NORWAY

Date of establishment: May 17, 1814

Brief history:

8th to 11th century: Viking Age – Norwegian history includes the Vikings, who became known for their raids, trade, and explorations throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and as far west as North America.

872: Unification under Harald I Fairhair – According to tradition, Harald I Fairhair unified Norway under one ruler after the Battle of Hafrsfjord.

1380: The Kalmar Union – Norway entered into a personal union with Denmark when Olaf II of Denmark (also Olaf IV of Norway) inherited the Norwegian throne. This union later expanded to include Sweden, forming the Kalmar Union in 1397 under Queen Margrethe I.

1537: Reformation – Norway became a Lutheran state under Danish rule, significantly influenced by the Protestant Reformation.

1814: Constitution and separation from Denmark – Following the Napoleonic Wars, Norway declared independence from Denmark and adopted a constitution at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814. However, after a brief war with Sweden, Norway entered into a union with Sweden later that year while retaining its constitution and a high degree of autonomy.

1905: Dissolution of the union with Sweden – Norway peacefully dissolved its union with Sweden and declared itself an independent kingdom. Prince Carl of Denmark was elected King of Norway and took the name Haakon VII.

1940-1945: Nazi occupation – During World War II, Germany invaded and occupied Norway from 1940 until the country’s liberation in 1945. The Norwegian government, led by King Haakon VII, operated in exile from London during this period.

1949: NATO membership – Norway became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), aligning itself with Western powers during the Cold War.

1969: Discovery of oil – The discovery of oil in the North Sea transformed Norway’s economy, making it one of the world’s leading oil exporters.

1994: European Economic Area (EEA) – Norway became a member of the EEA, allowing it to participate in the European single market without being a member of the European Union.

Present: Norway is a prosperous, democratic country with a high standard of living, known for its strong social welfare system, commitment to environmental sustainability, and active role in international peacekeeping and human rights issues. The country continues to balance its oil wealth with efforts to diversify its economy and address climate change.

 

International abbreviation: N

 

Currency: Norwegian krone (NOK)

Coins and banknotes are issued in various denominations, including 1, 5, 10, and 20 kroner (coins) and 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 kroner (banknotes). The Krone is subdivided into 100 øre

 

Internet domain: .no

 

Dialing code: +47

 

Time zone: GMT +1

 

Geography:

Norway is a mountainous country located in Northern Europe, with coastlines along the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. Its coastline is famously indented with numerous fjords—narrow and deep bays carved by glaciers. Fjords like the famous Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are among the biggest attractions for tourists, known for their dramatic landscapes and stunning natural beauty.

Norway’s diverse geography includes the Scandinavian Mountains (Scandes), which run through the country and create a rugged terrain with peaks, valleys, and plateaus. The highest peak is Galdhøpiggen, which stands at 2,469 meters (8,100 feet) above sea level.

The country also boasts rich forests, particularly in the eastern and southern regions, providing a habitat for various wildlife, and contributing to Norway’s natural wealth. These forests are part of the extensive boreal forest belt that stretches across the northern hemisphere.

Norway has numerous lakes, such as Mjøsa near Lillehammer, which is the largest lake in Norway. These lakes, along with the country’s many rivers and streams, offer tranquility and scenic beauty, attracting visitors for activities like fishing, boating, and hiking.

In the far north, Norway extends into the Arctic, encompassing the Svalbard archipelago, which is known for its remote and rugged landscapes. The mainland area north of the Arctic Circle experiences phenomena such as the Midnight Sun during summer and the Polar Night during winter.

Norway shares borders with Sweden to the east, Finland to the northeast, and Russia to the far northeast. The long land border with Sweden runs through the Scandinavian Mountains, while shorter borders with Finland and Russia lie in the northern regions.

 

Highest peak: Galdhøpiggen at 2 469 meters (8 100 feet) above sea level.

This peak is in the Jotunheimen mountain range in the western part of the country.

The summit is accessible through various routes, and since it is in the Jotunheimen National Park, visitors can also admire the beauty of the surrounding nature, glaciers, and fjords.

