Norway is a constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe that occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The majority of the country shares a border to the east with Sweden; its northernmost region is bordered by Finland to the south and Russia to the east. The United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands lie to its west across the North Sea, and Denmark is south of its southern tip across the Skagerrak Strait. Norway's extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barent Sea, is home to the famous fjords.
The rugged coastline, broken by huge fjords and thousands of islands, stretches over 2,500 km and over 83,000 km including the fjords and islands. At 385,252 km² (including Svalbard and Jan Mayen), Norway is slightly larger than Germany, but, unlike Germany, much of the country is dominated by mountainous or high terrain, with a great variety of natural features caused by prehistoric glaciers and varied topography. The most noticeable of these are the fjords: deep grooves cut into the land flooded by the sea following the end of the Ice Age. The longest fjord in Norway is Sognefjorden, which is 204 km long. Norway also contains many glaciers and beautiful waterfalls.
Norway is a resource rich country with gas fields, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Norway is also one of the largest exporters of seafood of the world. Other main industries include food processing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, fishing and pulp and paper products. Norway has a Scandinavian welfare model and the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
Due to the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerlies, Norway experiences warmer temperatures and more precipitation than expected at such northern latitudes, especially along the coast. The mainland experiences four distinct seasons, with colder winters and less precipitation inland. The northernmost part has a mostly maritime subarctic climate, while Svalbard has an Arctic tundra climate. The southern and western parts of Norway experiences more precipitation, and have milder winters than the southeastern part. The lowlands around the capital Oslo has the warmest and sunniest summers, but also cold weather and snow in wintertime (especially inland). Average temperatures have risen the last decades, decreasing the amount of days with snow cover in the lowlands.
Due to Norway's high latitude, there are large seasonal variations in daylight. From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle (hence Norway's description as the "Land of the Midnight Sun") and the rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day. Conversely, from late November to late January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country. Throughout Norway, one will find stunning and dramatic scenery and landscape. The west coast of southern Norway and the coast of North Norway are among the most impressive coastlines anywhere in the world.
The main tourist attractions of Norway are the fjord-indented coastline and its mountains, the unspoiled nature of the inner parts of the country, and the cities and smaller towns. The main tourist cities in Norway are Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromsoe. Much of the nature of Norway remains unspoiled, and thus attracts numerous hikers and skiers. The fjords, mountains and waterfalls in Western and North Norway attract several hundred thousand foreign tourists each year. In the cities, cultural idiosyncrasies such as the Holmenkollen ski jump attract many visitors, as well as historic and cultural buildings and areas such as Bryggen in Bergen and the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo.
The culture of Norway evolved as a result of its sparse population, harsh climate, and relative isolation from the rest of Europe. It is therefore distinct from other countries in Europe in that it has fewer opulent palaces and castles, smaller agricultural areas, and longer travel distances. Regionally distinct architecture, crafts, and art are presented in the various folk museums, typically based on an ethnological perspective.
(and largest city)
59°56′N 10°41′E / 59.933, 10.683
|Official languages||Norwegian |
|Ethnic groups ||90.3% Norwegian, Sami, 9.7% other(2009)|
|Government||Parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy|
| - ||Monarch||Harald V|
| - ||Prime Minister||Jens Stoltenberg (Ap)|
| - ||Unification||872 |
| - ||Constitution||17 May 1814 |
| - ||Independence from personal union with Sweden|
declared 7 June 1905
| - ||Total||385,252 km2 (61st2)|
148,746 sq mi
| - ||2008 estimate||4,800,326 |
| - ||Density||12/km2 |
|GDP (PPP)||2008 estimate|
| - ||Total||$259.049 billion|
| - ||Per capita||$55,198 (IMF) |
|GDP (nominal)||2008 estimate|
| - ||Total||$481.148 billion (23rd)|
| - ||Per capita||$102,524 (IMF) (2nd)|
|Currency||Norwegian krone (NOK)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
| - ||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Oslo was called Christiania from 1624 to 1878, and Kristiania from 1878 to 1924. It is the capital and largest city of Norway with over 570,000 inhabitants in Oslo Municipality. Oslo has been the country's capital since 1814. The Goverment and Parliament are located here, and at the end of Oslo's main street, Karl Johans gate, you find the Royal Palace.
