Lofoten is the archipelago to the west in the ocean, north of the Arctic Circle. The principal islands are Austvågøy, Gimsøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy, Moskenesøy, Værøy and Røst. The southernmost part of Norway's largest island, Hinnøy, is also in Lofoten.
The total land area amounts to 1,227 square kilometres. The road distance is almost 170 kilometres from Fiskebøl near Vesterålen in the north to Å in the south, where the E10 ends. This road is a national tourist route. From Lofotodden, at the south end of Moskenesøy, the air distance is more than 60 kilometres to Skomvær, the southernmost point in Lofoten.
Climate and light
Due to the warm Gulf Stream, Lofoten has a much milder climate than other parts of the world at the same latitude, such as Alaska and Greenland. The coastal climate in Lofoten makes the winters mild and the summers relatively cool.
- January and February are the coldest months, with an average temperature of -1°C.
- July and August are warmest with an average temperature of 12°C.
- May and June are the driest months, with an average 40 millimetres of rainfall.
From approximately 27 May to 17 July you can experience the midnight sun in Lofoten. Whilst the polar nights last from approximately 6 December to 6 January.
The first people came to Lofoten about 6,000 years ago. Lofoten's Stone Age inhabitants survived on fishing and hunting in an area which provided good living. All of Lofoten was covered by large pine and birch woods at that time. There were deer, bear, wild reindeer, lynx and beaver, and the sea was full of fish, seals and whales.
Agriculture developed early, and grain was harvested in Lofoten as early as 4,000 years ago. The Viking Era saw the emergence of several large chieftain seats. Tofts from a Viking chieftain seat have been found at Borg on Vestvågøy Island, containing the largest Viking banquet hall ever found in any country. The building was 8.5 metres wide and as much as 83 metres long. A reconstruction of the building has been raised, and the Lofotr Viking Museum at Borg opened in June 1995.
The Lofoten Fisheries gained importance early. King Øystein considered these fisheries to be of such significance that he, as early as 1103, built a church in Vågan, which at that time was the base of the Lofoten Fisheries.
In about 1120, he also built the first fishermen's cabins ever mentioned in the Saga. Stockfish, produced from spawning cod, was the staple diet, and it was sold to almost all of Europe. Italy is still the most important market for high quality stockfish from Lofoten. Near Kabelvåg is the location of Vågar, the only medieval town of the North Calotte.