Cities in NORWAY


Geography and Landscape


Norway (officially: Kongeriket Norge) is located on the west side of Scandinavia and is bordered on the south by the Skagerrak. In the north and west are the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

Norway Satellite photoANorway Satellite photoPhoto: Public domain

On the landward side, Norway is bordered by Sweden, Finland and Russia. Off the coast of Norway are the Lofoten, the main archipelago. The Spitsbergen archipelago (Svalbard) is located about 650 kilometers north of Norway. From north to south Norway measures nearly 1800 km as the crow flies, roughly the distance from Amsterdam to Sicily. The width of the country, on the other hand, is only 80 km here and there.

Location Svalbard in relation to Norway Location Svalbard in relation to NorwayPhoto: TUBS CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Norway can be divided into four landscapes. The Ostlandet is the most densely populated area. Here are the most extensive forests and the most visited holiday areas. Vestlandet is home to the famous fjords and snow-capped mountains. Troendel Day is located in the middle of Norway and is a relatively flat and fertile area. Nordlandet consists of mountains, islands and fjords. The Arctic Circle runs right through the area and the Samen (Lappen) live here. The Norwegian mountains were created 340 million years ago. During the ice ages, the mountainous land was covered with a 2000 meter thick layer of ice. The glaciers cut deep gorges in the landscape and so the fjords were created. Fjords can reach tens of kilometers inland. The furthest inland is the Sognefjord (204 km).

Sognefjord, NorwaySognefjord, NorwayPhoto: Peter Schmidt CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The highest peaks lie between the capital Oslo and Trondheim. The Galdhoepiggen and the Glittertind are the highest peaks at about 2650 meters. More than half of the country is above 500 m, about a quarter above 1000 m.

Galdhopiggen, as seen from the Glittertind, NorwayGaldhopiggen, as seen from the Glittertind, NorwayPhoto: SibFreak CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Between the fjords one often finds the "fjell", an uninhabited rocky plateau. Norway has extensive glacial areas. The Jostedalsbreen is with 815 km2 the second largest glacier field in Europe.

Jostedalsbreen, NorwayJostedalsbreen, NorwayPhoto: G.Lanting CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Rivers and streams are not navigable for shipping due to the many waterfalls and rapids. The longest river of Norway is the Glomma or Glåma. Other long rivers that flow entirely through Norway are Numedalslågen (352 km), Tana (348 km), Drammenselva (301 km), Skiensvassdraget (251 km) en Begna (250 km).

Glomma, longest river of NorwayGlomma, longest river of NorwayPhoto: Bjoertvedt CC 4.0 International no changes made

About 3% of the total area consists of agricultural land. An even smaller percentage consists of cities and roads. A quarter of Norway is covered by forests, the rest by mountains, rivers and lakes. Norway has about 15,000 islands, of which only about 2000 are inhabited.

Climate and Weather

The climate shows strong local variations, in part due to the vast expanse of the country. Furthermore, the Warm Gulf Stream flows along the coast, which has a significant influence on Norway's climate. For example, it is a fact that it is on average warmer in Norway than in many countries at the same altitude. On the west coast, the fjord area, there is a warm temperate maritime climate with mild and rainy winters. In the far north, the temperature can drop to -40°C in winter.

Snowy NorwaySnowy NorwayPhoto: Mænsard vokser CC 4.0 International no changes made

In summer the temperature regularly rises above 20°C. There is a real tundra climate here. Because the climate is quite dry and there is little wind, the low temperatures are well tolerated. To the east of the mountain ranges, the interior has a continental climate. In some places it is so dry there that irrigation is required in agriculture. Some of the driest places in Europe can be found here. The precipitation amounts there decrease to less than 500 mm per year. Summers in Norway can be sunny and warm, ranging from four months in the south to two months in the north. The highest precipitation amounts are found in the Bergen area, more than 2000 mm per year. In Norway two special phenomena can be observed: the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Another rainy day in Bergen, NorwayAnother rainy day in Bergen, NorwayPhoto: Leif Knutsen CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

The midnight sun is high on the list of places of interest for many travelers. The further you go in the direction of the North Pole, the higher and longer the sun shines in succession. The Arctic Circle, which also runs through northern Norway, is the latitude at which the sun remains just above the horizon on the night of June 21-22. The midnight sun is visible even in more southern parts of Norway. In the middle of summer, people can still read the newspaper on the street at night without much trouble. Conversely, the sun on the Arctic Circle naturally remains below the horizon in winter and the Arctic night prevails on the North Pole. With heavy clouds there is of course much less of this natural phenomenon to be seen.

