Gaular kommune
View of the Brekkefossen waterfall
View of the Brekkefossen waterfall
Official logo of Gaular kommune
Sogn og Fjordane within
Gaular within Sogn og Fjordane
Gaular within Sogn og Fjordane
Coordinates: 61°20′02″N 05°47′20″E / 61.33389°N 5.78889°E / 61.33389; 5.78889Coordinates: 61°20′02″N 05°47′20″E / 61.33389°N 5.78889°E / 61.33389; 5.78889
CountySogn og Fjordane
Established1 Jan 1838
Administrative centreSande
 • Mayor (2011)Mathias Råheim (H)
 • Total581.82 km2 (224.64 sq mi)
 • Land539.57 km2 (208.33 sq mi)
 • Water42.25 km2 (16.31 sq mi)  7.3%
Area rank190 in Norway
 • Total3,027
 • Rank263 in Norway
 • Density5.5/km2 (14/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years)
Demonym(s)Gaulværing [1]
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNO-1430
Official language formNynorsk [2]

Gaular is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is located in the traditional district of Sunnfjord. The administrative centre is the village of Sande. Other villages in the municipality include Bygstad, Hestad, and Vik. Gaular is sometimes referred to as Fosselandet (the land of the waterfalls) because it is home to 28 large and small waterfalls. The municipality is centered on the river Gaula. The Viksdalen valley is located in Gaular.

The 582-square-kilometre (225 sq mi) municipality is the 190th largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Gaular is the 263rd most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 3,027. The municipality's population density is 5.7 inhabitants per square kilometre (15/sq mi) and its population has increased by 9.8% over the last decade.[3][4]

In 2016, the chief of police for Vestlandet formally suggested a reconfiguration of police districts and stations. He proposed that the police station in Gaular be closed.[5]

General information[edit]

Hestad chapel
An old barn at Oppedal

The parish of Indre Holmedal was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt law). The original municipality was identical to the Indre Holmedal parish (prestegjeld) which included the sub-parishes (sokn) of Bygstad, Sande, and Vik. In 1912, the name of the municipality was changed to Gaular.[6] On 1 January 1990, parts of the Hestad area (west of Sunde-Klepp, west of Bygstad) were transferred from Fjaler to Gaular.[7]

On 1 January 2020, the neighboring municipalities of Gaular, Førde, Naustdal, and Jølster are scheduled to merge into Sunnfjord Municipality.[8]


The name (Old Norse: Gaular) is derived from the name of the river Gaula. The old name of the area was revived in 1912, prior to that the name of the municipality was Indre Holmedal, meaning the inner part of Holmedal.[9]

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms was granted on 24 April 1992. The arms are green with a wavy silver line running straight up and down across the arms. It represents the river Gaula which passes through the forested municipality.[10]


The Church of Norway has one parish (sokn) within the municipality of Gaular. It is part of the Sunnfjord prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.[11]

Churches in Gaular
Parish (sokn) Church name Location of the church Year built
Gaular Bygstad Church Bygstad 1845
Sande Church Sande 1864
Hestad Chapel Hestad 1805
Viksdalen Church Vik 1848


Historical population
Source: Statistics Norway. The population has decreased mainly because of emigration to Bergen and the United States.

All municipalities in Norway, including Gaular, are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, unemployment and other social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads. The municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor.[12] The municipality falls under the Sogn og Fjordane District Court and the Gulating Court of Appeal.

Municipal council[edit]

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Gaular is made up of 21 representatives that are elected to four year terms. The party breakdown of the final municipal council was as follows:

Gaular Kommunestyre 2016–2019 [13]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)3
 Conservative Party (Høgre)7
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristeleg Folkeparti)2
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)8
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)1
Total number of members:21
Gaular Kommunestyre 2012–2015 [14]  
Party Name (in Norwegian) Number of
 Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)3
 Conservative Party (Høgre)7
 Christian Democratic Party (Kristeleg Folkeparti)3
 Centre Party (Senterpartiet)6
 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)1
 Liberal Party (Venstre)1
Total number of members:21


The mayor (ordførar) of a municipality in Norway is a representative of the majority party of the municipal council who is elected to lead the council. Mathias Råheim of the Conservative Party was elected mayor for the 2011-2015 term and he was re-elected to the 2015-2019 term as well.[15]


Gaula River
Storehesten (Kvamshesten) is a mountain in the north west of Gaular

Gaular is located in the central part of Sogn og Fjordane county, in the Sunnfjord region. It is bordered to the north by the municipalities of Askvoll and Førde, to the east by Balestrand, to the south by Høyanger, and to the west by Fjaler.

