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Facts about Norway

THE COUNTRY


Norway is one of the five Nordic nations which lie within the northern stretches of the European continent. It is bordered to the east by Sweden, Finland and Russia; to the west by the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; to the north by the Barents Sea, and to the south by the North Sea. In total area, Norway measures 386,958 square kilometres.

The country is long and narrow, with more than 30% of the land covered by forests, many rivers and lakes. Nearly half of the country is given over to mountain ranges. Norways 20 largest cities and see Videos from the whole country.

Norway is divided into 19 countys. Each County is divided into different muncipalities. Norway is officially the best place in the world to live, according to the UN.


NOBEL PEACE PRIZE


The announcement of the laureate´s name is not made on a fixed date, but is often made on a Friday in mid-October. The announcement takes place in the Nobel Institute building and has become a major news event. The Peace Prize is awarded annually on 10 December, the day on which Alfred Nobel died in 1896.


OIL and GAS


Since the discovery of North Sea oil in Norwegian waters during the late 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become very important elements of the economy of Norway. With North Sea oil production having peaked, disagreements over exploration for oil in the Barents Sea, the prospect of exploration in the Arctic, as well as growing international concern over global warming, energy in Norway is currently receiving close attention.

Electricity generation in Norway is almost entirely from hydroelectric power plants. Norway was the first country to generate electricity commercially using sea-bed tidal power. A 300 kilowatt prototype underwater turbine started generation in the Kvalsund, south of Hammerfest.


THE PEOPLE


There are approximately 5.000.000 million Norwegians, most of whom live in urban areas and all of whom enjoy uncrowded surroundings. The Sami (formerly known as the Lapps) are the indigenous people of Norway with origins in the northern regions of Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. There are about 30,000 Sami in Norway, the majority living in Finnmark, the northernmost county. The Sami people possess a rich, centuries-old culture which is reflected in their distinctive music, art and handicrafts.


QUICK LINKS


A choice of different MUST DO in Norway.


THE CAPITAL


Oslo is Norway´s capital with a population of about six hundred thousand people. In addition to being the seat of government, Oslo is the business and cultural capital of the nation.


THE PARLIAMENT


Norway is a constitutional monarchy that adopted its own constitution on 17 May 1814. Although the King has no real political power, the Royal Family enjoys a strong position among the Norwegian people. The present monarch, King Harald V, came to the throne after the death of his father King Olav V in 1991. Erna Solberg became the new Prime Minister in Norway 16 October 2013. The Prime Minister is the most senior member of the Government, responsible for coordinating and leading the work of the Government.


THE ECONOMY


In Norway the currency is named Kroner (NOK). By using the Currency Converter, you can perform interactive foreign exchange rate calculations, using live, up-to-the-minute currency rates.

Norwegian per capita income ranks among the world´s highest. North Sea oil and gas fields are one of the cornerstones of the Norwegian economy. Other major industries upon which Norway relies are fishery, pulp and paper, forestry, mining, manufacturing and shipping.


FOREIGN POLICY


Norway is a member of NATO and an associate member of the West European Union. Through the United Nations, where Norwegian Trygve Lie was the first Secretary General, Norway works at many levels. Norwegians participate in many of the UN peacekeeping forces. Norway also seeks to create peace in other ways, and has played a vital role in a number of peace processes in unstable corners of the world. For several decades, Norway has cooperated extensively on political and practical issues with the other Nordic countries.


VIKINGS


Popular conceptions of the Vikings often differ from the complex picture that emerges from archaeology and written sources. A romanticised picture of Vikings as noble savages began to take root in the 18th century, and this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival. The Vikings employed wooden longships with wide, shallow-draft hulls, allowing navigation in rough seas or in shallow river waters. The received views of the Vikings as violent brutes or intrepid adventurers owe much to the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations are typically highly clichéd, presenting the Vikings as familiar caricatures.

A number of small Norwegian communities were gradually organised into larger regions in the 9th century, and around the year 900, King Harald Fairhair unified the realm and became its first supreme ruler. In the years 800-1050, Vikings from Norway settled in England, France, Ireland and Iceland.


HISTORY IN BRIEF

Norway and Denmark subsequently formed one kingdom from 1380 to 1814 when, in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, Norway was united with Sweden, adopting a modern constitution in the process. In 1905, Norway and Sweden went their separate ways peacefully and Norway has been independent since then.


CULTURE AND HERITAGE


"Bunader" - National Costumes
The use of national costumes for ceremonial dress is a distinctively Norwegian characteristic. The garments are colourful folk costumes based on the dress customs of long ago, and are used today on ceremonial occasions.