Midsummernight sun, NorwayMidsummernight sun, NorwayPhoto: Paul1119 CC 3.0 Germany no changes made

The northern lights or polar lights can be seen on clear, cold winter nights. Electrical particles are ejected from sunspots in the direction of the Earth, and pushed by the magnetic field around the Earth to the higher layers of the air, where they start to glow. There are then beautiful shades of color, in curves and rays. The most beautiful part is the Northern Lights crown, when all those arches and rays seem to hang like a crown above the pole.

Northern lights or aurora, NorwayNorthern lights or aurora, NorwayPhoto: Santeri Viinamäki CC 4.0 International no changes made

Plants and Animals


The tree line, located at approx. 1000 m above sea level in Southern Norway, gradually descends and reaches sea level near the North Cape. In addition to numerous coniferous forests, 70% of the afforestation, there are also deciduous forests in Norway. In the south, on the fertile soils, one finds the northernmost foothills of the Central European deciduous forests with oak, common ash, rough elm, Norway maple, hazel, and whitebeam.

Snowy coniferous forest, Norway Snowy coniferous forest, NorwayPhoto: Orcaborealis CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In higher elevations and in the north, the vegetation is limited to a kind of thicket consisting of dwarf birches and juniper berries. Many swamp plants, heather and reindeer moss grow on the high plains. In many places along the coast the fertile top layer has disappeared and there is not much growing there. A coniferous forest type with man-sized herbs and ferns grows in moist nutrient-rich valleys and gorges. In the forests of Central Norway you can find many wild fruits: blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries, among others. Many mushrooms are found in the deciduous and pine forests.

Norway mapleNorway maplePhoto: Jonathan Billinger, A fine Norway Maple, Acer CC BY-SA 2.0 no changes made


One of the most famous large animals in Norway is the moose, which is common in many parts of Northern Norway. Tens of thousands of tame reindeer live mainly in the province of Finnmark and are used as livestock by the Sami. Wild reindeer live on the Dovrefjell. Musk oxen were re-released after WWII because they were eaten for lack of food. Wolves are rare and often come from Sweden. Large animals such as brown bear, wolverines and lynx are still present thanks to strict protection. Arctic fox and arctic hare were hunted for their fur and therefore increasingly rare.

Moose mother and young, NorwayMoose mother and young, NorwayPhoto: Veronika Ronkos CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

They too are now protected animals. The lemming, a kind of vole, is special. Once every three or four years they move en masse over mountains, through valleys and rivers and lakes cross towards the west coast due to overcrowding. A well-known image are the thousands of lemmings who fall blindly into a ravine and kill themselves, but that is a myth.

Norway lemmingNorway lemmingPhoto: Johsgrd CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Norway is especially rich in water birds: ducks, gulls, guillemots and the well-known puffin are common. More than 200 bird species are found on some offshore islands. Inland the Western capercaillie is a well-known appearance. The national bird of Norway is the white-throated dipper.

Dipper, national bird of NorwayDipper, national bird of NorwayPhoto: Dirk-Jan van Roes CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The sea off the coast is very rich in fish, partly due to the high seawater temperature due to the Warm Gulf Stream. Some whale species are found in the Arctic Ocean. Pollock, mackerel and cod are common. To a lesser extent, you will find flatfish, halibut and catfish. The lakes and rivers include salmon, trout, perch, bream and pike. Cold-blooded animals such as reptiles are sparsely represented; the adder occurs only in the south and the small viviparous lizard reaches its northern limit in Norway. Tourists can be bothered by mosquitoes, which are especially abundant in Finnmark.

Western capercaillie, NorwayWestern capercaillie, NorwayPhoto: David Palmer CC 2.0 Generic no changes made


Prehistory and Antiquity

It was not until after the last ice age that all kinds of tribes settled in the forests and on the coasts of present-day Norway. The oldest finds date from around 10,000 BC. The Iron Age began about 500 years before Christ. Prosperity increased because of the use of metal tools and weapons. Moreover, larger boats could be made good for further travel. 500 AD the population fell very rapidly, probably due to infectious disease or a deterioration in the climate. 800 AD the population grew so fast again that overpopulation threatened. The Viking era could begin.

Devonian - silurian strata at the island of Langaara. The layers were folded 90 degrees during the Permian. Chalconite has been extracted industrially at the island since medieval times. The loose stones have been deposited during the last Ice age.Devonian - silurian strata at the island of Langaara. The layers were folded 90 degrees during the Permian. Chalconite has been extracted industrially at the island since medieval times. The loose stones have been deposited during the last Ice age.Photo: Bjoertvedt CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Viking Age

The Viking raid on Lindisfarne in Northern England in 793 is considered the beginning of the Viking era. The attack on Lindisfarne was followed by a series of successful raids along the coasts of the British Isles as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Norway slowly turned into a centrally controlled country during the Viking era and was ruled by different kings for centuries. After the lost battle at Stiklestad, Norway was conquered together with England by Knut the Great from Denmark. With the death of King Cnut of Denmark (1035), Denmark temporarily ceased to be a factor of power in Norway.

