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The Lofoten Islands

Located on the northwest coast of Norway, Lofoten stretches out into the North Sea as a string of islands about 200 km long. The area is distinctive with majestic naked mountain formations surrounded by the sea. The principal islands are Austvågøy, Gimsøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy; Moskenesøy; Værøy and Røst. Today, bridges and tunnels connect the largest islands, and the area has around 24,500 inhabitants.

Viewed from the coastline of Norway, Lofoten stretches like a wall of mountains to the southwest in the sea. The Vestfjord is situated between the mainland and this "Lofoten Wall".

The Gulf Stream which runs up along the western coast of Norway, provides a warmer climate than other parts of the world at the same latitude, such as Alaska and Greenland.

Lofoten's Stone Age inhabitants survived by fishing and hunting in an area which provided good living. The area was probably covered by large pine and birch woods at that time. Agriculture developed early, and grain was harvested in Lofoten as early as 4,000 years ago.

During the Iron Age and the Viking period, several chieftains' seats were probably established. Remains from a Viking chieftain's seat have been excavated at Borg on Vestvågøy Island, containing the largest building from the Viking period ever found.

The Lofoten Fisheries gained early importance. As early as the 12th century, King Øystein considered these fisheries to be of such significance that he has a church built as well as fishermen's cabins in Vågan (Austvågøy). Stockfish soon became an important trade-article, and was sold all over Europe. Today, archaeologists have been excavating at Vågar, the only medieval town of the North Calotte.

The winter fisheries for cod are still important for the settlement in Lofoten. Between January and April, fishermen from all over North Norway arrive, because of the Norwegian Arctic cod's spawning in the Vestfjord. As well as fishing agriculture is still significant to some of the areas in Lofoten.

Mayo - Vestvågøy - Mid-Argyll

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This project has been supported by the EU as part of the Culture 2000 programme.