Østfold County is within commuting distance southeast of Oslo, bordering Sweden in the east, and with the Oslofjord coastline to the south and west. It has a growing population of 278,000 people. There are 18 municipalities, including 6 cities, within its administration. One of the smallest counties in Norway, it covers only 1.3% of the country, but has 3,5% of the productive forests, 7,4% of the farmland and 19% of grain production. Known as ‘the heartland of Scandinavia’, its historic buildings and natural landscape and islands make it an attractive area for tourists.
The county’s strategic location between Oslo and Sweden means that 80% of freight bound for export passes through it. Thanks to its long stretch of coastline, shipping has always played a central role. Mild winters and ice-free conditions in the harbours of its seven ports ensure that sea traffic can move all year round. The county hosts important industries and research centres for ITC and energy technology, amounting to around 6.6% of Norway’s industrial output. Traditional sectors such as timber conversion and food production are the driving force of the Østfold economy.
The region is experiencing structural changes due to the evolution of its traditional industry and a rising population. A population boom is forecast for the Oslo metropolitan area, which currently has 1.5 million inhabitants. This is likely to affect the development of Østfold County, due to its proximity to Oslo. At least 100,000 more people are expected to move to the county in the next 40 years, many of whom are likely to be migrants from southern and eastern Europe.
Contacts / USEAct Project coordinator
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