The political administration of Norway takes place at three levels:
Kingdom, covering all of metropolitan Norway including its integral overseas areas of Svalbard and Jan Mayen.
Whereas Svalbard is subject to an international treaty with some limits to Norwegian sovereignty, Jan Mayen shares county governor (fylkesmann) with Nordland county.
Counties, known in Norwegian as fylker (singular fylke), of which there are 19. These derive in part from divisions that preceded Norway's constitution in 1814 and independence in 1905. The counties also function as constituencies during elections for Parliament.
Municipalities, known in Norwegian as kommuner (singular kommune) of which there are 430. In addition the Longyearbyen local authority has some similarieties with a municipality.
As infrastructure for travel and communication has improved over the years, the benefits of consolidation are under ongoing discussion.
The number of municipalities has decreased from 744 in the early 1960s to today's number, and more mergers are planned.
Similarly, the political responsibilities of the counties has been decreased, and there was talk of combining them into 5–9 regions by 2010. These plans were, however, recently abandoned.
Within the government administration, there are a few exceptions to the county subdivision:
The Norwegian court system is divided into six appellate districts.
The state Church of Norway is divided into eleven dioceses.
The 13 constituencies for elections to the Sámi Parliament of Norway, which is a part of the Norwegian state apparatus, do not follow the county borders - sometimes encompassing several counties. They do, however, follow municipality borders.
A county municipality (Norwegian: Fylkeskommune) is the public elected body that is responsible for certain public administrative and service tasks within a county.
Each county is governed as a county municipality, with the exception of Oslo, which is both a municipality and a county municipality.
The main responsibility of the county municipalities are upper secondary schools, dental care, public transport, county roads, culture, cultural heritage management, land use planning and business development.
The main body of each county municipality is the county council (fylkesting), elected by direct election by all legal residents every fourth year. The county councils typically have 30-50 members and meet about six times a year.
They are divided into standing committees and an executive board (fylkesutvalg), that meet considerably more often. Both the council and executive board are led by the Chairman of the County Council or County Mayor (fylkesordfører).
The national government, formally the King, is represented in each county by a county governor (Norwegian: Fylkesmann). This office mainly function as a supervising authority over the conty and municipality administrations and their decisions can be appealed to him.
Municipalities are the atomic unit of local government and are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, some social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads.
Law enforcement and church services are provided at a national level in Norway. The main body of each municipality is the municipality council (kommunestyre), elected by direct election by all legal residents every fourth year.
Three municipalities, Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger, are divided into boroughs. In Oslo and Stavanger, they elect their own political council. They are part of the municipal organization, but have a certain amount of influence in issues regarding health, education and naming.
There are three external dependencies of the Kingdom of Norway - Queen Maud Land, Peter I Island, Bouvet Island.
Municipalities and counties of Norway
In addition, there are a number of informal subdivisions that sometimes also play a political role:
Regions, known in Norway as landsdeler (singular landsdel), of which there are five: Nord-Norge, Østlandet, Sørlandet, Trøndelag, and Vestlandet. Alternately, one may subdivide the country into North, Middle and South: Nord-Norge, Midt-Norge and Sør-Norge.
The second region consists of Trøndelag plus one of the Vestlandet counties, while the rest of the country ends up in the last region.
Districts, typically organized by common language, culture, or geographical barriers. There is no fixed number, as the boundaries are interpreted in subjective ways.
The Sápmi region is the Sámi "homeland" that spans across North Europe. In Norway, Nord-Norge is commonly included, along with the northern and inner parts of Trøndelag, and sometimes the northernmost parts of Østlandet.
While the region has not been defined by any Norwegian law, 12 of the Sámi electoral constituencies are located roughly within the Sápmi region - the southernmost of the twelve being called the South Sámi Area, and the entire region south of this South Norway. Thus, the Sámi Parliament has delimited what is definitely not part of Sápmi.
In cities there are often "city sections", known as bydeler, and even suburban communities such as Bærum are organized into such sections.
Rural communities also have "informal subdivisions", including tettsteder – concentrations of commercial activity similar to villages, and clusters of farms known variously as grender, or by their names.
Norwegian meteorologists often employ subdivisions that are distinct from any other use, typically that reflect observed weather patterns.