The city of Oslo has a current annual growth exceeding 15,000; which makes it one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. The city centre of Oslo is situated at the end of the Oslofjord from where the city sprawls out in three distinct corridors from its centre; inland north-eastwards and southwards on both sides of the fjord giving the city area more or less the shape of a large "Y" when seen from the north.
Oslo has a humid continental climate. Because of its northern latitude, daylight varies greatly from more than 18 hours in midsummer to around 6 hours in midwinter. Despite its northerly location, the climate is relatively mild throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream. Oslo has pleasantly mild, to warm summers with average high temperatures of 20-22°C (68-71°F) and lows of around 12 °C (54 °F). Temperatures exceed 25 °C (77 °F) quite often, and heat waves are common during the summer.
| Weather averages for Oslo |
|Average high °C (°F)||-2|
|Average low °C (°F)||-7|
|Precipitation mm (inches)||49|
|Source: Minifakta om Norge (SSB) 2008-10-06 http://varviggo.no/showpage.asp?id=182|
What to see in Oslo:
Norway’s biggest and most reputed park is Vigeland Park, which is located a few minutes walk away from the city centre and is one of Oslo’s most visited attractions due to the amazing 212 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.
The Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum is a great place to learn more about the Vikings, the Viking age and the Viking ships. The museum presents great Viking-ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. The exhibition includes the world's two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century, small boats, sledges, cart with exceptional ornamentation as well as implements, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils.
Holmenkollen Ski Jump
The Holmenkollen ski jump is located in Holmenkollen, Oslo. It is host to the world's second oldest ski jump competition still in existence. During its time as a ski arena, it has served as host to many different Nordic skiing and biathlon world championships, including the 1952 Winter Olympics. The ski jump area is currently being reconstructed for the 2011 FIS World Cup Nordic. Therefore, The Ski Museum, Jump Tower and the rest of the ski arena is now closed to the public. However, people interested in the ski jump can go have a look at the visitor center until the rebuilding is completed.
Akershus Castle and Fortress
The first work on the castle started around the late 1290s, by King Håkon V, replacing Toensberg as one of the most important Norwegian castles of the period. It was constructed in response to the Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg’s earlier attack on Oslo. The medieval castle, which was completed in the 1300s, had a strategical location at the very end of the headland, and withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. King Christian IV (1588-1648) had the castle modernized and converted into a Renaissance castle and royal residence. During the 17th and 18th century the castle fell into decay, and restoration work only started in 1899.
Edvard Munch is the Norwegian painter considered a pioneer in expressionism. The Munch Museum's collection, left to the city of Oslo by Edvard Munch, consists of a large number of paintings, graphical prints and drawings. The museum now has in its permanent collection well over half of the artist's entire production of paintings and at least one copy of all his prints.
The royal residence at the top of Karl Johans Gate. Built 1824-48, as the Norwegian residence of Norwegian and Swedish king Charles III (Carl Johan, Charles XIV of Sweden) and is used as the official residence of the present Norwegian Monarch. The Royal Palace is open to the public in the summer. The Palace Park contains statues, small lakes and is a popular recreation area.
The Kon-Tiki Museum is centered around the raft Kon-Tiki, but also contains other items from the explorations of Thor Heyerdahl. Kon-Tiki was the raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. It was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom "Kon-Tiki" was said to be an old name.
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is one of Europe's largest open-air museums and was established in 1894. Here you find a variety of traditional houses from all over Norway. There are 155 buildings which have been relocated from different districts of Norway. Among its more significant buildings are Gol stave church from the 13th century, Raulandstua from the 14th century, and the 18th century tenement building relocated from Wessels gate 15 in Oslo. During the summer season lots of activities take place such as folk dancing, arts and crafts, baking, domestic animals, shows etc. All year, you can also find several indoor exhibits with traditional handicraft items, folk costumes, furniture, and church interiors.
Oslo City Hall
The City Hall houses the city's administrative body and seat of the City Council. The construction started in 1931, but was paused by the outbreak of World War II, before the official inauguration in 1950. Its characteristic architecture, artworks by foremost Norwegian artists, and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony makes it one of Oslo's most famous buildings.
