Fjord Norway has its name from the many beautiful fjords. But what exactly is a fjord? And how were they created?
The Geirangerfjord, Møre og Romsdal.
Photo: Per Eide
A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea or lakedrain, with steep
land on three sides. The opening toward the sea is called the mouth of
the fjord, and is often shallow. The fjord's inner part is called the
sea bottom. If the geological formation is wider than it is long, it is
not a fjord. Then it is a bay or cove.
The fjords were formed by the giant glacier tongues that through
several ice ages have shaped the landscape. A fjord is thus a U-shaped
undersea valley, and on the west coast, this valley is often surrounded
by dramatic mountain scenery.
In front of the glacier arm, there was deposited a moraine of gravel
and sand that formed an underwater barrier, often called "sea
thresholds" or "ra". Places where the fjord is shallow.
This shallow threshold in the mouth of the fjord, is the reason that
fjords often are quieter than the open sea. Thus fjords are often
Fjord is one of the few Norwegian words that have become
international, especially in English where it is used directly. Fjord
comes from the Norse fjǫrðr. This stems, in turn, from the prehistoric
Indo-European word * prtús, derived from * por* or * per, meaning "go",
"pass" or "to put over on the other side."
Fjord in its basic meaning "where one fares through", then has the
same origin that the word "fare" (travel). The verb "fare" and the noun
"ferry", has the same origin.
The longest fjord in the world is Scoresby Sund in Greenland (350
km), but the Western Norway region (Fjord Norway) boasts the next two
spots on the list, with the Sognefjord (203 km), and the Hardanger Fjord
What unfolds as you travel Fjord Norway, is a fantastic story of
water, with many chapters. The fjords were carved by a massive sheet of
ice up to three kilometres thick that covered Northern Europe in a
succession of ice ages. As you peer up at the towering mountains
surrounding the Nærøyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world, you can
appreciate the immense power of those forces of nature.
Tour suggestions: The classic fjord route and A tour of Word Heritage Sites
Experience the glaciers