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Aerial view of Flakstad in the Lofoton Islands, Norway

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Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway. Lofoten has distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches, and untouched lands. There are two towns, Svolvær and Leknes – the latter is approximately 169 km (105 mi) north of the Arctic Circle and approximately 2,420 km (1,500 mi) away from the North Pole. The archipelago experiences one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude.

Lofoten (Old Norse: Lófótr) was the original name of the island Vestvågøya. The first element is (i.e., “lynx”) and the last element is derived from Norse fótr (i.e., “foot”), as the shape of the island must have been compared with that of a lynx’s foot. (The old name of the neighboring island Flakstadøya was Vargfót, “wolf’s foot”, from vargr “wolf”.) Alternatively, it could derive from the word for light in reference to the presence of Aurora Borealis as the word for light itself is the root of the Old Norse word for lynx lóa, although the earliest evidence suggests Lófótr was first the name of the island of Vestvågøy and only later becoming the name of the chain of islands. Most parsimonious is the analogy with Aurora Borealis, as the word fótr is typically not used to describe the feet of beasts of prey, instead using the word hrammr (paw) or löpp (also paw) for animals such as cats or dogs. Fótr can be used to describe legs, and as such, light leg represents the most plausible etymology taking into account the geography of the archipelago, eventually morphing to describe only the island of Vestvågøy before once again describing the island chain from its main island.

Another name one might come across is “Lofotveggen” or the Lofoten wall. The archipelago looks like a closed wall when seen from elevated points around Bodø or when arriving from the sea, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, and 800–1,000 meters (2,600–3,300 feet) high.

“There is evidence of human settlement extending back at least 11,000 years in Lofoten, and the earliest archaeological sites … are only about 5,500 years old, at the transition from the early to late Stone Age.” Iron Age agriculture, livestock, and significant human habitation can be traced back to c. 250 BC. Wikipedia

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An image of Lofoten Islands, Norway

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