Risør is a municipality in Agder county. It is located towards the Skagerrak and borders in the southwest towards Tvedestrand, in the northwest towards Vegårshei and Gjerstad and in the northeast towards Kragerø. The administration center in the municipality is the town of Risør, which has 4,609 inhabitants as of 1 January 2020.

In 1964, the city municipality of Risør was merged with Søndeled municipality. Risør became the name of the new municipality.


The names Risør and Søndeled
The name Risør comes from the island Risøya, an island outside the city, which is overgrown with bushes (rice). The old place name for the town was Øster-Riisøer, to distinguish the town from Vester-Risøer (Mandal). It was used until 1905, when Risør became the official spelling. Risør town is often called Trehusbyen or Den hvite by ved Skagerrak.

The meaning of the name Søndeled is unclear. According to Professor Oluf Rygh, the oldest spelling should be Sundaleid, Sundaleir or Sundaleidi. According to Professor Rygh, the first part is the plural form of the word "sound", and the second part is related to the word leid or led, another word for "road". This trail through the straits, Professor Rygh believed, must have been the original name of the fjord, and that the name was eventually transferred to the farm in the innermost part of the fjord, then to the church and the parish.

Geography and nature
Most of the old Søndeled municipality (now Risør municipality) is characterized by a strongly hilly terrain with wooded hills and boulders. The municipality has three large fjords, Nordfjorden, Sørfjorden and Sandnesfjorden, stand out in the landscape. At the bottom of the Søndeledfjord, the Gjerstad watercourse empties out and the village of Søndeled is also located at the bottom of the Søndeledfjord. Risør lies snugly behind protective islets and cuts a few stone's throw from the open sea, on the large peninsula that forms between the two fjords.

This part of Agder belongs to the Bamble field in the Svekonorvegian bedrock shield, and consists of two main geological formations of Proterozoic rocks formed during the Gothic and later Svekonorvegian mountain range ancestors, with a strong metamorphosis under the latter. A substrate of 1,600 - 1,450 million years old slate, quartzite, marble and amphibolite with some hornblende gneiss, and on top of this acidic surface structures of both granite and granodiorite (respectively 1,250 - 1,000 million years old, and in places 1,550 - 1,480 million years old). The youngest Sveconorvegian formations are witnessed by larger formations of granite. There are also some cases of gabbro and diorite, less often eclogite. The Caledonian mountain range fold did not reach down here. The faults go in a southwest-northeast direction.