Nordland is a county in Norway, bordering Troms in the north, Nord-Trøndelag in the south, Norrbottens län in Sweden to the east, Västerbottens län to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea) to the west. The county was formerly known as Nordlandene amt. The county administration is in Bodø. The remote Arctic island of Jan Mayen has been administered from Nordland since 1995. In the southern part is Vega, listed on the Unesco World Heritage list. The history of Nordland is a tale about the gifts from the sea: One of the most productive seas in the world providing food all year since ancient times, the same sea creates a climate more moderate than any other place in the arctic; even the bedrock itself enriched by sea living organisms millions of years ago in the geological past.
Nordland is located along the northwestern coast of the Scandinavian peninsula in North Norway. Due to the large distance to the densely populated parts of Europe, this is one of the least polluted areas in Europe. Nordland extends about 500 km from Nord-Trøndelag to Troms. The distance by road from Bindal in the far south of the county to Andenes on the northern tip is roughly 800 km. Nordland has a rugged coastline, with many fjords. From south to north, the main fjords are Bindalsfjord, Vefsnfjord, Ranfjord, Saltfjord-Skjerstadfjord, Folda, Tysfjord, Ofotfjord (the longest) and Andfjord, which is shared with Troms county. The best-known is perhaps Vestfjord, which is not really a fjord, but an open stretch of sea between the Lofoten island group and the mainland. The Raftsundet strait, with its famous branch Trollfjord, is the shortest waterway connecting Lofoten and Vesterålen. The continental shelf is very narrow west of Andenes, nowhere else in Norway is the deep ocean only a few miles from shore. Saltstraumen whirlpool is just southeast of Bodø, and Moskstraumen is located in southern Lofoten.
Steep mountains near the sea and an almost flat lowland area in between the mountains and the sea (Strandflaten, coastal brim) is very typical for the long coastline in Nordland, and Strandflaten often continues out from the shore, the result is numerous islands (skerries), of which Helgeland have thousands; these islands are usually mountainous, but with smaller or larger strandflate areas. The southern part of Norways largest island (apart from Svalbard), Hinnøya is in Nordland, as is the third largest island, Langøya. In the fjords, the coastal brim is much less developed: There might be a more gradual slope, with hills, towards the mountains, or no lowland at all. There are often valleys at the head of fjords (the fjord is an extension of the valley), usually with a river at the centre of the valley. Mo i Rana, Mosjøen and Rognan are situated in such valleys.
Norway's second largest glacier, Svartisen, the second largest lake, Røssvatnet, and the second deepest fjord, Tysfjord (897 m) are all located in Nordland. The largest river (waterflow) is Vefsna which forms the Laksforsen waterfall.
The Saltfjellet mountain range forms a natural border between Helgeland and Salten, and is where the Arctic circle cuts through the county. The western part of this mountain range is dominated by steep mountains and fjord inlets, with glaciers stretching towards the sea, while the eastern part of the mountains is more gentle and rounded, with some forested valleys, and is well suited for hiking. The interior of Nordland, towards the border with Sweden, is dominated by the Kjølen Mountains (Scandinavian Mountains). The highest mountain in Nordland is Oksskolten (1,915 m /6,300 ft) in Okstindan range (), the second highest is Suliskongen (1,907 m) in Fauske, and the third is Storsteinfjellet (1,894 m) in Narvik. Stetind in Tysfjord has been elected to be Norway's national mountain.
Torghatten, in Brønnøy, with its characteristic hole. July 2008.There are many glaciers in the mountains, like Blåmannsisen, Okstindbreen, Sulitjelmaisen and Frostisen - 7 of the 15 largest glaciers in continental Norway are located in Nordland.
Limestone is very common in Nordland, and there are thus many caves () throughout the county, the most famous being Grønligrotta in Rana, the only in Norway with electrical lights installed. There are more caves in Rana than any other area in northern Europe. In August 2006 the Tjoarvekrajgge cave in Sørfold was explored and verifed as the longest cave in Scandinavia, at least 22 km long. There are more than 900 caves in Nordland, one of these have a 70 m high waterfall (DN.no). Marble is found in several locations. Fauske is sometimes referred to as the marble capital, and has exported marble world wide (one customer being the UN building in New York City). Part of the mountains in the Lofoten is amongst the world's oldest, at least 3 billion years old. The youngest rock in Norway is on Andøya, also known for its fossils of dinosaurs and other life forms.