The Kingdom of Norway covers the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Land borders exist with Russia, Sweden and Finland. The capital of the country is Oslo. The coast, which is richly indented by deep fjords, has numerous islands in front of it. Plateau glaciers cover large parts of the high mountains and the barren plateau.
The climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream. In the north of the country around 40,000 Sami live mainly as reindeer herders. More important than agriculture is fishing, which is often practiced in the form of aquaculture. The most important branch of industry is mining with the production of crude oil and natural gas from the North Sea. The Norwegian merchant fleet ranks seventh worldwide.
Abbreviated as NO by ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Norway is a state in Northern Europe that is located on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It borders the North Sea in the south, the European Arctic Ocean in the west and the Barents Sea in the north. The heavily indented coast is preceded by numerous islands, including the Lofot Islands. There are land borders with Russia, Finland and Sweden. Norway also includes the islands of Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen, located in the Arctic Ocean, as well as Bear Island (Fig. 1). Norway claims Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. The state capital and royal residence is Oslo.
Norway occupies the west of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It extends from north to south over 1752 km, from east to west only over 430 km. The pure length of the coast without including the numerous bays and fjords is 2650 km, with them around 21000 km.
A third of the national territory lies north of the Arctic Circle. Only the coastal areas favored by the Gulf Stream and the valleys in eastern Norway are suitable for settlement.
Eastern Norway covers the area between the Swedish border and the Scandinavian Mountains in central Norway. In the barren plateaus of the mountains, called Fjelle in Norway, broad, agriculturally intensively used valleys, such as Numedal and Gudbrandstal, are sunk. The lower favored area around the Oslofjord connects to the south.
The higher fells of southern Norway can only be used as summer pastures for extensive sheep farming. The Telemark and Setesdal valleys offer better usage options. The Jæren landscape is most intensively used for agriculture. The west of Norway is characterized above all by the fjords cut deep into the mountains along the coast. There are also numerous islands off the west and north coast, including the Lofot Islands.
In the highest part of the Scandinavian Mountains, in the Jotunheim massif, are the glaciated highest peaks in the country, the Glittertind at 2472 m and the Galdhøppig at 2469 m. Glaciers cover a total of 3900 km² of Norway. Most of them are almost immobile, inland ice-like plateau glaciers on the plateaus. The Jostedalsbre in the southwest is with 486 km² the largest glacier on the European mainland.
Fjords – drowned river valleys
Deeply cut inlets, the fjords, shape the west coast of Norway. The Hardanger-, Geiranger-, Nord-, Romsdals- and the over 200 km long Sognefjord are known as the longest.
Fjords are trough valleys that are flooded by the sea and reach far below sea level. They reach their lowest water depth just before the confluence with the open sea. This typical threshold is also related to the fact that the fjords were “gouged out” by Ice Age glaciers. The mostly very narrow fjords, cut deep into the bare plateaus of the mountains, have hardly any flat sections of the bank. Agriculture is therefore not possible here. Even the settlements can often only be reached by water. The protected inner parts of the fjords often have a warm and dry climate in summer.
The climate of Norway shows greater differences between west and east than between north and south. The west is under the influence of the Gulf Stream and its foothills. This warm ocean current, also known as hot water heating, keeps the entire west coast of Norway free of ice even in winter.
Because of the rain-bringing westerly winds, the western windward sides of the mountains on the coast are also particularly rainy (Fig. 5). The east of the country, on the other hand, is continentally influenced. There are long, bitterly cold winters, but also quite temperate summers. With its sheltered location on the Oslofjord, Oslo has at least 17.3 °C, the highest July mean in Scandinavia. Towards the north, however, the summer and winter temperatures generally decrease, also in connection with the increasing length of the polar night.
Central and Northern Norway belong to the coniferous forest belt. Central European deciduous forests can only be found on the southern Norwegian Skagerrak coast. The coastal areas have been largely deforested. Above the tree line, the coniferous forest changes into the mountain birch forest, which is replaced by the vegetation level of the fell with dwarf shrubs, perennials, lichens and mosses.
Important data about the country
|323 877 km²
|14 residents / km²
|Growth of population:
|0.4% / year
(men / women)
|Form of government:
|Norwegian (official language)
|Evangelical Lutheran (86%)
|temperate oceanic west side climate (in the west), in the east continental mountainous climate
|Arable land 2.9%, forest 26.3%
|Agriculture 3.7%, industry 21.4%, services 74.9%
|Oil and natural gas, ships, ores and metals, wood, paper and cellulose, fish and fish products
|Gross domestic product:
of economic sectors)
|US $ 220,854 million (2003)Agriculture 1.5%, industry 37.5%, services 61%
|Gross National Product:
|US $ 43,400 / resident (2003)
Economy and Transport
Norway has been a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1992 and works in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The country has been linked to the EU by a free trade agreement since 1973 (Fig. 7). The Norwegian population refused to join the EU in referendums in 1972 and 1994.
Arable farming is possible on only around 3% of the country’s area. Mainly feed barley, oats, potatoes and wheat are grown here. Cattle breeding is more important, some of which is run as alpine farming. Fur animals, especially blue foxes and minks, are raised in the north. Most of the forest is privately owned and is heavily used for forestry purposes.
Norway is one of the largest fishing nations in the world. However, the fishing grounds in the North Atlantic have been overfished for years and no longer offer the fishermen, who mainly live in Northern Norway, a sufficient livelihood. That is why the coveted salmon are increasingly being bred in fish farms. Aquaculture is the magic word for Norwegian fishermen and means systematic fish farming in net cages. The currently several hundred large fish farms, which are particularly located in the protected fjords, now produce more farm fish than fish is caught. In addition to salmon, it is mainly cod that are bred.
However, the pollution of farmed marine areas from fish excretions and the chemical agents used to combat fish diseases is gradually becoming a problem.
Mining and power industry
Natural gas and oil production in the North Sea is of the greatest importance. Iron and copper ores are also mined in the north, titanium oxide and molybdenum in the south. The large coal deposits on Svalbard are shared by Norway and Russia. Almost all electricity is generated in hydropower plants. The high rainfall and the steep gradient of the mostly short rivers offer the best conditions.
Riches in the North Sea
Besides Great Britain, Norway has the largest oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. In 1999 Norway was sixth in the world in oil production and ninth in natural gas production. Norway is the second most important oil exporting country after Saudi Arabia. The development of the reserves began in 1964 after the North Sea was divided among the neighboring countries. Funding started in 1971 and 1977 (Fig. 10). The southern Norwegian port city of Stavanger has developed into the center of the oil industry and has almost doubled its population in the last 35 years.
Industry and Transport
The inexpensive use of the rich hydropower is an important locational advantage, especially for electrometallurgy and the electrochemical industry. The petrochemical industry, electronics, metal, machine and shipyard industries as well as fish processing are also important. The wood processing industry, especially paper production, is becoming increasingly important.
The tourism plays at the fjord-rich west coast, the North Cape and increasingly in Lofoten especially during the summer midnight sun a major role. Popular cities are Oslo and Bergen. The main trading partners are Sweden, Great Britain and Germany.
In the transport sector, seagoing ships are of great importance. With 23.1 million gross registered tonnes (GRT), Norway has the seventh largest merchant fleet in the world. Important ports are Narvik, Tønsberg, Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim. Ferry ships connect Norway with Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden and Germany. The coastal ship trip, the Hurtigroute is particularly well-known, handles around 80% of the freight volume. The railway network and road network are particularly well developed in the south.
1047: Unification of Norway under King HARALD III.
11th century: Christianization of the country
12th century: Greenland and Iceland become Norwegian.
1397: Kalmar Union with Denmark (until 1814) and Sweden (until 1523)
1814: Personal union with Sweden
1905: Parliament (Storting) dissolves the personal union with Sweden. Prince KARL ascends the throne as King HÅKON VII.
1940: Germany occupies Norway during World War II (until 1945).
1949: Joins NATO
1994: The population decides against joining the EU for the second time in a referendum.