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Kingdom of Norway

Kongeriket Norge


FLAG: The national flag has a red field on which appears a blue cross (with an extended right horizontal) outlined in white.

ANTHEM: Ja, vi elsker dette landet (Yes, We Love This Country).

MONETARY UNIT: The krone (Kr) of 100 øre is the national currency. There are coins of 50 øre and 1, 5, and 10 kroner, and notes of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 kroner. Kr1 = $0.15798 (or $1 = Kr6.33) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; National Independence Day, 17 May; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula in northern Europe, with almost one-third of the country situated N of the Arctic Circle. It has an area of 324,220 sq km (125,182 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Norway is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico. Extending 1,752 km (1,089 mi) nnessw, Norway has the greatest length of any European country; its width is 430 km (267 mi) esewnw. Bounded on the n by the Arctic Ocean, on the ne by Finland and Russia, on the e by Sweden, on the s by the Skagerrak, on the sw by the North Sea, and on the w by the Norwegian Sea of the Atlantic Ocean, Norway has a land boundary length of 2,544 km (1,581 mi) and a total coastline estimated at 21,925 km (13,624 mi).

Norway's capital city, Oslo, is in the southern part of the country.


Norway is formed of some of the oldest rocks in the world. It is dominated by mountain masses, with only one-fifth of its total area less than 150 m (500 ft) above sea level. The average altitude is 500 m (1,640 ft). The Glittertinden (2,472 m/8,110 ft, including a glacier at the summit) and Galdhøpiggen (2,469 m/8,100 ft), both in the Jotunheimen, are the highest points in Europe north of the Alpine-Carpathian mountain range. The principal river, the Glåma, 611 km (380 mi) long, flows through the timbered southeast. Much of Norway has been scraped by ice, and there are 1,700 glaciers totaling some 3,400 sq km (1,310 sq mi). In the Lista and Jaeren regions in the far south, extensive glacial deposits form agricultural lowlands. Excellent harbors are provided by the almost numberless fjords, deeply indented bays of scenic beauty that are never closed by ice and penetrate the mainland as far as 182 km (113 mi). Along many coastal stretches is a chain of islands known as the skjærgård.


Because of the North Atlantic Drift, Norway has a mild climate for a country so far north. With the great latitudinal range, the north is considerably cooler than the south, while the interior is cooler than the west coast, influenced by prevailing westerly winds and the Gulf Stream. Oslo's average yearly temperature ranges from about 5°c (41°f) in January to 28°c (82°f) in July. The annual range of coastal temperatures is much less than that of the continental interior. The eastern valleys have less than 30 cm (12 in) of rain yearly, whereas at Haukeland in Masfjord the average rainfall is 330 cm (130 in).

Norway is the land of the midnight sun in the North Cape area, with 24-hour daylight from the middle of May to the end of July, during which the sun does not set. Conversely, there are long winter nights from the end of November to the end of January, during which the sun does not rise above the horizon and the northern lights, or aurora borealis, can be seen.


The richest vegetation is found in the southeast around Oslofjord, which is dominated by conifers (spruce, fir, and pine); at lower levels, deciduous trees such as oak, ash, elm, and maple are common. Conifers are seldom found at altitudes above 1,000 m (3,300 ft). Above the conifer zone extends a zone of birch trees; above that, a zone of dwarf willow and dwarf birch, and a zone of lichens and arctic plants. In areas exposed to salt sea winds, there is little tree growth. Of the larger wild animals, elk, roe deer, red deer, and badger survive, as do fox, lynx, and otter. Bird life is abundant and includes game birds such as capercaillie (cock of the woods) and black grouse. In the rivers are found trout, salmon, and char.

As of 2002, there were at least 54 species of mammals, 241 species of birds, and over 1,700 species of plants throughout the country.


Norway's plentiful forests, lakes, flora, and wildlife have suffered encroachment in recent years from the growing population and consequent development of urban areas, roads, and hydroelectric power. The forest floor and waterways have been polluted by Norway's own industry and by airborne industrial pollution from central Europe and the British Isles in the form of acid rain. The acid rain problem has affected the nation's water supply over an area of nearly 7,000 sq mi.

Annual particulate emissions have averaged 22 tons and hydrocarbon emissions have been about 270 tons. In 1992, Norway was among the 50 nations with the world's heaviest emissions of carbon dioxide from industrial sources, which totaled 60.2 million metric tons, a per capita level of 14.03 metric tons. In 2000, however, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 49.9 million metric tons. Transportation vehicle emissions are also a significant source of air pollution.

By the early 1980s, the government had enacted stringent regulations to prevent oil spills from wells and tankers operating on the Norwegian continental shelf. Coastal protection devices have since been installed, and new technologies to prevent oil damage have been developed. Industry, mining, and agriculture have polluted 16% of Norway's lake water. The nation has a total of 382 cu km of renewable water resource; 72% of the annual withdrawal is used for industrial activity and 8% is used for farming.

Pollution control laws operate on the premise that the polluter must accept legal and economic responsibility for any damage caused and for preventing any recurrence; the state makes loans and grants for the purchase of pollution control equipment. Municipal authorities supervise waste disposal.

Since its creation in 1972, the Ministry of the Environment has been Norway's principal environmental agency. Between 1962 and 1985, 15 national parks, with a total area of more than 5,000 sq km (2,000 sq mi), and more than 150 nature reserves were established. In 2003, about 6.8% of the total land area was protected. The West Norwegian FjordsGeirangerfjord and Naerofjordwere named as a natural UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. The country has 37 Ramsar wetland sites.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 9 types of mammals, 6 species of birds, 7 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, 8 species of other invertebrates, and 2 species of plants. Threatened species include the Baltic sturgeon, marsh snail, and freshwater pearl mussel.


The population of Norway in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,620,000, which placed it at number 114 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 15% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 20% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.3%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 5,114,000. The overall population density was 14 per sq km (37 per sq mi), with most inhabitants concentrated in the southern areas of the country.

The UN estimated that 78% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.18%. The capital city, Oslo, had a population of 795,000 in that year. The only other towns with populations exceeding 100,000 were Bergen (242,158) and Trondheim (156,161). Most provincial cities are small, with only Stavanger (115,157), Kristiansand (76,066), and Drammen (56,688) having more than 50,000.


From 1866 on, North America received great waves of immigration from Norway, including an estimated 880,000 Norwegian immigrants to the United States by 1910. The United States and Canada still provide residence for many of the estimated 400,000 Norwegians living abroad. Emigration in recent years has not been significant. Norwegians moving abroad numbered 23,271 in 2004; immigrants to Norway totaled 36,482. Of the over 20,000 European immigrants, 4,308 were from Sweden; of the 3,875 Africans, 1,068 were from Somalia; of the 8,848 Asian immigrants, 1,220 were from Thailand. Migrants from the United States numbered 1,405. In 2005, Norway's immigrant population numbered 364,981. Of these 301,045 were first-generation immigrants, 361,143 were foreign-born, and 213,303 were foreign citizens. In 2004, internal migration between municipalities was 190,446 and between counties it was 89,940.

Norway is an important resettlement country; as of 2001, it had an allocation of 1,300 places in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2004, 7,950 asylum applications were submitted. Main countries of origin included Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. The estimated net migration rate for 2005 was 1.73 migrants per 1,000 population.


The Norwegians have for centuries been a highly homogeneous people of Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, and Baltic) stock, generally tall and fair-skinned, with blue eyes. Small minority communities include some 20,000 Sami (Lapps) and 7,000 descendants of Finnish immigrants.


Norwegian, closely related to Danish and Swedish, is part of the Germanic language group. In addition to the letters of the English alphabet, it has the letters æ, å, and ø. Historically, Old Norse was displaced by a modified form of Danish for writing, but in the 19th century there arose a reaction against Danish usages. Many dialects are spoken. There are two language forms, Bokmål and Nynorsk; the former (spoken by a large majority of Norwegians) is based on the written, town language, the latter on country dialects. Both forms of Norwegian have absorbed many modern international words, particularly from British and American English, despite attempts to provide indigenous substitutes.

While Norwegian is the official language, English is spoken widely in Norway, especially in the urban areas. The Sami (Lapps) in northern Norway have retained their own language, which is of Finno-Ugric origin. There is also a small Finnish-speaking minority.


Citizens are generally considered to be members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, which is the state church, unless they specifically indicate other affiliations. As such, reports indicate that about 86% of the population are nominally affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. About 3.4% of the population belong to other Protestant denominations; 1.6% are Muslim and 1% are Roman Catholic. Buddhists, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus make up less that 1% of the population. The Norwegian Humanist Association, an organization for atheists and the nonreligious, claims about 69,652 adults as registered members.

The constitution provides for religious freedom for all faiths, even though the religion of state is designated as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. The king nominates the Lutheran bishops and the Lutheran church receives an endowment from the state. The constitution states that the king and half of the cabinet must be members of this church. There are a number of interfaith groups within the country, including the Cooperation Council for Faith and Secular Society, the Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religious Beliefs, and the Ecumenical Council of Christian Communities.


In spite of Norway's difficult terrain, the road system has been well engineered, with tunnels and zigzags, particularly in the fjordlands of the west; but there are problems of maintenance because of heavy rain in the west and freezing in the east. Road transport accounts for nearly 90% of inland passenger transport. As of 2002, the total length of highway was 91,852 km (57,074 mi), of which 71,185 km (44,232 mi) were paved, including 178 km (111 mi) of expressways. As of 2003, there were 1,932,663 passenger cars and 468,500 commercial vehicles in use. The state railway operates bus routes and has been steadily increasing its activities in this field, which is heavily subsidized by the government. In 2004, there was 4,077 km (2,533 mi) of rail line in operation, all of it standard gauge, of which 2,518 km (1,564 mi) were electrified.

With a merchant fleet of 740 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 18,820,495 GRT, as of 2005, Norway possessed one of the world's largest fleets. The sale of Norwegian ships and their registration abroad, which increased considerably during the mid1980s, severely reduced the size of the fleet. In 1988, the Norwegian International Ship Register program began, whereby ships could be registered offshore, thus allowing foreign vessels to operate under the Norwegian flag while reducing costs to shipowners. Oslo and Bergen have excellent harbor facilities, but several other ports are almost as fully equipped.

Norway had an estimated 101 airports in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 67 had paved runways, and there was also one heliport. Flesland at Bergen, Sola at Stavanger, and Fornebu and Gardermoen at Oslo are the main centers of air traffic. External services are operated by the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), which is 21% Norwegian-owned. Braathens Air Transport operates most of the domestic scheduled flights. Important internal air services include that linking Kirkenes, Tromsø, and Bodø; 2,000 km (1,240 mi) long, this air route is reputed to be the most difficult to operate in western Europe. In 2003, about 12.779 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


Humans have lived in Norway for about 10,000 years, but only since the early centuries of the Christian era have the names of tribes and individuals been recorded. This was the period when small kingdoms were forming; the name Norge ("Northern Way") was in use for the coastal district from Vestfold to Hålogaland before ad 900. The Viking period (8001050) was one of vigorous expansion, aided by consolidation of a kingdom under Olav Haraldsson.

From the death of Olav in 1030, the nation was officially Christian. During the next two centuriesa period marked by dynastic conflicts and civil warsa landed aristocracy emerged, displacing peasant freeholders. A common legal code was adopted in 127476, and the right of succession to the crown was fixed. Shortly before, Iceland (1261) and Greenland (126164) came under Norwegian rule, but the Hebrides (Western Isles), also Norwegian possessions, were lost in 1266. Before 1300, Hanseatic merchants of the Baltic towns secured control of the essential grain imports, weakening the Norwegian economy.

Norway lost its independence at the death of Haakon V in 1319, when Magnus VII became ruler of both Norway and Sweden. The Black Death ravaged the country in the middle of the 14th century. In 1397, the three Scandinavian countries were united under Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Sweden left the union in 1523, but for nearly 300 more years Norway was ruled by Danish governors. Although the loss to Sweden of the provinces of Bohuslän (1645), Härjedalen (1658), and Jämtland (1645) was a handicap, gradual exploitation of the forest wealth improved Norwegian status. Denmark's alliance with France during the Napoleonic Wars resulted in the dissolution of the union. With the Peace of Kiel (1814), Norway was ceded to Sweden, but the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland were retained by Denmark. However, Norwegians resisted Swedish domination, adopted a new constitution on 17 May 1814, and elected the Danish Prince Christian Frederick as king of Norway. Sweden then invaded Norway, but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting union with Sweden under the rule of the Swedish king. During the second half of the 19th century, the Storting (parliament) became more powerful; an upsurge of nationalist agitation, both within the Storting and among Norway's cultural leaders, paved the way for the referendum that in 1905 gave independence to Norway. Feelings ran high on both sides, but once the results were announced, Norway and Sweden settled down to friendly relations. The Danish Prince Carl was elected king of Norway, assuming the name Haakon VII.

Although Norway remained neutral during World War I, its merchant marine suffered losses. Norway proclaimed its neutrality during the early days of World War II, but Norwegian waters were strategically too important for Norway to remain outside the war. Germany invaded on 9 April 1940; the national resistance was led by King Haakon, who in June escaped together with the government, representing the legally elected Storting, to England, where he established Norway's government-in-exile. Governmental affairs in Oslo fell to Vidkun Quisling, a Fascist leader and former Norwegian defense minister who had aided the German invasion and whose name subsequently became a synonym for collaborator; after the German surrender, he was arrested, convicted of treason, and shot. During the late 1940s, Norway abandoned its former neutrality, accepted Marshall Plan aid from the United States, and joined NATO. King Haakon died in 1957 and was succeeded by Olav V. King Harald V succeeded his father who died 17 January 1991.

The direction of economic policy has been the major issue in Norwegian postwar history, especially as related to taxation and the degree of government intervention in private industry. Economic planning was introduced, and several state-owned enterprises have been established. Prior to the mid-1970s, Labor Party-dominated governments enjoyed a broad public consensus for their foreign and military policies. A crucial development occurred in November 1972, when the Norwegian electorate voted in a referendum to reject Norway's entry into the EC despite a strong pro-EC posture adopted by the minority Labor government. After the 1973 general elections, the Labor Party's hold on government policies began to erode, and in the 1981 elections, the party lost control of the government to the Conservatives. Although the non-Socialists retained a small majority in the 1985 elections, disagreements among them permitted Labor to return to office in 1986.

Norway reconfirmed its rejection of the European Union on 28 November 1994, when the vote was cast 52% against, 47.8% for joining Europe. However, in December 2002, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik stated a new referendum would probably be held on EU membership. Public opinion polls in June 2003 registered 51.9% of the electorate in favor of joining the EU; 38.2% were opposed and 9.9% were undecided.

Norway was forthright in its support for the US-led war on terror following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. It supported the NATO decision to invoke Article 5 of the alliance's constitution, pledging all members to collective security in the event of an attack on one. However, Norway did not support the US-led war in Iraq that began on 19 March 2003. Prime Minister Bondevik held that international weapons inspectors authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 to inspect Iraq's weapons programs should have been given more time to do their work, and that military action should not be taken without an express Security Council resolution authorizing it. Eight out of ten Norwegian voters agreed in March 2003 that Norway should not support the US and British decision to go to war against Iraq.

On 19 January 2004, the Norwegian cargo ship Rocknes capsized after striking rocks in a fjord off the coast of Bergen. Eighteen crew members were killed, most of them Filipinos. Nearly 1,000 animals were oiled, a concern for environmentalists. Another concern for environmentalists was Norway's rejection of the 1986 International Whaling Commission's ban on whaling. Norway began whaling on a commercial basis in 1993.

In the general election held on 12 September 2005, the centerleft led by Jens Stoltenberg's Labor Party in a "red-green alliance" with the Socialist and Center parties won more than half the seats in parliament, defeating Bondevik's center-right minority coalition. The populist far-right Progress Party increased its number of seats held in parliament by 12, to 38, and it became the nation's largest opposition party.


Norway is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution of 17 May 1814, as subsequently amended, vests executive power in the king and legislative power in the Storting. Prior to 1990, sovereignty descended to the eldest son of the monarch. A constitutional amendment in May 1990 allows females to succeed to the throne. The amendment only affects those born after 1990. The sovereign must be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, which he heads. Royal power is exercised through a cabinet (the Council of State), consisting of a prime minister and at least seven other ministers of state (these numbered 18 in 2005). Since the introduction of parliamentary rule in 1884, the Storting has become the supreme authority, with sole control over finances and with power to override the king's veto under a specified procedure. While the king is theoretically free to choose his own cabinet, in practice the Storting selects the ministers, who must resign if the Storting votes no confidence.

The Storting was made up of 169 representatives in 2005 (an increase of four over the 2001 election) from 19 counties. Election for a four-year term is by direct suffrage at age 18, on the basis of proportional representation. After election, the Storting divides into two sections by choosing one-fourth of its members to form the upper chamber Lagting, with the rest constituting the lower chamber Odelsting. The Odelsting deals with certain types of bills (chiefly proposed new laws) after the committee stage and forwards them to the Lagting, which, after approval, sends them to the king for the royal assent; financial, organizational, political, and other matters are dealt with in plenary session. Where the two sections disagree, a two-thirds majority of the full Storting is required for passage. Constitutional amendments also require a two-thirds vote. The constitution provides that the Storting may not be dissolved.

A special parliamentary ombudsman supervises the observance of laws and statutes as applied by the courts and by public officials. His main responsibility is to protect citizens against unjust or arbitrary treatment by civil servants.


The present-day Conservative Party (Høyre) was established in 1885. The Liberal Party (Venstre), founded in 1885 as a counterbalance to the civil servant class, became the rallying organization of the Agrarian Friends' Association. The party's political program stresses social reform. Industrial workers founded the Labor Party (Arbeiderparti) in 1887 and, with the assistance of the Liberals, obtained universal male suffrage in 1898 and votes for women in 1913. The Social Democrats broke away from the Labor Party in 192122, and the Communist Party (Kommunistparti), made up of former Laborites, was established in 1923. The moderate Socialists reunited and revived the Labor Party organization in 1927. The Agrarian (Farmers) Party was formed in 1920; it changed its name to the Center Party (Senterparti) in 1958. The Christian People's Party (Kristelig Folkeparti), founded in 1933, and also known as the Christian Democratic Party, supports the principles of Christianity in public life.

For several decades, the Liberals were either in office or held the balance of power, but in 1935, as a result of the economic depression, an alliance between the Agrarian and Labor parties led to the formation of a Labor government. During World War II, the main parties formed a national cabinet-in-exile. Political differences between right and left sharpened in the postwar period. Attempts to form a national coalition among the four non-Socialist parties proved unsuccessful until the 1965 elections, when they gained a combined majority of 80 seats in the Storting. Per Borten, who was appointed in October 1965 to form a non-Socialist coalition government, retained office in the 1969 elections, although with a majority of only two seats.

In the 1973 general elections, the Labor Party received only 35.3% of the national vote; its representation in the Storting shrank to 62 seats, but with its Socialist allies, it was able to form a minority government. The Christian People's Party, meanwhile, registered gains, as did the Socialist Electoral League, a new coalition, which was able to take a number of votes away from the Labor Party. In 1975, the Socialist Electoral League was transformed into a single grouping known as the Socialist Left Party, comprising the former Socialist People's Party, the Norwegian Communist Party, and the Democratic Socialist Party (formed in 1972); the transformation, which resulted in a platform that voiced criticism neither of the former USSR nor of Leninist ideology, marked the first occasion when a Western Communist Party voted to dissolve its organization and merge into a new grouping with other parties.

In the 1977 elections, Labor expanded its representation to 76 seats, but its Socialist Left ally won only two seats, and their coalition commanded a single-seat majority in the Storting. Odvar Nordli, who became prime minister in January 1976, succeeding the retiring Trygve Bratteli, formed a new cabinet and remained in office until February 1981, when he quit because of ill health. His successor was Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first woman prime minister. Her term in office lasted only until September, when the non-Socialist parties obtained a combined total of more than 56% of the vote and a Conservative, Kåre Willoch, became prime minister of a minority government. In April 1983, the government was transformed into a majority coalition.

Following the loss of a vote of confidence, the coalition was replaced in May 1986 by a Labor minority government led by Brundtland, who formed a cabinet of eight female ministers out of 18. With an average age of 47, her cabinet was the youngest ever in Norway.

Labor increased its support in the 1993 election, winning 67 seats. The Center Party became the second-largest party while the Conservatives and other right-wing parties suffered a decline.

The September 1997 election brought to power a coalition of Christian People's party, Liberals, and Center party and was headed by the Lutheran minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik. The coalition claimed only 42 seats in parliament and Bondevik was forced to seek compromises with opposition parties to pass legislation. In March 1999 his government lost a vote of confidence after Bondevik refused to weaken antipollution laws to allow the construction of gas-fired power plants. Norway generates most of its power from nonpolluting hydro power and Bondevik was not ready to compromise Norway's environment for the sake of natural gas energy.

