Monday, September 22, 2008

Hjelmeland Municipality

According to Wikipidia:

Hjelmeland is a municipality in the county of Rogaland, Norway.

Hjelmeland was established as a municipality January 1, 1838. Two other municipalities were later separated from it: Årdal (1849) and Fister (1884) - but these were both again merged with Hjelmeland January 1, 1965.

Hjelmeland is known for their fruit (apples, pears, plums, cherries and strawberries) and fish production. Salmon has been important for the fish industry in Hjelmeland for a couple of decades, but white fish such as cod and halibut has increased its value in the latter years.

Hjelmeland is a very beautiful commune, with deep fjords, mountains, archipelago and good opportunities for outdoor activities, like fishing and mountain-trekking,

Due to the want and need to develop the community, Hjelmeland has laid large areas open to industry. It is, however, sad to see that the industry is located in some of the prettiest parts of the commune, like Viganeset for instance. The crude-iron and stone industry could have been placed in much more remote parts of the commune and not like it is now, at the very entrance of it. What tourists see when they enter Hjelmeland by boat is an ugly and noisy industry that looks more like a scrapyard than anything else. Like many small places in Norway, the municipal authorities are so keen on making money for the local community that they rarely are able to see the existing beauty of their own area, and if they could, they thus would be able to make money in other ways, like tourism. The same goes for the fish industry located at Hundsnes where the old steamer used to visit twice a day delivering passengers and goods. Two nice old warehouses were torn down in order to accommodate for the fishing industry which in place erected some ugly concrete warehouses for the salmon production.

If you trust the statistics, Hjelmeland is one of the best places to live in the world! According to The Human Development Report (UN), Norway is the best country to live in, and Hjelmeland been among the top three municipalities in Norwegian statistics the recent years.

The name

The municipality (originally the parish) is named after the farm Hjelmeland (Norse Hjalmaland), since the first church was built there. The first element is the plural genitive case of hjalmr m 'helmet' - and this is referring to two heights behind the farm, which have the form of two helmets. The last element is land n 'land, farm'.

Coat-of-arms

The coat-of-arms is from modern times (1984). It shows a plait of straw, to symbolize fellowship and solidarity. (And also the production of jærstoler, which has long traditions in the municipality.)

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