 

Climate:

Norway’s climate is diverse due to its elongated shape and varying topography. The western coast has a temperate and humid climate influenced by the Gulf Stream, resulting in mild winters and cool summers. Average winter temperatures along the western coast range from 1°C to 4°C (34°F to 39°F), while summer temperatures average between 12°C and 16°C (54°F to 61°F).

The eastern part of Norway has a continental climate with larger temperature differences between seasons. Winters are colder, with average temperatures ranging from -6°C to -2°C (21°F to 28°F), and summers are warmer, with average temperatures between 16°C and 22°C (61°F to 72°F).

Northern Norway experiences an Arctic climate with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. In winter, average temperatures range from -15°C to -4°C (5°F to 25°F), and in summer, they range from 6°C to 12°C (43°F to 54°F). The region also experiences phenomena such as the Midnight Sun during summer, where the sun does not set for several weeks, and the Polar Night during winter, where the sun does not rise for an extended period.

The southern part of Norway, including areas around Oslo, has a milder climate, with relatively warm summers and cold, but not severe, winters. Average winter temperatures range from -5°C to 0°C (23°F to 32°F), while summer temperatures range from 15°C to 22°C (59°F to 72°F).

Norway experiences sudden weather changes and varying climate conditions over a relatively small area due to its complex terrain, which includes mountains, fjords, and valleys. This diversity in climate conditions means that weather can be highly variable even within short distances.

 

Fauna and flora:

Norwegian waters are rich in fish, with Atlantic salmon being particularly famous for migrating to Norwegian rivers for reproduction. Other significant species include cod, herring, haddock, mackerel, and Arctic char. Norway is one of the world’s leading seafood exporters, thanks to its abundant marine resources.

The Norwegian wilderness is home to various wildlife, including European elk (moose), reindeer, and musk ox. While the polar bear is not found on mainland Norway, it is a prominent species in the Svalbard archipelago, located in the Arctic Ocean. Reindeer are commonly found in both northern Norway and the mountainous regions.

The Arctic waters, especially around the Svalbard archipelago, are home to polar bears, which are among the major attractions for tourists seeking to experience the Arctic wilderness. Other notable Arctic wildlife includes walruses, Arctic foxes, and various species of seals.

The Norwegian coastline is crucial for many seabirds. Guillemots, puffins, fulmars, and other bird species thrive in large numbers, particularly in bird cliffs and coastal islands. The fjords and coastal areas are also home to marine mammals, such as minke whales, orcas, and occasionally humpback whales and sperm whales.

Norwegian forests are predominantly composed of birch, spruce, pine, and fir trees. These forests cover a significant part of the country, providing a habitat for a variety of animal species, including lynx, wolves, wolverines, and brown bears. Norway’s diverse ecosystems range from coastal pine forests to the boreal forests of the interior.

Alpine areas feature mountain meadows with diverse flora, including alpine plants and flowers such as moss campion, mountain avens, and various species of lichens and mosses. The tundra regions in the far north and high altitudes are characterized by hardy vegetation adapted to the harsh climate.

 

Agriculture:

Agriculture in Norway is heavily influenced by the country’s challenging climatic conditions and the uneven distribution of agricultural land. Only about 3% of Norway’s land is arable, with the majority of this land located in the southern and central regions where the climate is more favorable for farming. The growing season is short, and farmers must adapt to the long, cold winters and brief summers.

Cereal production includes barley, oats, and wheat, with barley and oats being the most commonly grown due to their hardiness and shorter growing season. Potatoes are another staple crop, thriving in the cooler climate and forming a significant part of the Norwegian diet. Vegetable cultivation is also prominent, with carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions being widely grown. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in organic farming and the cultivation of niche crops such as berries, particularly strawberries and blueberries, which benefit from the long summer days.

Livestock farming is a crucial component of Norwegian agriculture. Sheep farming is prevalent, particularly in the western and northern regions, where the rugged terrain is less suitable for crop farming but ideal for grazing. Cattle farming is also significant, with dairy production being a key agricultural sector. Norwegian dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are well-regarded. Additionally, pig and poultry farming contribute to the country’s meat supply, with pork and chicken being popular meats.

