The central government, county authorities and municipalities

The central government, county authorities and municipalities

There are 11 counties and 356 municipalities in Norway. (The City of Oslo is both a municipality and a county.)

Counties and municipalities are both geographical areas and administrative units subject to political control. Both the county authorities and the municipalities are self-governing in certain areas, even though the central government decides many things. The central government also sets the framework for the counties and municipalities. The central government rules the whole country, while the county and municipal authorities only decide local issues.

Political and administrative control

The central government and the counties and municipalities are governed by politicians elected by the people. This means that politicians discuss issues and decide on a policy for different areas. But it is the civil servants in the public administration – state, county authority and municipal staff – who implement the policies.


These are some of the central government’s areas of responsibility:

  • Foreign policy
  • Hospitals
  • Laws
  • Curricula for schools

These are some of the county authorities’ areas of responsibility:

  • Upper secondary education
  • County roads

These are some of the municipalities’ areas of responsibility:

  • Primary and secondary school
  • Kindergartens
  • Elderly care
  • Waste disposal, water and sewage
  • Municipal roads