Sortland, with its 10,000 inhabitants, is the communications and regional centre in Vesterålen.

The varied landscape in the area is an eldorado for those interested in outdoor activities with many possibilities for kayak paddling, mountain climbing, fishing and hiking. Lofoten and Vesterålen is Norway's most important region for fishing and seafood.

The coast guard, which has an important role in security and surveillance here in the north, have their headquarters here.

Sortland is well known as a centre for commerce, for having an active cultural and music scene and, not least, for its blue city project.

"Blåbyen" (The blue city) as a trademark has created interest and activity in the city that has given positive results and consequences both locally and throughout the region.

Author Lars Saabye Christensen, through the project 'Skrift på blå bunn' (writings on a blue background), invited the youngsters in Vesterålen to write short texts (captions) to adorn the blue facades in the city. There are many wise words and poems to be found on a short stroll around the city.