One of the consequences of the history of Norway, united for several hundred years with Sweden and Denmark respectively, is the fact that the costumes have become an important national symbol, which distinguish the wearers as Norwegians. The country is unique in the western world in its use of national costumes as worn today in Norway, and this relatively new, but nevertheless strong tradition comes to the fore, especially on the 17th of May, the national day.


CONSTITUTION DAY


The 17th of May, Norwegian Constitution Day, is mainly the children´s day. Throughout the country children are parading to celebrate that Norway is an independent country. In contrast to many other countries that celebrate their constitution with military parades, the people of Norway have chosen to show their pride and hope for the future through their children.

In front of the parade you will find many large Norwegian flags, usually carried by scouts or older students. Most of the schools have their own school orchestra, playing great music in the parade. The children walk behind their school banners, shouting "Hurra for the 17th of May", blowing horns and singing national songs.


EDUCATION FOR ALL


Education for all is the basic principle of the Norwegian education system. Regardless of social background, ethnicity, age or religion, everyone should have equal opportunities to pursue a higher education degree. We encourage you to explore the various programmes offered at our universities and university colleges.

Through internationalisation, basic research and innovation Norway is aiming to become a leading nation within research. After almost 40 years of experience in the petroleum industry, Norway has acquired a unique knowledge in the fi eld. Norway is in the forefront in the areas of technology and environmental protection, and building up expertise in the field has been an important element in the petroleum policy.

The Norwegian Government gives priority to research aimed at meeting the technological and environmental challenges in the High North. The High North strategy promotes further development of expertise and technology that will enable oil and gas exploration and production to be carried out in a responsible and efficient way.


NATIONAL PARKS


On Norway´s mainland you will find 25 national parks. Norway´s National Parks are established to secure the rich diversity of our natural heritage for future generations. In the national parks nature is protected by law and all visitors must show respect not to disturb plants and wildlife.

On Svalbard, nearly 60% of the islands are protected areas. The arctic nature is vulnerable towards human activities. Tourism is restricted. There are six national parks on Svalbard.


STAVE CHURCHES


During the Middle Ages, when cathedrals in Europe were being built in stone, in Norway a corresponding building technique using wood was being developed. Wood was the most common building material in Norway and a long and well-developed experience of building with this medium had already been established, for example the building of Viking ships.

What distinguishes the stave churches first and foremost are neither the dragonheads nor the carved doorways, but the framework standing on walls of «staves» or vertical planks. It is reckoned that at one point there must have been at least 750 stave churches in the country, today only some 29 or so remain.

Norway is therefore the only country in Northern Europe which had wooden churches in the Middle Ages, where these are still intact to this day. Urnes is one of the Norwegian stave churches, built early in the 1100´s. It is known to be the oldest and is therefore prominent on UNESCO´s World Heritage List.Heddal, outside Notodden is the largest, and Borgund is perhaps the most visited and most photographed. But every stave church has its own unique charm and atmosphere, and if the outside looks simple and sparsely decorated, there are always rich decorations to be found inside.


GLACIERS


Norway still shows traces of the Ice Age, when the entire country was covered by ice. Larger and smaller glaciers are found several places in Norway. Norwegian glaciers stretch their white capes across the mountain tops and other large areas, especially towards the west and north. The glacier reflects only blue light. It is quite unique - it is a magical light.

Glaciers are beautiful, exciting and impressive. The glaciers grow and shrink, change direction and change shape and color. Even several hundred meter thick ice is in constant motion and the arms of the glacier can grow several hundred meters in only a few years.


 
GOLF


Golf is a relative new sport in Norway and the countrys oldest golfcourse is Oslo Golf Club. A Norwegian mechanical engineer, started examining the mechanics of putter construction and came up with the design for a highly superior putting instrument. Because his putter head put most of the weight on the toe and heel, leaving the middle almost a shell, it made a "ping" sound when it met the ball. So mechanical engineer called it the Ping Putter.


SKIING


Norway is truly the "Cradle of Skiing". What we today know as a sport, skiing developed in Norway as a means of getting around. Furthermore, Norwegians invented ski waxing, the modern binding, and the laminated ski. Norway has long been famous for cross country skiing, but more recently, skiers eager for new challenges and adventures have turned their attention to our many fine alpine resorts.

As the 1994 Winter Olympic Games so clearly showed, Norway offers great facilities for all winter sports; good snow conditions, clean fresh air, a healthy lifestyle, inexpensive accommodation and lots of after-ski activities.


