The Arendal Region consists of the coastal municipalities Arendal, Tvedestrand and Risør, and the inland municipalities of Åmli and Vegårshei. The town of Arendal is the administrative centre of Aust-Agder county, and belongs to the geographical region of Sørlandet.
The coastal areas offer skerries, saltwater and idyllic small towns and villages. The inland areas are a short distance from the sea, and the woods and the moors are far from densely populated.
The town of Arendal
The largest town in the region is Arendal, and the town began to develop in the 1500s. At the time it had no formal town status, it was not until 1735 that Arendal was granted a full town charter.
Arendal was a loading-place for timber from the 1400s, and the area was first known in Europe by the name of the outport Merdø, which was frequented by the many ships crossing the Skagerrak.
Shipping, shipbuilding and timber trade, as well as mining and ironworks, were important branches of industry in this area for many centuries. Frequent contacts with the world abroad put their mark on the local culture and traditions. In 1880, Arendal was the country's biggest port in terms of tonnage handled.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Arendal was recognised as a major shipping centre with many wealthy shipowners. And in 1939 it had the fourth largest Norwegian tanker fleet; only Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger were larger.
Today the area has small boat manufacturing, mechanical industry, electronics industry, as well as one of the world's largest silicon carbide refining plants. About 40 per cent of the population work in the service sector.
Area: 270 square kilometres
Population: 39,826 (2004)
Area: 218 square kilometres
Population: 5,887 (2004)
Area: 356 square kilometres
Population: 1,856 (2004)
Area: 1,131 square kilometres
Population: 1,859 (2004)