Mo i Rana

Mo i Rana is the administrative center of the Rana Municipality in Nordland County, Norway. It is the largest city in Helgeland Traditional Region. It is the second largest city in Nordland county and the fourth largest city in all of Northern Norway. As of January, 2011, Mo i Rana has 18,141 inhabitants. It received city status in 1997.

Current Location & Information

The city lies at the head of Ranfjord, south of Salt Mountain and Arctic Circle. Previously referred to as “The Iron City”, the cornerstone of the company Norwegian Ironworks, Mo i Rana has undergone extensive restructuring since 1988 and is now marketed as “The Arctic Circle City.”

Along the railway on the waterfront is Moholmen, regularly referred to as “the old village”.  Moholmen offers a view into how Mo i Rana looked in the 1800s and is a historically conserved village. In the area next to Moholmen is a 1990s development that features the Fjordgården Hotel, National Collection Agency, TAG systems and housing. On the other side of the railroad is the city center, with shopping, town halls and walkways.

Mo-I-Rana.net is a good resource for current information on development and events.


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Name Origination

The name Mo originates from the Norse Móar which is the plural of mother, and means sand or grass, the concept of ‘one mo’ also does today.


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Trading & Exports: 1700s – 1988

Mo i Rana was formerly a trading center in Helgeland. It has been farmed since the Iron Age, although the coast was cleared and inhabited before the inland. Mining and export of Nordland boats and fishing products have been the basis for trade. The rich hunting and mining areas formed the basis for the birth of urban development.

Mo i Rana had a summer market from the 1730’s, a firm trade in the 1770’s, and in 1860 LA Meyer was by Royal right allowed to operate a general store.

Trade with Sweden picked up. One of the reasons for the increased trade across the border was that Noda (years of famine) occurred in northern Sweden and in large parts of northern Scandinavia during this period, especially in the years 1864, 1865 and 1867. In the 1880’s, LA Meyer Shipping accounted annually for export of approx. 800 boats, which were mainly produced in Rana. In March 1924, the company received a consignment of 24,000 grouse from Tärnaområdet, which were then exported to England.

The section from Mo to Umbukta was finished, built as winter roads in 1883, while the road was not completed in Sweden until 1939.

“20-30-years were marked by unemployment and much poverty. Many had emergency work and those who work in Mofjellet were privileged. It was better paid. The best operating period was from 1937, but it was closed when the war broke out. Company LA Meyer was an important factor in business and cultural life of Rana before the war and the priest was a keen advocate for the completion of the Nordland line, “recalls long-standing member of parliament and local politician in Rana, Per Karstensen.

Rana is rich in iron ore and electrical energy, which was significant for the establishment of industries. Mining was established in Bossmo Gruber (1894 – 1938), Dunderland Iron Ore Company (1902 – 1947), Rana Gruber (1937 – ), Norwegian Iron Works (1946 – 1988) and the Norwegian Coke Works (1964 – 1988). These were dominant for employment in the city, led to the establishment of “Dunder Land Line” and export port. It was about 3200 employees at its peak at the Norwegian Iron Works alone. Population growth was almost explosive in a short time due to the establishment of heavy industry.

Historical Figures

There are busts of figures of historical significance in the city center:

  • Nordland Railway father – Priest Ole Tobias Olsen
  • Construction worker and agitator – His Berntsen
  • “Sami’s Apostle” – Thomas von Westen
    Central to founding the Mo church & the same school outside of the church.
  • “Havmannen” – Rana’s own ‘Little Mermaid’, by Antony Gormley
    Part of the Artscape Nordland – Unveiled 06.05.1995

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Municipalities of Mo (1923 — 1963)

Mo parish, later known as Mo municipality was in 1923 divided into the two municipalities of Nord-Rana and Mo i Rana. Between 1923 and 1963, Mo municipality.

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The Municipal Council of Mo Municipality

The Mo Council was held in the Mo center off of the beach road. Municipal Council was held in the right wing while the left wing featured a library and the treasurer kept office in the attic. The building was originally painted white and is now officially listed.


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Population: 1930 — 1963

The figures below show the total population in the Mo municipality
prior to the merger.

Year Population Year Population
1930 1,340 1956 7,246
1946 3,150 1957 7,777
1950 4,211 1958 8,027
1951 4,215 1959 8,166
1952 4,717 1960 8,096
1953 5,263 1961 8,368
1954 6,257 1962 8,646
1955 6,886 1963 9,134

The figures below show the total population in the municipalities of
Nord-Rana and Mo i Rana city.

Year Population Year Population
1930 5,924 1956 15,165
1946 9,364 1957 16,114
1950 11,401 1958 16,664
1951 11,407 1959 16,971
1952 12,077 1960 17,206
1953 12,745 1961 17,453
1954 13,920 1962 18,539
1955 14,631 1963 19,782


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Media & Reference

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