MOUNTAIN


Norway have Trollveggen Europe´s highest vertical and overhanging rock face (1.000 metres). This is the craddle of mountain climbing sports in Scandinavia. The country´s expansive mountain ranges and high plains make ideal walking terrain. Norway´s favourite mountain ranges are in the Romsdalen, Lofoten and Vesterålen mountains in Nordland, and the Lyngen peninsula in Troms.


HIKING


The country´s expansive mountain ranges and high plains make ideal walking terrain. You could choose either to carry your own tent, stay in youth and family hostels, or ramble from cabin to cabin. The most popular areas include the Jotunheim mountain range; the Rondane and Dovrefjell mountains; the Hardangervidda plateau, the Trollheimen district; and the eponymous plain Finnmarksvidda.

DNT, The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association, runs about 300 guided hiking tours of varying difficulty during the summer, including glacier walks and around 100 in the winter. Most cabins are open from end-June until mid-September, in addition to Easter. Some cabins are open all year round.


DIVING


The Norwegian coast offers extremely good opportunities for divers. Diving centres with excellent facilities are situated along the coast. There are found 113 shipwreck in Norway.


AMUSEMENT PARKS


You will find information about the five largest parks below. There are many other parks throughout the country. For further information contact the local tourist information office. Prices vary, and groups and families often receive discounts.


BIRD WATCHING


The largest sanctuaries are in the North Norwegian Lofoten islands. On the 365 islands live the black guillemot, cormorant, puffin, white tailed eagle, kitti-wake, fulmar, gannet, and black-tailed godwit.

Røst have the biggest birdcliffs in the North Atlantic, with puffin colonies, as well as colonies of shag, kittiwake, and cormorants.

At Værøy the Eagle trapping is a tradition peculiar to the Værøy islanders. They caught eagles with their bare hands. Norwegian Lundehund or Puffin dog is one of Norway´s seven species of dogs, and the rarest one. It has an extra toe, is small, and very agile. Puffin dogs were used solely for the puffin hunt and because the hunt was of such great importance to the islanders, this race of dogs managed to survive in Værøy.

Another place to head for is the marsh Fokstumyra, in eastern Norway. No fewer than 87 different species have been spotted there, including the great snipe, hen, harrier, whimbrel, lapwing, Temminck´s stint, as well as a wide variety of water and marsh birds.

The island of Runde, just off Ålesund, serves as nesting ground for half a million sea birds. The largest bird rock is Rundebranden, and lies within walking distance from the village of Goksøyr. The most common species are kittiwake and puffin, but you will also find the razorbill, guillemot, gannet, fulmar, shag, oyster catcher, curlew, eider, and shelduck. If it is your lucky day, you might even see the white - tailed eagle, eagle owl, peregrine falcon, or golden eagle.


FJORDS


Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. There are many fjords on the coasts of Norway, Iceland, and Greenland. Most fjords are deeper than the adjacent sea; Sognefjord, reaches as much as 1,300 meters below sea level. Fjords generally have a sill or shoal (bedrock) at their mouth caused by the previous glacier´s reduced erosion rate and terminal moraine. In many cases this sill causes extreme currents and large saltwater rapids. Saltstraumen is often described as the world´s strongest tidal current. These characteristics distinguish fjords from rias, which are drowned valleys flooded by the rising sea.


FISHING


There are sport fishing records regarding 87 different salt water fish in Norway and many of these fish can be found along the coast of Norway. There are few tastes which compare with the flavor of Norwegian Salmon or Ocean Trout. This delicacy is keenly appreciated by international chefs and gourmets who relish its delicate color and fine texture.

By having a rigid enforcement of their cold, clear coastal waters, the Norwegians have succeeded in producing a superior quality salmon. No longer wild Aqua culture, the farming of seafood, has virtually eliminated the seasonal fluctuations in salmon harvesting. Whereas fresh wild salmon is only available for a few months of the year, Atlantic salmon and Ocean trout can be harvested daily.

The largest Norwegian food export in the past has been Stockfish (Tørrfisk). The Atlantic cod variety known as skrei because of its migrating habits, has been a source of wealth for millennia, fished annually in what is known as the Lofotfiske after the island chain of Lofoten. Tørrfisk has been a staple food internationally for centuries, in particular on the Iberian peninsula and the African coast. Both during the age of sail and in the industrial age, tørrfisk played a part in world history as an enabling food for cross-Atlantic trade and the slave trade triangle.