Agricultural practices in Norway are characterized by a strong focus on sustainability and animal welfare.

 

Natural resource extraction:

The extraction of oil and natural gas is one of the most crucial industries in Norway. The country is a significant exporter of oil and natural gas worldwide, with substantial reserves located in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. The petroleum sector has been a major driver of economic growth and government revenue since the discovery of oil in the 1960s, making Norway one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of these resources.

In addition to hydrocarbons, Norway is rich in other natural resources. The country has extensive forests, and timber extraction is a significant part of the economy, particularly in rural areas. Forestry supports a wide range of industries, including paper, furniture, and construction materials. Sustainable forest management practices are emphasized to balance economic activity with environmental conservation.

Norway also has deposits of various minerals and building materials. Granite and other types of stone are quarried for use in construction and infrastructure projects. Additionally, Norway has resources of iron ore, titanium, and other industrial minerals, which contribute to its diverse mining sector.

 

Industry:

The energy industry, particularly oil and gas extraction, is a cornerstone of the Norwegian economy. Thanks to abundant reserves in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, Norway is a leading exporter of oil and natural gas, playing a significant role in the global energy market. The petroleum sector not only fuels the domestic economy but also significantly contributes to government revenues through the sovereign wealth fund.

Another crucial industry in Norway is fishing and fish processing. The country’s extensive coastline and rich marine resources make it one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood, particularly salmon. Aquaculture has become increasingly important, complementing traditional fishing and ensuring sustainable fish stocks.

The forestry industry also holds a significant place in the Norwegian economy. Extensive forests provide essential resources for construction, paper manufacturing, and other wood-based products. Sustainable forestry practices ensure the long-term viability of this industry, which supports rural economies and various related sectors.

The maritime industry, encompassing shipbuilding, shipping services, and offshore technology, is another vital sector. Norway has a long-standing maritime tradition and is known for its expertise in building advanced vessels, including those for the oil and gas industry and fishing fleets. The country’s strategic location and advanced port facilities make it a key player in global maritime trade.

Additionally, Norway has a growing technology and innovation sector, with strong emphasis on renewable energy, particularly hydropower, which supplies a significant portion of the country’s electricity. The development of green technologies and sustainability initiatives positions Norway as a leader in the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

 

Services and other economic sectors: services, tourism, banking, insurance, transportation – maritime and aviation, telecommunications, research, science, education, and information technology.

Norway attracts tourists from all over the world with its beautiful and diverse nature, fjords, stunning mountains, green forests, and picturesque lakes.

Among the most beautiful places, one cannot forget the famous Geirangerfjord, with its steep cliffs and charming villages that captivate every visitor.

 

 

Form of government: Constitutional monarchy

Norway’s government system is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. This means that Norway has a king or queen as head of state and a parliament responsible for governing and exercising legislative powers. The current monarch is King Harald V, who serves as a symbolic representative of Norway with primarily ceremonial functions.

Legislative powers belong to the Norwegian parliament, called the Storting. The Storting is a unicameral parliament with 169 members elected for four-year terms through a system of proportional representation. The Storting has the authority to pass laws, approve budgets, and oversee government activities. It is divided into committees that handle specific areas such as finance, foreign affairs, and health.

The executive branch of the government is responsible for executing state administration and implementing policies. The government is led by the prime minister, who is appointed by the monarch based on the results of parliamentary elections. The prime minister selects members of the government, known as ministers, who head various departments and agencies. The government is accountable to the Storting and must maintain its confidence to remain in office.

The Norwegian justice system is independent and plays a crucial role in maintaining the rule of law. It is based on civil law traditions and consists of several levels of courts including District Courts (Tingretter), Courts of Appeal (Lagmannsretter), and the Supreme Court (Høyesterett) which is the highest court in Norway.

In addition to the general courts, Norway has specialized courts for matters such as labor disputes and social security cases. The judiciary ensures that laws and regulations are applied consistently and protects the rights and freedoms of individuals.