Silver coin depicting Knut the Great, Norway Silver coin depicting Knut the Great, NorwayPhoto: York Museums Trust Staff CC 4.0 International no changes made

Magnus became king of all of Norway, now widely recognized as an independent, sovereign kingdom. Under the reign of Harald Hardhrádi an ecclesiastical division was established and laws were enacted; Oslo and Bergen developed near and under the protection of royal castles. At the beginning of the 14th century, the empire was more powerful than ever; the colonies, founded on the Orkades, Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland,, had recognized the dominion of the motherland.
Nevertheless, a cultural and economic decline was already clearly noticeable at that time, and in the 14th and 15th centuries also politically. A reduction in the number of trading ships and warships made the connections between the kingdoms more difficult, and the significance of the Hanseatic League for imports and exports increased. And the plague epidemic of the 14th century halved the population and destroyed even more serious the noble families who were reduced from 300 to 60. The clergy, important to education and culture, was also decimated.

Harald Hardråde or Harald III of Norway, also Harald SigurdssonHarald Hardråde or Harald III of Norway, also Harald SigurdssonPhoto: Colin Smith CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The dynasty's extinction was Norway in the Kalmar Union allied with Sweden (1319-1380) and then with ever closer ties to Denmark (until 1814). In 1533, the Danish king Christian II, who had fled to the Netherlands, tried to recapture his rule over the Nordic empires. Archbishop Engelbrechtsson also made an attempt to restore Norwegian autonomy. But after Engelbrechtsson's flight, the victorious Christian II imposed the Danish church order on the country and appointed Danish clergy in Norway. Danes supplanted Norwegians in the Council of State and Danish officials ruled the country.

Christian II, king of DenmarkChristian II, king of DenmarkPhoto: Rijksmuseum CC 1.0 no changes made

In the 1536 coronation charter, Norway ceased to be an independent kingdom. From the 16th century onwards, economic and cultural progress was noticeable. Own shipping grew. The Republic of the United Netherlands took an important place: there the Norwegians learned modern shipbuilding techniques and the Republic bought a lot of fish and wood. Mining also emerged, followed in the footsteps of a processing industry (mainly foundries).
In 1660 kingship became hereditary and absolute. Due to the Napoleonic Wars, Copenhagen took the French side in 1807. This led to a British blockade of Denmark and Norway, with very negative consequences for trade and export. The connections with Denmark also became increasingly difficult. But that isolation did strengthen the national feeling. To stop the desire for independence in Norway, King Frederik VI sent his nephew and Crown Prince Christiaan Frederik VIII to Norway in 1813 as stadholder to save what could be saved. But as early as 1814, Frederik VI had to cede Norway to Sweden at the Peace of Kiel. The original Norwegian colonies of Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland stayed with Denmark.

Statue of Christian VIII of DenmarkStatue of Christian VIII of DenmarkPhoto: Oleryhlolsson CC 4.0 International no changes made

Union with Sweden

The Norwegians, however, were far from agreeing what had been decided about them in Kiel. Christiaan Frederik refused to transfer his functions to the governor-general appointed by the Swedish king. In February 1814 he arranged a meeting with Norwegian notables in Eidsvoll; the assembly requested the prince to take up the office of regent until a constituent assembly had been able to discuss the future form of government. The Constituent Assembly met in April and on May 17 a constitution was passed and ratified by Christiaan Frederik, who has now been proclaimed king. The constitution put an end to the absolute power of the king. Ministers were now responsible. The ministers were legally (not politically) accountable to the elected parliament, the Storting.
Meanwhile, the new state threatened a new danger: the Swedish Crown Prince, the former French Marshal Bernadotte, wanted to implement the provisions of the Kiel peace treaty with the prospect of Congress in Vienna and began hostilities against Norway. An extraordinary meeting of the Storting accepted the king of Sweden as sovereign, if Norway was allowed to keep the constitution. A truce was then reached. Swedish King Charles XIII appointed a commission to consult with delegates from the Storting on changes to be made to the Norwegian constitution. When the amendments were approved by the Storting, Charles XIII (in Norway known as Charles II) was elected King of Norway on November 4, 1814.