Because of industrial whaling, whale meat was commonly used as a cheap substitute for beef early in the 20th century. Recently prices have risen due to the reduction in the whale quota to approximately 300 per year. The price increases, together with the fact that whale meat´s flavor is easily ruined, have made whale a much rarer delicacy. While not common, eating whale meat is not controversial in Norway.


COMMON ANIMALS


Norway is home to many species of wild animals. Most of the animals in Norway are not dangerous to people, and we can safely use the countryside without being afraid of wild animals. Some animals live in the forests, while others live in the mountains.


FOOD AND DRINK


Norway is well known for culinary temptations from the sea, combined with comprehensive, friendly, and thoughtful service. A large number of fish dishes are popular today, based on such species as salmon, cod, herring, sardine, and mackerel. Mackerel is available particularly in summer, especially along the Sørlandet coast. Seafood is used fresh, smoked, salted or pickled. Variations on creamed seafood soups are common along the coastline. The one traditional Norwegian dish with a claim to international popularity is smoked salmon. It is now a major export, and could be considered the most important Norwegian contribution to modern international cuisine.

Smoked salmon exists traditionally in many varieties, and is often served with scrambled eggs, dill, sandwiches or mustard sauce. Close to smoked salmon is gravlaks, (literally "dug salmon"), which is salt-and-sugar-cured salmon seasoned with dill and (optionally) other herbs and spices. Gravlaks is often sold under more sales-friendly names internationally. A more peculiar Norwegian fish dish is Rakfisk, which consists of fermented trout, a culinary relation of Swedish surströmming.

Lamb´s meat and mutton is very popular in autumn, mainly used in fårikål (mutton stew with cabbage). Pinnekjøtt, cured and sometimes smoked mutton ribs that is steamed for several hours, is traditionally served as Christmas dinner in the western parts of Norway. Another Western specialty is Smalahove, a smoked lamb´s head.

Dairy is still extremely popular in Norway, though the variety of traditional products available and commonly in use is severely reduced. Milk products, especially cheese, is an export, in particular the plain-brand favourite Jarlsberg cheese. The sweet geitost goat´s cheese or brown/red cheese (not a true cheese, but rather caramelized lactose from goat milk or a mix of goat and / or cow milk) is very popular in cooking and with bread.

More sophisticated or extreme cheeses include the gammalost (lit. "old cheese"), an over-matured, highly pungent cheese made from sour milk, and Pultost, made from sour milk and caraway seeds.

Norwegian fruits and berries are much used for desserts. The berry season is mainly in summer and early autumn. Strawberries and cloudberries are among Norwegians favourites. Lingonberries are preserved and used as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

There is also a broad spectrum of bakery produce, with different regional varieties. Some of the most popular items throughout the country are flatbread - unleavened bread, and different kinds of "lefser", which are thin pancake-like cakes. Most Norwegians swear by sandwiches for lunch and some of the most popular fillings are herring in various forms, and specialities such as smoked salmon and gravlaks - salted and fermented salmon.

Norway has no traditions when it comes to winemaking, but beer has been a key issue of Norwegian culture since the Viking era. A good follow-up with beer, especially if the food is rich, is Norwegian aquavit. Many people will never theless claim that the best drink in Norway is the water, whether it is drunk from the tap or bottled from the many producers of spring water.

In spite of the country´s old traditions, Norwegians´ eating habits have, like the rest of the world, become international. Outdoor snack bars and chain restaurants often feature dishes such as pizza, hamburgers etc., and both Chinese and Italian food are available throughout the country, as well as a host of other ethnic cuisines.

Coffee plays a large role in Norwegian culture, and it is common to invite people over for coffee and cakes, and to enjoy cups of coffee with dessert after the main courses in get-togethers. Coffee is included in one of the most traditional alcoholic beverages in Norway, the "kaffedoktor", or most commonly known as karsk, from Trøndelag.

Industrial and small-scale brewing have long traditions in Norway. Restrictive alcohol policies have encouraged a rich community of brewers, and a colourful variety of beverages both legal and illegal. The most popular industrial beers are usually pilsners and red beers (bayer), while traditional beer is much richer, with a high alcohol and malt content.

The ancient practice of brewing Juleøl (Christmas beer) persists even today, and imitations of these are available before Christmas, in shops and, for the more potent versions, at state monopoly outlets.

Cider brewing has faced tough barriers to commercial production due to alcohol regulations, and the famous honey wine, mjød (mead), is mostly a drink for connoisseurs.

Farris is a brand of mineral water produced in Larvik. It is Norway´s oldest and by a distance best-selling bottled water. It has been mentioned in the literature as having positive health effect.


 

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