Because the next legislative elections could only be held in September 2001, Jens Stoltenberg, the elected leader of the Labor party, became prime minister at the age of 41, becoming Norway's youngest leader. Stoltenberg pledged to seek strong ties to Europe and favored European Union membership. He also announced the privatization of Statoil, the state's oil company, and Telenor, the state-owned telecommunication group. Especially, the partial sell-off of Statoil was of huge symbolic significance because of its role as the guardian of the nation's oil and gas wealth.

In the September 2001 parliamentary elections, the Labor Party came in first, although it suffered its worst defeat since 1924, taking only 24.3% of the vote, compared with 35% in 1997. Voters were disgruntled with high tax ratesin some cases 50%and inadequate public services, including hospitals, schools, and public transportation. The far-right Progress Party gained seats. Bondevik was returned to power as prime minister, putting together a coalition of the Christian People's Party, the Liberals, and the Conservatives, with support from the Progress Party. The distribution of the parties' electoral strength in the Storting following the 2001 elections was as follows: Labor Party, 24.3% (43 seats); Conservative Party, 21.2% (38 seats); Progress Party, 14.7% (26 seats); Christian People's Party, 12.5% (22 seats); Socialist Left Party, 12.4% (23 seats); Center Party, 5.6% (10 seats); the fisherman's Coastal Party, 3.9% (2 seats); and the extreme-left Red Electoral Alliance, 1.7% (1 seat).

In the September 2005 parliamentary elections, the Labor Party came in first, taking 32.7% of the vote (61 seats), an increase of 8.4% (18 seats) over the 2001 elections. The Progress Party came in second with 22.1% of the vote (38 seats), an increase of 7.4% of the vote (and 12 seats) over the 2001 elections. The distribution of the remaining parties' electoral strengths in the Storting following the elections was as follows: Conservative Party, 14.1% (23 seats); Socialist Left Party, 8.8% (15 seats); Christian People's Party, 6.8% (11 seats); Center Party, 6.5% (11 seats); and the Liberal Party, 5.9% (10 seats). Jens Stoltenberg, leader of the Labor Party, claimed he would devote more of the country's oil wealth to jobs, schools, and care for the elderly. Stoltenberg was to form a coalition government with the Socialist Left and Center parties.


Norway has 435 municipalities (kommuner ) of varying size, each administered by an elected municipal council. They are grouped into 19 counties (fylker ), each governed by an elected county council. Each county is headed by a governor appointed by the king in council. Oslo is the only urban center that alone constitutes a county; the remaining 18 counties consist of both urban and rural areas. County and municipal councils are popularly elected every four years. The municipalities have wide powers over the local economy, with the state exercising strict supervision. They have the right to tax and to use their resources to support education, libraries, social security, and public works such as streetcar lines, gas and electricity works, roads, and town planning, but they are usually aided in these activities by state funds.


Each municipality has a conciliation council (forliksråd ), elected by the municipal council, to mediate in lesser civil cases so as to settle them, if possible, before they go to court; under some conditions the conciliation councils also render judgments. The courts of first instance are town courts (byrett ) and rural courts (herredsrett ), which try both civil and criminal cases. Their decisions may be brought before a court of appeals (lagmannsrett ), which also serves as a court of first instance in more serious criminal cases. There are six such courts: Borgarting, Eidsivating, Agder, Gulating, Frostating and Hålogaland. Appeals may be taken to the Supreme Court (Høyesterett) at Oslo, which consists of a chief justice and 18 judges. Special courts include a Social Insurance Court and a Labor Disputes Court who mediates industrial relations disputes.

The judiciary is independent of both the legislative and the executive branches. In criminal cases, defendants are afforded free legal counsel. Indigent persons are granted free legal counsel in certain civil cases as well.


Norway's armed forces in 2005 had a total strength of 25,800 active personnel with reserves numbering 219,000. The Army of 14,700 was equipped with 165 main battle tanks, 157 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 189 armored personnel carriers, and 634 artillery pieces. The Navy numbered 6,100 active personnel, including 270 in the coast guard and 160 coastal defense personnel. The Navy operated 6 tactical submarines, 3 frigates, 15 coastal and patrol vessels, and 10 mine warfare ships. The Air Force consisted of 5,000 personnel operating 61 combat capable aircraft, in addition to 15 (each) transport and training aircraft, and 12 search and rescue helicopters. The Air Force also mans air defense guns and missiles.

Norway is the host nation for the NATO Allied Forces North headquarters and provides troops or observers for eight peacekeeping operations. The nation's defense budget in 2005 totaled $4.69 billion.


Norway has been a member of the United Nations since 27 November 1945; the country participates in the ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, the World Bank, UNSECO, UNHCR, UNIDO, and the WHO. Norwegian experts serve in many countries under the UN Technical Assistance program. Norway has participated in at least 30 UN peacekeeping operations. The Norwegian Peace Corps, launched as an experiment in 1963, was made a permanent part of Norway's program of international aid in 1965.

Norway is a member of the WTO, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Council of Europe, EFTA, the OSCE, the Paris Club, NATO, the Nordic Council, the Nordic Investment Bank, and OECD. The country holds observer status in the OAS and is an associate member of the Western European Union. A referendum on EU membership was held in November 1994; 52% of the electorate voted against membership.

Norway is part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Nuclear Energy Agency, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental cooperation, Norway is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Norway, with its long coastline and vast forests, is traditionally a fishing and lumbering country, but since the end of World War II it has greatly increased its transport and manufacturing activities. The exploitation since the late 1970s of major oil reserves in the North Sea has had considerable impact on the Norwegian economy.

Foreign trade is a critical economic factor. Exports bring in over 40% of the GDP. As a trading nation without a large domestic market, Norway was especially vulnerable to the effects of the worldwide recession of the early 1980s and is sensitive to fluctuations in world prices, particularly those of oil, gas, and shipping. Since the early 1980s, Norway's exports have been dominated by petroleum and natural gas, which produced 56% of commodity exports in 2003.

Norway has a mixed economy with the government owning about 32% of the listed shares on the Oslo stock exchange, and holding shares in around 1015% of Norwegian industry (as of 2005). State ownership is most dominant in the oil, hydroelectric, and mining sectors. At considerable expense, the government provides subsidies for industry, agriculture, and outlying regions. About half of the total goes to agriculture.

Norwegian competitiveness in the global economy is hampered by a small population (4.6 million), a restrictive immigration policy, and an expensive social welfare system that places high tax burdens on the population.

In the early 1980s, the nation's economy became increasingly dependent on oil revenues, which stimulated domestic consumption and, at the same time, increased costs and prices, thus hampering the competitiveness of Norway's other export industries. The drastic decline of oil prices in 1986 caused the value of Norway's exports to fall by about 20%. Recently, the service sector has grown, accounting for 61.6% of GDP (2004 est.)

From 1949 to 1989 the real GDP rose on the average by 3.9% per year. The GDP fell in 1988 for the first time in 30 years. Since 1989, however, growth resumed, averaging only 1.3% during 198991, but climbing by an annual average of 3.7% during 199294. In 1998, GDP growth was 2.4%, inflation was 2.3%, and unemployment was 2.6%. In 1999, low world oil prices helped reduce growth to 1.1%, while their recovery, in 2000 helped raise GDP growth to 2.3%. GDP growth fell to 1% by 2002 and to 0.5% in 2003, largely due to the global economic slowdown of 200102. The economy recovered strongly in 2004, with real GDP growing by 2.9%. Economic growth was forecast to peak in 2005 at 3%, before falling slightly to 2.5% in 2006.

Unemployment averaged about 3.3% 1999 to 2002, while annual price inflation was about 2.9%. The unemployment rate stood at 4.3% in 2004, and the annual CPI inflation rate was forecast at 1.8% in 2005. Government statistics show that government spending as a percent of GDP declined from 39% in 1999 to about 34.5% in 2001, down from the estimated 50% reported by the OECD in the mid-1990s. Government spending as a percent of GDP stood at approximately 40% in 2005.

Norwegian voters rejected European Union membership in 1994. However, Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) which consists of the EU member countries together with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Membership gives Norway most of the rights and obligation of the EU single market but very little ability to influence EU decisions.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Norway's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $194.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $42,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.8%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.2% of GDP, industry 37.2%, and services 60.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $322 million or about $71 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.1% of GDP.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Norway totaled $101.96 billion or about $22,350 per capita based on a GDP of $220.9 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 16% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 5% on health care, and 4% on education.


In 2005, Norway's labor force totaled an estimated 2.4 million workers. As of 2003, services accounted for 74% of the workforce, with 22.1% in industry, and around 4% in the agricultural sector. From 196088, Norway's average unemployment rate was only 1.6%. Unemployment gradually increased during the 1970s, and decreased from 5.5% in 1991 to 3.9% in 2002. As of 2005, the unemployment rate was estimated at 4.2%.

As of 2005, about 55% of the labor force was unionized. Under Norwegian law, workers can organize and join unions, engage in collective bargaining, and strike. Government employees, including military personnel, can also organize unions and bargain collectively. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by law.

In 1919, the eight-hour day was established, together with paid holiday periods. In 1986, the workweek was reduced to 37.5 hours, where as of 2005, it remained. There is also 25 days of paid leave, with 31 days for those 60 and older. There is no legal minimum wage. Wages scales are set through negotiations involving local government, employers and workers. Children between the ages of 13 and 18 years may engage in light work that will not negatively affect their health or education, but only on a part-time basis.


Agricultural land in 2003 comprised 873,000 hectares (2,157,000 acres), or about 2.9% of the country's total land (excluding Svalbard and Jan Mayen). While the area under wheat and mixed grains has dropped sharply since 1949, that for rye, oats, and barley has more than doubled. The greater part of these crops is used to supplement potatoes and hay in the feeding of livestock. In 2004, the area planted with barley, oats, rye, and triticale covered 12,380 hectares (30,590 acres), while wheat covered 65,000 hectares (161,000 acres).

In 2005, Norway had 53,277 agricultural holdings, 96% held by individuals. Because of the small size of the holdings, many farm families pursue additional occupations, mainly in forestry, fishing, and handicrafts. Yields in 2004 included 1,076,000 tons of coarse grain and 340,000 tons of potatoes. Østfold county accounts for 20% of Norway's grain production; Hedmark county for one-third of potato production. Norway imports most of its grain and large quantities of its fruits and vegetables.

With steep slopes and heavy precipitation, Norway requires substantial quantities of fertilizers to counteract soil leaching. Smallholders and those in marginal farming areas in the north and in the mountains receive considerable government assistance for the purchase of fertilizers. Mechanization of agriculture is developing rapidly. In 2003, Norwegian farmers used 130,000 tractors and 13,400 combines.

Since 1928, the state has subsidized Norwegian grain production; a state monopoly over the import of grains maintains the price of Norwegian-grown grains. The Ministry of Agriculture has divisions dealing with agricultural education, economics, and other aspects. Each county has an agricultural society headed by a government official. These societies, financed half by the district and half by the state, implement government schemes for improving agricultural practices.


Norway is self-sufficient in farm animals and livestock products. In 2005, there were 2,417,000 sheep, 920,000 head of cattle, 515,000 hogs, 28,000 horses, and 3,300,000 fowl. Norway is well known for its working horses. By careful breeding, Norway has developed dairy cows with very good milk qualities; artificial insemination is now widely used. In 2005, production included 83,600 tons of beef and veal, 116,500 tons of pork, 25,400 tons of mutton and lamb, 1,721,000 tons of milk, 81,200 tons of cheese, 51,000 tons of eggs, and 13,000 tons of butter. Norwegian production of milk, cheese, and meat satisfies local demand.

The breeding of furbearing animals has been widely undertaken, and good results have been obtained with mink. In 2003, there were 320,000 farm-raised foxes, 440,000 mink, and 203,000 deer. Reindeer graze in the north and on the lichen-clad mountains. In 2004, wild game hunting yielded 36,770 moose, 3,895 wild reindeer, and 25,896 red deer.


Seafood is Norway's third-largest export item, after petroleum products and metals. In 2004, the value of Norway's seafood exports amounted to $4.2 billion, with salmon and trout accounting for 44%. Norway's wild fish catch in 2004 amounted to 2.5 million tons, valued at $1.5 billion. The main commercial species are herring, cod, mackerel, and sardines.

Cod spawn in March and April off the Lofoten Islands. The Lofoten fisheries are coastal, permitting the use of small craft, but there has been increased use of large trawlers that fish in the waters of Greenland, the Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea. Cod roe and liver (yielding cod-liver oil) are valuable by-products. In recent years there has been concern about declining wild fish stocks in the sea, but for Norway the wild fish catches seem to increase almost every year. According to the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, the most important fish stocks in northern Norwegian waters have stabilized, and will remain at a high level in the years to come. The traditional wage system is on a share-of-the-catch basis. In view of the seasonal nature of the fisheries, many men work also in agriculture or forestry, and the supplementary income from part-time fishing is important to small farmers.

Aquaculture is also important in Norway, with over 3,500 workers and 700 facilities located along the entire coast from the Swedish border in the south to Finnmark far north of the Arctic Circle. The production of farmed salmon reached 537,000 tons in 2004, accounting for 45% of the world's farmed salmon production.

In 2003, sealing expeditions hunting in the Arctic Ocean caught 12,870 seals. Norway was one of the four countries that did not agree to phase out whaling by 1986, having opposed a 1982 resolution of the International Whaling Commission to that effect. In 2003, 647 minke whales were reportedly caught.


Norway's forestland totals 8,868,000 hectares (21,913,000 acres), of which over 80% is owned by individuals, 9% by the state, and 7% by local governments; the remainder is held by institutions, companies, and cooperatives.

The state subsidizes silviculture and the building of forest roads. In 2004, removals amounted to 8,780,000 cu m (309.9 million cu ft), of which 86% was coniferous industrial wood and 14% was fuel wood. Sawn wood production in 2004 totaled 2,230,000 cu m (78.7 million cu ft); wood pulp, 2,528,000 tons; and paper and paperboard, 2,294,000 tons. The value of forest products exported was $1.8 billion in 2004, when Norway's trade surplus in forest products amounted to $641 million. The Norwegian Forest Research Institute has centers near Oslo and Bergen.


Mining was Norway's oldest major export industry. Some working mines were established more than 300 years ago and, for a time, silver, iron, and copper were important exports. Iron pyrites and iron ore were still mined in considerable quantities. Petroleum and gas comprised Norway's leading industry in 2004, and metals, chemicals, and mining were among other leading industries. Among export commodities, petroleum and petroleum products ranked first, while metals and chemicals followed close behind. Known deposits of other minerals were small; they included limestone, quartz, dolomite, feldspar, and mica (flake). In 2004, production of iron ore and concentrate (metal content) was 408,000 metric tons, up from 340,000 metric tons in 2003. Titanium (metal content) production in 2004 was 387,000 metric tons. Norway also produced nickel, hydraulic cement, dolomite, feldspar, graphite, lime (hydrated, quicklime), limestone, flake mica, nepheline syenite, nitrogen, olivine sand, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, steatite, sulfur (as a by-product), and talc. No lead or zinc was mined from 1998 through 2004, and no copper or pyrite from 1999 through 2004. The largest titanium deposit in Europe was at Soknedal. A large plant at Thamshavn used half the Orkla mines' output of pyrites for sulfur production. Reserves of minerals generally have been depleted, except for olivine, which was abundant. There has been recent gold exploration, and a zinc exploration program in the Roros district confirmed the existence of extensive stratiform sulfide mineralization with dimensions of a type that could host commercial deposits.


Norway has Western Europe's largest proven reserves of oil, which are located on the country's continental shelf. Norway is also the second-largest supplier of natural gas to continental Europe and one of the largest producers in the world. In spite of its oil and gas reserves, hydropower is the primary source of electric power for Norway.

As of 1 January 2005, Norway's proven reserves of oil amounted to 8.5 billion barrels. In 2004, Norway produced an estimated 3,183,900 barrels of oil per day, of which crude oil accounted for 88%. Domestic consumption for oil averaged 244,300,000 barrels of oil per day. In 2005, Norway's crude oil refining capacity averaged 310,000 barrels per day, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. There are two major refining facilities: the 200,000 barrelper-day Mongstad plant, which is operated by 71% government owned Statoil; and the 110,000 barrel-per-day Slagen plant, which is operated by ExxonMobil.

Norway's natural gas reserves are mainly in the North Sea, although the Barents and Norwegian Seas are known to have significant reserves. As of 1 January 2005, Norway's proven reserves of natural gas were estimated at 73.6 trillion cu ft. In 2003, natural gas production was estimated at 2.6 trillion cu ft, with domestic consumption that year estimated at 146.2 billion cu ft.

Norway's reserves of coal, unlike its reserves of oil and natural gas, are very modest. In 2003, Norway's recoverable coal reserves were estimated at 5.5 million short tons. Output and consumption that year were estimated at 3.2 million short tons and 1.4 million short tons, respectively.

Norway's installed electric power generating capacity in 2003 was estimated at 26.6 GW. In that same year, electric power output was estimated at 1205.6 billion kWh, of which hydroelectric generated power amounted to 99% of the electricity produced. Geothermal/other and conventional thermal generated power account for the remainder. Domestic consumption in 2003 was estimated at 106.1 billion kWh.


Manufacturing, mining, and crude petroleum and gas production accounted for nearly 36.3% of the GDP in 2004. The most important export industries are oil and gas extraction, metalworking, pulp and paper, chemical products, and processed fish. Products traditionally classified as home market industries (electrical and nonelectrical machinery, casting and foundry products, textiles, paints, varnishes, rubber goods, and furniture) also make an important contribution. Electrochemical and electrometallurgical productsaluminum, ferroalloys, steel, nickel, copper, magnesium, and fertilizersare based mainly on Norway's low-cost electric power. Without any bauxite reserves of its own, Norway has thus been able to become a leading producer of aluminum. Industrial output is being increasingly diversified.

About half of Norway's industries are situated in the Oslofjord area. Other industrial centers are located around major cities along the coast as far north as Trondheim. Norway has two oil refineries. Daily Norwegian offshore production in 2003 averaged 3.26 million barrels of oil. In the early 2000s, despite an improvement in world oil prices, investment in offshore oil and natural gas remained in decline, in part due to the completion of major projects, such as the Aasgard field. Norway's oil and gas reserves are declining; discovered oil reserves were projected to last 18 years in 2000, and natural gas reserves to last 95 years. The state oil company is Statoil. Norway's price support level for the oil industry is low, at around $20 per barrel of oil. Norway's oil economy employs more than 100,000 Norwegians.

Norway is also Europe's largest natural gas producer, and one of the largest natural gas exporters in the world. Natural gas reserves were measured at 1.71 trillion cu m in 2005. By 2020, natural gas production in Norway will overtake its oil output.

As Norway's economy will not be able to depend indefinitely upon oil, it must diversify. In addition to developing its knowledge-based economy (biotechnology, nanotechnology, the Internet, and knowledge-services), Norway may look to further develop its mineral resources.


A highly advanced industrialized nation, Norway invested $2,625.414 million or 1.6% of its GDP into research and development (R&D) in 2001. Of that amount, 51.7% came from the business sector, followed by government sources at 39.8%. Foreign sources accounted for 7.1% and higher education at 1.4%. In 2002, high-tech exports were valued at $2.863 billion and accounted for 22% of manufactured exports. Public funds come either as direct grants from the central government or as proceeds from the State Football Pool, whose net receipts are divided between research and sports. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), there were 1,524 technicians and 4,442 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D per million people.

The four principal research councils are the Agricultural Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities, the Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Norwegian Fisheries Research Council, each attached to separate government ministries. The councils recruit researchers by means of fellowship programs and allocate research grants to universities. They are part of the Science Policy Council of Norway, an advisory board to the government on all research matters. Principal areas of current study are arctic research, specifically studies of the northern lights; oceanography, especially ocean currents; marine biology, with special attention to fish migration; and meteorology.

The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, founded in 1760, has a Natural Sciences section. The country has 12 other scientific and technical learned societies and 24 scientific and technical research institutes. Located in Oslo are the Botanical Garden and Museum (founded in 1814), the Norwegian Museum of Science and Industry (founded in 1914), and other museums devoted to mineralogy-geology, paleontology, and zoology. The country has six universities and colleges offering courses in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 26% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 14.5% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, engineering).


Oslo, the principal merchandising center, handles the distribution of many import products; Bergen and Stavanger are other west coast distribution centers. Trondheim is the chief northern center; Tromsø and Narvik are also important. The largest number of importers, exporters, and manufacturers' agents are in Oslo and Bergen. An 11% value-added tax (VAT) applies to many food products. A 25% VAT applies to most other goods and services, effective 2005.

Cooperative societies are an important distribution factor, with local groups operating retail stores for many kinds of consumer goods, especially in the food sector. Food market chains have developed rapidly in recent years. The Norwegian Cooperative Union and Wholesale Society represents a large number of societies, with over half a million members. Agricultural cooperatives are active in produce marketing and cooperative purchasing societies (Felleskjöp ) do much of the buying of farm equipment, fertilizer, and seed.