Charles XIII was King of Norway from 1814 to 1818 as Charles II Charles XIII was King of Norway from 1814 to 1818 as Charles IIPhoto: Peter Andersson Fällmar CC 1.0 Generic no changes made

In the following year a Reichstag was drawn up and approved by the Swedish Reichstag and the Norwegian Storting. The two empires would have one king and act as a unit if war broke out. Furthermore, they would be independent and on an equal footing. In practice, however, Sweden was the most powerful party, if only because Sweden looked after foreign relations. In the middle of the 19th century the economy improved, when Norway also started to mechanize and industrialize. Politically speaking, conflicts repeatedly arose between King and Storting; the post of stadtholder was finally dissolved in 1873 by King Oscar II. The king only wanted to ratify the provisions that prevent the ministers from being members of the Storting on the condition that he was allowed absolute veto and dissolution rights.
It was not until 1884 that Oscar II allowed an amendment to the constitution and could now entrust Johan Sverdrup, the leader of the liberals, with the formation of a parliamentary cabinet. However, his party fell apart a short time later. Now that the parliamentary system had become a reality, the political parties also came to the fore. The internal contradictions faded somewhat into the background due to the deteriorating relations with Sweden.
In 1844 Oscar I had allowed the Norwegians to fly their own flag. However, it was difficult for them to accept that they had no control over their own consulates, which was of great importance to Norwegian shipping and fishing. A coalition government formed in 1905 presented Oscar II with a bill that would regulate consulate in a manner acceptable to Norway.
The king refused to ratify it, and the government demanded resignation. The king did not find one Norwegian statesman willingto form a new government. On June 7, 1905, the Storting decided unanimously that the executive authority was unable to exercise its function and requested the ministers to temporarily fulfill the king's constitutional duties. This decision was approved by a referendum shortly afterwards.
The quarreling parties entered into negotiations in Karlstad. Sweden agreed to the dissolution of the Union, provided the border fortresses were demolished. And after the republic was rejected as a form of government by popular vote, the Storting chose the Danish prince Charles as king. He took the name Haakon VII and chose Alt for Norge (Everything for Norway) as his motto.

King Haakon VII and queen Maud, NorwayKing Haakon VII and queen Maud, NorwayPhoto: National Library of Norway: Peder O. Aune CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The many conflicts with Sweden were so prevalent that they diverted attention from other matters. Culturally, ties with Denmark gradually loosened without being replaced by ties with Sweden. For example, the written language developed more and more in the Norwegian direction. In addition, in the middle of the century Norway got a second - own - written language, the 'landsmål' (l'nynorsk'), reconstructed on the basis of mainly West Norse dialects. The two languages became fully equivalent in 1885. Parliament, which could only meet once every three years from 1814, was able to play its role as parliament better from 1869 by allowing it to meet annually.
Although shipping, fishing, industry and mining increased prosperity, especially in the second half of the 19th century, the predominantly agricultural land became too small to offer all its subjects good livelihoods. Extensive emigration started, especially to the United States: from 1866 to 1915 more than 700,000 Norwegians emigrated. The country's infrastructure changed dramatically due to the construction of roads and railways and the establishment of boat connections.

Norway's independent state

In the early years of independence, relations with Sweden remained cool. The November 1907 treaty with England, France, Russia and the German Empire, whereby Norway promised not to give up a part of its territory, while the Great Powers committed themselves to protecting the same territorial integrity and independence, was seen in Sweden as an expression of suspicion and aroused great resentment there. After the 1906 elections, the Workers' Party became a significant factor. Women's suffrage was introduced in 1907. The sale of alcoholic beverages was completely banned in 1919.

Gunnar Knudsen's second government (31 January 1913 to 21 June 1920)Gunnar Knudsen's second government, NorwayPhoto: Venstre from Norway CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The First World War brought the Scandinavian countries closer together. Being neutral, they had in many ways the same political and economic interests. Economically, the war was a very advantageous time for shipowners, industries and peasants. Consumers bore the burden because the basic necessities of life rose sharply in price. The extraordinary powers of the government caused great discontent. More or less related to the peace talks in Versailles, Norway acquired sovereignty over Svalbard (Spitsbergen) in 1925. In 1919 the district system was weakened and universal suffrage was introduced. A major strike in 1921 against plans to cut wages led by the revolutionary forces in the workers' movement then predominant led to a defeat for the trade union movement. Conservative forces in society were strengthened. During this time the Workers' Party fell apart.
In 1927 the now moderate Workers' Party became the largest party again. After a socialist governmental interlude in 1928, the Johan Nygaardsvold cabinet came to an end in 1935 to the long alternation of liberal and conservative cabinets. The Social Democrats retained power until 1963. The government's main task was to get the economy out of the doldrums and restore employment.

Far right: Johan Nygaardsvold (Hommelvik, September 6, 1879 - Trondheim, March 13, 1952), Prime Minister of Norway (1935-1945) Far right: Johan Nygaardsvold, Prime Minister of NorwayPhoto:Arbeiderbladet CC 4.0 International no changes made

World War II

After the outbreak of war, Norway managed to remain neutral until April 1940. On April 8, the Allies announced, by laying mines within the three-mile zone, that they would stop the movement of German ships off the Norwegian coast. The following day the German invasion followed. German troops landed in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik. King and government fled to London, from where the fighting continued. Despite poor organization, Norwegian troops managed to resist for about six weeks, helped in Narvik by the English and French.
On Feb. 1942 a new government was formed, with the German vassal Quisling as prime minister. An active resistance movement developed in the country. In October 1944, Soviet troops penetrated Norwegian territory and occupied Kirkenes. Much of Finnmark soon fell into their hands. The Germans withdrew from the north, wreaking havoc. The Germans capitulated on May 8, 1945 and Norway regained its freedom.

Vidkun Quisling, leader of the Nasjonal Samling (National Unity) party in Norway and Prime Minister from 1942 Vidkun Quisling, leader of the Nasjonal Samling party in Norway and Prime Minister from 1942Photo: Nasjonal Samling, fra samlingene til Hedmarksmuseet in the public domain

EU yes or no?

Immediately after the war, Social Democrat Einar Gerhardsen formed a national government, which remained in office until the elections in the autumn. The Social Democrats retained the majority until 1961. In 1965, a bourgeois coalition government came to power. In 1971 this coalition succumbed to internal divisions over the accession to the EU. The Workers' Party formed a minority government and made its survival dependent on the outcome of the EU referendum. Norway spoke out against the EU.
In 1981 Nordli was succeeded by Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first female Prime Minister. In 1989 the Workers' Party lost the elections and for a year the country was run by a center-right minority cabinet. That government fell in October 1990 on the question of Norway's possible accession to the European Community, a problem that has been deeply divided in Norway since 1970. Brundtland wanted a closer relationship with the EU.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first female Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first female Prime MinisterPhoto: GAD CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Jan 17. King Olaf V died in 1991. He was succeeded by his son Harald V. In October 1992 an agreement was reached on the European Economic Area with the other countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the twelve EU Member States. Negotiations with the EU were reopened in 1993. The big losers in the parliamentary elections in September 1993 were the conservatives and the small right-wing Progress Party. The election profit was enough for Prime Minister Brundtland to continue her minority government. The Norwegians had repeatedly rejected EC membership and the referendum held at the end of November 1994 was no exception: more than half voted against.

King Harald V of NorwayKing Harald V of NorwayPhoto: UKOM (foto: Nebojša Tejic/STA) CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Economically, Norway developed in the first half of the 1990s very good. The continued growth was mainly driven by oil and natural gas revenues, which also underlined the one-sidedness and vulnerability of the economy. Prime Minister Brundtland resigned at the end of 1996. She had been head of government for 10 years for the past 15 years.

Norway has been ruled by minority governments for the last 30 years. However, this changed in September 2005. The center-right minority government led by the Christian Democratic Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik had to make way for the current Red-Green Alliance led by the Social Democratic Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of the Workers' Party (Arbeidersparti). The Workers' Party, which had suffered the biggest defeat in its history in September 2001, emerged as the big winner in September 2005 and formed a majority coalition with the Socialist party - comparable to SP plus Green Left - (Sosialistisk Venstre) and the Center Party. (Senterparti).

Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Secretary General of NATOPhoto: Magnus Fröderberg/ CC 2.5 Denmark no changes made

In the parliamentary elections in September 2009, Stoltenberg won with a narrow majority. On June 19, 2010, Crown Princess Victoria marries gym owner Daniel Westling. In July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik committed the largest mass murder in the history of modern Norway. The right-wing extremist is carrying out a massacre on the island of Utoya.

Utøya, the place of the attack on the Norwegian Labour Partys youth campUtøya, the place of the attack on the Norwegian Labour Partys youth campPhoto: Paalso; Paal Sørensen CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In September 2013, elections will be won by a center-right bloc led by Erna Solberg. She will be given a new mandate in the elections in September 2017. The next elections are scheduled for September 2021.

Erna Solberg, prime minister of NorwayErna Solberg, prime minister of NorwayPhoto: Kjetil Ree CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


The population of Norway was 5,320,045 in July 2017. This means that on average only 16 people live on a km2, a population density that is among the lowest in Europe. In Finnmark, only 1.6 people live per km2.

