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Information about Norway

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Information about Norway

Facts about Norway

The (national) flag
Official name Kongeriket Norge (Kingdom Norway)
Surface 323.787 km2 of which 5% water (9x as big as the Netherlands)
Inhabitants 5.52 million (2016)
Population density 15 people per km²
Capital Oslo
Currency Krone (NOK); 1 krone is € 0,11; 1 euro is 9 NOK (2017)
Road network In general the roads are very well kept. But in the north there are many unpaved roads and they become narrower. Tunnels are badly lighted. Especially the roads on Magerøy (near the North Cape) are very bad. At many tunnels toll has to be paid; the amount can vary from 20 crowns to more than 200 for a passenger car. The amount often doesn't seem to be worth the quality of the tunnel. There are also many privately owned roads for which use has to be paid. Often there is only a bus where one has to put the money.
Fuel prices For actual fuel prices in all European countries see Autotraveler.ru.
Code licence plate N
Telephone countrycode 47
Internet countrycode .no
Time difference GMT+1; the same time as in the Netherlands

Geographic data

Norway is a ruggedly beautiful country of mountains, fjords and glaciers. The 'Land of the Midnight Sun' has delightfully long summer days, unspoiled fishing villages and rich historic sites that include Viking ships and medieval stave churches.
Norway's varied geography surprises many visitors who imagine the country as a frozen monolith. On the contrary, the temperate south includes rolling farmlands, enchanted forests and sunny beaches as well as the dramatic Western Fjords. North of the Arctic Circle, the population thins, the horizons grow wider and the temperature dips (well, not always, as we experienced). Here the terrain ranges from soaring coastal peaks to vast boreal forests and barren treeless peninsulas. Adventurous travelers can journey even further north to the Svalbard archipelago, where seals, walruses and polar bears sun themselves on ice floes. It's no wonder that Norway prizes its stunning natural wonders and retains a robust frontier character unusual in Europe.
From north to south the length of the country is almost 2000 kilometers.

PopulationNaar boven

The population of Norway is ethnically homogenous. Apart from several thousand Sami (23,000) and people of Finnish origin (called the Kvæner, 7,000) in North Norway, the country has no other significant minority groups, although small numbers of Danes, Swedes, Britons, Pakistanis, Americans, and Iranians live in Norway.
Although the country is almost 10x the surface of Holland there live only 4.5 million people (Holland has 16 million).

LanguagesNaar boven

Norway has two official written languages, Bokmål (Dano-Norwegian, earlier called Riksmål) and Nynorsk (New Norwegian). They have equal status, i.e. they are both used in public administration, in schools, churches, and on radio and television. Books, magazines and newspapers are published in both languages. The inhabitants of local communities decide themselves which language is to be used as the language of instruction in the school attended by their children. Officially, the teaching language is called the hovedmål (primary language) and the other language the sidemål (secondary language).
Bokmål did not originate from the old Norwegian tongue, but from Danish, with strong Norwegian influences. Danish was the official language for a long time. After independance a new and more pure form of was invented, landsmål (language of the country). A bettered and more artificially version of it became nynorsk and was accepted as an official Norwegian language in 1917. Still, only 16% of the population really uses it as their primary language.
But a sparsely populated country like Norway stimulates the development of many local dialects and there are many of them which are nourished like important inheritances of the past.
Samnorsk, the language that once should become the only language still has a way to go.
ext to the Norwegian versions there are also some minority languages, of the Kvæner and the Sami. About 1000 of the 7000 Kvæner still speaks innish and Sami is even recognised as the third official language. But Sami has also many different dialects.

HistoryNaar boven

This is only a short survey on Norwegian history. We have discussed Denmarks history, to which Norway belonged for a long time, more extensively.

Prehistory, until 800 AD.
Only from 9000 BC, after the last ice age, Norway is inhabited by humans. Very late in the Stone Age (5000-1500 BC.) the first permanently populated settlements arose, cultivating the surrounding land. Only in the Iron Age (500 BC. - 400 AD.) Norway got into contact (very limited) with the Roman empire. But most contacts were with German tribes. Around 500 AD. the population number diminished fast, probably as a result of an infectious disease or a deterioration of the climate. After 800 AD. the population grew so fast that overpopulation threatened.

