Boom, Recession, Emigration, Grown and Optimism
Throughout history environmental conditions have determined settlement and social development in Vest-Agder. The availability of food decided where people built their homes. More important than the actual farm land was fish, game and forests. In some places ore and stone reserves also affected settlement.
The thirteenth century brought massive changes in the European system of trade. In Vest- Agder the Black Death had left many areas desolate. By the sixteenth century ships from the Netherlands had started to frequent the ports on the southern coast in order to make reparations and to escape from sea pirates. Here they discovered first- class salmon and other desirable edibles which they could purchase. However, it was the oak tress growing right down to the shoreline which proved to be the most sought after export article as a material for building ships. Other nations soon discovered this commodity, which became a goldmine for the area for many years to come. After the oak trees were cut down, the traders continued to be tempted by new export articles of which lobster was the most important. Stone was also exported. In 1737 more than 300 shiploads of stone were shipped from Flekkefjord alone.
The county town Kristiansand was founded by King Christian the Fourth in 1641. The city's status as the centre of business, public services and garrison town generated growth in the area. It is primarily in the eastern section of Vest-Agder that people could make a living out of forestry or trade. In the rest of the county agriculture was the main means of support.
The Netherlands was the world's leading mercantile shipping nation in the seventeenth century and they needed workers. Many people from the western part of Vest- Agder made the journey across the North Sea in search of work. This was mainly because of the hardship at home. Another similar wave of emigration headed for America, the new superpower, in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. From 1890- 1930 alone nearly 34000 people from Vest- Agder emigrated to America. One important reason for this exodus was the conversion from sailing ship to steamboat that started before the turn of the century. The Agder counties were leading the field during the era of the sailing ship but lost that position when the steamboats took over. It was a catastrophe for many of the outports when the large steamboats could no longer manoeuver in the small harbors. Emigration was the only answer for these unemployed coastal inhabitants.
The first half of the twentieth century was a time of change of much of Vest-Agder. An extensive road system was built and the railroad connected the area to both the eastern and western parts of the country. Airports were built in Kristiansand and at Lista. Waterpower was the new source of energy. This lead to a new economic growth. In the last few decades Vest- Agder has been Norway's most expansive county both with regards to trade and industrial development and population increase. At the turn of the century an overwhelmingly positive and optimistic view of the future characterized Vest- Agder.
av Torkelsen, Jan H., publisert 11. desember 2012 | Skriv ut siden
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