Lysefjorden in Norway
Lysefjorden in Norway

A fjord (IPA or ; sometimes written fiord, notably in New Zealand English) is a glacially overdeepened valley, usually narrow and steep-sided, extending below sea level and filled with salt water.



Fjords are found in locations where current or past glaciation extended below current sea level. A fjord is formed when a glacier retreats, after carving its typical U-shaped valley, and the sea fills the resulting valley floor. This forms a narrow, steep sided inlet (sometimes as deep as 1300m) connected to the sea. The terminal moraine pushed down the valley by the glacier is left underwater at the fjord's entrance, causing the water at the neck of the fjord to be shallower than the main body of the fjord behind it.

This shallow threshold and the protection afforded by the valley's sides generally means that fjords are excellent natural harbours. Consequently fjords often provide a home-port to fishing fleets, and in industrialised locations have come to be used for fish farming and shipbuilding.

As late as 2000, some of the world's largest coral reefs were discovered along the bottoms of the Norwegian fjords. These reefs were found in fjords all the way from the north of Norway to the south. The marine life on the reefs is believed to be one of the most important reasons why the Norwegian coastline is such a generous fishing ground. Since this discovery is fairly new, little research has yet been done. So far, only the deep sea diver who discovered the first reef at 60 meters has visited it, and even he has only been down three times. The reefs are host to thousands of lifeforms such as plankton, coral, anemonies, fish, several species of sharks, and many more one would expect to find on a reef. However most are specially adapted to life under the greater pressure of the water column above it, and the total darkness of the deep sea.

New Zealand's fiords are also host to deep sea corals, but a surface layer of dark fresh water allows these corals to grow in much shallower water than usual. An underwater observatory in Milford Sound allows tourists to view them without diving.


Missing image
Western Brook Fjord in Newfoundland

Fjords are found all along the coast of:

The longest fjords in the world are:

  1. Scoresby Sund on Greenland, (350 km)
  2. Sognefjord in Norway (203 km)
  3. Hardangerfjord in Norway (179 km)

The long fjord-like bays of the New England coast are sometimes referred to as "fiards". The only true fjord in New England is Somes Sound in Maine. It is located on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park.

The Lim bay in Istria, Croatia, is sometimes called "Lim fjord" although it is not actually a fjord created by glaciation but instead an estuary created by the erosive forces of the river Pazinčica.

Linguistic notes

, Norway
Sognefjorden, Norway

The word fjord comes from the Scandinavian languages, and is cognate to firth. In Scandinavia, fjord is used for narrow inlets in Norway, Denmark and western Sweden, whereas the name fjrd is used in a synonymous manner for narrow inlets on Sweden's Baltic Sea coast, and in most Swedish lakes. This latter term is also used for bodies of water off the coast of Finland where Swedish is spoken. Note that the uses for the words fjord and especially for the eastern form fjrd are more general in the Scandinavian languages than in English. Fjord in the English sense is taken from a type of fjord found in Norway and in parts of Sweden.

Fjords in literature and popular culture

See also

External links

de:Fjord es:Fiordo eo:fjordo fa:آبدره fr:Fjord id:Fyord he:פיורד nl:Fjord ja:フィヨルド nb:Fjord nn:Fjord pl:Fiord pt:Fiorde ru:Фьорд fi:Vuono sv:Fjord


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools