General Facts


Population: 5.084 million (2013)
Capital: Oslo
Area: 148,718 mi²


About Norway
Norway officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a sovereign and unitary monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus the island Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. Until 1814, the Kingdom included the Faroe Islands (since 1035), Greenland (1261), and Iceland (1262). It also included Shetland and Orkney until 1468.
The country maintains a combination of market economy and a Nordic welfare model with universal health care and a comprehensive social security system. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water, and hydropower. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). On a per-capita basis, Norway is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East.
Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Oslo, the capital, is a city of green spaces and museums. Preserved 9th-century Viking ships are displayed at Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum. Bergen, with colorful wooden houses, is the starting point for cruises to the dramatic Sognefjord. Norway is also known for fishing, hiking and skiing, notably at Lillehammer’s Olympic resort.


Currency


The unit of currency in Norway is the krone (plural: kroner), which translates as “crown,” written officially as NOK. Price tags are seldom marked this way, but instead read “Kr” followed by the amount, such as Kr 10 or 10 Kr.
The Norwegian currency is the krone (plural: kroner), written as NOK. There are 100 øre in 1 krone. Bank notes are issued in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 kroner. Coins are issued in denominations of 50 øre, 1 krone, and 5, 10, and 20 kroner.
The krone was the thirteenth most traded currency in the world by value in April 2010, down three positions from 2007.


Climate
The southern and western parts of Norway, fully exposed to Atlantic storm fronts, experience more precipitation and have milder winters than the eastern and far northern parts. Areas to the east of the coastal mountains are in a rain shadow, and have lower rain and snow totals than the west. The lowlands around Oslo have the warmest and sunniest summers, but also cold weather and snow in wintertime.
The coastal climate of Norway is exceptionally mild compared with areas on similar latitude elsewhere in the world, with the Gulf Stream passing directly offshore the northern areas of the Atlantic coast. The temperature anomalies found in coastal locations are exceptional, with Røst and Værøy lacking a meteorological winter in spite of being north of the Arctic Circle. As a side-effect, the Scandinavian Mountains lock in continental winds from reaching the coastline, causing very cool summers throughout Atlantic Norway.


Language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants.
As established by law and governmental policy, there are two official forms of written Norwegian – Bokmål (literally “book tongue”) and Nynorsk (literally “new Norwegian”). The Norwegian Language Council is responsible for regulating the two forms, and recommends the terms “Norwegian Bokmål” and “Norwegian Nynorsk” in English.
Nynorsk and Bokmål provide standards for how to write Norwegian, but not for how to speak the language. There is no officially sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian, and most Norwegians speak their own dialects in all circumstances.


Economy
Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita among European countries (after Luxembourg), and the sixth-highest GDP (PPP) per-capita in the world. Today, Norway ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state and social democracy country featuring a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. Public health care in Norway is free (after an annual charge of around $230 for those over 16), and parents have 46 weeks paid parental leave.
The state income derived from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production. Norway has a very low unemployment rate, currently 2.6%. 69% of the population aged 15–74 are employed. People in the labour force are either employed or looking for work. 9.5% of the population aged 18–66 receive a disability pension and 30% of the labour force are employed by the government, the highest in the OECD. The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Norway, are among the highest in the world.
The country is richly endowed with natural resources including petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Large reserves of petroleum and natural gas were discovered in the 1960s, which led to a boom in the economy. Norway has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population. In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry.


Health
Norway was awarded first place according to the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2013. Poverty and communicable diseases dominated in Norway together with famines, and epidemics in the 1800s. From the 1900s improvements in public health occurred as a result of development in several areas such as social and living conditions, changes in disease and medical outbreaks, establishment of the health care system and emphasis on public health matters. Vaccination and increased treatment opportunities with antibiotics resulted in great improvements within the Norwegian population. Improved hygiene and better nutrition were factors that contributed to improved health.
The disease pattern in Norway changed from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases and chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease. Inequalities and social differences are still present in public health in Norway today.
In 2013 the infant mortality rate was 2.5 per 1 000 live births among children under the age of one. For girls it was 2.7 and for boys 2.3, which is the lowest infant mortality rate for boys ever recorded in Norway.


Education
Higher education in Norway is offered by a range of seven universities, five specialised colleges, 25 university colleges as well as a range of private colleges. Education follows the Bologna Process involving Bachelor (3 years), Master (2 years) and PhD (3 years) degrees. Acceptance is offered after finishing upper secondary school with general study competence.
Public education is virtually free, regardless of nationality. The academic year has two semesters, from August to December and from January to June. The ultimate responsibility for the education lies with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.


Culture and Religion
The Norwegian farm culture continues to play a role in contemporary Norwegian culture. In the 19th century, it inspired a strong romantic nationalistic movement, which is still visible in the Norwegian language and media. Norwegian culture blossomed with nationalist efforts to achieve an independent identity in the areas of literature, art and music. This continues today in the performing arts and as a result of government support for exhibitions, cultural projects and artwork.
Separation of church and state happened significantly later in Norway than in most of Europe and is not yet complete. In 2012, the Norwegian parliament voted to grant the Church of Norway greater autonomy, a decision which was confirmed in a constitutional amendment on 21 May 2012. Until 2012 parliamentary officials were required to be members of the Lutheran Church and at least half of all ministers had to be a member of the Christian State Church. As the Church of Norway is the state church, its clergy are state employees, and the central and regional church administrations are part of the state administration. The members of the Royal family are required to be members of the Lutheran church.


Getting Around
Norway is a big country and getting around, particularly up north, is expensive and time-consuming. The best way to see the Norwegian wilderness and countryside is by having access to your own vehicle. This way you can stop wherever you want, admire the view and venture onto smaller roads.
Norway’s craggy coastline makes roads and trains slow, so domestic flights are very popular. The largest operators are SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe
An extensive range of express buses connect cities all over Norway. Bus schedules and frequencies vary greatly, and seating may be limited so plan ahead and book online.
The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) operate all railways. Norway’s rail network basically connects Oslo to other major cities, there are no rail lines North-South in West Norway between Stavanger and Trondheim, and there are no rail lines North-South in North Norway north of Bodø. You can buy a Norwegian Rail Pass or the equivalent InterRail One Country Pass to travel cheap by train through Norway.

Car ferries is an integral part of the road network in coastal regions. Prices and time vary with the length of the crossing and amount of traffic, call 177 for more information or check nearby camping sites for information booklets and timetables. Ferries often have information about other ferries in the region. On the main roads ferries are frequent during daytime, typically every half hour. Reservations are usually not needed, drive to the ferry quay and wait in line until the ferry docks. On main roads tourists typically don’t have to worry about timetables as there are frequent departures. Note however that most ferries don’t run after midnight or they run only every second hour.

Travelling with cab in Norway can be very expensive, and in most cities it’s not necessary as bus, tram and train (or even walking) are easier. Taxies are generally safe as long as you choose a licensed taxi (with a white taxi sign on the roof).

 

Comments are closed.