Sørlandet ("the south land") is the southernmost part of Norway, and consists of the two counties of Aust- and Vest-Agder. Sørlandet stretches from the coastal areas with its many rocky islands and skerries also known as the Norwegian riviera via an inland belt with forests, lakes and rivers, many of them excellent salmon rivers, to the mountains of Setesdal, the southernmost part of the Hardangervidda and a popular hiking and skiing region.
Ever since the great glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago and left behind a small strip of land, people have lived in southern Norway. There are traces of Stone Age settlements from Kristiansand to Lista, with one of the most famous places being the Penne area at Lista. Here you find rock carvings, as well as ancient ruins and burial mounds from the Iron Age.
One of many characteristic features of the southern coast is the "white string of pearls", the many towns, villages and outposts dotted along the coastline, with their white-painted houses and narrow streets.
The towns had a prosperous period during the sailing ship era in the 1800s. The islands furthest out at sea and along the ship route were popular outposts where the fishermen, the sailors and the harbour pilots lived. The outposts provided safe havens for the ships that sailed to and from Norway with goods.Timber and salmon were the main export articles of the region. Today these outposts are mainly populated with holiday guests during the summer months, and are idyllic reminders of life in the old days.
Today Sørlandet is Norway's leading exporter of processed goods, with future-oriented businesses based on supplying the oil and gas sector, the solar cell industry, wind turbine industry, car industry, and high-tech processing of metals.
Along the coast you can find traces of the coastal culture; the many lighthouses, coastal forts, fishing villages and boat wharfs. In the Setesdal Valley the cultural heritage includes folklore, folk music and silverware.
Sørlandet is also home to around 100 festivals each year, most of which take place during the summer months.
The coast of Sørlandet has a typical coastal climate, with relatively mild climate year round. Sørlandet is the region in Norway with most summer days during the year. In Setesdal and Sirdal the altitude ensures long and stable winters, perfect for winter activities.