Population density NorwayPopulation density NorwayPhoto: Free ottoman CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The population of Norway largely belongs to the Nordic race descended from the Vikings. There are also two ethnic minorities, both in Northern Norway: 60,000 Samen (Lappen) and 7,000 Finns. The Sami are related to the Mongols. The Norwegians have long tried to make the Sami language and culture die out. That did not work and nowadays there is even a Sami parliament, albeit with only limited powers.

Sami woman in traditional costume, NorwaySami woman in traditional costume, NorwayPhoto: Gerd A.T. Mueller CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Emigration has always played a major role in Norwegian history since Viking times. Hundreds of thousands left their country over time. The population is increasingly concentrated in relatively large cities such as Oslo (over 1 million inhabitants in the urban region), Bergen and Trondheim.

Oslo, capital and most populous city of NorwayOslo, capital and most populous city of NorwayPhoto: John Christian Fjell… CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


The Norwegian language and its dialects belong to the North Germanic language group, as well as Danish, Swedish and Icelandic. The country has two completely assimilated (and closely related) writing languages: bokmål (used by about 80%) and nynorsk (20%). The Norwegians owe bokmål to the more than 400 years of Danish rule. It is in fact Old Danish with Norwegian influence and pronunciation. Bokmål is internationally regarded as Standard Norwegian and the Oslo dialect is considered "civilized Norwegian". Nynorsk is derived from the language that is still spoken in Iceland and is most like what the Vikings ever spoke.

Preference for written languages by Norwegian municipalities in the period 1936-1991Preference for written languages by Norwegian municipalities in the period 1936-1991Photo: Leifern CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The majority of the population uses the local dialect as a spoken language. Dialects are therefore highly regarded and cherished by the local population as a precious heritage. Attempts to arrive at one common language, samnorsk, do not get off the ground.
The Norwegian alphabet has 29 letters, and the æ, the å and the o with the slash through them. Sami, the language of the Sami or Lappen, is recognized as the third official language in Northern Norway. Sami is related to Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian.

Overview of Sami languages in Northern Scandinavia Overview of Sami languages in Northern ScandinaviaPhoto: Rogper CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Christianity did not reach Norway until late in the eleventh century. Approximately 89% of the population is now a member of the Evangelical Lutheran state church. The organization is divided into 10 dioceses. The king is head of the church. Many Norwegians adhere to other recognized religious organizations such as e.g. the Pentecostal church. In addition, there are separate Evangelical Lutheran free churches, Methodists, Baptists and Roman Catholics (over 35,280 members); the latter church has a bishop in Oslo.

Frogner church, Oslo (Evangelical Lutheran), NorwayFrogner church, Oslo (Evangelical Lutheran), NorwayPhoto: Kjetil Ree CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Evangelical Lutheran Free Church, Oslo Norway
Evangelical Lutheran Free Church, Oslo NorwayPhoto: Jan-Tore Egge CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Lutheran Church in Hammerfest, Norway Lutheran Church in Hammerfest, NorwayPhoto: Manxruler CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Paul's Church in Bergen (catholic), Norway Paul's Church in Bergen (catholic), NorwayPhoto: Sveter CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


State structure

The Norwegian constitution dates from 1814 along the lines of that of the United States. In 1884, the parliamentary system was introduced, whereby the government is accountable to the representatives of the people. In 1898 universal male suffrage was introduced, in 1913 as the second country in Europe after Finland, also female suffrage. A referendum can be held on important issues. In 1994 the majority of Norwegians voted against membership of the European Community. The Kingdom of Norway has existed since 1905 and is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament (Storting). Legislative power rests with the 165-member Storting, elected by universal suffrage under a district system for four years.

Parliament building NorwayParliament building NorwayPhoto:Ggcardinal from Norway CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Norway has a mixture of one- and two-chamber system: there is only one chamber, but it divides itself into a Lagting (3 of the members) and an Odelsting (H). Usually the Storting meets in full, but bills are discussed first in Odelsting and then in Lagting. Executive power is formally vested in the king, but the state councilor determines the content of the royal decrees, which must be co-signed by the prime minister. The king appoints the members of the privy council (government), who is answerable to parliament. For the current political situation, see chapter history.

Meeting room Storting, NorwayMeeting room Storting, NorwayPhoto: Smuconlaw CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Administrative division

The country is divided into nineteen provinces (fylker), headed by a governor (fylkesmann). The smallest administrative units are the 439 municipalities. Svålbard (Spitsbergen) has a special status and is administered by a governor (sysselmann), who falls directly under the government in Oslo. Oslo is an independent province. The island of Jan Mayen in the Arctic Ocean also belongs to Norway.

Regions NorwayRegions NorwayPhoto: Antonio Ciccolella CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Children attend a nine-year, usually public elementary school from kindergarten age. From the fourth grade, the children learn the English language. In the eighth grade they can still choose a foreign language. Secondary school lasts three years.