Viking-age, 800 - 1030
The period from the end of the 8th century to the mid 11th century in Scandinavia is known as the Viking Age. Over the preceding century the population had increased rapidly, and in Western Norway all the arable land was under cultivation. Ground was cleared for new farms inland, but that was not sufficient. And so, skilful shipbuilders as they were and armed with good weapons of iron, many set off overseas in search of land and wealth. Soon the warriors from Scandinavia were feared far and wide in Europe. Also people who were banned left Norway by ship.
Those who went on the voyages were called "Vikings". Danes and Norwegians tended to head westward, to islands in the Atlantic and to the Frankish Empire, while Swedes sailed east to Russia. At this time Scandinavia really became a part of Europe.
The Vikings were expert warriors who sacked and pillaged. They took prisoners and sold them as slaves. But they were also efficient merchants, craftsmen and farmers who established new states. Norwegian Vikings settled first in the Shetlands, Orkneys, Hebrides and Faroes. Later they colonised parts of Scotland and northern England, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland. They also reached the coast of Newfounland. Moreover Norwegian and Danish Vikings went on expeditions to the Frankish Empire to trade and plunder; there they were known as the Northmen. Led by their chief Rollo they founded a Viking state in Normandy. Rollo became a duke recognised by the French king, and Normandy became an important centre of power and influence in 11th century Europe.
The Vikings brought Christianity back with them to Scandinavia. Administrative concepts gleaned in continental Europe played an important role in the evolution of the Norwegian monarchy in the Middle Ages.
In the Viking Age Norway slowly changed into a centrally governed nation. After the lost battle at Stiklestad Norway was conquered by Knut the Great of Denmark who also won England at the same time.

Middle Ages, 1030 - 1319
When king Knut of Denmark died in 1035, Magnus became king of a united Norway, which now was recognised by other European countries as an independant kingdom. The first towns appeared and Norway was converted to Christianity, controlled by the Church, the king and the overlords. There was widespread unrest in the twelfth century and the period from 1130 to 1217 is known as the Civil War Period. Pretenders to the throne fought to win the kingdom. The thirteenth century is often called the "Golden Age". At this time the King of Norway controlled more territory then in any other period: the Orkades, Shetland, the Faeröer, Iceland and Greenland had recognised the rule of their motherland. In 1349 the country was ravaged by a plague known as the "Black Death" and about one third of the population died. Casualties were worse among the noble families, their number being reduced from 300 to 60 families.

Union of Kalmar, 1319 - 1536
The kings dynasty died out and Norway was united with Sweden in the Union of Kalmar (1319-1380) and after that with even more tight bonds to Denmark (until 1814). In 1533 the Danish king Christian II, who had fled to Holland, tried to rewin his rulership over the Scandinavian countries. Archbisshop Engelbrechtsson also tried to recover the Norwegian autonomy, but after his flight, the victorious Christian II imposed the Danish church order on Norway and appointed Danish clergymen. Danes replaced the Norwegians in the parliament and Danish officials ruled the country.

Danish rule, 1536 - 1814
In 1536, Norway ceased from being an independant kingdom and became part of Denmark. In 1660 the monarchy became hereditarily and absolute. In the Napoleon-wars Copenhagen choose sides with the French in 1807. This led to a British blockade of Denmark and Norway, with very negative consequences for the trade and export. Norway was also more isolated from Denmark, which stimulated national feelings. To stop this desire for independancy in Norway, king Frederik VI sent his nephew and crown prince Christiaan Frederik in 1813 as viceroy to Norway to save his rulership. But in 1814, Frederik VI had to cede Noway to Sweden, at the Peace of Kiel. The originally Norwegian colonies, Iceland, the Faeröer and Greenland stayed part of Denmark.

