Norway is divided into 18 counties (sing. fylke, plur. fylke/fylker) since 1972. Up to that year Bergen was a separate county, but is today a municipality in the county of Hordaland. All counties form administrative entities called county municipalities (sing. fylkeskommune, plur. fylkeskommunar/fylkeskommuner), further subdivided into municipalities, (sing. kommune, plur. kommunar/kommuner). One county, Oslo, is not divided into municipalities, rather it is equivalent to the municipality of Oslo.
Each county has its own county council (fylkesting) whose representatives are elected every four years together with representatives to the municipal councils. The counties handle matters as high schools and local roads, and until 1 January 2002 hospitals as well. This responsibility was transferred to the state-run health authorities and health trusts, and there is a debate on the future of the county municipality as an administrative entity. Some people, and parties, such as the Conservative and Progress Party, call for the abolishment of the county municipalities once and for all, while others, including the Labour Party, merely want to merge some of them into larger regions.