party Miljøpartiet Dei Grøne 2
Red Party Raudt 1
Centre Party Senterpartiet 9
Socialist Left Party Sosialistisk Venstreparti 2
Liberal Party Venstre 3
Total number of members: 43

Geography & Climate

Voss is situated at the innermost part of the Bolstadsfjorden and it includes the valleys that head inland from there. The municipality includes several large lakes: Evangervatnet, Hamlagrøvatnet, Lønavatnet, Oppheimsvatnet, Torfinnsvatnet, and Vangsvatnet. In the north, Voss municipality reaches to the Nærøydalen valley which leads up to the famous Nærøyfjorden. The Stalheimsfossen waterfall near the village of Stalheim sits just above that valley. The Raundalen valley in the east is the main route for the Bergansbanen railway line which connects eastern and western Norway.

Climate data for Voss, Norway
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −0.7 (30.7) 0.3 (32.5) 4.5 (40.1) 8.7 (47.7) 15.0 (59) 19.0 (66.2) 19.8 (67.6) 19.0 (66.2) 13.9 (57) 9.3 (48.7) 3.2 (37.8) 0.6 (33.1) 9.38 (48.88)
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.5 (23.9) −3.8 (25.2) 0.2 (32.4) 3.9 (39) 9.3 (48.7) 13.2 (55.8) 14.2 (57.6) 13.4 (56.1) 9.4 (48.9) 5.9 (42.6) 0.3 (32.5) −3.0 (26.6) 4.87 (40.78)
Average low °C (°F) −7.0 (19.4) −7.2 (19) −3.4 (25.9) −0.4 (31.3) 4.0 (39.2) 7.9 (46.2) 9.8 (49.6) 9.2 (48.6) 6.0 (42.8) 2.8 (37) −2.1 (28.2) −5.5 (22.1) 1.18 (34.11)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 123 (4.84) 89 (3.5) 97 (3.82) 49 (1.93) 56 (2.2) 71 (2.8) 78 (3.07) 95 (3.74) 160 (6.3) 161 (6.34) 150 (5.91) 151 (5.94) 1,280 (50.39)
Average precipitation days 15.5 10.0 11.5 9.1 10.1 10.7 12.1 13.0 16.5 17.5 16.1 16.4 158.5
Source: Weatherbase.com [7]

Tourism

Image
A girl of Voss, c. 1900
Image
Fire in Voss after April 1940 bombing. The Voss church is visible at far left.
Image
Farm buildings at the Voss Museum.

Voss sits in a location surrounded by snow-capped mountains, forests, lakes and fast flowing white water rivers. This has led to its development as a notable center of skiing, water sports, skydiving, paragliding and other adventure sports. The area hosts the Ekstremsportveko (Extreme Sports Week) every year in the last week of June, which is regarded as the world's premier extreme sports festival. Bømoen, the local airstrip, is home to Skydive Voss, one of the largest dropzones in Norway, as well as a gliding club. The rivers provide various levels of white water, attracting kayaking, rafting and river boarding. Kite surfing and Para-bungee may be seen on lake Vangsvatnet. The ski area, to the north of the town, is accessible via a cable car, Hangursbanen from the town. There is also chair lift access from Bavallen, a short distance to the northeast of Voss.

The town's proximity to the Sognefjord and its position between Bergen and Flåm on the scenic railway have made it popular with tourists. One of the sights on the road to Flåm is the waterfall Tvindefossen.

The Voss Museum displays several old farmsteads, including the larger than life stone statue of Lars O. Kindem. Next to the open-air part, there is a museum building with over 20,000 items from traditional farm life.

Birdlife

Voss has a wide range of habitats, everything from high barren mountains to rich fertile valleys. The large areas of coniferous forests provide food and shelter for a whole host of species, while the many wetland areas are regarded as some of the most interesting birding habitats in the county. There is a bird reserve at Lønaøyane with marked paths and a tower hide. Over 155 species have been seen at this locality. Many are common Scandinavian species, but the area has also produced the unexpected like the great egret, European hobby, and woodlark.

Notable residents

Artists

Athletes

Image
Panoramic view of Voss in early spring.

Olympic champions

Voss is a winter sports center and has in recent times been the home of many world-class athletes in several winter sports, most prominently biathlon, but also alpine skiing, nordic skiing and freestyle skiing. In all, athletes from Voss have won 6 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 7 bronze medals at winter Olympic games. Athletes from Voss have been present, representing Norway, at every winter Olympic games except one since 1948 Winter Olympics, the exception being 1972.

Politicians

  • Lars Leiro, former Transport Minister
  • Jon Lilletun (1945-2006), Minister in the Ministry of Education and Research from 1997-2001 (KrF)

Others

Norwegian-Americans

Like the rest of Western Norway, Voss saw large-scale emigration, particularly to the United States, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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