Union with Sweden, 1814 - 1905
But the Norwegians didn't agree to the decision that had been made in Kiel without their consent. The parliament only wanted to recognise Charles XIII of Sweden as their king if Norway was allowed to keep its constitution. On November 4, 1814 he was crowned. The two nations would have one king and act as an unity whenever there would be war. In all other things they would be independant and on equal terms. In practice, Sweden was the most powerful of the two, if only for the fact that Sweden attended to the foreign affairs. From the middle of the 19th century Norway fared better, economically, when industrialisation began. Only at the end of the 19th century political parties came into existence. The internal conflicts got less important because of the deteriorating relationship with Sweden. A conflict about having independant Norwegian consulates led to the situation in 1905 that the king could not find one Norwegian statesman who was willing to form a new administration. On June 7 1905 the parliament (Storting) unanimously voted that the executive powers were not capable to perform its duties and asked the administration to fulfill the obligations of the king. In a referendum this decision was approved of. In Karlstad both parties started to negotiate and Sweden consented to ending the union, on condition that the fortresses along the border would be demolished. After a referendum in which a republic as polity was rejected, the Storting choose the Danish prince Carl as king. He took the name Haakon VII and as his motto: Alt for Norge (All for Norway).

Independance, 1905 - 1940
In the first few years of independance the relationship with Sweden was very cool. Sweden disliked the agreement of Norway with England, France, Russia and the German empire in 1907, whereby Norway promised to defend its territory and they would help protect it against invaders. The labour party became very important after the elections of 1906. In 1907 female suffrage was introduced. The selling of alcoholic drinks was totally forbidden in 1919. The first World War brought the Scandinavians countries together. Being neutral, they all had the same political and economical interests. After a national strike in 1921 the labour party fell apart and, except for a short socialist intermezzo in 1928, liberal and conservative governments ruled Norway.

German rule, 1940 - 1945
When the Germans invaded in 1940 they demanded an end to all opposition, and acceptance of a german occupation. These demands were refused by the King and the government. The fighting in southern Norway lasted three weeks, but the struggle continued in the Narvik area until 7 June. Then the government and the royal family crossed to London to carry on the war. In Norway the Germans set about reorganising the country along Nazi lines with the help of Vidkun Quisling. But this was thwarted by the people in the worlds of sport, the Church, education and various trades and professions who combined into a broadly-based resistance movement. Towards the end of the war the resistance leadership cooperated closely with the government in exile in London to form a clandestine army, Milorg. In May 1945 the Germans laid down their arms, and on 7 June the King and the government returned to a liberated Norway. But withdrawing for the north the Germans brought about many devastations.

Present, 1945 - present
Immediately after the war, the social-democrat Einar Gerhardsen formed a national government. The social-democrats kept a majority until 1961. Since 1971 coalitions have problems because of the question whether Norway should join the European Union or not. More than one administration fell because of this issue.
On Januay 17, 1991, king Olaf V died and was succeeded by his son Harald V. Despite negotiations with the EU-countries Norway (and its inhabitants by referendum) still rejects becoming a member of the European Union.

ClimateNaar boven

The warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift (an extension of the Gulf Stream) flow along the Atlantic coast of Norway and have a pronounced moderating effect on the climate. A maritime climate prevails over most of the coastal islands and lowlands. Winters are mild and summers are normally cool. At Bergen the average high temperature in January is 3°C (38°F), and the average in July is 19°C (66°F). Influenced by Atlantic weather disturbances, precipitation is frequent and heavy, although amounts decrease toward the north. The average annual precipitation in Bergen is 1,930 mm (76 inch). In the interior, a more continental climate prevails; winters are colder, and summers are warmer. At Oslo the average high temperature in January is 5°C (41°F); the average high in July is 28°C (82°F). Precipitation is generally less here than on the coast, averaging 760 mm (30 inch) annually. In the highlands of North Norway the climate is subarctic. The coastal areas of this region, however, have a moderate maritime climate and most ports, even in the far north, are ice-free in winter.

Flora and faunaNaar boven

Forests cover slightly more than one-fourth of Norway’s land area. Primarily deciduous forests are found in the coastal districts of southern and southwestern Norway. The principal species are oak, ash, hazel, elm, maple, and linden, but in some locations birch, yew, and holly may be found. To the east and north the forests contain increasing numbers of conifers. Thick boreal coniferous forests are found in coastal regions and in the valleys of eastern and central Norway. These forests are dominated by Scotch pine and Norway spruce, but also contain birch, alder, aspen, and mountain ash. Wild berries, such as blueberries, cranberries, and cloudberries, grow in most woodland areas. In the far north and at high elevations are tundra regions. The tundra is a treeless heath, with vegetation consisting mainly of hardy dwarf shrubs and wildflowers.