National Opera House
The Opera House was finished in 2007 with the opening event held on 12 April 2008. The Opera won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, with a population of just over 250,000. The city of Bergen was founded in 1070 and is today is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Bergen is located on the south-western coast of Norway. Its city centre is situated among a group of mountains known as “The Seven Mountains” although the number is a matter of definition. From here, the urban area of Bergen extends to the north, west and south, and to its east is a large mountain massif.
The main reason for Bergen's importance many years ago was the trade with dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around 1100 CE. By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the center of the trade in Norway.
Bergen, has been nicknamed The City of Rain for its plentiful rainfall as the average annual precipitation is 2250 mm (88 inches). This is because the city is surrounded by mountains that the clouds cannot Bergen, has been nicknamed The City of Rain for its plentiful rainfall as the average annual precipitation is 2250 mm (88 inches). This is because the city is surrounded by mountains that the clouds cannot get over easily. However, in the winter, Bergen is one of the warmest cities in Norway, thanks to the Gulf Stream.
| Weather averages for Bergen |
|Average high °C (°F)||4|
|Average low °C (°F)||0|
|Precipitation mm (inches)||190|
|Source: Minifakta om Norge (SSB) 2008-10-06 http://varviggo.no/showpage.asp?id=182|
What to see in Bergen:
Bergen Brygge and the Hanseatic Museum
Bergen's first buildings were erected along the old, Hanseatic wharf, Bryggen, which has been a lively and important part of the city through the centuries. Bryggen means wharf in Norwegian and is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the fjord coming into Bergen. Bryggen is on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites. Today, Bryggen houses tourist, souvenir, and gift shops, in addition to restaurants, pubs and museums. The Hanseatic merchants dominated Bryggen for 400 years. The area has been ravaged by fire repeatedly. Walking through the narrow alleyways and dark external galleries is like travelling back in time. At Bryggen the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene, the Hanseatic assembly rooms, give an intimate picture of the life of a Hanseatic merchant.
Floibanen & Bergen Fishmarket
Floibanen is a funicular in Bergen, which runs up the mountain of Floyen. It was opened in 1918 and is one of Bergen's major tourist attractions. Floibanen is also one of Norway's most visited attractions. Over 1 million passengers a year have used it over the past few years. By taking the short ride with the Fløibanen Funicular from the city centre to the top of the Fløien Mountain (320 metres above sea level), you have a golden opportunity to view the city, the mountains, the fjords and the sea.
You may then take an easy walk through delightful scenery to bring you back down to the hustle and bustle of the Bergen Fish Market.
Fantoft Stave Church
It would be difficult to find monuments more typically Norwegian than the wooden Stave Churches. They date back to the early days of Christianity in this country, and they were erected by an enthusiastic people inspired by the new Christian Gospel. In structure the Stave Churches are among the finest architectural achievements in Norway, being the result of excellent craftsmanship, age long experience in handling wood as a building material never failing artistic sense, and deep religious feeling.
Fantoft Church was built at Fortun, a little village at the head of the Sogne-fjord, the district said to be the homeland of the Stave Churches. Like many other timber churches of the same type, the Fantoft Church dates from the twelfth century. In the year 1879 the village decided to build a new church, and the old one was sold for removal, which unfortunately was the normal procedure in those days. A citizen of Bergen, Consul F. Gade, realized the importance of saving the old building, bought it, and transported the material to Bergen. Fantoft, a beautiful spot with lovely surroundings, about 5 miles south of Bergen, was chosen for its new site. In 1883 the church was rebuilt, or rather re-constructed after the plan of Borgund Church in Sogn. The construction itself is ingenious. Every single piece of wood has its proper practical function in a cleverly developed plan. Storms and tempests have been successfully defied through seven or eight centuries.
Trollhaugen, Home of Edvard Grieg
Troldhaugen in Bergen, the home of composer Edward Grieg, is now a living museum comprising an exhibition centre with shop and cafe, concert hall, composers' cabin and Grieg's villa dating from 1885. Frequent public concerts are held, particularly in the summer season.