Bergen, historically Bjørgvin, is a city and municipality in Hordaland on the west coast of Norway. , the municipality's population was 280,216, and the Bergen metropolitan region has about 420,000 inhabitants. Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway. The municipality covers 465 km2 and is on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. The city centre and northern neighbourhoods are on Byfjorden, 'the city fjord', and the city is surrounded by mountains; Bergen is known as the 'city of seven mountains'. Many of the extra-municipal suburbs are on islands. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland, and consists of eight boroughs: Arna, Bergenhus, Fana, Fyllingsdalen, Laksevåg, Ytrebygda, Årstad, and Åsane.
Trading in Bergen may have started as early as the 1020s. According to tradition, the city was founded in 1070 by king Olav Kyrre and was named Bjørgvin, 'the green meadow among the mountains'. It served as Norway's capital in the 13th century, and from the end of the 13th century became a bureau city of the Hanseatic League. Until 1789, Bergen enjoyed exclusive rights to mediate trade between Northern Norway and abroad and it was the largest city in Norway until the 1830s when it was overtaken by the capital, Christiania (now known as Oslo). What remains of the quays, Bryggen, is a World Heritage Site. The city was hit by numerous fires over the years. The Bergen School of Meteorology was developed at the Geophysical Institute starting in 1917, the Norwegian School of Economics was founded in 1936, and the University of Bergen in 1946. From 1831 to 1972, Bergen was its own county. In 1972 the municipality absorbed four surrounding municipalities and became a part of Hordaland county.
The city is an international center for aquaculture, shipping, the offshore petroleum industry and subsea technology, and a national centre for higher education, media, tourism and finance. Bergen Port is Norway's busiest in terms of both freight and passengers, with over 300 cruise ship calls a year bringing nearly a half a million passengers to Bergen, a number that has doubled in 10 years. Almost half of the passengers are German or British. The city's main football team is SK Brann and a unique tradition of the city is the buekorps. Natives speak a distinct dialect, known as 'Bergensk'. The city features Bergen Airport, Flesland and Bergen Light Rail, and is the terminus of the Bergen Line. Four large bridges connect Bergen to its suburban municipalities.
Bergen has a mild winter climate, though with a lot of precipitation. From December to March, Bergen can be, in rare cases, up to 30°C warmer than Oslo, even though both cities are at about 60° North. The Gulf Stream keeps the sea relatively warm, considering the latitude, and the mountains protect the city from cold winds from the north, north-east and east.
The city of Bergen was traditionally thought to have been founded by king Olav Kyrre, son of Harald Hardråde in 1070 AD, four years after the Viking Age in England ended with the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Modern research has, however, discovered that a trading settlement had already been established in the 1020s or 1030s.
Bergen gradually assumed the function of capital of Norway in the early 13th century, as the first city where a rudimentary central administration was established. The city's cathedral was the site of the first royal coronation in Norway in the 1150s, and continued to host royal coronations throughout the 13th century.
Bergenhus fortress dates from the 1240s and guards the entrance to the harbour in Bergen. The functions of the capital city were lost to Oslo during the reign of King Haakon V (1299-1319).
In the middle of the 14th century, North German merchants, who had already been present in substantial numbers since the 13th century, founded one of the four Kontor of the Hanseatic League at Bryggen in Bergen.
The principal export traded from Bergen was dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around 1100. The city was granted a monopoly for trade from the north of Norway by King Håkon Håkonsson (1217-1263). Stockfish was the main reason that the city became one of North Europe's largest centres for trade. By the late 14th century, Bergen had established itself as the centre of the trade in Norway. The Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of the town, where Middle Low German was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen who each summer sailed to Bergen. Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggen, is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
In 1349, the Black Death was brought to Norway by an English ship arriving in Bergen. Later outbreaks occurred in 1618, 1629 and 1637, on each occasion taking about 3,000 lives. In the 15th century, the city was attacked several times by the Victual Brothers, and in 1429 they succeeded in burning the royal castle and much of the city. In 1665, the city's harbour was the site of the Battle of Vågen, when an English naval flotilla attacked a Dutch merchant and treasure fleet supported by the city's garrison. Accidental fires sometimes got out of control, and one in 1702 reduced most of the town to ashes.