 

Capital city: Oslo

Oslo is the capital of Norway, located in the southeastern part of the country at the head of the Oslofjord. Some of Oslo’s most significant landmarks include the Royal Palace, the Norwegian National Theatre, Oslo City Hall, the National Museum, and the Viking Ship Museum. Additionally, the city boasts the contemporary architecture of the Oslo Opera House and the new MUNCH museum dedicated to artist Edvard Munch.

Oslo is known for its vibrant cultural scene, offering numerous galleries, restaurants, and music venues. During the winter months, Oslo provides excellent conditions for winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, with facilities like the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and nearby Nordmarka forest. The city’s diverse attractions and natural beauty make it a unique and inviting destination year-round.

It has a population of about 703 000.

 

Area: 385 203 km2 (148 729 square miles)

 

Population: 5 434 000 (2022 estimate)

The Norwegian population enjoys a high quality of life, high levels of education, and high incomes. Norway also has a relatively low unemployment rate and a strong social welfare system that provides comprehensive healthcare, education, and social services. The primary language spoken by Norwegians is Norwegian, with two official written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Norwegian culture is strongly connected to nature, with a significant emphasis on outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and fishing. Rural areas hold a special place in Norwegian identity, reflecting the country’s historical reliance on agriculture and fishing.

The population of Norway is ethnically diverse. While the majority are ethnic Norwegians, there are significant minority groups, including Sami, Kven, and various immigrant communities. The Sami, indigenous to Northern Norway, have their own distinct culture and language. Norway also hosts communities from Pakistan, Poland, Somalia, and Sweden, among others, contributing to the country’s multicultural landscape.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 8

 

  1. The West Norwegian Fjords (2005) – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are among the most beautiful and iconic natural wonders in Norway.
  2. Vegaøyan (2004) – The Vega Archipelago is a unique natural and cultural site located in the Helgeland archipelago, north of the city of Brønnøysund.
  3. Urnes Stave Church (1979) – A historic wooden church located on the western coast of Norway, near the village of Urnes in the Sogn og Fjordane region.
  4. The Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) – A geodetic project initiated in the 19th century to determine and measure the shape and size of the Earth.
  5. Røros (1980) – The town is known primarily for its long mining history.
  6. The Rock Art of Alta (1985) – This site is famous for its rock carvings dating back to between 4,200 and 500 years BCE.
  7. The Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site (2015) – A cultural heritage site located in southern Norway, in the Telemark region. This site includes several significant industrial landmarks associated with nitrogen and aluminum production.
  8. Bryggen (1979) – The historical part of the Norwegian city of Bergen, situated on the shores of the Vågen fjord.

 

National parks: 48

 

  1. Anárjohka National Park
  2. Ånderdalen National Park
  3. Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella National Park
  4. Breheimen National Park
  5. Børgefjell National Park
  6. Dovre National Park
  7. Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park
  8. Færder National Park
  9. Femundsmarka National Park
  10. Folgefonna National Park
  11. Forlandet National Park
  12. Forollhogna National Park
  13. Fulufjellet National Park
  14. Gutulia National Park
  15. Hallingskarvet National Park
  16. Hardangervidda National Park
  17. Indre Wijdefjorden National Park
  18. Jomfruland National Park
  19. Jostedalsbreen National Park
  20. Jotunheimen National Park
  21. Junkerdal National Park
  22. Lahku National Park
  23. Langsua National Park
  24. Lierne National Park
  25. Lofotodden National Park
  26. Lomsdal-Visten National Park
  27. Møysalen National Park
  28. Nordre Isfjorden National Park
  29. Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park
  30. Øvre Anarjohka National Park
  31. Øvre Dividal National Park
  32. Øvre Pasvik National Park
  33. Raet National Park
  34. Rago National Park
  35. Reinheimen National Park
  36. Reisa National Park
  37. Rohkunborri National Park
  38. Rondane National Park
  39. Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park
  40. Sassen-Bunsow Land National Park
  41. Seiland National Park
  42. Sjunkhatten National Park
  43. Skarvan og Roltdalen National Park
  44. Sør-Spitsbergen National Park
  45. Stabbursdalen National Park
  46. Van Mijenfjorden National Park
  47. Varangerhalvøya National Park
  48. Ytre Hvaler National Park