Primary school in Stord on the island of the same name off the southeast coast of Norway Primary school in Stord off the southeast coast of NorwayPhoto: Wolfmann CC 4.0 International no changes made

After secondary school, one can study at various universities and colleges. The oldest university is Oslo, which dates back to 1813.

Main building Oslo UniversityMain building Oslo UniversityPhoto: Riaz CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The University of Tromso was founded in 1969 especially for the residents of Northern Norway.

Campus Universitetet i Tromsø, NorwayCampus Universitetet i Tromsø, NorwayPhoto: Maja Sojtaric CC 3.0 Unported no changes made



Norway has a stable economy with a vibrant private sector, a large public sector and an extensive social safety net. Norway excluded the EU in a referendum in November 1994. However, as a member of the European Economic Area, Norway participates partially in the EU internal market and contributes significantly to the EU budget.

The country is richly endowed with natural resources such as oil and gas, fish, forests and minerals. In anticipation of any declines in oil and gas production, Norway is saving state revenues from oil sector activities in the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.

Old Norwegian banknotesOld Norwegian banknotesPhoto: Wolfmann CC 4.0 International no changes made

After solid growth in the period 2004-2007, the economy slowed in 2008 and contracted in 2009, before returning to modest, positive growth from 2010 to 2017. In 2017, growth is expected to be 1.9%. economic growth will remain constant or improve somewhat in the coming years. Its GDP is $ 72,100 per capita.

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing

Compared to the available agricultural land, the yield from arable farming, horticulture and livestock farming is very high. To avoid dependence on foreign countries, farmers are heavily subsidized and the prices of agricultural products are kept artificially high. In Southern Norway, for example, grain cultivation is being encouraged to enable animal husbandry in areas not suitable for grain production, which is still somewhat profitable (albeit heavily subsidized). In this way an attempt is also being made to combat the depopulation of Northern Norway in particular.

Grain field at Tungasletta, eastern Trondheim, NorwayGrain field at Tungasletta, eastern Trondheim, NorwayPhoto: Orcaborealis CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

About two-thirds of forest ownership is in the hands of farmers and is mostly exploited on a small scale in combination with farming. About 80% of the Norwegian forests are used for wood production. Most Norwegian houses are still built of wood.

Wooden houses in Bergen, NorwayWooden houses in Bergen, NorwayPhoto: Sveter CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The sea continues to play an important role in the Norwegian economy. The export of fish products annually yields billions of Norwegian kroner. A 200-mile zone was established in 1977. Fish farming (including salmon and trout) is a growth industry that is becoming increasingly important.


On the mainland of Norway, iron ore, lead, copper, nickel, granite and zinc are extracted. Spitsbergen has large reserves of coal exploited by Norwegian and Russian companies. Oil and natural gas have been extracted from the North Sea since 1971. The state-owned company Statoil has played an increasingly important role in exploration and extraction. The petroleum is transported by tankers, the gas by pipeline to Emden (Germany) and Teesside (England).

 Statoil petrol station, Södra Hammarbyhamnen (Stockholm)Statoil petrol station, Södra Hammarbyhamnen (Stockholm)Photo: Arild Vågen CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


The industry's share of the gross national product was 33.7% in 2017 and 19.3% of the labor force finds work there. Small businesses dominate. The aluminum industry is the most important branch. Besides Russia, Norway is the largest aluminum producer in Europe.

View of the aluminium factory Sør-Norge Aluminium AS at Husnes, NorwayView of the aluminium factory Sør-Norge Aluminium AS at Husnes, NorwayPhoto: Jostein Røstbø CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Other important products are nitrogen and calcium nitrate. Also important are the wood finishing and paper industries, shipbuilding and cement industries. The chemical and petrochemical industries are becoming increasingly important due to the extraction of natural gas and petroleum. The main refineries are located at Bamble, Rafsnes and Mongstad. The construction sector is also of great importance.


Norway has had a surplus on the trade balance since 1989, mainly due to oil exports. Important export products are also machines, metals (aluminum), paper and cellulose, fish and chemical products. Total exports were $ 102.8 billion in 2017. Mainly machines, raw materials and semi-finished products, petroleum and petroleum products, foodstuffs, cars and ships are imported. Total imports were $ 95.1 billion in 2017. The main trading partners are the EU, the Scandinavian neighbors and the United States.

Export products NorwayExport products NorwayPhoto: R Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


There have never been many roads and therefore a coastal shipping has always played a central role in transportation. Since the arrival of the railways, typical 'station cities' have emerged inland. The rail network is not extensive. From Narvik there is a connection to the Swedish railway network with an ore line to Kiruna.