Reindeer, polar foxes, polar hare, wolves, wolverines, and lemmings are common in the north and in the higher mountain areas. Elk, deer, foxes, otters, and marten are found in the south and southeast. Both freshwater and saltwater fishes abound. Salmon, trout, grayling, perch, and pike are common in the streams and lakes. Herring, cod, halibut, mackerel, and other species inhabit coastal waters.

EconomyNaar boven

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
In proportion to the small area of agricultural land, the profits from agriculture are very high. To prevent too much dependancy from import, farmers are heavily subsidised and the prices of agricultural products are kept high, artificially. With allowances for farmers the government also tries to combat the depopulation of northern Norway. More than 60% of the forests are owned by farmers and is exploited together with the farm. Almost 80% of the forests are being used for the production of timber. Most Norwegian houses are still build from timber. The sea also continues to play an important role in Norwegian economy. The export of fish products yields billions of Norwegian crowns every year. In 1977 a 200-mile zone was established. The cultivation of fish (salmon, trout and other fish) is an important and growing industry.

On the mainland of Norway are mines with iron ore, lead, copper, nickel, granite and zinc. Svalbard has large reservoirs of coal which are exploited by Norwegian and Russian companies. Since 1971, mineral oil and natural gas are mined. The oil is transported by large tankers and the gas by pipelines to Emden (Germany) and Teesside (Great-Britain).

23% of the labour force has a job in the industry which contributes 26% to the GNP. Most companies are small. The aluminium industry is the most important one. Next to Russia, Norway is the biggest producer of aluminium in Europe. Another important product is nitrogen. Paper industry, shipbuilding and cement industry are other important industry. The chemical and petrochemical industries are growing in importance becase of the mining of natural gas and oil. Refineries are in Bamble, Rafsnes and Mongstad. The construction industry is another important one.

Since 1989, Norway has a surplus on the trade balance, mainly because of the oil exports. Other important products for export are machinery, metals (aluminium), paper and cellulose, fish and chemical products. Norway imports mainly machinery, raw materials, foods, cars and ships. The European Union, the Scandinavian neighbours and the USA are the main trade partners of Norway.

There have never been many roads in Norway and coast navigation has always had an important part in transportation. But most of the existing roads are well-kept. The infrastructure of the railways isn't very large. SAS is the main airliner (also nternational), next to Braathens SAFE and Widerøe. From Norway there are ferry connections to Denmark, Germany, Holland and Great Britain. Norway has a large merchant fleet with more than 1600 ships of 100 brutoton and bigger. The shipping companies have large interests in the petroleum industry. Norway is one of the first countries which specialised in supertankers. In 2001 the longest tunnel on earth was opened: the Laerdaltunnel is 24,5 km. long and starts 300 km. northwest of Oslo, connecting Oslo to Bergen.
More numbers and information can be found on this website.

TourismNaar boven

Norway has the largest areas with scenic beauty in Europe. The best known part is the west coast, cut by the fjords and with its many islands. Rivers coming from the mountains often end as high waterfalls in the fjords. Interesting cities in the fjord-area are Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger and Flekkefjord with the picturesque Hollenderbyen (Town of the Dutch). To the southeastern coast: Kristiansand, Risør, Oslo, and the old mining town Kongsberg (with three waterfalls, two museums); and there is Fredrikstad near the Swedish border.
In the interior of South-Norway with its many lakes, lies the mountainous area Joyunheim (with summits of over 2400m. high), bordered in the north by Gudbrandsdal with many 16th and 17th century farms. The most characteristic type of high mountains is however the fjell (plateau), for example the Dovrefjell where one can ski in summer. Norway has many glaciers, one of them the Jostedals glacier, the biggest in Europe. Voss is the centre of an area with age-old villages. In southern Norway one can find most of the stave churches, medieval churches with a extraordinary construction. Very interesting is Finnmark, the most northernly provence of Norway, the country of the Samen, reindeer and the midnight sun. From Tromsø one can reach Svalbard (Spitsbergen) by boat. Near Alta, amongst other places, one can visit sites with rock drawings and excavations from prehistoric times. Karasjok is a characteristic Samen village. To the south lies Rana (Samen museum) with around it glacier areas and many caves, like the Grønli cave with an underground waterfall.

The actual weather

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