The Gaula River flows west through the municipality and empties into the Dalsfjorden near the village of Bygstad. There are several large lakes that are part of the river Gaula including the lakes Haukedalsvatnet and Viksdalsvatnet. The river begins in the Gaularfjellet mountains to the east of the municipality.


The European route E39 highway runs through the centre of Sande south to the city of Bergen, a distance of 150 kilometres (93 mi) (with a ferry between the villages of Lavik and Oppedal across the Sognefjorden). The Norwegian County Road 13 runs through the eastern part of the municipality. Førde Airport, Bringeland (ENBL) is located at Bringelandsåsen in Gaular municipality.


The Salmon Stairs[edit]

William T. Potts from Coreen Castle in Ireland initiated the building of the salmon stairs (a type of fish ladder), which were completed in 1871, in return for an agreement made with the farmers that had 25 years of free fishing. The salmon stairs at Osen in Bygstad are the oldest in the world. The stairs consist of 17 pools/stages and has height of around 11 metres (36 ft). It is very effective as the salmon are forced to make their way up the stair construction, due to the current below the falls.[16]

National Tourist Road[edit]

Fylkesvei 13 (Fv13) is one of 18 national tourist roads in Norway because of the nearby waterfalls. From near the town of Førde, drivers start on a sightseeing journey with cultural attractions that date from the 19th century to the present day's city environment. The districts of Holsen and Haukedalen are typical of Western Norwegian farming communities that have created a picturesque cultivated landscape.

Rørvik Mountain is on the road and it has fascinating stone walls and a marvellous view over the Haukedalen valley. Along Råheimsdalen and Eldalen to the Gaularfjellet mountains, you will see a marvellous waterfall landscape that has been landscaped with paths for visitors. From the top of Gaularfjellet mountains, hairpin bends wind down to the Vetlefjorden, an arm of the Sognefjorden. The breathtaking contrasts of steep mountainsides, winding roads, and waterfalls are characteristic of Western Norway's exceptional scenery. [16]


  1. ^ "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet.
  2. ^ "Forskrift om målvedtak i kommunar og fylkeskommunar" (in Norwegian).
  3. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå (2018). "Table: 06913: Population 1 January and population changes during the calendar year (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  4. ^ Statistisk sentralbyrå. "09280: Area of land and fresh water (km²) (M)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  5. ^ Fjelltveit, Ingvild; Raunholm, Per Vidar (2016-12-20). "Foreslår å legge ned 17 lensmannskontor i Vest politidistrikt". NRK Hordaland (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  6. ^ Natvik, Oddvar (9 February 2005). "Some historical data on the 26 Kommunes". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
  7. ^ Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  8. ^ "Ny kommune i Indre Sunnfjord" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  9. ^ Rygh, Oluf (1919). Norske gaardnavne: Nordre Bergenhus amt (in Norwegian) (12 ed.). Kristiania, Norge: W. C. Fabritius & sønners bogtrikkeri. p. 287.
  10. ^ "Civic heraldry of Norway - Norske Kommunevåpen". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  11. ^ "Kyrkjeleg fellesråd" (in Norwegian). Gaular kommune. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  12. ^ Hansen, Tore, ed. (2016-05-12). "kommunestyre". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  13. ^ "Table: 04813: Members of the local councils, by party/electoral list at the Municipal Council election (M)" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  14. ^ "Tall for Norge: Kommunestyrevalg 2011 - Sogn og Fjordane". Valg Direktoratet. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  15. ^ Fossheim, Eldgrim (17 June 2007). "Gaular" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Førde Municipality in Norway". Retrieved 11 August 2008.

External links[edit]