The Norwegian Consumer Council (established by the Storting in 1953) advances and safeguards the fundamental interests of consumers. It publishes comprehensive reports on accepted standards for key consumer goods, conducts conferences and buying courses in various parts of Norway, arranges consumer fairs, and cooperates closely with other organizations and institutions interested in consumer protection. Newspapers provide an important medium for advertisements; trade and other journals carry advertising, but the state-owned radio and television do not. However, in 1992, a national commercial television channel, TV2, was established in competition with the noncommercial Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). TV2 currently has the sole right to broadcast advertising via Norwegian Telecom's terrestrial broadcasting network. Advertising is not permitted on NRK, but the growth of foreign-based commercial television channels broadcasting by satellite, and commercial television channels broadcasting via cable, opened the way for nationwide advertising on television. The advent of commercial television and radio advertising in Norway has led to new official control systems.

Shopping hours are usually from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays (often until 7 pm on Thursdays) and from 9 am to 1 or 3 pm on Saturdays. Banks stay open from 9 am to 3:30 pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and until 5 pm on Thursdays. Some manufacturers and major businesses will close for three to four weeks in July and/or August for a summer vacation.


Foreign trade plays an exceptionally important role in the Norwegian economy, accounting, with exports of goods and services, for some 43% of the GDP in the mid-1990s and about 41% in 2004. Exports are largely based on oil, natural gas, shipbuilding, metals, forestry (including pulp and paper), fishing, and electrochemical and electrometallurgical products. Norway is the world's third-largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. The manufacture of oil rigs, drilling platforms, and associated equipment has developed into a sizable export industry. Norway imports

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 67,934.5 39,848.2 28,086.3
United Kingdom 14,438.1 2,853.5 11,584.6
Germany 8,845.6 5,281.6 3,564.0
Netherlands 6,525.4 1,783.9 4,741.5
United States 5,873.7 2,053.9 3,819.8
France-Monaco 5,575.6 1,728.5 3,847.1
Sweden 5,020.3 6,396.7 -1,376.4
Denmark 2,603.3 3,129.9 -526.6
Canada 2,483.0 806.5 1,676.5
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 2,397.0 1,577.3 819.7
Belgium 1,831.6 814.3 1,017.3
() data not available or not significant.

considerable quantities of motor vehicles and other transport equipment, raw materials, and industrial equipment.

Exports tripled between 1974 and 1981, largely on the strength of the petroleum sector, which accounted for a negligible percentage of exports in 1974 but half the total export value in 1981. During the same period, imports advanced by 93%. Following years of trade deficits, Norway had surpluses from 1980 through 1985. However, the drastic fall in oil prices caused a decline in export value resulting in deficits between 1986 and 1988. Since 1989, Norway has once again consistently recorded trade surpluses. In 2004, the value of Norwegian exports was $76.64 billion, and the value of imports totaled $45.96 billion, for a trade surplus of $30.68 billion. The leading markets for Norway's exports in 2004 were: the United Kingdom (22.3% of all exports), Germany (12.9%), the Netherlands (9.9%), France (9.6%), and the United States (8.4%). Norway's leading suppliers in 2004 were: Sweden (15.7% of all imports), Germany (13.6%), Denmark (7.3%) the United Kingdom (6.5%), and the United States (4.9%). In total, 78.2% of all Norwegian exports are traded with the EU, and Norway receives 70.8% of its imports from the EU.


Norway's foreign exchange reserves have been built up to meet adverse developments in the balance of payments without the necessity of a retreat from the liberalization of imports. Until the oil boom of the late 1970s, imports regularly exceeded exports, but large deficits on current account were more than offset by the capital account surplus, giving a net increase in foreign exchange reserves. As of 2005 Norway was the world's third-largest exporter of oil, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Norway's economy is less open to trade than the Western European average, with total exports and imports of goods and services equal to 41.5% and 27.3% of GDP, respectively, in 2002.

The price of oil rose sharply in 2005 (averaging $53.27 per barrel), and was forecast to remain at $50.50 per barrel in 2006. The higher oil prices were expected to boost Norway's trade surplus in both years, which means that the current account surplus will also

Current Account 28,444.0
   Balance on goods 27,910.0
      Imports -41,162.0
      Exports 69,071.0
   Balance on services 2,244.0
   Balance on income 1,367.0
   Current transfers -3,076.0
Capital Account 680.0
Financial Account -20,121.0
   Direct investment abroad -2,226.0
   Direct investment in Norway 1,958.0
   Portfolio investment assets -19,290.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 12,629.0
   Financial derivatives -126.0
   Other investment assets -23,171.0
   Other investment liabilities 10,106.0
Net Errors and Omissions -8,706.0
Reserves and Related Items -297.0
() data not available or not significant.

widen, reaching 17.3% of GDP in 2005, before narrowing slightly in 2006. The current account balance was estimated at $30.52 billion in 2004.


The Bank of Norway was founded as a commercial bank in 1816; in 1949, all its share capital was acquired by the state. It is the central bank and the sole note-issuing authority. The bank discounts treasury bills and some commercial paper; trades in bonds, foreign exchange, and gold and silver; and administers foreign exchange regulations. The bank also receives money for deposit on current account but generally pays no interest on deposits. The head office is in Oslo, and there are 20 branches.

In 1938 there were 105 commercial banks, but mergers brought the total down to only 31 in 1974 and 21 in 1984. As of 1993, the total was down to 20. The three largestthe Norske Creditbank, Bergen Bank, and Christiania Bank og Kreditkasseaccount for more than half of the total resources of the commercial banks. In 1988, a number of small savings banks and one medium-sized commercial bank, Sunnmorsbanken, became illiquid or insolvent. Most were rescued by merging with larger banks. After a slight improvement in 1989, however, banks' positions deteriorated again in 1990 following heavy losses sustained in the securities markets. As commercial property prices continued to fall, the position of the country's second and third-largest commercial banks, Christiania and Fokus, became increasingly precarious. To prevent a loss of confidence in the banking system, the government established a Government Bank Insurance Fund in March 1991. Within months this was called upon to provide capital to support the country's three largest banks, two of whichChristiania and Fokuswere by then insolvent.

By the late 1990s, increasing pressure fell upon Norway to shed its nationalistic protection of its banking industry and allow for foreign investment, particularly from its Nordic neighbors. Throughout the fall of 1998 and into 1999, attention centered on the fate of Christiania as two attempted merger attempts fell through. In mid-October 1999, Christiania was seeking to merge with MeritaNordbanken in order to avert a hostile takeover by either Swedish Svenska Handelbanken or Danish Den Norske Bank.

Ten state banks and other financial institutions serve particular industries or undertakings, including agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, student loans, mortgages, and others. Although savings banks also have been merging in recent years, there were still 133 private savings banks and many credit associations in 1993.

A law of 1961 contains measures to implement the principle that banking policies are to be based on social as well as economic and financial considerations. The government appoints 25% of the representatives on the board of every commercial bank with funds of over Kr100 million. Guidelines for these banks are worked out cooperatively with public authorities.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $73.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $87.6 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 8.5%.

The stock exchanges of Norway are at Oslo (the oldest, founded 1818), Trondheim, Bergen, Kristiansund, Drammen, Stavanger, Ålesund, Haugesund, and Fredrikstad. Amid the increasing consolidation among European stock exchanges in the late 1990s, calls increased for the Norwegian markets to merge. As of 2004, there were 148 companies listed on the Oslo exchange, which had a market capitalization of $141.430 billion. In 2004, the Oslo exchange rose 31.3% from the previous year to 821.6.


Norwegian insurance can be undertaken only by joint-stock companies of mutual assistance associations. Foreign life insurance companies have practically ceased to operate in Norway. Life insurance policies and those for pension schemes are exempt from income tax and cannot be written by firms doing other insurance work.

The crown in 1767 initiated compulsory fire insurance in towns and this fund still exists. Workers' compensation, third-party auto liability, pharmaceutical product liability, and aircraft liability are all compulsory insurances as well.

For marine insurance, stock companies now are more important than mutual associations. While a number of foreign insurance underwriters transact business in Norway, there is considerable direct insurance of Norwegian vessels abroad, especially in London. Most other insurance, such as automobile and burglary, is underwritten by Norwegian concerns. The insurance regulatory authority is the Banking, Insurance, and Securities Commission (BISC). The insurance sector is highly regulated, deeply influenced by the failure of a nonlife insurance company, Dovre, which spurred the Insurance Activities Act of 1988, which became effective in April 1989. The Insurance Activities Act of 1988 allows the BISC to control premium rates, monitor the financial position of insurance companies, and the risks that the insurance company writes. The BISC has wide powers of intervention. Companies may engage in insurance business after special permission has been granted and a license is obtained from the government. Recent liberalization throughout Europe promises to change radically the structure of the Norwegian insurance industry as foreign firms tap into the market. Direct insurance premiums written in 2003 totaled us$11.532 billion, of which us$5.501 billion of the total was nonlife insurance premiums, and us$6.031 billion was life insurance. In 2003, Norway's top nonlife insurer was If Skadeforsikring, which had gross written nonlife premiums of us$1,436.6 million. In 2004, the country's leading life insurer was Vital, with gross written life insurance premiums of $2,344.6 million.


Norway's fiscal year coincides with the calendar year. As one of the per capita richest countries in the world, Norway has a great deal of money to spend on investment, focusing especially on the offshore oil sector. The government maintains a Petroleum Fund that reached $67 billion at the end of 2001. The Fund will be used to finance government programs once oil and gas resources are depleted.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Norway's central government took in revenues of approximately $176.1 billion and had expenditures of $131.3 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $44.8 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 36% of GDP. Total external debt was $281 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were Kr746.8 billion and expenditures were Kr605.3 billion. The value of revenues was us$105 million and expenditures us$85 million, based on an exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = Kr7.0802 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 17.5%; defense, 5.0%; public order and safety, 2.6%; economic affairs, 10.1%; environmental protection, 0.3%; housing and community amenities, 0.2%; health,

Revenue and Grants 746.8 100.0%
    Tax revenue 429.56 57.5%
    Social contributions 155.27 20.8%
    Grants 2.07 0.3%
    Other revenue 159.9 21.4%
Expenditures 605.3 100.0%
    General public services 105.64 17.5%
    Defense 30.55 5.0%
    Public order and safety 15.8 2.6%
    Economic affairs 61.43 10.1%
    Environmental protection 2.06 0.3%
    Housing and community amenities 0.94 0.2%
    Health 96.27 15.9%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 7.11 1.2%
    Education 39.13 6.5%
    Social protection 246.39 40.7%
() data not available or not significant.

15.9%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.2%; education, 6.5%; and social protection, 40.7%.


Both the central government and the municipal governments levy income and capital taxes. There is also a premium payable to the National Insurance Scheme. For individual taxpayers, income taxes and premiums adhere to the pay-as-you-earn system.

Taxes on corporations are paid in the year following the income year. As of 2004, corporate income taxes are levied at a flat rate of 28% of aggregate income. Companies involved in oil or gas pay a special oil tax of 50% in addition to the standard 28%. All income from capital is taxable at 28%. Although dividends received by resident shareholders from Norwegian countries are taxed at the corporate rate, a credit for the tax already paid by the distributing company on income effectively negates the tax. Dividends paid to nonresident shareholders are taxed at 25%. Interest and royalty income are not subject to a withholding tax.

Personal income taxes are levied at progressive tax rates that have a top rate of 55.3%. However, that rate is made up of: a combined 28% rate for national and municipal taxes; a national gross income tax of rate of 19.5%; and the employee's social security contribution of 7.8% (3% for pensioners, and 10.7% for the self-employed). A number of additional deductions from taxable income are available including allowance for some travel expenses, insurance payments, mortgage interest payments, living allowances, and deductions for contributions to capital investments. A withholding tax on wages can be credited against income taxes. There is also a municipal wealth tax, ranging from 01.1% and a land tax with rates from 0.20.7%. Gifts and inheritances are taxed according to progressive schedules with a maximum rate of 30%.

The main indirect tax is Norway's value-added tax (VAT), with a standard rate that has increased from 20% in 1999 to 24% in 2004. A reduced rate of 12% is applied to basic foodstuffs, and there is an extensive list of VAT-exempt goods and services, including health and social services, education, passenger transport, hotel accommodations, travel agents, government supplies, etc. Stamp duties are charged at a rate of 2.5%.


Heavily dependent on foreign trade, Norway has traditionally supported abolition of trade barriers. During the 1950s, direct control of imports was gradually abolished. Tariff rates on industrial raw materials and most manufactured goods are low. Duties on finished textile products are levied at 1525%.

A signatory of GATT and a member of EFTA, Norway has bilateral trade agreements with many countries in every part of the world. In 1973, Norway signed a Special Relations Agreement with the European Community (now the European Union), whereby both sides abolished all tariffs on industrial goods over the 197377 period. Other trade goods receiving gradual tariff reductions were fish, agricultural products, and wine.

Although Norwegian voters rejected EU membership in a 1994 referendum, Norway, as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) maintains a free trade agreement with the European Union.


Norway welcomes foreign investment as a matter of policy and in general grants national treatment to foreign investors. Investment is encouraged particularly in the key offshore petroleum sector, mainland industry (including high-technology and other advanced areas), and in less developed regions such as northern Norway. Corporate taxation is levied at a flat rate of 28%, low by European standards.

Foreign capital has traditionally been largely centered in Norway's electrochemical and electrometallurgical industries, the primary iron and metal industry, and mining. The discovery of oil and natural gas in the North Sea area spurred foreign investments. The Ekofisk oil field was discovered in 1969 by an American Phillips Petroleum Co. consortium, including Petrofina of Belgium, ENI of Italy, and Norway's Petronord. A joint Norwegian-Phillips group company, Norpiepe, was formed in 1973 to construct the pipelines and to operate them for 30 years. Another US company, McDermott International, was awarded a $150-million contract in 1982 to lay pipe from the Statfjord gas field in the North Sea to the Norwegian mainland. In 1995, 11 international oil and gas companies announced plans for a $1.2$1.35 billion gas pipeline from Norway's North Sea production area to the European continent. That same year, Fokus, Norway's third-largest commercial bank, fell under foreign control as foreign investors captured more than half the shares for sale in the bank's privatization.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in Norway totaled about $21.4 billion in 1997. FDI inflow was nearly $3 billion in 1997 and more than $3.3 billion in 1998. Annual FDI inflow peaked in 1999 and 2000, at $6.7 billion and $6.3 billion, respectively, but in the global economic slowdown of 2001 fell to $2.8 billion. In 2002, FDI inflows increased to $3.4 billion. In terms of its attractiveness for foreign investment, Norway was ranked fourth in the world on UNCTAD's list of 140 countries for the period 1998 to 2000, up from fifth place for 1988 to 1990. Total FDI stock in Norway as of 2001 was $40.2 billion, equivalent to 18.7% of GDP. Norway's share in world FDI flows has been approximately equal to its share of world GDP.

Outward FDI flows from Norway averaged $5.3 billion for the four years 1999 to 2002. More than 2,000 enterprises have foreign investors holding at least 20% of the capital. Total outward FDI stock held by Norwegians totaled $40.7 billion as of 2001.

In 2003, FDI comprised 20.4% of GDP; total FDI stock in Norway was Kr327.1 billion ($46.2 billion). Leading investors were (in order) Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Most of Norway's investment abroad goes to (in order) the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany.


The government holds shares in a number of large enterprises: a minority of shares in most industrial establishments and all or controlling shares in some armaments factories, as well as in chemical and electrometallurgical companies, power stations, and mines. The government also participates in joint industrial undertakings with private capital, in enterprises too large or risky for private capital, and in establishments with shares formerly held by German interests. Government policy also aims at attracting foreign investment.

Rapid industrial development and exploitation of resources are major governmental goals, with special emphasis on northern Norway, where development has lagged behind that of the southern areas. The Development Fund for North Norway, established in 1952, together with a policy of tax concessions, resulted in progress there at a rate more rapid than that of the rest of the country. The exploitation of offshore oil and natural gas reserves has had a profound effect on Norway's economy. Increased oil revenues have expanded both domestic consumption and investment. The government has used oil revenues to ease taxes and increase public investment in regional development, environmental protection, social welfare, education, and communications. Although the expansion of innovative oil development projects continues (one of which was the $4.2 billion Heidrun oil project), Norway is looking to produce more natural gas than oil. The $5 billion Troll gas field was one such project.

A tax law permits industry and commerce to build up tax-free reserves for future investment, foreign sales promotion, and research. Designed to provide a flexible tool for influencing cyclical developments, the law's intent is to help ensure that total demand at any given time is sufficient to create full employment and strong economic growth. In the late 1970s, the government introduced combined price and wage agreements in an effort to restrain inflation and ensure real increases in buying power for consumers.

To stimulate industry, incentives are available for undertakings in the north as well as in other economically weak regions; companies may set aside up to 25% of taxable income for tax-free investment. Tariff incentives are available for essential imports. A Regional Development Fund grants low-interest, long-term loans to firms to strengthen the economy of low-income, high-unemployment areas anywhere in the country.

In 1991, the government introduced a three-year program to improve infrastructure and reduce unemployment. This plan was to spend nearly Kr10 billion, primarily for road and rail communications, with the money coming from budget cuts in other areas.

Although Norwegians rejected EU membership in a 1994 referendum, Norway's economy is largely integrated with that of the EU. Norway has a free trade agreement with the EU; its currency is generally kept on par with the euro. Yet despite these elements of association, Norway retains extensive control over its own economic development policies.

Norway has been active in aiding developing nations under the Norwegian Agency for International Development (Norad). The leading recipients have been Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia. Norway is one of five countries meeting the UN international aid target for donor countries (0.7% of national income); Norway gave 0.87% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004, more than any other country, ahead of Luxemburg, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

The country's Petroleum Fund reached $190 billion in 2005; the fund will be used to finance government programs once Norway's oil and gas resources run out. As of 2005, unemployment was low, wages were high, and the UN ranked Norway as the most desirable country in which to live. Non-oil business was also booming in 2005; a survey of some 114,000 non-oil companies showed an average 43.9% increase in profits. However, high taxes and a welfare system burdened by an aging population remain challenges for continued economic prosperity.


Norway has been a pioneer in the field of social welfare and is often called a welfare state. Accident insurance for factory workers was introduced in 1894, unemployment insurance in 1906, compulsory health insurance in 1909, and accident insurance for fishermen in 1908 and for seamen in 1911. In the 1930s, further social welfare schemes were introduced: an old-age pension scheme; aid for the blind and crippled; and unemployment insurance for all workers except fishermen, whalers, sealers, civil servants, domestic servants, self-employed persons, salesmen, and agents. In the postwar period, health insurance became compulsory for all employees and available to self-employed persons; coverage includes dependents, with medical treatment including hospital and other benefits. Sickness benefits, family allowances during hospitalization, and grants for funeral expenses are paid. Costs of this scheme are met by deductions from wages and contributions by employers and by state and local authorities. Public assistance, available in Norway since 1845, supplements the foregoing programs. Social welfare has long included maternity benefits with free prenatal clinics.

The National Insurance Act, which came into effect in 1967, provides old-age pensions, rehabilitation allowances, disability pensions, widow and widower pensions, and survivor benefits to children. Membership is obligatory for all residents of Norway, including noncitizens, and for Norwegian foreign-service employees. Pensions begin at the age of 67. As of 2004, the system of varying rates for employers was reformed to eliminate intermediate levels. The source of funds is divided between employees, employers, and the government funds any deficit.

Workers' compensation covers both accidents and occupational diseases. Compensation is paid to a widow until she remarries, and to children up to the age of 18 (or for life if they are unemployable). Dependent parents and grandparents also are eligible for life annuities. Family allowance coverage, in force since 1946, is provided for children under the age of 16.

The law mandates equal wages for equal work by men and women, although economic discrimination persists. An Equal Rights Ombudsman addresses complaints of sexual discrimination. A provision protecting against sexual harassment is outlined in the Working Environment Act. A resolution mandating that 40% of publicly held companies be directed by women by 2005, and noncompliance will result in removal from the stock exchange in 2007. Violence against women persisted but is seriously investigated and prosecuted by authorities. Victim's assistance programs and battered women's shelters are available.

Human rights are fully respected and protected in Norway. Provisions exist to protect the rights and cultural heritage of minority peoples. The Sami (Lapps) located in the northeast are entitled to schooling in their local language, and also receive radio and television broadcast subtitled in Sami. The Sami also have a constituent assembly that acts as a consultative body on issues that affect them.


Since 1971, there has been a tax-based National Insurance Scheme. The public health service and the hospitals are the responsibility of the government at the central, county, and municipal levels. There are very few private hospitals in Norway. Hospital care is free of charge, but a minor sum is charged for medicine and primary health care. As of 1984, there has been a ceiling on the total amount one must pay for medical services. There is a three-part system made up of regional hospitals serving parts of the country, central hospitals serving the various counties, and local hospitals, also run by the counties. The country is in need of more nursing homes for the elderly. Most general hospitals are public; others are owned by the Norwegian Red Cross or other health or religious organizations. As of 2004, there were an estimated 356 physicians per 100,000 people. In addition, Norway had the second most nurses per capita at an estimated 2,065 per 100,000 population, and the most dentists at 125 per 100,000 people. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 9.2% of GDP.

On the local level, health councils are responsible for public health services, including tuberculosis control and school health services, and for environmental sanitation. Only in densely populated areas are public health officers appointed on a full-time basis; otherwise they engage in private practice as well. In some areas, they are the only physicians available.

Infant mortality has been appreciably reduced and in 2005 stood at 3.70 per 1,000 live births, one of the lowest rates in the world. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 12.4 and 9.8 per 1,000 people. About 71% of married women (ages 15 to 49) use contraception. Low birth weight was seen in 5% of all births. The maternal mortality rate was only 6 per 100,000 live births. Average life expectancy, among the highest in the world, was 79.40 years in 2005. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 2,100 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

Children up to one year of age were vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 92%; polio, 92%; and measles, 93%. Tuberculosis tests are given on a regular basis from infancy onward. Children go through a comprehensive vaccination program and also receive psychotherapy and dental care throughout their nine years of basic school.

The heart disease mortality rates were higher than the average for high human development countries. In the mid-1990s the likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease was 340 per 1,000 people for men and 374 per 1,000 for women.


Before World War II, responsibility for housing rested mainly with the municipalities, but the state has since assumed the major burden. Loans and subsidies keep rents under a certain percentage of a family's income. Cooperative housing has made great progress in such densely populated areas as Oslo, where the Oslo Housing and Savings Society pioneered the practice for Norway. With housing problems compounded by wartime destruction and postwar increases in marriages and in the birthrate, Norway built more dwellings per 1,000 inhabitants than any other European country, completing between 31,000 and 42,000 units annually from 1967 through 1981.

Home construction financing has come principally from two state loan organizations, the Norwegian Smallholdings and Housing Bank and the Norwegian State Housing Bank, but one-fourth of the nation's housing is still privately financed.

As of 2001, Norway had 1,961,548 dwelling units; 57% of them were detached houses. About 29% of the housing stock was built 19812001. About 19.5% of the housing stock was built in 1945 or earlier. About 77% of all dwellings were owner occupied. In 2002, at least 22,980 new dwellings were under construction and in 2003 about 22,677 units were started. According to estimates for 2004, about 52% of all households lived in single-family detached homes and 82% of all households were owner occupied. The rate of overcrowding (defined as having fewer rooms in the dwelling than the number of people in the household) was only at about 6%.


Elementary school education has been compulsory since the middle of the 18th century. As of 1997, education is compulsory for 10 years of study, with students entering school in the year that they reach the age of six. Primary school covers seven years of study, followed by three years of lower secondary school. At this stage, students may choose to continue in a three-year general secondary school (gymnasium), which prepares students for the university. Since 1976, the upper secondary school system has also included vocational schools of various types, operated by the state, by local authorities, and by the industrial sector. A three-year trade apprenticeship program is also available for some secondary students.

Local authorities generally provide school buildings and equipment and the central government contributes funds towards teachers' salaries and covers a considerable proportion of the cost of running the schools. Although there are private schools, government authorities bear a major share of the financial responsibility for these through a system of grants.

In 2001, about 80% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 96% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 10:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 9:1.

Norway's institutions of higher education include 130 colleges and four universities. The four major universities include the University of Oslo (founded in 1811), the University of Bergen (1948), the University of Trondheim (1969), and the University of Tromsø (1969). Representing fields not covered by the universities, there are also specialized institutions, such as the Agricultural University of Norway (near Oslo); the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (Bergen); and the Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine (Oslo). Universities and colleges in Norway serve a dual functionboth learning and research. At the four universities, degrees are granted at three levels: Lower degree (a four-year study program); higher degree (five to seven-year course of study); and doctorate degree. There are also courses lasting from five to seven years in law, medicine, agriculture, or engineering.

With a goal of placing adults on an equal standing with the educated youth and giving them access to knowledge and job skills, a program of adult education was introduced in August 1977. An official administrative body for adult education exists in all municipalities and counties. However, the Ministry of Education and Research has the highest administrative responsibility for adult education. Folk high schools are associated with a long Scandinavian tradition of public enlightenment. There are more than 80 folk schools in Norway geared toward providing personal growth and development rather than academic achievement. In 2003, about 81% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 64% for men and 99% for women. The adult literacy rate has been estimated at about 99%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 7.6% of GDP, or 16.2% of total government expenditures.


The National Library of Norway in Oslo has over two million volumes in its central library. Since 1882, copies of all Norwegian publications have had to be deposited in the national library; since 1939, copies have been deposited at Bergen and Trondheim as well. Bergen University Library has over one million volumes, largely devoted to the natural sciences. Oslo University Library (founded in 1811), has the largest academic library system in the country, with four libraries and a central administrative unit. A special collection at the Oslo University Library includes the world's largest collection of materials on the life and works of Henrik Ibsen as part of the Centre for Ibsen Studies. The library of the Scientific Society in Trondheim, founded in 1760, is the country's oldest research library and has over one million volumes, including 330,000 pictures and UNESCO and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) documents. The Tromsø Museum Library has been organized to make it the research library for the north. There are technical and specialized libraries at many research institutes and higher educational centers. State archives are kept in Oslo, and there are record offices for provincial archives at Oslo, Kristiansund, Stavanger, Bergen, Hamar, Trondheim, and Tromsø.

The first municipal libraries were founded in the late 18th century. By law every municipality and every school must maintain a library; each such library receives financial support from state and municipality. Regional libraries also have been created. A special library service is provided for ships in the merchant navy, and a floating library service provides books to fishermen-farmers living in the sparsely populated regions.

There are natural history museums in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø. Oslo, Lillehammer, and Bergen have notable art collections. A traveling "national gallery" was established in 1952. The most important museums in Norway are those dealing with antiquities and folklore, such as the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo. Oslo has a unique collection of ships from the Viking period. Open-air museums in Oslo and elsewhere show old farm and other buildings, as well as objects of Norwegian historical and cultural interest. Also in Oslo are the International Museum of Children's Art; the Munch Museum, displaying the works of Edvard Munch, Norway's most famous artist; Norway's Resistance Museum, detailing the country's occupation during World War II; and the Viking Ship Museum. Among Norway's newer museums are the Astrup Fearnley Fine Arts Museum (1993), which features modern art; the National Museum of Contemporary Art (1990); and the Stenerson Museum (1994), which exhibits paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. All three museums are in Oslo. There are at least three museums in the country that are dedicated to Henrik Ibsen.


Most of the telecommunications network is operated by the government-owned Televerket. The state owns all telephone facilities. In 2003, there were an estimated 713 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 909 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The first private broadcasting stations launched in 1981. The public Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. continues to operate two television channels and three national radio stations, as well as a number of local radio stations. As of 1998 Norway had 5 AM and at least 650 FM radio broadcasting stations. Educational broadcasts supplement school facilities in remote districts. Radio license fees have not been required since 1977. Television programming on an experimental basis was initiated in 1958 and full-scale television transmission began in July 1960. In 2003, there were an estimated 3,324 radios and 884 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 184.5 of every 1,000 people were cables subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 528.3 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 346 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,130 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The Norwegian press is characterized by a large number of small newspapers. Five regional dailies account for about 20% of the total press circulation in the country. Verdens Gang and Dagbladet, both national tabloids, account for another 20% of circulation totals. The largest dailies (with their affiliations and circulations in 2004 unless noted) are: Verdens Gang (independent, 365,000), Aftenposten, (independent, 398,000), Dagbladet (liberal, 183,000), Daens Naeringsliv (60,027 in 2002), and Arbeiderbladet (Labor Party, 51,790 in 2002). Major regional papers include: De Fire Neste (Drammen, 442,000 circulation in 2002), Hedmark (Hamar, 91,100 in 2002), Bergens Tidende (in Bergen, independent, 89,000 in 2004), Adresseavisen (Trondheim, conservative, 85,000 in 2004), Stavanger Aftenblad (Stavanger, independent, 69,000 in 2004), Faedrelandsvennen (Kristiansund, independent, 46,960 in 2002), Akershus (Lillestrom, 42,100 in 2002), Haugesunds Avis (Hauguesund, 38,490 in 2002), and Sunnmorsposten (Ålesund, independent, 37,900 in 2002).

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press and the government generally respects these rights.


Cooperative societies are numerous and important in Norway. About 2,500 agricultural cooperatives are active; these include purchasing, processing, and marketing organizations. Some 528 retail cooperatives are affiliated with the Norwegian Cooperative Union and Wholesale Society.

Doctors are organized in the Norwegian Medical Association and in local associations. Farming organizations and agricultural cooperatives are represented in the Federation of Agriculture. There are associations of small and large forest owners, fur breeders, and employers' organizations in most sectors of industry, as well as a central Norwegian Employers' Confederation.

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters, the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, and the Society for the Advancement of Science are leading learned society. Other learned and professional organizations include the Nobel Committee of the Storting, which awards the Nobel Peace Prize; the Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities; and various legal, scientific, economic, literary, historical, musical, artistic, and research societies.

National youth organizations include the Norwegian Student Union, Christian Democratic Party Youth, En Verden Youth, European Democratic Students, European Good Templar Youth Federation, Federation of Young Conservatives, Norwegian Union of Social Democratic Youth, Norwegian YWCA/YMCA, and the Norwegian Guides and Scouts Association. There are numerous sports associations and clubs.

Health and relief organizations include the Norwegian Red Cross, the Norwegian Women's Health Organization, and societies to combat a variety of conditions and diseases. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are also present. International organizations with national chapters include Amnesty International and CARE Norge.


Norway's main tourist attractions are the cities of Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, which are connected by road, rail, and daily flights; the marvelous scenery of the fjord country in the west; and the arctic coast with the North Cape and "midnight sun." In 2005, UNESCO named two Norwegian fjords, the Geirangerfjord and the Naeroyfjord to its World Heritage List.

A favorite method of tourist travel is by coastal steamer, sailing from Bergen northward to Kirkenes, near the Soviet frontier. Many cruise ships ply the Norwegian fjords and coastal towns as far north as Spitsbergen. Notable outdoor recreational facilities include the Oslomarka, a 100,000 hectare (247,000 acre) area located near Oslo, with ski trails and walking paths. To compensate for the shortness of winter days, several trails are illuminated for evening skiing. Other popular sports include ice skating, freshwater fishing, mountaineering, hunting (grouse, reindeer, and elk), and football (soccer). In 1994, Norway hosted the XVII Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, and the women's soccer team won the World Cup in 1995.

There are major theaters in Oslo and Bergen, as well as six regional theaters; Den Norske Opera in Oslo; and four symphony orchestras. International musical events include the Bergen Festival, held annually in late May or early June; and several jazz festivals in July.

No passport is required of visitors from the Nordic area, but travelers arriving in Norway directly from non-Nordic countries are subject to passport control. A visa is not required for visits of up to 90 days.

Tourist expenditure receipts totaled $3 billion when 3,146,000 tourists visited Norway in 2003. There were 67,114 hotel rooms with 143,798 beds and an occupancy rate of 35%.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Oslo at $308, and Stavanger, $304.


Ludvig Holberg (16841745), the father of Danish and Norwegian literature, was a leading dramatist whose comedies are still performed. Henrik Wergeland (180845), Norway's greatest poet, was also a patriot and social reformer; his sister Camilla Collett (181395), author of the first Norwegian realistic novel, was a pioneer in the movement for women's rights. Henrik Ibsen (18271906), founder of modern dramas, placed Norway in the forefront of world literature. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (18321910), poet, playwright, and novelist, received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1903. Other noted novelists are Jonas Lie (18331908); Alexander Kielland (18491906); Knut Hamsun (18591952), Nobel Prize winner in 1920; Sigrid Undset (18821949), awarded the Nobel Prize in 1928; and Johan Bojer (18721959).

Ole Bull (181080) was a world-famous violinist. Edvard Grieg (18431907) was the first Norwegian composer to win broad popularity. His leading contemporaries and successors were Johan Svendsen (18401911), Christian Sinding (18561941), Johan Halvorsen (18641935), and Fartein Valen (18871953). Kirsten Flagstad (18951962), world-renowned soprano, served for a time as director of the Norwegian State Opera. In painting, Harriet Backer (18451932), Christian Krohg (18521925), and Erik Werenskiold (18551938) were outstanding in the traditional manner; leading the way to newer styles was Edvard Munch (18631944), an outstanding expressionist, as well as Axel Revold (18871962) and Per Krohg (18891965). Norway's foremost sculptor is Gustav Vigeland (18691943); the Frogner Park in Oslo is the site of a vast collection of his work in bronze and granite.

Outstanding scientists are Christopher Hansteen (17841873), famous for his work in terrestrial magnetism; Niels Henrik Abel (180229), noted for his work on the theory of equations; Armauer (Gerhard Henrik) Hansen (18411912), discoverer of the leprosy bacillus; Vilhelm Bjerknes (18621951), who advanced the science of meteorology; Fridtjof Nansen (18611930), an oceanographer and Arctic explorer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for organizing famine relief in Russia; Otto Sverdrup (18541930), Roald Amundsen (18721928), and Bernt Balchen (18991973), polar explorers; Johan Hjort (18691948), a specialist in deep-sea fishery research; Regnar Frisch (18951978), who shared the first Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1969 for developing econometrics; Odd Hassel (18971981), co-winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his studies of molecular structure; and Thor Heyerdahl (19142002), explorer and anthropologist.

The first secretary-general of the UN was a Norwegian, Trygve (Halvdan) Lie (18961968), who served from 1946 to 1953. The historian Christian Louis Lange (18691938) was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921.

Sonja Henie (191369) was the leading woman figure skater of her time, and Liv Ullmann (b.1939) is an internationally known actress. Linn Ullmann (b.1966), daughter of Liv Ullman and Ingmar Bergman, is a respected novelist and journalist. Grete Waitz (b.1953) is a champion long-distance runner.



The Svalbard group includes all the islands between 10° and 35° e and 74° and 81° n: the archipelago of Spitsbergen, White Island (Kvitøya), King Charles' Land (Kong Karls Land), Hope Island, and Bear Island (Bjørnøya), which have a combined area of about 62,700 sq km (24,200 sq mi). The largest islands are Spitsbergen, about 39,400 sq km (15,200 sq mi); North-East Land (Nordaustlandet), 14,530 sq km (5,610 sq mi); Edge Island (Edgeøya), 5,030 sq km (1,940 sq mi); and Barents Island (Barentsøya), 1,330 sq km (510 sq mi). Svalbard's population totaled 2,868 in 2002, down fromm 3,181 at the end of 1991. The population is 55.4% Norwegian and 44.3% Russian and Ukrainian.

Discovered by Norwegians in the 12th century and rediscovered in 1596 by the Dutch navigator Willem Barents, Svalbard served in the 17th and 18th centuries as a base for British, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, German, and other whalers, but no permanent sovereignty was established. Russian and Norwegian trappers wintered there, and coal mining started early in the 20th century. Norway's sovereignty was recognized by the League of Nations in 1920, and the territory was taken over officially by Norway in 1925. Much of the high land is ice-covered; glaciers descend to the sea, where they calve to produce icebergs. The west and south coasts have many fjords, while the western coastal lowland is up to 10 km (6 mi) broad.

The most important mineral, coal, occurs in vast deposits in Spitsbergen. The west coast is kept clear of ice for six months of the year by the relatively warm water of the North Atlantic Drift, but an air temperature as low as -62°c (-80°f) has been recorded. In this region there are 112 days without the sun's appearance above the horizon.

The chief official, a governor, lives at Longyearbyen; his administration is controlled by the Ministry of Industry. Coal mining is the main industry, with Norwegian-worked mines at Longyearbyen, Sveagruva, and Ny Ålesund and Russian worked mines at Barentsburg, Grumantbyen, and elsewhere. Russia has extraterritorial rights in the areas where they mine. Cod fishing takes place around Bear Island, but whaling has virtually ceased. Norwegian sealers hunt seals, polar bears, and walrus in the summer. For centuries, trappers wintered in Spitsbergen to catch fox and bear while the pelts were in the best condition, but few trappers have wintered there in recent years.

Communications are maintained during the summer months by ships from Tromsø carrying goods and passengers, while colliers put in frequently at the mine piers. There are no roads and no local ship services.

Jan Mayen

Located in the Norwegian Sea at 70°30 n and 8°30 w, 893 km (555 mi) from Tromsø, the island of Jan Mayen has an area of about 380 sq km (150 sq mi). The island is dominated by the volcano Beerenberg, 2,277 m (7,470 ft) high, which is responsible for its existence; a major eruption occurred in September 1970. Jan Mayen was discovered by Henry Hudson in 1607 and was visited in 1614 by the Dutch navigator Jay Mayen, who used it subsequently as a whaling base. In 1929, the island was placed under Norwegian sovereignty. It is the site of a meteorological station and an airfield.

Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island (Bouvetøya), situated at 54°26 s and 3°24 e in the South Atlantic Ocean, was discovered in 1739, and in 1928 was placed under Norwegian sovereignty. An uninhabited volcanic island of 59 sq km (23 sq mi), Bouvet is almost entirely covered by ice and is difficult to approach.

Peter I Island

Peter I Island (Peter I Øy), an uninhabited Antarctic island of volcanic origin, is located at 68°48 s and 90°35 w. It has an area of 249 sq km (96 sq mi), rises to over 1,233 m (4,045 ft), and is almost entirely ice-covered. The island was discovered in 1821 by a Russian admiral. In 1931, it was placed under Norwegian sovereignty, and by a parliamentary act of 1933 became a dependency.

Queen Maud Land

Queen Maud Land (Dronning Mauds land) consists of the sector of Antarctica between 20°w and 45°e, adjoining the Falkland Islands on the w and the Australian Antarctic Dependency on the e. It was placed under Norwegian sovereignty in 1939, and has been a Norwegian dependency since 1957. The land is basically uninhabited, except for several stations operated by Japan, South Africa, and Russia.


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Kingdom of Norway

Major Cities:
Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Tromsø, Kristiansand

Other Cities:
Ålesund, Arendal, Bodo, Drammen, Halden, Hamar, Haugesund, Kristiansund, Lillehammer, Molde, Porsgrunn, Roros, Sandnes, Skien, Tonsberg


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2000 for Norway. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


During the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, NORWAY , the world focused on this stunning country for two weeks. The breathtaking scenery from the Olympic coverage captivated the world's imagination. Norway is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The landscape includes spectacular fjords and mountain ranges, tranquil lakes and forests, bustling cities and quaint towns. For the lover of natural beauty and outdoor life, Norway is a virtual paradise.

Like its other Scandinavian neighbors, Norway enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. A sound industrial economy plus a powerful boost from North Sea oil gives the country a firm financial base. The government runs a comprehensive, first-class social welfare program that includes socialized education, health care, pensions, and workmen's' compensation. A combination of high taxes and an especially high tax on the oil revenues allows the government to maintain this level of service while running a budget surplus. In short, Norway has the best of both worldsa thriving capitalist economy and a heavily socialized system to take care of the population. No other country in the world manages simultaneously to succeed at both so well.

In late 1994, Norway held its second referendum on whether or not to join the European Union (EU). The first referendum in 1972 was hotly debated and Norway narrowly decided against membership. This time, the Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, led the movement in favor of joining, arguing that Norway should choose to be an active part of an ever more unified European future. An unlikely combination of the Labor Party, environmentalists and the conservative rural population joined together to oppose membership. In a very close vote, Norwegians for the second time chose not to enter the EU. The future will show the effects of this decision. Meanwhile, the government is hard at work trying to keep an active role for Norway in the EU even though Norway is not a voting member.

The U.S. and Norway have an enormous amount in common and the cultures overlap in many ways. Up to eight million Americans (especially in the Midwest and Pacific northwest) are of Norwegian descent. American movies, clothing styles, music, foods, book and magazines are available on every corner. A recent feature story in Norway's largest newspaper stated that Norway is more "American" than any other European country. It is true, and the signs are visible everywhere.

Still, Norway has a distinct national character that both delights and surprises. The Norwegians are a proud and determined people with a rich and unique history, and they are not afraid to stand alone and challenge world opinion over issues they care deeply about. Recent discussions of EU membership and of whaling both call this facet of the Norwegian spirit to mind. Right or wrong, this Norwegian independence is something one cannot help but admire.



Oslo, with a population of about a half-million people, is Norway's capital as well as its largest city. In addition to being the seat of government, Oslo is also the business and cultural capital of the nation.

Oslo lies in the shape of a horseshoe at the head of the Oslo Fjord. The city covers an area of 167 square miles between the shoreline and surrounding hills. The horseshoe opens out onto the fjord which stretches about 60 miles between forested hills and farmlands down to the open sea. The city is spectacular during spring and summer when flowers blossom in parks, around public buildings and on almost every window ledge. Winter's landscape brings a crystalline beauty of its own.

Oslo is home to many Americans. The Consular Section has 15,000 Americans registered and there could be as many as 25,000 dual citizenship Norwegian-Americans in Norway.


In general, food availability and variety in Norway are excellent. The economy offers a wide range of food-shopping options, from small bakeries and gourmet coffee boutiques to large American-style supermarkets. Most everything in the standard American diet is readily available, although it is likely to cost a lot more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are largely imported and of very good quality. They are available year-round, but the selection can become more limited during the winter months. Local dairy products are always available and their quality is consistently excellent. In addition, one can easily find a large assortment of imported cheeses. Fresh, first-quality meat and fish are always available, but the cuts and selection differ from what one would find in the U.S. One can buy a variety of newly-baked, wonderful breads, rolls and cakes in the ubiquitous bakeries.

A limited assortment of canned and bottled baby food is available, but it is almost exclusively mixed dinners or blended fruit. The quality is similar to American baby food, and as with everything else, the price is much higher. Infant formula is available on the local economy in powdered form only and is the type meant for newborns. There appears to be no market in Norway for the graduated formulas, with and without iron, etc., that Americans use.


The quality of clothing available in Oslo is excellent. Prices are 30-50 percent higher than in the U.S. for comparable "top-of-the-line" items. Very few bargains are available in children's clothing items. Sales occur in July and August and again in the spring. Shoes are often very expensive and tend to come only in wide widths. A varied selection of sturdy winter boots is available, again only in the wider widths.

Downhill and cross-country ski wear and equipment are available locally but you may not find a good fit if you need an unusual size. The quality is excellent, and frequent sales do appear for these items. Prices for skiwear and equipment are often less for European brands than in the U.S. Used ski equipment and some clothing (especially for children) are available in Oslo at various loppemarkeds (flea markets). Down jackets and coats are very expensive locally.

Dry cleaning is extremely expensive by U.S. standards. Plan to bring clothing that is machine washable and easy to iron.

Men: Men should bring wool suits, sweaters, scarves, gloves, heavy overcoats and fur-lined or other boots. Good rubber boots are available locally, but overshoes should be purchased in the U.S. Dress shirts are expensive. The local selection of ties is excellent, and prices compare with the U.S. A raincoat (preferably washable) with a zip-out liner is invaluable. Bring some lightweight apparel for warm summer days. Some people call navy blazers the "winter uniform" because so many Norwegians wear them.

Women: Women in Norway dress informally during the day but more formally for evening events than in the U.S. Winter clothes should include woolens, warm suits, sweaters, scarves, gloves, heavy overcoats and fur-lined or other boots. Slacks and pant suits are often worn, but jeans are worn only for very informal occasions. Some summer days and evenings can be cool, but you should bring light clothing for the short summer season. Women will find a raincoat with a hood (preferably washable) and a zip-out lining invaluable.

Lingerie can be purchased in Norway, but prices are much higher than in the U.S. Pantyhose and stockings are fairly priced but sizes and colors may be different than in the U.S.

Children: Locally available infant's and children's clothing is of extremely good quality and is also extremely expensive.

Norwegian winter clothing seems sturdier and warmer than U.S. brands. Children's shoes and boots are wider than in the U.S. and can cost $50-$80 per pair. Sneakers and running shoes are available, but cost more than in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

You can get everything you need, be it supplies or services, on the local economy.

You should bring a supply of prescription medicines because it may take that much time to make arrangements at a local pharmacy for a continued supply. You should also bring a supply of special or favorite cosmetics.

Most standard services are available on the economy but expensive and sometimes slow. Beauty/barber shops are plentiful. Shoe repair and radio repair are available. Local dry cleaning takes 4-7 days, is expensive and can fall below stateside standards for delicate items like silk and leather. Fur cleaning and storage can be arranged at fur stores. Laundries provide satisfactory but expensive work. Fast service increases the price. A few Laundromats can be found, but the prices ($6-$8 a wash load) are exorbitant.

Religious Services

Norway's state religion is Lutheranism, and virtually all Norwegian citizens adhere to this faith at least nominally, although regular church attendance is low.

There are also a number of churches offering services in Oslo in English, including Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Baptist, Christian Science, Quaker and Anglican services.


The Oslo International School (OIS) offers a British-type academic program for children ages 3 to 18. OIS also offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) degree program.

Located in Bekkestua (a suburb of Oslo), enrollment is open to children of all nationalities who are in Oslo for a short period of time and are interested in English-language instruction.

The Primary and Secondary schools are comprised of three departments: Infants, Juniors and Seniors. The Infants Department offers instruction to children 3 to 7 years of age. All children are placed in classes according to their age as of September 1:

Kindergarten3 years of age
Reception4 years of age
Year 15 years of age
Year 26 years of age

This scheme is somewhat similar to the American education program of two years of preschool, a year of kindergarten, and the first grade.

The OIS kindergarten program is designed to help children mix and work happily with other children, gain control over actions and movements, and stimulate an interest in learning. The time is divided into story, music, rhythmics and free play both outdoors and indoors. Instruction is provided in hand-work, painting, modeling and physical education.

The Reception and Year 1 and 2 programs follow the normal curriculum for British schools as does the Junior program for children ages 7 to 10. The Junior program is comprised of:

Year 37 years of age
Year 48 years of age
Year 59 years of age
Year 610 years of age

Foundation subjects are English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Technology, Music, Art, and Physical Education. The children also have computer studies. French is introduced from the age of 9 years. During the winter, children take cross-country ski lessons as part of the physical education program. Norwegian language instruction was recently introduced.

Students enter the Secondary School at age 11 and graduate at age 18 with an IB degree, with the program consisting of:

Senior 1 (Year 7)11 years of age
Sr 2 (Year 8)12 years of age
Sr 3 (Year 9)13 years of age
Sr 4 (Year 10)14 years of age
Sr 5 (Year 11)15 years of age
IB 1 (Year 12)16 years of age
IB 2 (Year 13)17 years of age

Curriculum subjects include: English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, French, Art, Handwork, Music, Physical Education, Computer Studies, Drama, Classical Studies, Typewriting and Norwegian. During Years 7-9, the children take a course in each subject area. In Years 10-11 students follow a two-year curriculum leading to the "International General Certificate of Secondary Education " (IGSCE) examination. IGSCE is used by schools in over 90 countries and has been recognized as a qualification for matriculation purposes by universities in the United Kingdom and in many other countries.

Years 12 and 13 are also referred to as IB 1 and IB 2. Students in these years participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, an international pre-university curriculum. The International Baccalaureate was created to provide international schools with both an appropriate common curriculum at the upper secondary school level and a matriculation examination which has wide acceptability.

Each year various outings and trips are arranged for the Seniors, both in Norway and abroad. The students also visit theaters and exhibitions. In the month of February, Years 6-9 spend a week at winter camp.

The Oslo International School has two campuses. The Kindergarten, Reception and Year 1 and 2 classes are collocated within close proximity to the Junior and Senior school campus. Each campus has a large play area with modern play equipment. They also both have libraries with a wide variety of British and American children's literature, reference materials and other publications. The Junior and Senior school has a gymnasium with a full basketball court and gymnastic equipment. The Infants school has a small gymnasium.

Situated between the two campuses and within short walking distance is the Nadderudhallen sports complex and the Bcerum Commune (community) soccer fields, baseball fields, track and tennis courts. The Naderudhallen sports complex has a large heated swimming pool, bowling alley, and basketball courts. Children who attend the Oslo International School are often involved in sports programs at Nadderudhallen and the Bcerum Commune playing fields.

The school year begins around the last week in August and ends in the third week of June. There is no school uniform but weather dictates that students wear clothing appropriate for outdoor play throughout the school year. Students will need boots, rain coats and rain pants during the fall and spring. Down parkas, ski pants, snow boots, ski gloves and hats are required in the winter. Students go outdoors to play everyday unless the temperature goes below minus 15 degrees Celsius (about 0 degrees Fahrenheit).

Children are required to bring a packed lunch and a pair of indoor (soft-soled) shoes.

The Oslo International School has no program for children with special needs. Sporadically, special arrangements have been made for children with special needs on a case-by-case basis and within the standard classroom environment. Some individual and small-group instruction is provided to students who have difficulty in a particular subject area.

There are French-and German-language schools located in downtown Oslo. They are considered excellent. (French, 6-18 years; German, 6-15 years). Local Norwegian schools are also available.

English-language preschool education is also available at the Frogner International Preschool located in the American Lutheran Church in downtown Oslo. The school is open to children ages 3-7. The International Montessori Preschool has an excellent preschool program. There is a waiting list for admittance.

There are two types of Norwegian preschool programs: the barnehage and barnepark. The barnehage is an indoor nursery school for children aged 1-6 with hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. A barnehage is either privately owned or operated by a commune. The barnepark is similar but is outdoors, for children aged 1-4, and usually open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is quite difficult to enter a barnehage; preference is given to Norwegian children and there is always a long waiting list. It is less difficult to find space in a barnepark. Tuition for the barnehage and barnepark are reasonable in comparison to American day-care facilities.

The American Women's Club sponsors a Moms and Tots program for preschool children. There are other informal Moms and Tots groups within the English-speaking community in Oslo.


Norway offers excellent and varied opportunities for recreation. Sports and outdoor activities can be found to fit almost any pursuit or interest. Practically all types of equipment are available in Oslo, but except for used items (skates, skis, bikes), it is fairly expensive. You should plan to bring equipment from the U.S. for all sports except skiing and skating.

Cross-country skiing is the country's major winter sport. It is also a way of life. Alpine (slalom) skiing and snow boarding are also very popular. The number of ski resorts with good lifts increases every year. Ski resorts like Geilo and Hemsedal are packed during Christmas and Easter holidays. All around Oslo you can find lighted cross-country ski trails, which make for a wonderful evening outing. Lessons taught in English or Norwegian are available for all ages and levels, including those who have no previous experience in skiing. Skis, boots, and poles are readily available on the economy and are one of the few true bargains in Norway. Many comfortable hotels, cabins and lodges in the mountains cater to winter sports enthusiasts.

Hiking and camping are very popular in Norway. Hiking trails are marked on many maps. Norwegians love to take extended hiking trips with nightly stops in tents or cabins during the summer months. Good camping areas are available throughout the country during the warmer weather, but Norwegian camping areas (like many European camping spots) are often quite crowded by American standards.

Norway offers superb areas for riding mountain bikes on dirt/gravel roads. If you like to ride, purchase a bicycle prior to arriving as bicycles in Norway can be extremely expensive.

Fishing is also a very popular summer sport. Many good streams can be found close to the Oslo area. Fishing for cod or other saltwater fish in the Oslo fjord or on the west coast of Norway does not require a license. Good equipment is available in Oslo. The national fishing license costs little, but you may encounter additional expenses since hotels or landowners control many of the best streams and may charge high fees for fishing rights. First-class trout and salmon fishing is at least a full day's travel from Oslo and very expensive.

September and October are the months for hunting game birds such as grouse, duck and mountain grouse (ptarmigan). September is also the time for hunting moose, deer, and reindeer. Many hunting areas are controlled and access can be expensive.

Sailing, rowing, and wind-surfing are popular summer sports. The Oslo fjord is painted white with sails by 4 pm. on summer afternoons. Boat rentals and sail-board rentals and lessons are available. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular. The one challenging golf course, 20 minutes from downtown Oslo, charges a membership fee. Greens fees apply for nonmembers. Nonmembers wishing to play on weekends must be members of some other golf club and have a valid membership card. An American golf club membership can be obtained at reduced rates.

Summer is usually warm enough for swimming in the fjords and nearby lakes. Indoor pools are available during all seasons. A heated outdoor pool at Frogner Park in Oslo is open from May to mid-September. Swimming instruction for children is offered throughout the year. Oslo has good indoor and outdoor tennis courts and badminton courts. Squash and racquetball courts are growing in number.

Active bowling teams are found in the American community. Several curling clubs encourage enthusiasts. Two stables are available. The cost is high, and you should bring riding clothes from the U.S. Many bicycle paths are open for Oslo's numerous cyclists. Bicycle rental is available at Aker Brygge.

Children arriving to Oslo will find local Norwegian sports clubs that sponsor soccer, basketball, ice hockey and ice bandy teams. Spectator sports include soccer, track and field competitions, figure and speed skating competitions, horse racing and the internationally famous ski jumping competitions at Holmenkollen.

Norway offers outstanding opportunities for the tourist and nature lover. The beautiful western fjord country can be reached by daily trains which connect Oslo year round with Trondheim and Bergen. Both routes traverse high mountain ranges and narrow valleys. Coastal steamers sail round trip from Bergen to the northern tip of the country at Kirkenes next to the Russian border. This relatively expensive round trip takes about 2 weeks. The ship stops at many points along the coast permitting many shorter side trips. The North Cape and Finnmark, Norway's northernmost areas (the land of the midnight sun and northern lights), are also accessible by air. Main roads are kept open for auto traffic in winter except over the high mountains, where snow blocks the roads from October to June.

The Oslo area is full of parks and museums, ancient rock carvings, old stave churches and lovely views of the countryside. Popular seaside towns along the outer fjord's west coast (Sorlandet) are only a few hours by rail or automobile from Oslo. A 3-7 hour train ride takes you to the highest mountain ranges for fishing, hiking and mountain climbing in summer or skiing in winter. Regularly scheduled buses and fjord ferries supplement train services to many towns and popular ski centers. Every Norwegian dreams of owning at least one "hytte" (cabin) in the mountains and one by the sea. They love to enjoy nature both in winter and summer. Cabins can be rented for vacations. These cabins cost fairly little and provide a rather primitive but charming way to experience the Norwegian countryside.

Norway has some 200 small hotels, private log cabins and camping sites available for those who do not have a hytte. Hotels are quite expensive and generally crowded. The Norwegian Tourist Association operates inexpensive lodges in all the principal mountain ranges for hikers. The lodges, situated a day's walk apart along well-marked trails, offer meals and overnight accommodations.


Oslo is a pleasant family town. Most Norwegians spend their weekends skiing, boating, hiking or relaxing with their families at home or at their cabins. This makes it difficult to entertain Norwegians on weekends. American families in Norway tend to follow the same pattern. Yet Oslo also offers a range of things to do and see for those less interested in the out-of-doors.

Sight-seeing attractions include the striking Viking ships, Thor Heyer-dahl's raft "Kon-Tiki," Nansen's vessel "Fram," the Holmenkollen ski jump and museum, and the outdoor Folk Museum. The Vigeland and Munch museums are excellent tributes to these world-famous Norwegian artists. Many other museums offer art and scientific attractions. Art exhibits in the traditional and contemporary styles can be found in several galleries. The Henie-Onstad Art Center in nearby Sandvika presents concerts, films and art exhibits.

Winter musical events include the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra's regular concerts which often feature internationally known performers. The Norwegian Opera presents a series of opera and ballet performances each season and features guest performers. The Concert Hall schedules many internationally recognized artists. Musical highlights outside Oslo include the annual Bergen International Music Festival and annual festivals in Molde and Kongsberg for jazz lovers.

Some 20 movie theaters present American, English and other foreign-language films. Films are screened with original soundtracks and Norwegian subtitles. Norwegian children under 7 are rarely admitted to movie theaters because they cannot read. Some neighborhood theaters will admit American children regardless of their ages when accompanied by their parents.

Four theaters produce modern and classical Norwegian dramas. Plays are occasionally in English. Two English-language drama groups perform several times a year. Puppet theaters for children are popular. These programs are usually in Norwegian, but most young children can follow the story.

Oslo has an ever-growing restaurant population. Restaurants tend to be very expensive by U.S. standards. An average meal for one without beer or wine will cost about 150 Norwegian kroner ($25) while a full meal without drinks at a first rate restaurant will average 400 Norwegian kroner ($60). Nevertheless, an increasing number of moderately priced restaurants are opening in the Oslo area. Some of these restaurants stay open until midnight. Oslo has three McDonald's (with typically high Oslo prices), a Burger King and a Pizza Hut. Several other similar fast-food restaurants sell hamburgers, pizzas and ribs. Typical Norwegian cuisine includes reindeer meat, pickled fish specialties, codfish or salmon dishes.

Oslo has a variety of nightclubs with dance floors. Beware though: a single beer cost between $5.00 and $7.50! Most clubs are open until 3 a.m. and many do a thriving business.

The University of Oslo offers English-language courses on Norwegian history and culture, and several local clubs sponsor more specialized courses. Many schools and local communities provide excellent Norwegian language courses and have classes in arts and crafts or sewing taught in English. The International Forum has a broad range of activities for women in the Oslo area, including lectures, concerts, courses, and tours to places of interest.

There are a few American social clubs in Oslo. The American Women's Club (AWC) was founded in 1934 as a social and philanthropic organization for American women living in Norway. AWC has approximately 300 members. The American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) is a nonprofit council of American organizations founded in 1985. The Fourth-of-July celebration in Frogner Park is the main activity of ACCN. The American Club of Oslo is a 36-year-old club comprised of 300 members and structured to promote American business interests in Norway.


Bergen, capital of the Vestlandet (West Land), is Norway's second largest city, with a population of 211,000. Nestled against steep hills on one side and facing the North Sea on the other, it is the western-most city in the country, and the major shipping and fishing center.

The original town was founded by King Olav Kyrre in 1070, but was destroyed three times by devastating fires, the most recent in 1916. During the Middle Ages, it was the northern outpost of the Hanseatic League, a powerful mercantile confederacy of German towns.

Bergen is a commercial and industrial city, providing ships, steel, textiles, electrical equipment, fish, and refined oil. It is also a fascinating city of hilly, cobbled streets; high-gabled, wooden warehouses; an ancient harbor market, called Torget; good shopping, especially for handcrafted silver and furs; extensive cultural activities; and many opportunities for sightseeing.

Its historical sites include the Bergenhus Fortress, which houses the imposing Håkonshallen (King Håkon's Hall), built in 1261. The fortress was restored after being damaged during World War II. The Mariakirkin, a 12th-century church with twin steeples, is a highlight for visitors, as is the Fantoft Stave Church, which was built during that same period. Fantoft was restored and moved here in 1833 from its original site at Fortun. Not to be forgotten is "Bryggen," Scandinavia's hanseatic trade center, now on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) list of world sights most worthy of preservation. Troldhaugen, the home of composer Edvard Grieg, is a national shrine in nearby Hop.

Bergen has much to offer the tourist. In addition to skiing, salmon and trout fishing, hiking, golf, and tennis, there are sight-seeing tours by bus or boat, and trips by coastal steamers which sail to the northern tip of the country at Kirkenes, on the Russian border.

Each year, from late May and until mid-June, the Bergen International Festival of concerts, ballet, drama, and folklore draws thousands of visitors to the city. It is a major undertaking, known for the quality of its productions and for the celebrity of the international artists who are featured. The famed Harmonien, one of the world's oldest philharmonic orchestras (more than 200 years), and Den Nationale Scene, the nation's oldest theater, are here in Bergen.

The university founded at Bergen in 1948 has become one of Norway's leading educational centers. Its school of Economics and Business Administration is the only one of its kind in Norway. There also are several scientific institutes in the city.

The Bergen airport, 12 miles south of the city center, is served by domestic and international flights.

The Bergen Tourist Board is located at Slottsgt. 1, N-5023 Bergen. An information office is open in central Bergen on Torgalmenning.


The Bergen American School, located at Skolegaten 1, Laksevag, is a private institution whose enrollment is open to English-speaking children.

International School of Bergen is a coeducational, private day school founded in 1975. It offers an American/British curriculum for pre-kindergarten through ninth grade. French and Norwegian are taught as foreign languages; other elective studies include computer instruction, art, and physical education. Extracurricular activities and a variety of sports are offered.

Current enrollment at International numbers 95, with the many students from the United Kingdom. There are 14 full-time and one part-time staff members.

International School of Bergen is situated on a five-acre campus on a lake just outside of the city. Facilities include three buildings, nine classrooms, playing fields, two gymnasiums, science and computer laboratories, a swimming pool, and a 4,500-volume library. The school's address is: Vilhelm Bjerknesvei 15, 5030 Landas, Bergen, Norway.


Trondheim (Trondhjem), in central Norway, was known as Nidaros when it was the country's first capital. Although it is a modern industrial and agricultural center of 137,300 inhabitants, Trondheim still bears the marks of its medieval history. It was founded in 997 and, until 1380, was the national capital. The city was occupied by the Germans on the first day of the Norway invasion, April 9, 1940, and was held through the spring of 1945. Trondheim was one of the major centers of the Norwegian resistance movement.

Its 11th-century cathedral, Nidaros, restored after being damaged several times by major fires, is the finest Gothic edifice in Norway, as well as Trondheim's principal landmark. Stiftsgården, a royal palace built in the 18th century, is also located here.

Trondheim is noted for its Academy of Sciences and for its technical institute, Tekniske Hogskole. It is a busy industrial city, but still it attracts winter sports enthusiasts, and also visitors who enjoy its warm summers (unusual in northern Europe). A nine-hole golf course at Sommerseter holds an annual midnight tournament at about the time of summer solstice (June 21 or 22).

There are art galleries and museums in Trondheim, and an abundance of good hotels, restaurants, shops, and cinemas.

Several excursions are possible in the area, including trips to Munkholmen Island in the fjord, the site of an early Christian abbey and, in earlier times, a pagan place of execution; to the Trollheimen Mountains (a 225-mile drive); to Stiklestad, where an annual festival of plays takes place in late July; or to Oppdal, Norway's "alpine" town.

Information is available from the Tourist Office at Hornemannsgarden, Town Square.


Stavanger is Norway's fourth largest city (97,500) and the headquarters of the North Sea oil fleet. It is situated in the southwestern part of the country, on the Byfjord, and is the seat of Rogaland, the district from which Norway was made into one kingdom. It is the southernmost gateway to the fjord country.

Stavanger has several important industries, but probably is best known as the sardine canning capital of the world. It is a modern city of large buildings, bustling traffic, beaches, shops, and streets lined with churches. Its Anglo-Norman cathedral, dating to the 12th century, is among Norway's most interesting medieval buildings, as is the Utstein Kloster (cloister), located on an island just beyond the city.

Stavanger has an American population of more than 4,000, most of them connected with the oil industry. Like Trondheim, Stavanger was occupied on the first day of the German invasion of Norway, and remained under German control for more than five years.

Sola Airport is about nine miles from Stavanger, and the city terminal is in town at the SAS Royal Atlantic Hotel.

The Tourist Information Office is located on Jernbanevej.


It is possible for American children to attend Norwegian public schools, where subjects are comparable to those taught in the U.S. Classes are in Norwegian, but children with language difficulty receive special assistance.

There are two English-language schools in the city. The Stavanger British School enrolls students from kindergarten to the seventh grade, while the Stavanger American School hold classes for pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

The International School of Stavanger (formerly the Stavanger American School), a coeducational, private institution, sponsored by oil companies, follows an American and British curriculum. French, Spanish, and Norwegian are offered as foreign languages; there are advanced placement, independent study, and remedial programs. Extracurricular and sports activities are numerous.

Total enrollment currently stands at 322; the teaching staff of 31 full time and four part-time is almost entirely American. Founded in 1966, it is situated on 15 acres in the western part of the city. Facilities include 36 classrooms, gymnasiums and playing fields, science and computer laboratories, an auditorium, and a 15,000-volume library. The school's address is: Treskeveien 3, 4042 Hafrsfjord, Norway.


Tromsø, with a population of 50,500, is the largest city above the Arctic Circle. It is situated on an island and joined to the mainland by the longest bridge in northern Europe. The island is in a spectacular fjord area, on the same latitude as northern Alaska, but its climate is tempered by the waters of the Gulf Stream. In summer, it is not unusual for the temperature to reach 77°F (25°C).

As the chief seaport of Arctic Norway, Tromsø is a base for seal hunters and a starting point for many cruise ships and exploratory expeditions. The city is justifiably proud of its designation, "Gateway to the Arctic," since it has been the starting point for many Arctic explorations. A number of herring fisheries are located here, and other important industries include shipbuilding and rope manufacturing.

The city is the site of the famed Observatory of Northern Lights, and is noted also for the excellent exhibits of regional geology, fauna, and traditional Lapp activities at the Tromsø Arctic Museum. Cultural life is limited, but Tromsø supports an enthusiastic amateur city orchestra, two movie theaters, and one dramatic theater.

Tromsø University, the world's northernmost university, has been established here. Its library has a good selection of books in English; the city library maintains a small collection of English-language children's books, as well as some current best-sellers and a sprinkling of English-language publications in several fields. Newsstands sell the International Herald Tribune and some British newspapers. There is single-channel television reception.

Tromsø has no school for English-speaking children but, as in other cities throughout the country, they are eligible to attend the local, well-regarded Norwegian schools. Some parents supplement that schooling with U.S. correspondence courses from the Calvert (kindergarten through grade eight) and University of Nebraska (high school) systems. Varied adult education classes are available in the city.

Recreational possibilities, especially for winter sports and fishing, are numerous. There are lighted cross-country and downhill ski slopes, indoor tennis courts, and swimming pools. The city has a disproportional large number of restaurants for a place of its size.

The Tourist Information Office is located on Dampskipskaia.


Kristiansand, in the southernmost part of Norway, is a busy commercial center and holiday resort, set in a beautiful archipelago with sheltered coves and white beaches. Its population of more than 64,800 makes it the country's fifth largest city.

Kristiansand, as a town, dates back to 1641, when it was chartered by the Danish-Norwegian king, Christian IV. It has been ravaged several times by fire, the most severe in 1892, and few of its timber buildings remain. The town square was built by Christian IV; streets surrounding it are the same width that they were in 1641. At the northeastern part of the square is the largest section of wooden homes in Northern Europe. There also are interesting museums; old churches, including Odderness Church, built in 1040; and the Christiansholm Castle (1674). Kristiansand Dyrepark (animal park) is noted for the breeding of camelsunusual in this part of the world.

The city offers a broad range of opportunities for shopping and recreation, and a good selection of restaurants and hotels. The local specialty, kompe salted meat enveloped in boiled, grated potatoesmay be purchased at several street stalls. Kristiansand has two cinemas, a theater, and a symphony orchestra, whose season runs from September through May. An annual church festival is held in June.

Kjevik Airport is about nine miles from the center of town. Direct Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) connections are available to Copenhagen and Ålborg (both in Denmark). Kristiansand has good local bus service. As the communications center for Norway's southern region, is has daily ferry arrivals from the continent, as well as a railway line that links the eastern and western parts of the country.

The Tourist Office in Kristiansand is at 31 Gyldenlovesgate.


ÅLESUND (or Aalesund) is Norway's principal fishing center, with a fleet operating between the Baffin Islands and the Barents Sea. Ålesund is the headquarters of the Arctic sealing fleet and the site of one of Scandinavia's largest dairies. It is situated in the western fjord area, on an island between Bergen and Trondheim. Dating from the ninth century, Ålesund is a city of 36,000, noted especially for its well-preserved Jugendstil (art nouveau) buildings. The Sunnmore Museum in the city has an interesting collection of boats and finds from Viking settlements. The municipal park, with its statue of Rollo (the first duke of Normandy), is a gift from the citizens of Rouen, France.

ARENDAL , a southern Norwegian seaport, is 125 miles south-west of Oslo on the Skagerrak (the arm of the east-central North Sea). This town of 11,500 is known for its combination of ancient and modern streets, old wooden houses, and new concrete buildings. Landmarks include the 19th-century town hall, which houses a portrait gallery today, and Trinity Church, with its towering spire. Just outside of Arendal is the 70-foot waterfall, Rykenefoss. Arendal is a departure point for ships crossing the Skagerrak to Hirtshals, Denmark.

BODO , 50 miles north of the polar circle, is a prosperous trade center with a population of 36,000. Although it is situated on the same latitude as the northern parts of Alaska and Siberia, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream, whose currents flow along the rugged Norwegian coastline. Situated at the head of the Salt Fjord in a central location in northern Norway, Bodo is the educational, administrative, and commercial center of Nordland County, and also has become a tourist resort; cruise ships and coastal steamers call here on their way to the North Cape. A new luxury hotel has been added to the accommodations. Bodo was founded in 1816, but did not begin to grow until shoals of herring were found off the coast in the 1860s, bringing trade and prosperity, and subsequent industry. The town was severely damaged in World War II, but has been spaciously and carefully rebuilt. There is a Tourist Information Office at 16 Storgaten.

DRAMMEN , the county capital of Buskerud in southern Norway, is famous for the Spiraltoppen, a steep tunnel involving six spiral turns inside Bragenesåsen Hill; at the summit are a lookout and a café. The city, whose population is approximately 51,900, has several industries, including sawmills and paper mills, and factories which produce electronic equipment.

HALDEN (formerly called Fredrikshald), 50 miles south of Oslo in the extreme southeastern tip of Norway, is an ancient city. Its modern history can be traced to the 1660s (it was referred to as Fredrikshald from 1665 to 1928), when the city repelled Swedish attacks from the ramparts of its Fredriksten Fort. King Charles XII of Sweden died here in 1718. The separation of Sweden and Norway in 1905 led to the deactivation of the fort. Halden's economy depends on light industry; adjacent quarries also provide employment. Visitors to this community of 27,600 often stop at the National War Memorial, as well as at medieval Berg Church. Svinesund Bridge connects Norway and Sweden, west of Fredriksten Fort.

HAMAR is situated on the shore of Norway's largest lake, Mjosa, 60 miles north of Oslo. The town of nearly 16,000 was founded by the English pope, Adrian IV, in 1152. It was destroyed by the Swedes in 1567, and among the ruins of that destruction is a 12th-century cathedral. Today, Hamar is the seat of a bishopric; industries include dairies and a foundry. The town is also a well-known ice skating center, boasting one of Europe's finest rinks.

Situated on a fjord in southern Norway opposite Stavanger, the seaport city of HAUGESUND is the center of a large herring fleet. In addition to exporting fish, Haugesund has shipbuilding yards, woolen mills, and an aluminum plant. The town achieved fame during Viking times when Harald I united Norway in a battle near here; numerous monuments commemorate this event, including Harald's grave. Haugesund has a small museum and art gallery. The current population is 31,000.

The city of KRISTIANSUND , 90 miles southwest of Trondheim, is built on three islands enclosing a harbor and connected by bridges and ferry boats. The seaport was inhabited in prehistoric times, and incorporated as a city in 1742. It was destroyed by World War II bombing in 1940, but has been rebuilt. Today, Kristiansund (not to be confused with Kristiansand) is a busy fishing port and the base for a large trawling fleet. It exports fish and has shipbuilding yards. The city itself has a charming appearance, with broad streets, brightly painted houses, and a lively marketplace. Kristiansund's current population is 18,000.

LILLEHAMMER is located 85 miles north of Oslo on the northern shore of Lake Mjosa. Situated in the picturesque valley of the Lagen, the city is surrounded by hills and has many spectacular gardens and parks. Norway's best known resort, Lillehammer is a favorite destination for visitors who love the outdoors. Sporting opportunities are many and varied and include fishing, swimming, horseback riding, and boating in summer, and skiing, ice skating, and curling in winter. Lillehammer is the center of a grain and potato-farming area. Industries here include sawmills, flour mills, and machinery factories. The population of Lillehammer is 25,000.

The port city of MOLDE has gained the appellation "Town of Roses" because of its superb gardens. Nestled in an inlet of the Norwegian Sea, 225 miles northwest of Oslo, this 500-year-old area endured limited destruction in a 1916 fire, and extensive damage in World War II.In April 1940, Molde served temporarily as home of the Norwegian government; after the war the city was totally rebuilt. Industries here include textile mills, furniture manufacture, and fish exports. Varden Hill (1,335 feet high), which commands a view of 87 mountain peaks, is a prime tourist stop in Molde. Also notable is Romsdalsmuseum, with its extraordinary folklore exhibit. Perhaps most outstanding of the city's attractions, however, is Tverrfjellet Mountain's Trollkyrkja. A huge cave features a 30-foot-high waterfall that ends in a marble pool. An annual summer jazz festival is held in Molde. The city has an estimated 22,300 residents.

PORSGRUNN , with roughly 35,700 inhabitants, is an industrial city at the mouth of the Skienselva River, about 70 miles southwest of Oslo. It was settled as a customs post in 1652 and today is home of the gigantic Norsk Hydro chemical factories. The varied economy includes porcelain manufacture, shipyards, and lumber mills. Rococo-styled churches of Østre Porsgrunn and Vestre Porsgrunn were built in the mid-1700s.

ROROS is a well-known and often-visited town of about 6,000 residents in central Norway. It is 35 miles west of the Swedish border and 50 miles southeast of Trondheim. Once an old mining town, Roros boasts unique 17th-century historic buildings.

SANDNES is a major port for the neighboring hinterland at the head of the Gandafjorden in the southwest. The city's fine transportation facilities allow for an industrial base including textile mills, construction materials, and ceramic tiles. Sandnes has an estimated population of 43,300.

SKIEN , with a current population of 48,000, is one of Norway's oldest towns, and the center of a coppermining area. Ores and lumber are exported from here. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), the dramatist and poet, was born in Skien; his childhood home, Venstop, is among the local attractions.

Founded in 871, TONSBERG is Norway's oldest town. An ancient fortress city, Tonsberg is located south of Oslo at the northern end of Notteroy Island. A shipping town for fish and lumber, it is also a home port for whaling fleets. Paper and wood and dairy products are produced here. The population of Tonsberg is currently 9,100.

The Lofoten Islands off the coast of northern Norway, are an island chain in the midnight sun above the Arctic Circle. This spectacular string of mountainous islands with abrupt peaks composed of granite and lime are estimated to be among the world's oldest. The Gulf Stream, traveling along Norway's coast, brings moderate temperatures to this area. Svolvaer (population 4,000) is the Islands' informal capital and center for commerce and codfish, its economic mainstay. Hiking and boating will allow the tourist to enjoy the wild, rugged beauty of this area. Attractions include Lofot Museum, dating from the 19th century; old Viking settlements; cave drawings dating 600 B.C.; and 180 species of birds which draw ornithologists worldwide.


Geography and Climate

Located in northwestern Europe on the Scandinavian peninsula, Norway is a picturesque country bounded on the west by the Northern Atlantic and the North Sea and on the east by Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Norway covers 150,000 square miles including Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands with landscape ranging from farms and fields to forest, lakes, plateaus, glaciers, and the highest peak in northern Europe. The jagged coastline stretches 1,625 miles when measured in a straight lineand a staggering 13,125 miles including the ins and outs of the fjords. While small in population, Norway is one of the largest European countries in area.

Many people expect Norway's climate to be bitterly cold. The latitude of the country certainly suggests this would be true. The Arctic Circle cuts through Norway about halfway up the length of the country. Oslo lies in the southern part of the country but is at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. Hammerfest, on the northern tip of the Norwegian mainland, is the world's most northerly town. Still, the climate of cities along the Norwegian coast is much milder than might be expected at such northerly latitudes, even during midwinter, because of the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. Winter in Oslo is typically warmer than winter in New England or Minnesota, though there is often a lot more snow.

Summer in the southern part of the country can last from early May to mid-August, or in a bad year, for only a week in late June. There are about 20 hours of daylight during June and July in Oslo. (Note: in northern Norway the midnight sun shines for nearly 2 months during this period!) Summer days rarely get warmer than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and can be quite coolin the 50s and 60s.

Winter brings only about six hours of daylight in Oslo and none in areas north of the Arctic Circle. Snow brightens the landscape considerably, even during the shortest days. However, some people find the darkness oppressive. Norwegians seem to have found numerous ways to combat the depression of winter by keeping things cozy and bright inside, using lots of candle light for cheer and warmth, and getting outside during the short days to see the sun.


Norway's population is just over 4.5 million. Since the area of the country is so vast, Norway has the second lowest population density in Europe; only Iceland has fewer inhabitants per square mile. Sixty-five percent of Norwegians live in the southern part of the country and along the coast. Norway's largest cities are Oslo (pop. 470,000), Bergen (216,000), Trondheim (140,000), and Stavanger (100,000).

Norway has one official languageNorwegian. However, there are two distinct forms of the language which officially have equal status. One form, Bokmaal, strongly resembles Danish. The other, Nynorsk (translated this word means New Norwegian), harkens back to old Norwegian dialects. The forms are very closely interrelated, and Norwegians understand both. Still, they are taught in Norwegian schools as separate subjects. In addition to the division between Bokmaal and Nynorsk, Norwegian encompasses many and varied local dialects. Norwegians spend a great deal of time discussing their language and trying to place each other's dialects. Their language is for them a point of national and cultural pride.

Most people from larger Norwegian cities speak some English and many speak it very well. Nevertheless, Norwegians truly appreciate any effort made by foreigners to learn their language. Knowledge of Norwegian can be essential for social and business contacts in the country's more remote areas.


Our knowledge of Norwegian history dates back to 9000 B.C. when the ice which had covered northern Europe receded and prehistoric peoples began to settle the Scandinavian area. The Viking Age, from 800-1030 A.D., was a period of expansion, exploration and conquest. The Viking inhabitants of Norway expanded east into what is now Sweden, south into England and France, and even across the Atlantic to the New World. During the latter part of the Viking Age, two major events took place which still have an impact upon Norway todaythe unification of the country into a single kingdom and the introduction of Christianity. Although Norway became the fully independent nation of today only in 1905, throughout the past thousand years, Norway has preserved a sense of national identity and unity which traces back to the Viking Age.

After the prominence of the Viking period, Norway lost much of its national stature and independence. In 1530, Norway became part of Denmark and was governed by the Danish monarch until 1814. In 1814, Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. However, the Norwegians rose in protest against this agreement and demanded their national right to self-determination.

The major turning point in modern Norwegian history occurred on May 17, 1814, when an assembly of delegates from all over the country met in Eidsvoll, a town north of Oslo, and adopted a Constitution for a free, independent, and democratically-governed Norway. This Constitution, which is still in force, is based on the United States Constitution and provides for three separate branches of government.

The Swedes refused to recognize Norwegian independence, and forced Norway into a union with Sweden under the rule of the Swedish king. From 1814 until 1905, Norway remained in union with Sweden, but the Constitution of Eidsvoll was in force and ensured Norway a democratic form of government. The union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved peacefully in 1905 and Norway entered the ranks of independent states.

When Norway gained its independence from Sweden, it decided by popular referendum to retain the limited monarchy as adopted in the Constitution of 1814. The Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to Danish Prince Carl, who took the name of Haakon Vll, in tribute to previous kings of Norway. Haakon Vll became a symbol of unity during the construction of independent, modern Norway. He especially symbolized Norway's fight against the German occupation during World War 11. His radio broadcasts to Norway from his exile in London encouraged his countrymen and underscored Norway's determination to regain independence.

Haakon Vll reigned until his death in 1957 and was succeeded by his son, Olav V, who was also well-loved by the Norwegian people. Olav V died in 1991 and was succeeded by his son Harald, who became King Harald V. King Harald and Queen Sonja have two children, Prince Haakon and Princess Martha Louise. Because Norway is a constitutional monarchy, the functions of the King (Chief of State) are mainly ceremonial, but his influence is felt as the symbol of national unity.

Public Institutions

Norway's parliamentthe Stortingruns the affairs of the country. The Storting is led by the Prime Minister and is a modified unicameral parliamentary structure with 165 members elected from 19 counties. In each county (fylke), a governor exercises authority on behalf of the national government. The city of Oslo constitutes a separate 19th jurisdiction, but shares a governor with Akershus Fylke.

The Norwegian Labor Movement is a strong force in modern Norwegian political and socioeconomic life. Successive Labor Party governments have created a social democratic state with extensive public welfare benefits, universal and comprehensive health insurance, and state-funded pension coverage. Non-socialist governments have also supported the evolving system, resulting in an egalitarian and generally prosperous society. Taxation is accordingly high, to pay for these programs.

North Sea oil, which was discovered off Norway's coast in the early 1970s, helps pay for the country's social welfare state. Today, Norway is Western Europe's leading oil producer, pumping nearly 2.5 million barrels per day. Norway's oil supply puts it in a unique position among European countries in terms of both domestic and foreign policies. As the European Union continues to evolve, Norway will almost certainly have to reassess its position vis-a-vis the EU. Still, the Norwegians are not afraid to stand alone, and they perceive that they have a traditional life-style and culture to preserve and protect. Norway is a proudly independent nation, not surprising when one thinks back to the Viking roots of the society.

Arts, Science, and Education

Norway has made impressive contributions to western culture. Norway's unique wooden " stave " churches have survived nearly 900 years. Music, art, and literature have been enriched by Edvard Grieg, Henrik Ibsen, Gustav Vigeland and Edvard Munch. The sculpture garden of Gustav Vigeland in Oslo's Frogner Park offers an afternoon of wonder as one contemplates Vigeland's powerful and compassionate work. An essential part of expressionist painting, Munch's varied and striking works are displayed in Oslo's National Gallery and the Munch Museum. Ibsen's plays are well-loved and are performed all over the world.

In addition to the collections exhibited in the major museums, Oslo offers a number of art galleries such as Kunstnernes Hus and the Henie-Onstad Art Center which organize exhibitions of works by American and European artists. A museum of modern art houses a select collection of works by contemporary artists of the western world. Norway is also known for its love of the performing arts. The Bergen International Music Festival sponsors a two-week cultural extravaganza of classical and contemporary music, dance, and theater each year. A number of jazz festivals are held throughout Norway, and internationally known singers perform frequently.

Education in Norway is free through college and compulsory through age 16. The literacy rate is almost 100 percent. Over 41,000 students attend Norway's four universities or other institutes of higher learning. English is mandatory in the Norwegian school system from the 4th through 9th grades. Most Norwegians speak English (this is particularly true in Oslo) and can usually understand French and German in addition to the other Scandinavian languages.

The level of scientific and technical education is high in Norway. Norwegians have made significant contributions to many fields of study. Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame has followed in the footsteps of the famous Norwegian Arctic explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. And, of course, Norway is home to the Nobel Institute, a world famous research institution which awards the Nobel Peace Prize.

Commerce and Industry

Offshore oil exploration and exploitation, shipping, metals, pulp and paper products, chemicals, fishing, and forestry are Norway's major industries, and Norway's merchant fleet is one of the largest in the world. Large offshore oil/gas reserves will continue to play a crucial role for Norway in the twenty-first century.

The Norwegian economy is essentially stable and harbors few surprises. Growth in gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, consumption and other basic factors strongly resemble those of other developed and prosperous European countries. Over the past 20 years, the Norwegian economy has grown steadily without heavy-handed government intervention. OECD statisticians predict continued steady growth in the near term.

Norway is a very small country, with a population of 4.3 million and a GDP of just over 700 billion Norwegian kroner or $108 billion (about 1.8 percent the size of the U.S. GDP). The economy includes a solid and growing industrial base, but the star of the Norwegian economy since the early seventies has been North Sea oil. Growth in oil production and oil price shifts have both had significant effects on the Norwegian economy in the past twenty years, mostly positive. The Norwegian government maintains control of oil production via the state-owned company Statoil and uses its revenues to fund social programs.

Norway's total export of goods and services, including shipping, equals nearly 50 percent of its GDP, with oil accounting for the lion's share. The economy is heavily influenced by world trade levels, oil prices, and currency exchange rates.

The U.S. exported approximately $1.4 billion in goods to Norway in 1999 and approximately $1.2 billion in services. Norway produces over 3 million barrels a day of crude oil and exports 94% of its production making it the second largest oil exporter in the world. The U.S. is Norway's largest foreign investor with $6.2 billion in foreign direct investment at book value (two-thirds of which is in the oil and gas sector). Norway has accumulated nearly $30 billion in the Government petroleum fund with 20 to 40 percent invested in U.S. stocks and bonds. U.S. firms are competing for over $6 billion in defense equipment acquisitions which Norway will undertake in the next few years.

The U.S. ranked fifth among Norway's trading partners in 1999. Total annual two-way trade is about $8 billion. The U.S. supplies primarily transportation equipment, oil and gas services and equipment, machinery, data processing and office equipment, chemicals, aircraft and defense-related items, and soybeans. U.S. imports from Norway are led by crude oil, nonferrous metals, fish, transport equipment, and pulp and paper.

Norway has now voted twice against membership in the EU, in 1972 and again in 1994. As in 1972, the November 1994 referendum was very close-a matter of 2 to 3 percentage points. Since Norway is still a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Association, Norway enjoys duty-free trade in manufactured products with the EU. However, the status of these organizations could change in the near future, since many of their members have now joined the EU.



Norway is a beautiful country that begs to be explored, and it is possible and even desirable to drive to most places in the country or in neighboring countries. Since Norwegian roads are narrow and winter conditions can be extremely difficult, large American cars are less than ideal. Many people choose to bring 4-wheel-drive vehicles because they handle best in slippery winter conditions, especially in the mountains. Others choose front-wheel-drive vehicles for similar reasons.

A vehicle can be registered in Norway with little or no problem as long as it has been registered in the owner's name at least 24 hours prior to importation. Minor adjustments may have to be made to vehicles upon arrival, at owner's expense, unless the vehicle is a European car with European specifications. American specification cars with catalytic converters do not require removal of the converter, since unleaded fuel is readily available. The authorities inspect cars carefully for rust. Your car may not pass if excessive rust, especially on the frame, is found during inspection. Rust free cars can be undercoated after arrival in Norway.

Norwegian law requires drivers in Norway to purchase a minimum third party liability insurance package, and Norwegian companies offer the full range of insurance services as in the U.S. Certification of accident-free driving can reduce your car insurance from 10% up to 70% per year. This certification takes the form of a letter (or letters) from the insurance company (or companies) with whom you have done business prior to your arrival in Oslo. The letter (s) should state the number of years of accident-free driving to your credit.

Snow tires are a necessity during Norway's long winter. The law requires that cars are safeguarded against sliding, and if a car involved in an accident is found not to have had appropriate tires for the driving conditions, the driver of that vehicle can be held fully responsible for the accident. You may use snow tires with or without studs and/or chains, but studded snow tires face some restrictions within the Oslo city limits. The law states that the car must have the same type of tire on each axle. Although the majority of Norwegians have traditionally used studded winter tires out of habit; that is changing, and good winter tires are just as effective in most conditions. Studded snow tires are not permitted at all in Oslo between mid-April and mid-October, except when the weather remains bad.

Snow tires of all shapes and sizes, studded or nonstudded, are readily available in Oslo at fairly reasonable prices. The only exception might be snow tires for unusual, old, or very large American brand cars. Some people choose to have their snow tires mounted on an extra set of rims for quicker and easier changes. You can bring snow tires with you or buy them in Norway, but you will definitely need them.


Oslo's municipal transportation system works well and includes electric trains, streetcars, buses, subways, and suburban commuter trains. Although reliable and extensive, public transportation in Oslo is quite expensive. A single trip in 1999 cost about $2.60 within the Oslo city limits. The use of monthly commuter passes or punch cards reduces the rates. Taxis ("drosjer") operate 24 hours a day. However, they rarely stop when hailed and must be obtained by going to a "taxi stand" or by calling and requesting one. Taxis are usually plentiful, but you may have to wait during bad weather or rush hour. All taxis have meters that begin calculating your fare from the point where the taxi starts its travel to answer your call. The meter continues to run until you reach your destination. Hence, if the taxi is coming to you from far away, the charges may already be quite high before you begin your ride. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but a small one is always appreciated.

Traffic is relatively heavy during rush hours. Narrow roads and construction can cause some congestion. Many people use public transportation to commute to and from work. Public transportation is quick, clean, safe, and convenient and eliminates the need to find a place to park. Parking spaces in downtown Oslo can be very difficult to find. Many parking lots use automated meters that can be confusing for the uninitiated to use.

Public transportation (buses and streetcars) has the right of way over private automobiles. Many traffic lanes in cities and on some sections of the highways are reserved for public transportation. These lanes are clearly marked, and private cars should not drive in them. Cars must stop for pedestrians approaching and using crosswalks. Official vehicles (such as fire and police) are marked with the same colors as in the U.S. Norwegian law requires yielding access to emergency vehicles.

At regular intersections, traffic entering from the right always has the right of way in Norway, except on major roads marked by yellow diamond-shaped road signs. All drivers must keep a watchful eye, especially in residential areas, for traffic entering from the right. Uphill traffic always has the right of way. There are also numerous traffic circles in and around Oslo. The rule for these circles is that once in the circle, a car has the right of way over cars entering the circle. In this instance, the right hand rule does not apply.

Finally, drivers should be aware that drunk driving laws in Norway are extremely strict and heavily enforced, with possible jail time as a penalty for even the first offense. Drinking anything over the equivalent of one beer will almost certainly put a person over the allowable blood alcohol level.


Oslo is connected to all major European centers by rail and air. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has direct flights between Oslo and major U.S. cities. Northwest Airlines also services Oslo through KLM via Amsterdam.

Oslo's Gardermoen Airport opened in October 1998 (replacing Fornebu) and is located about 40 minutes from downtown Oslo. Various ferries are available from Oslo to Denmark and Germany and from Kristiansand to Denmark and Holland. Well organized, sun-oriented charter flights provide excellent vacation opportunities at moderate cost, especially during winter months. Group skiing tours to the European Alps are also available.

Transportation within Norway is by bus, train, ferry, and internal airline flights. Car travel is possible in summer, but certain areas are closed by snow in winter. Road conditions vary. Mountainous areas have many narrow, winding sections of road.


Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone and telegraph facilities are provided by a government-operated service (Telenor). Direct dial service is available to most areas of the world, including the U.S. AT&T, MCI, and Sprint cards are available for making calls to the U.S. Use of one of these cards can result in significant savings, although Norwegian direct dial long distance rates are some of the lowest in Europe, especially during off peak hours. Basic telephone charges are high. There is a metered charge by the minute for each local call. Rates for local calls are cheapest after 5 p.m. and on weekends.


International airmail from the U.S. usually takes 4 to 7 days, but return mail can be slower. Surface shipments by international mail take 4 to 6 weeks from the U.S. and are subject to Norwegian customs.

Radio and TV

American FM radios are compatible with the Norwegian radio broadcasting system but will have to run through transformers or on batteries (assuming 110v). Commercial radio is relatively new to Norway. Until 1984, there was only a single radio channel. In 1993 NRK widened its radio activities to three parallel broadcasts: P1, which chiefly provides cultural and in-depth coverage, major news programs, documentaries and reports, and classical music and jazz programs; P2, which features regional programs, light music, and some sports programs; and P3, which caters mainly to younger listeners, leaning heavily toward entertainment, pop, rock music, and sports.

A nationwide private radio corporation-P4-began broadcasting in late 1993. Radio programs are in Norwegian and are geared toward Norwegian interests. Shortwave broadcasts in English, particularly from the BBC, offer a good source of news. VOA reception is often weak. A growing number of local commercial radio stations throughout Norway offer a variety of programming formats, including Top 40, rock, and adult contemporary music in English. Note: Use of radio transmission equipment, including CB's, is not allowed in Norway.

Norway has two national television networks. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is an independent institution responsible for general public broadcasting in Norway. NRK TV broadcasts more than 60 hours a week, featuring sports, news, drama, children's programs (which are dubbed to Norwegian), educational programs, music, and entertainment. About half of NRK's programs are original NRK productions. There are also several private television stations in Oslo. Cable TV and satellite TV are both available.

Much of the programming is produced locally, but there are a fair number of foreign programs also shown, including popular British and American series. All foreign language programs are subtitled in Norwegian except children's programs which are dubbed. Oslo area

homes equipped with cable TV have better reception of the local channels as well as the option to receive a wide variety of channels, including Sky Channel, Super Channel, FilmNet, CNN, Eurosport, BBC, MTV, and two Swedish channels.

Norwegian television uses the European PAL standard. It is not generally financially practical to modify U.S. sets to European specifications. To receive Norwegian broadcasting as well as cable broadcasts, one must have either a multi-system TV or a European PAL TV (Note: American VCRs will not record PAL signals, nor can they play PAL tapes. Again, a multisystem VCR is required for these purposes. Since PAL tapes of American movies are available for rent locally on just about every corner, a multi-system or PAL TV and VCR are desirable.)

U.S. sets designed to operate at 110v, 60 cycles can be adapted to 220v with transformers and used to play U.S. standard (NTSC) VCR tapes.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Popular American and British magazines are readily available at the newspaper stands (kiosks). British newspapers, the International Herald Tribune, and USA Today are also available locally. The cost of magazines is higher than in the U.S. Most Norwegian libraries have an English book section that often contains current children's books and adult fiction and nonfiction. Many bookstores in Oslo carry American and British books, but prices are considerably higher than in the country of origin.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Norwegian public health and medical-care facilities are extensive, reasonably priced and of excellent quality. The Norwegian health delivery system differs somewhat from that of the U.S. in that emergencies are first treated at an emergency care facility (legevakt) rather than in a hospital's emergency room. Cases needing further treatment or hospitalization are then referred to hospitals or physicians. In the Norwegian system, one cannot be directly admitted to a hospital. The style of Norwegian physician care also differs from the U.S. style. Doctors tend to be abrupt by American standards and often do not offer explanations of their procedures. They also make fewer allowances for personal modesty, e.g., they do not typically provide gowns or leave the room while a patient disrobes. Most Norwegian health care specialists speak some English.

Norwegian ophthalmologists and optometrists are comparable to their American counterparts in skill, but the prices for these services are much higher in Norway than in the U.S. Opticians fill prescriptions efficiently and promptly. Most types of glasses and contact lenses are available.

Norwegian dentists vary greatly in ability and price. Orthodontic work is good and usually costs less than in the U.S. The dental school offers routine and specialized care for both adults and children through the use of licensed professionals and dental students. Oslo also has an emergency dental clinic (tannlegevakt).

Drugstores are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and until early afternoon on Saturdays. Certain pharmacies are also open nights and Sundays. Most medicines require prescriptions, although headache remedies, vitamins, cold remedies, and other patent medicines do not. Note however that even aspirin can only be bought in small quantities (one bottle of 20 tablets at a time). If you have favorite pain relief and cold medicines, you will simplify your life by bringing a large bottle of each with you. Drug quality is well-controlled and therefore excellent, and prices are reasonable. Only Celsius thermometers are available locally. Note that the doctor will want to know the temperature of your fever in Celsius.

Community Health

Sanitary conditions in Norway are among the best in the world. Strict laws govern commercial processing, cooking, handling and serving of foods. The state-run water supply system is excellent and drinkable without filtering throughout the country. Oslo is in general much cleaner than most U.S. cities of comparable size.

Norway has not had any serious epidemics in years, although the flu season can be severe. Flus, colds, and sore throat infections may be aggravated by the lack of sunshine during winter months. The cold winter weather and the low humidity in heated homes and buildings can also contribute to discomfort during illness.

The risk of contagious disease is the same as in the U.S. Seasonal episodes of mumps and chicken pox break out each year. Large-scale outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) are rare because so many children have been vaccinated.

Preventive Measures

No particular vaccinations are required.

Norway's climate is generally healthy. Upper respiratory infections occur more frequently during fall, winter and spring. Norwegians consider vitamin pills and cod liver oil (available locally) essential to compensate for winter's lack of sunshine and vitamin D. The water is not fluoridated. However, fluoride tablets for children can be obtained at drug stores without prescription. Fluoride rinses are also available. Your physician can give you information on the best fluoride treatment for your family.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. (2nd Sun) Mother's Day*

Feb. 21 Birthday of king Herald V

Mar/Apr.Holy Thursday*

Mar/Apr.Good Friday*


Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

May 8 Liberation Day

May 17 Independence Day

June 7Union Dissolution Day

May/JuneAscension Day*



June Midsummer Night*

July 4 Birthday of Queen Sonja

July 24 Birthday of Crown Prince Haakon

July 29 St. Olav's Day

Sept. 22Birthday of Princess Martha Lousie

Nov. (2nd Sun) Father's Day*

Dec. 25 Christmas

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

Dec. 31 New Year's Eve



At present, there is no U.S. air carrier providing direct service from the U.S. to Oslo, although certain U.S. carriers have deals with European companies to make connecting flights into Oslo. Most individuals fly to London, Copenhagen or Amsterdam and then take a foreign air carrier to Fornebu airport, Oslo. Other transportation to Norway includes overnight car ferries from Denmark and Germany to Oslo, Amsterdam to Kristiansand (in the summer months only), Newcastle to Stavanger and Bergen, and rail links from Sweden and Copenhagen.

A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens may enter Norway for tourist or general business purposes without a visa for up to 90 days.

Since March 2001, Norwegian entry visas are governed by the rules of the Schengen Agreement. Under this agreement, a visa issued for admission to most European Union (EU) countries (including non EU members Norway and Iceland) is also valid for admission to other member countries. EU members Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted not to participate in the Schengen arrangement at this time. Under Schengen visa procedures, a tourist is only permitted to spend a total of three months in the "Schengen area" within any six month period.

Tourists who enter Norway without a visa cannot usually change status in Norway in order to reside or work there. Travelers planning a long-term stay, marriage or employment in Norway should therefore seek the appropriate visa before departing the United States.

For information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Royal Norwegian Embassy at 2720 34th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008-2714, tel. 1-202-333-6000, or the nearest Norwegian consulate; and on the Internet at Norwegian consulates are located in Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, and San Francisco. Information can also be obtained from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration at


Norway is a rabies-free country, and pets brought to Norway from rabies infected countries must be quarantined at the State Animal Quarantine Station in Oslo for 4 months. Total costs for bringing a dog or cat to Norway are about $2,000-$3,000 per animal (including quarantine). Please note that animals that have resided in EU countries for 1 year without intervening travel to other countries do not need to be quarantined.

There are separate and more flexible regulations for temporary or permanent importation of seeing-eye guide dogs.

Once the you receive space and import permit assurances from the State Veterinarian, you will be sent application papers, additional information, and mandatory forms (see below) provided with the import license from the Norwegian Agricultural Ministry. You must submit the requested information in the correct time frame. Have a licensed veterinarian complete an up to date health and vaccination certificate using the mandatory Certificate of Origin and Health provided by the Norwegian Quarantine Station: Annex to H 2 (dogs) or Annex to K 2 (cats). The certificate must specify that the animal shows no sign of infectious or communicable disease, that it has been vaccinated (within 3 weeks of shipment to Norway) against distemper, and that it has been blood tested for leptospirosis (L. canicola and L. icterohaemorrhagiae) with negative test results as specified on the form. Arranging for the leptospirosis test in the U.S. may take some time, since only a few labs have the facilities to analyze and evaluate the results of such tests. The certificate should also give a complete description of the animal (sex, breed, color, and age) and should bear veterinarian license confirmation, either from the Norwegian Consul or from local police authorities or government authorities.

The animal must be checked at its arrival point by veterinary inspectors (for a fee) and will be transferred to the Quarantine Station. There is only one approved quarantine facility in Norway for dogs and cats.

Vestberg Quarantine Station Nordre Linderudsvei 45 N-1816 Skiptvedt, Norway Phone: (47) 69 80 85 80 Fax: (47) 69 80 85 90 Web-site:

It is located in Ostfold county approximately 70 km from Oslo. The Quarantine Station recommends that dogs be vaccinated against Kennel cough and canine parvovirus infection and cats be vaccinated against feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calcivirus infection a minimum of 3 weeks before they arrive at the quarantine station.

The animal must also be identified with a readable tattoo or microchip implant. The identification number must be referred to on all vaccination certificates or vaccination book and on laboratory certificates. The identification number must also be referred to on the approved Veterinary Certificate. If the microchip is not of FECAVA or ISO standard, the animal owner must provide a compatible reader.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting: The Norwegian Animal Health Authority, Central Unit, at PO. Box 8147 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway. Phone: (47) 22 24 19 40 Fax: (47) 22 24 19 45.

Since the Quarantine Station kennel has limited space, especially in the summer, you must give them 2-3 weeks notice. The Vestberg Animal Quarantine Station kennel is adequate, and veterinary care is good. Most owners have been satisfied with their pet's stay. On the other hand, an isolation period of 4 months can be a problem for very old or nervous animals. Healthy and well-balanced pets over 1 year of age usually show no ill effects, but often the owners suffer during this time. The Quarantine Station will not admit animals under 6 months old. Dogs under 12 months of age require human and family contact to develop into normal, well balanced animals. The isolation of 4 months' quarantine may be detrimental at this stage.

Visits may be made for 45 minutes, twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-8 pm, after the first 2 weeks of isolation have been completed. You must call to make an appointment. After departure from the Quarantine Station, the animal is restricted from contact with other animals for an additional 2 months. Basic expenses for 4 month quarantining are currently over $2,400 for dogs and $1,660 for cats. This is subject to change depending upon the rate of exchange. One-half of the charges must be paid upon entry of the pet into quarantine. The remainder is due on the last day of quarantine when you pick up your pet.

Firearms and Ammunition

Under Norwegian law, a private individual must have prior written authorization from the Norwegian Government to purchase or possess firearms or ammunition in Norway.

No automatic weapons are allowed into Norway for use or sale by private citizens or visitors. Also, Norwegian law has other restrictions that pertain to types and quantities of weapons permissible in Norway.

Hunting (and fishing) licenses are required and can be obtained on payment of the proper fee to local authorities.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

Norway's basic unit of currency is the crown (krone). A crown today is worth about 12 cents (8.5 crowns = $1). Technically, each crown is broken down into 100 ore, although only the 50 ore coins are in circulation.

Local banking and exchange facilities throughout Norway are as numerous as ATMs. Norway has no regular American banks. All currencies and travelers checks are exchangeable, and full international banking services are available. No limit exists on the purchase of dollars or other foreign exchange. Banks located at airports and other terminals provide service on weekends and evenings. Normal banking hours are 8:15 am to 3:45 pm, Monday through Friday, but banks close at 3 pm in summer.

The value-added tax (known in Norwegian as "VAT") is 23% of sale price and is paid on all goods and services, including food and clothing. This tax is usually included in the marked price of the item (s) at all retail stores.

Norway uses the metric system of weights and measures, but there is one exception: one Norwegian "mile" is equivalent to 10 kilometers. American miles are not used here. If you hear a Norwegian discussing miles, he or she probably means the 10-kilometer Norwegian kind.

Special Information

Norway remains one of the safest countries in the world, with little violent crime. Travel on public transportation, for example, is safe during any time of the day or night.

