Norway is a Scandinavian country marked by mountains and glaciers. It’s known for historic Viking ships, colorful homes, fishing, skiing, and hiking.
Population: 5 million
Key Cities: Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger
Official Language: Norwegian (Nynorsk and Bokmal)
Major Religions: Lutheran Christian
Bordering Countries: Sweden, Finland, Russia
Size: 148,728 sq. miles
Lowest point: Norwegian Sea at sea level
Highest point: Galdhøpiggen at 8,100 ft.
Located in Northwestern Europe, Norway is a narrow country with many mountains. Some of its mountains are so high that no one has ever attempted to climb them.
It’s also famous for its fjords, sea inlets between steep cliffs along the coastline. Like Norway’s mountains, the fjords were carved by glaciers.
Norway also owns three islands in the Antarctic and the Svalbard island chain.
The weather in Norway is very cold in the winter, but summers are pleasant. Snow covers the ground for at least three months each year.
For part of the summer, Norway experiences continuous daylight. In the winter, similar periods of continuous darkness occur. In the far north areas of the country, there is no daylight for about two months.
Animals found in Norway include polar bears, walrus, Arctic foxes (with all-white fur), moose, reindeer, lynx, whales, and puffin.
Norway has about 2,000 species of plants. Forests contain trees like spruce, pine, birch, ash, rowan, and aspen. Wild berries such as blueberries, cranberries, and yellow cloudberries grow abundantly.
As early as 9,000 to 8,000 B.C., people have lived in Norway. Germanic tribes were among the early inhabitants of the area. People farmed the land and organized themselves into small separate states.
In total, there were 30 of these independent states by the eighth century A.D. Soon after, Viking warriors traveled from Scandinavian countries to expand their territory into Europe.
In 872, ruler Harald Fairhair united most of Norway. During the rule of Fairhair’s descendant, Denmark invaded and ruled for about a century. Sweden then took over.
In 1397, Queen Margrethe of Denmark united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden as the Union of Kalmar. Although Sweden separated from the Union, Denmark ruled Norway until 1814.
At this point, Norway was once again under Swedish control. The country became independent in 1905. During WWI, Norway remained neutral. However, the country was occupied by Nazi Germany for much of WWII.
Norway’s government is ruled by a king and parliament. Members of parliament, called the Storting, are elected every four years.
Main industries in Norway are petroleum, natural gas, shipping, fishing, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp, paper, and communications.
Top agricultural products are potatoes, wheat, barley, pork, beef, fish, veal, and milk.
Norway is considered the third richest country in the world. It’s the fifth-largest exporter of oil, making $40 billion annually from oil alone.
Understanding that oil will eventually run out, the country invests extra wealth into the Government Pension Fund Global to save for future generations of Norwegians.
At about 4%, unemployment in Norway is low. The country’s currency is the Norwegian krone.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway, and Sami and Kven are spoken by indigenous people in specific regions. Swedish, Finnish, Russian, and Romanian are also spoken, but English is the main foreign language in Norway.
About 70% of Norway’s population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. Most of the remaining population is not religious, but there are Catholics, Muslims, and Protestants as well.
Seafood is especially popular in Norway, along with thinly sliced brown cheese served on bread. Dinner usually consists of carrots or boiled potatoes with fish, whale steaks, chicken, beef, or pork.
Much of Norwegian culture comes from the Vikings. Traditional costumes, folk stories, and folk music are still celebrated today.
Jante Law is another important part of Norway’s culture. It emphasizes respect, equality, simplicity, and humility. People are not supposed to criticize others or brag about wealth.
A major Norwegian holiday is Constitution Day, celebrated on May 17. It honors Norwegian independence and involves parades with bands, schools, and other performers.
The sport of skiing started in Norway. The word “ski” is from a Norse word meaning “piece of wood.”
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year in Oslo, Norway.
About 99% of Norway’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power stations.
Norway has won more Winter Olympic medals than any other country.
Norway is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), a natural display of colorful lights in the night sky.