NSB train, NorwayNSB train, NorwayPhoto: MPW57 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Hurtigrute from Bergen to Kirkenes occupies a central place in passenger transport by sea. Transport by air is provided by SAS (also international), Braathens SAFE and Widerøe. From Norway there are ferry connections to Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and England. Norway has the fifth largest merchant fleet in the world with more than 1,600 ships of 100 gross tons and larger. The shipping companies have significant interests in the petroleum industry. Norway is one of the first countries to specialize in super tankers.

Hurtigruten ship, NorwayHurtigruten ship, NorwayPhoto: I, Nsaa CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The longest tunnel in the world was opened in Norway in 2001: the Laerdal Tunnel is 24.5 km long and starts 300 km northwest of Oslo and connects Oslo with Bergen.

Laerdal tunnel, NorwayLaerdal tunnel, NorwayPhoto: Sergey Ashmarin CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The listed Scandinavian Airlines, a part of the SAS Group and formerly known as the Scandinavian Airlines System, has been the joint airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden since its inception in 1946. The governments of Sweden and Denmark still hold shares, the rest is in private hands. In March 2021, Scandinavian Airlines had a fleet of 132 aircraft.

Boeing 737-683 Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Norway Boeing 737-683 Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), NorwayPhoto: Alf van Beem in the public domain

Holidays and Sightseeing

Norway has the largest areas of natural beauty in Europe. The most famous is the fjord-cut west coast with its many islands. In the fjords the rivers often end with waterfalls.

Fjærlandsfjorden, NorwayFjærlandsfjorden, NorwayPhoto: Aqwis CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Interesting cities in the fjord area are Trondheim (including the originally 11th-century cathedral) with the 18th-century mining town of Røros in the vicinity, Bergen, Stavanger and Flekkefjord with the picturesque Hollenderbyen (Dutch town). On the southeast coast: Kristiansand, Risør, Oslo, with the old mining town of Kongsberg nearby (three waterfalls, two museums); and furthermore Fredrikstad at the Swedish border.

Aerial photo of Trondheim , NorwayAerial photo of Trondheim , NorwayPhoto: Åge Hojem/Trondheim Havn CC 2.0 Generice no changes made

In the interior of southern Norway with its many lakes, the mountain region of Joyunheim (up to more than 2400 m high) lies in the northeast by Gudbrandsdal with many farms from the 16th and 17th centuries. The most characteristic high mountain type in Norway, however, is the fjell (high plateau), eg Dovrefjell, where you can ski in summer. Norway has many glaciers, including the Jostedals glacier, the largest in Europe.

Jostedal glacier, NorwayJostedal glacier, NorwayPhoto: I, Dirgela CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Voss is the center of an area with ancient villages. In Southern Norway you will find the most stavkirken, medieval churches with a very typical construction. Very interesting is Finnmark, Norway's northernmost province, the land of Lapps, reindeer and midnight sun. From Tromso you can visit Svalbard (Spitsbergen) by boat. A.o. in the vicinity of Alta you will find rock paintings and excavations of settlements from the Stone Age. Karasjok is a typical Samen village. To the south is Rana (Samen Museum) with glacier areas in the area and the crystal cave Grønligrotta with an underground waterfall.

Grønligrotta, NorwayGrønligrotta, NorwayPhoto: Sandivas CC 4.0 International no changes made

In July 2005, the United Nations Cultural Organization, UNESCO, listed two Norwegian fjords as World Heritage Sites. It concerned the Geiranger and Naeroy fjords.

Geiranger fjord, NorwayGeiranger fjord, NorwayPhoto: Ludovic Péron CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Oslo is the capital of Norway and well worth a visit. The main attraction of Oslo is without a doubt Akershus Festning. This is a medieval fortress. In 1299 the construction of this castle was completed under King Hakon V. The fort was known as a very well secured and strong fortress, which could hardly be conquered. In the 17th century, the castle was transformed in the Renaissance style. Today there is also a resistance museum in the fortress.

Akershusstranda in downtown Oslo, with Oslo City Hall and Akershus FestningAkershusstranda in downtown Oslo NorwayPhoto: Jon Rogne CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Three major festivals take place in Oslo during the summer months: Norwegian Wood, Oslo Live Festival and Øya Festival. In addition, all kinds of smaller festivals are also organized in the Norwegian capital. Read also the Oslo page on Landenweb.

Oslo Live Festival, NorwayOslo Live Festival, NorwayPhoto: Frode Ramone CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

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Dominicus, J. / Noorwegen

Hoogendoorn, H. / Noorwegen

Meesters, G. / Zuid-Noorwegen
ANWB media

Schagen, K. / Noorwegen

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Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb