The name Sogn og Fjordane was created in 1919. The first element is the name of the region Sogn. The last element is the plural form of fjord – referring to the two regions Nordfjord and Sunnfjord.
Until 1919 the name of the county was Nordre Bergenhus amt – with the meaning ‚(the) northern (part of) Bergenhus amt‘. (The old Bergenhus amt, created in 1662, was divided in 1763.)
It is mainly a rural area with scattered population. It includes the biggest glacier in mainland Norway, Jostedalsbreen, and the deepest lake, Hornindalsvatnet. There are many famous waterfalls located in the area, including Ramnefjellsfossen (previously called Utigardfossen), the tallest in Norway, and third tallest in the World; Vettisfossen, one of Norway’s highest waterfalls, with a vertical drop of 275 m, is located in the Jotunheim mountains. Cruise ships visit the district all summer, because of the unique vistas of high mountains and deep blue fjords.
Although Sogn og Fjordane has some industry, predominantly hydroelectricity and aluminium, it is predominantly agricultural. The terrain changes quite rapidly with mostly smaller mountains on the coastline, gradually increasing to mountains reaching almost 8000 feet. Because of the steep rise in elevation, and fjords cutting through the terrain, the amount of precipitation is very high. Low pressure systems come in from the west and meet the mountains (a phenomenon known as orographic lifting) and cause rain and snowfall. Sogn og Fjordane is also home to the Urnes stave church, which is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
The county is conventionally divided into traditional districts. These are Sogn, Sunnfjord and Nordfjord. Sogn surrounds Sognefjorden. Its length, from Solund on the offshore island of Sula in the North Sea to Skjolden, at the head of its longest branch, the Lustrafjorden, is 204 km.