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Vestfold County

Vestfold County has a central position on the eastern coastline, south of the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Tønsberg is the regional capital and also one of Norway’s oldest cities. Vestfold was historically an important place for trade and commerce and the footsteps of the Vikings are still visible in the landscapes. Seafaring and fishing have always been important activities in the areas.

Despite being the smallest Norwegian county in size with 2.216 square kilometres, it is the third most densely populated with 108 person/km². The county consists of 14 municipalities with 8 small and medium sized cities. The coastline is 980 kilometres long with more than 1000 islands, yet 80% of the population lives in the eastern coastal areas. The county’s northern cities are well connected to the capital, but a large part of the county is more peripheral, playing the role of Oslo’s “backyard”. Vestfold is well connected, both at national and international level by train, bus, and local and national airports.

Vestfold County has a population of 245 000 inhabitants, maintaining an increasing tendency nowadays, with 41 239 inhabitants in Tønsberg and 44 929 in Sandefjord. 12,2% of the county’s population belongs to an ethnic minority and the ethnic configuration is comprised of: Europeans (without Turkey) - 7,2%, Asians (with Turkey) - 3,5%, South/Central Americans - 3%, North Americans - 2 % and Africans - 1,1 %.

The unemployment rate is 4,1%, and in addition, 11,2% of the population is permanently outside the work force due to physical and/or mental health issues (compared to the 9,4% national average).

The economy has been in decline since 2008 and the crisis in the Norwegian oil and gas industry is contributing to further decline. The key economic sectors in employment are agriculture, industry, service and public sector. Besides, there is a big tourism industry.

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