However, as in most European capitals, property crimes such as home burglaries have increased recently. This seems to be largely due to the increase in drug use. In addition, high value cars (both European and American makes) have become a particular target of professional car thieves looking to ship cars to Eastern Europe at high profit. Owners of expensive vehicles may wish to take appropriate precautions, such as installing an alarm.

Americans living in or visiting Norway are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Norway. The U.S. Embassy is located in Oslo near the Royal Palace at Drammensveien 18; tel. (47) 22-44-85-50, Consular Section fax (47) 22-56-27-51. Information about consular services can be found in the Consular Section of the Embassy's home page at


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published about Norway.

General Reference Guides

Tomkinson, Michael. Alf Bjercke's Norway 1999.

Facts about Norway. [contributors:Hugo Pedersenet al.]; maps, diagrams and drawings: 24th ed. Oslo Schibsted, © 1996 (new edition expected 2000).

Living in Norway, a practical guide: Patricia Crinion Bjaaland's classic guide for new residents. 3rd edition by Michael Brady and Belinda Drabble. Palamedes Press, 1999.

Swaney, Dena. Norway. ISBN:08600384426, Lonely Planet Publications, 1999.


Derry, T.K. A History of Modern Norway, 1814-1972. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Jerman, Gunnar. New Norway: a country of change. Index Publishing, 1999.

Libæk, Ivar and Oivind Stenersen. A History of Norway. Grondahl 1999.

Midgaard, John. A Brief History of Norway. Tano Press, 1989.

Riiste, Olav and Berit Nokleby. Norway 1940-1945. Oslo: Tanum Forlag, 1970.

Norwegian-American Relations

Cole, Wayne. Norway and the U.S. 19051955: Two Democracies in Peace and War. Iowa State, 1989.

Skard, Sigmund. The United States in Norwegian History. Universitetsforlaget, 1976.

Skard, Sigmund. Transatlantica. Universitetsforlaget, 1978.

Norwegian Society

Gullestad, Marianne. The Art of Social Relations: Essays on Culture, Social Action and Everyday Life in Modern Norway. NYP, 1992.

Guy Peters, B. and Tom Christensen. Structure, Culture and Governance: a comparison of Norway and the United States. Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.

Hylland Eriksen. Thomas Being Norwegian in a shrinking world. Reflections on Norwegian identity.

In Anne Cohen Kiel, ed., Continuity and Change: Aspects of Modern Norway, Scandinavian University Press 1993. (this article is available on the internet at

U.S.-Norwegian Relationship

Ramsoy, Natalie Rogoff, ed. Norwegian Society. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1968. (Reprinted-Oslo: Universitets forlaget, 1974.)

Su-Dale, Elizabeth. Culture Shock Norway: a guide to customs and etiquette. Graphics Arts Center Publishing, Portland 1995.


Asbjoernsen and Moe. Norwegian Folktales (Pat Shaw's translation).

Hamsun, Knut. Growth of the Soil.

Gaarder, Jostein. The Solitaire Mystery.

Hoel, Sigurd. Meeting at the Milestone.

Ibsen, Henrik. Peer Gynt.

Sandel, Cora. Alberte and Jacob. Ullmann, Linn. Before you Sleep (contemporary).

Undset, Sigrid. Kristin Lavansdatter.

Vesaas, Tarjei. The Birds.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Norway
Region: Europe
Population: 4,481,162
Language(s): Norwegian, Lapp, Finnish
Literacy Rate: 100%
Academic Year: August-June
Number of Primary Schools: 2,129
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.4%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 11,225
Libraries: 1,108
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 320,752
  Secondary: 368,074
  Higher: 185,320
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 100%
  Secondary: 118%
  Higher: 62%
Teachers: Higher: 13,665
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 100%
  Secondary: 116%
  Higher: 71%

History & Background

Norway, officially known as the Kingdom of Norway, includes a large mainland, a variety of small islands, and other territories totaling 368,658 square kilometers (149,366 square miles). Located in northern Europe, Norway lies on the Scandinavian peninsula and is surrounded by three seas to the west and shares most of its eastern border with Sweden. The northern section of Norway experiences cold winters and weeks of continuous darkness, along with weeks of continuous sun in the summer. The country includes large barren and mountainous regions and has a population of just 4.4 million people. In 1999, it was estimated that 28.1 percent of Norwegians live in one of the four largest urban areas, and only these four areas have more than 100,000 inhabitants. Oslo, the capital of Norway, has approximately 500,000 inhabitants, and the next largest area, Bergen, has 220,000 inhabitants. Just 15 communities have more than 20,000 inhabitants. About 20 percent of Norwegians are under the age of 15, and 38 percent are married.

Relative to most countries, Norway's population is overwhelmingly homogenous. The vast majority are Nordic in heritage and appearance, and more than 60 percent have blue eyes. About 85 percent of Norwegians claim membership in the Lutheran Church of Norway. Most though are merely nominal members of the state-run church with less than 3 percent attending regular religious services. Freedom to practice any religion is available to all. The language of Norway is German in origin, and modern Norwegian has several dialects but all are understood across Scandinavian countries. One written language, known as Riksmal or "official language," was in place until about 1850. Landsmal or "country language" was a written form created out of rural Norwegian dialects. A struggle over these two written forms resulted in both being given equal status. Over 80 percent of schools use Riksmal, now known as Dano-Norwegian (Nynorsk ). English is a compulsory subject in school, and German and French are common third languages selected by students.

Just one hundred years ago, Norway was an agricultural society. In 2000, the 3 largest sectors of employment were public services (40 percent); commerce, hotels, and restaurants (18 percent); and industry (17 percent). Norway is one of the leaders in the world in the exportation of petroleum. With an abundance of offshore oil and peaceful political and labor relations, Norway's standard of living is one of the highest in the world. A social democracy, Norway has a parliamentary monarchy with numerous political parties. A strong sense of equality dominates social policy in Norway. National health and welfare systems provide for all Norwegians and include free medical care and full support in retirement or because of disability. Norwegians also rank among the highest in the world in projected life expectancy.

In terms of its educational history, independence from Denmark in 1814 was pivotal in the development of Norway's educational policy. Denmark had ruled Norway for the previous 400 years, but turned over control to Sweden when Napoleon was defeated. To counter this transfer of control, Norwegians quickly created a constitution that called for the most democratic political structure to date, including a parliamentary system, the abolition of any further hereditary titles, and expanded voting privileges. Although a small elite still ruled Norway, this constitution resulted in the limitation of Sweden's control and has been maintained, with the addition of amendments, to this day. With independence and a democratically based constitution, it was believed that Norway should be an open society, one in which all children have the right to be literate and all citizens should participate in decision making. A centrally organized and comprehensive school system was thought essential for this and to make a cohesive nation out of such a dispersed population. While at least a few years of religious training had been available to most children before this time, independence and the industrial revolution inspired the expansion of educational opportunities for Norwegians. National educational policy was developed through legislation over the next 150 years.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Just after independence from Denmark, the Storting committee was organized in 1815 to address all school matters. Before independence, Luther's focus on schooling was supported by ordinances in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and consequently, some schooling was available to children of all social classes for the purpose of religious development. These ordinances recognized that children needed to be literate to read scriptures and to learn specific religious knowledge for Christian confirmation into adulthood. Norway was one of the first countries in Europe to have compulsory education. With the 1739 School Ordinance, schooling was required, even of children in the countryside beginning at the age of seven. The motivation for this ordinance was the religious development of all Norwegian children, including those located away from any sizable town. The provision in this ordinance that required the creation of permanent schools was unworkable though in tiny communities that could not afford them. As a result, local parishes took responsibility for providing schooling and traveling schools were established in which teachers would spend a few weeks at a time in various locations. Mostly, children were taught to read and study religious principles. Children were rarely taught to write, and most attended school for just a few years. Schooling was widely available at this time though, and Norwegians prided themselves on their rate of literacy. By 1800, it was believed that almost all Norwegians were literate, a remarkable achievement given that the literacy rate for all of Europe did not exceed 50 percent for adults until about 1850. For the most part, higher education institutions did not exist prior to Norwegian independence. Some alternative forms of schooling were available. The developing industrial revolution in Norway at the time of independence required vocational training opportunities. Thus, traditional apprentice systems were replaced with schools focused on seamanship, handwork, drafting, and mining.

National school policy continued to be developed and refined and became more secular and extensive with time. The 1848 Folk School Law mandated the creation of a least one folk school in each town, that teachers meet certain qualifications, that 60 students per day is the maximum allowed per teacher, that children attend school from age 7 until confirmation, and that each town have a school commission consisting of town clergy and council appointees. Most important, this law expanded the educational content offered. While only reading and religious instruction were taught previously, now subjects such as writing, singing, and math were to be taught in all schools. By the end of the nineteenth century, laws establishing elementary and secondary schools were passed.

The modern school was developed in three stages of reform, each stage was established through national legislation. The compulsory school (Grunnskole ) was revised in 1969 into a nine-year mandated program. Two stages, stage 1-6 (barnesteget ) and stage 7-9 (ungdomssteget ) were created. The next step of the reform involved the upper secondary school (Videregaende skole ), which lasted from one to three years and incorporated a wide variety of courses with a focus on higher education preparation or vocational training. The last reform stage involved the development of the tertiary level of education. The University of Oslo was the only university in Norway until 1948. Three additional universities were eventually established, and in the 1970s, regional colleges grew at a tremendous rate. These colleges allowed for greater access to higher education across Norway and served local needs for education, research, and development.

Educational SystemOverview

The national school system is designed to provide a quality education to every citizen. Egalitarian values with respect to education are quite strong in Norway. In fact, the government attempts to provide the same quality education to absolutely every Norwegian, no matter how remote a community is or how few children it has. For example, the government spends twice as much per pupil in poor areas where children are scattered over a large area than in other regions of Norway. Likewise, gender differences in educational opportunities have been eliminated. The percentage of girls in upper secondary schools, for example, exceeds the percentage of boys in those schools. Gender preferences in course selection are still apparent though. The result is that parents and communities tend to regard their local school as equal to any other school. Schools do not compete against each other for students, and parents do not "shop" for schools for their children. Almost all Norwegians attend local publicly funded schools.

In 1997, the mandatory age at which children must start school was changed from seven to six years old. Now, all children are required to attend school for 10 years from the age of 6 until the age of 16. After these mandatory years, an optional eleventh year is offered. School size is limited by the Parliament. A maximum of 450 students per school is mandated by law. The philosophy behind this is that small schools function better than consolidated schools at facilitating close connections between the school, students, parents, and community. Some school subjects are required. These include Norwegian, English, mathematics, science, physical education, music, and religion. Students may elect to take courses in the arts, other foreign languages, and vocational programs, such as seamanship, office skills, or agriculture. After these mandatory school years, many students go on to three more years of upper secondary school. They may then take an examination that allows them to be considered for entrance into a university. About the same number of students attend vocational schools as attend college and universities. Because of state support, few schools charge tuition, and all interested students, no matter what their financial need, are eligible for loans from the government.

In 1998, the percentage of those 16 years of age or older whose highest level of education completed was primary/lower secondary school was 23.2 percent, whose highest level was upper secondary school was 54.5 percent, and whose highest level was tertiary education was 22.2 percent. This last percentage has doubled since 1980. Gender differences in these rates exist but are small. The percentage of males who are 16 years of age or older and have completed tertiary schooling is 22.7. The corresponding percentage for females is 21.8 percent. In 2000, the expected years of tertiary education for a 17-year-old Norwegian was 3 years. This is higher than the expected number of years for both Denmark and Sweden. Again, gender differences in these expectations are minimal. Expected years of tertiary education was 3.4 years for 17-year-old women and 2.5 years for 17-year-old men in 2000.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Kindergartens have come into popularity in Norway only recently. The number of children in kindergartens more than doubled in the 1980s, and there still are not enough schools. The dramatic increase seems to be due to a high rate of female employment outside of the home, the increase of single-parent families, and a demand by the public for more focus on basic instruction. About a third of eligible children attend kindergartens, and half of these children attend private kindergartens. The kindergarten in Norway is intended to serve both the educational and the social development of children. Consequently, kindergartens are run by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Administration, not the Ministry of Church and Education. In 1999, a total of 189,382 children were enrolled in kindergarten. The 5,991 kindergartens in Norway employ 52,898 people. Of these kindergartens, 3,013 of them are state schools.

As of 1997, compulsory education begins at the age of six. Typically, compulsory education begins with six years of primary school. A class teacher model is usual, and classes are generally held together through compulsory schooling. Moreover, it is typical for a student to have the same primary teacher for the first three years, and many have the same primary teacher for their first six years. No students repeat grades. Teachers are given materials that help them respond to different ability levels in their classrooms, but students are never divided at this level based on ability. No examinations or grades are given in primary school, although both are prevalent in lower secondary school. Parents are given a report about their child's progress at least twice a year. Primary school is followed by three years of lower secondary school, and usually all nine compulsory grades are located in a single school building.

In lower secondary school, classes are still kept together, but for some subjects, especially in the eighth and ninth grades, students are divided into three levels for courses, such as Norwegian, English, German, and mathematics, based on the students' ability in each of these areas. Parents and students are involved in the placement of students into these courses. The goal though, as determined by the Parliament, is to keep classes of students together as much as possible throughout their comprehensive school years. As in primary school, students do not repeat grades in lower secondary school. However, students do receive marks at this level and, at the end of the ninth grade year, take a formal examination.

Norway has about 3,500 compulsory schools, resulting in an average school size of 150 students. By mandate of the Parliament, no compulsory school has more than 450 students. Some schools are quite small and occasionally must accommodate more than one grade in a single class. All compulsory schools are operated by local municipalities, although they are subject to the framework and regulations of the central government. The national plan allows for numerous variations and even encourages innovations at the local level. Locally initiated and registered development projects number over 3,000. Class size is also mandated by the Parliament. In primary school, the maximum class size is 28, and for the lower secondary school, it is 30. The average class size is much lower than these mandates. For primary and lower secondary schools, the average class size was 20.2 students per class in the 2000 to 2001 school year. From 1991 to 2000, the number of students per class rose from 19.2 to 20.2. In compulsory education, the student to teacher ratio is 12.5 in full-time teacher equivalents. In 1998, school expectancy for five-year-old Norwegian girls was 18.1 years and for boys, it was 17.2 years. More than 90 percent of students go on to upper secondary school after completing their compulsory schooling.

In autumn of 2000, approximately 590,000 pupils populated Norway's primary and lower secondary schools. From the 1991 to 1992 to the 2000 to 2001 school years, the number of pupils in primary and lower secondary schools increased by a total of 117,000. Much of this change can be explained by the lowering of starting school age from six to seven years old in 1997. At the beginning of the 2000 to 2001 school year, there were 12 fewer primary schools than at the beginning of the previous school year and 150 fewer schools than there were in 1991. A wide variation in the number of primary and lower secondary schools in the various counties exists. Hordaland is the county with the most schools (350), and Nordland, More og Romsdal, Akershus, and Rogaland have more than 200 schools. The counties with the smallest number of schools are Aust-Agder (80) and Finnmark (100). Interestingly, the number of students in Nordland and More og Romsdal counties is relatively small, about half the number of students in the most populated county, yet these two counties have a large number of schools because of differences in demography and settlement patterns. While quality of primary and lower secondary schools are similar, their distribution and size is quite diverse.

Secondary Education

Three years of upper secondary education are offered to students. Classic academic and vocational training programs were combined into a single comprehensive school as a result of the 1974 Upper Secondary School Law. This law was intended to eliminate any status differences between practical and theoretical kinds of education. With both vocational and general studies offered in the same school, all students became free to choose between these kinds of programs. Students may also participate in apprenticeship programs where their training comes from a purely apprentice based experience, a combination of apprentice work and school based activities, or purely school based activities. A general studies education in upper secondary school is considered the best preparation for university attendance. The competition, however, is greatest for the vocational programs, and once students are admitted to the foundational course for a vocational program, they are not necessarily continued to the next levels of more specialized vocational training. Students must be high achievers to be selected for and to move on in their chosen practical programs. In addition, because these students learn job skills and are still eligible to go on to higher education, they are thought to have the best of both worlds. In contrast, admission standards for general studies are minimal, and fewer students seek those slots. Moreover, continuation is virtually assured. However, some of the brightest students choose this route because it leads most directly to higher education. The trend though is that many of the brightest students compete for spots in the top vocational courses, and the availability of general studies slots has lowered the status of this emphasis. A consequence of top students taking so many vocational slots that would have previously gone to students who have had difficulty in a traditional school format is that these students are forced to take a general studies program or drop out of school. A general studies program would allow them to compete more effectively for higher education admission, but few seek it and all are left with no vocational skills and three more years of the type of schooling in which they have not been successful in the past. Some have referred to students who are not motivated by traditional classroom learning techniques as "school tired youth." Of those 16- to 18-years-old, the usual age group for this level of schooling, about 57.5 percent participated in a general studies program in the 2000 to 2001 school year.

Eleven branches of study are available at the upper secondary level. These include general education, manual and industrial studies, arts and crafts, fishing and maritime studies, sports, clerical and commercial studies, domestic arts and sciences, social and health studies, media and communication, and retail and service trades. Each branch has the same structure in that students participate in one or two years of foundation courses, and then, depending on the branch and the length of the foundation courses, one or two years of concentrated training. Within each branch, more specialized courses of study are available. For example, within the Metals and Industrial Studies branch, subjects may include carpentry and metal work, plumbing, clock repair, flower decoration, and piano tuning and repair. The full range of possible vocational courses are not available at every school. In this circumstance, students and their parents may search for a school offering the specific desired courses. Grades are given at this level to reflect student's school work, and separate grades are given to reflect achievement on standardized examinations. The number and nature of examinations depend upon the area of study. Examinations may be written, oral, or some combination of the two. In general studies, students take several examinations, including one for Norwegian composition. In vocational studies, students may take an examination in each of the first two years and then two examinations in their final year. Both kinds of grades, teacher ratings and examination results, are listed on the certificate students receive upon leaving secondary school. Details about the individual student's academic record are also recorded on this certificate, including courses taken and school attendance record.

Although there are more girls, 54.4 percent, in the general areas of study than boys, girls are the vast majority of the health and social studies with 91.7 percent. Girls also account for 82.8 percent of those in arts, crafts and design and 73.2 percent of those in music, dance, and drama. These are considered "soft" areas of emphasis. In the 2000 to 2001 school year, two new areas of study, media and communication and retail and service trades, were added. These new areas have an equal distribution of male and female students. The curriculum for upper secondary schools is developed by the central government, but secondary schools are administered by each county. Although three years of upper secondary or post-basic education are typical for students, certificates are available after completing one and two year programs. Graduation from upper secondary school typically occurs at age 19. Approximately 164,000 students are registered in upper secondary education for the 2000 to 2001 school year. Vocational programs accounted for 42.5 percent of the total number of students. The number of students in secondary school age 20 and over dropped from 14.4 percent in the 1999 to 2000 academic year to 12.6 percent in the 2000 to 2001 school year.

Large differences in the social backgrounds of pupils in general studies and vocational programs in upper secondary school exist. About two percent of students in the vocational programs have parents with a post-graduate level education, while more than 65 percent have parents with an upper secondary level. Although few gender differences in the rate of attendance at upper secondary schools exist, course choices are quite gender specific. Girls choose health, social studies, and aesthetic programs more than boys do, and boys outnumber girls by far in engineering and mechanical trades. In the 2000 to 2001 school year, girls accounted for just 1.7 percent of building and construction trades, 3.8 percent of electrical trades, and 4.4 percent of engineering and mechanical trades. The gender distribution in upper secondary education and at folk high schools has changed slightly from autumn 1996 to autumn 1999. The female percentage in general studies programs has remained the same, but an increase of 3 percent in vocational programs has occurred over these three years. At folk high schools, the percentage of female students has risen by 5 percent from 1996 to 1999. In apprentice programs, 31 percent of students are female, an increase of five percent since 1996. In an effort to expand opportunities for all Norwegians, the Parliament gives priority to disabled students in admittance to upper secondary schools.

Student councils were mandated for secondary schools with the 1974 Secondary School Law. Students have worked to create more say in school affairs and have been successful in getting more power to determine what is relevant and appropriate for their education. Teachers at the upper secondary level tend to find their jobs to be difficult. They complain of conflicting objectives and too much being asked of them. They are required to teach basic subjects, along with cultural heritage, democratic values, and vocational training. Updating subjects and secondary training is done at the national level by the Upper Secondary School Council. This council also creates new initiatives and was responsible, for example, for a program that introduced computers into schools and established training in information technology for teachers in the 1980s. In 1998, there were 230,115 students in upper secondary schools in Norway. In 2000, among all Norwegians between the ages of 55- and 64-years-old, 65 percent have completed at least upper secondary education; but for Norwegians between the ages of 25- and 34-years-old, 93 percent have done so.

Higher Education

Norwegian universities offer programs of study at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Four universities and 26 state colleges, among a variety of other kinds of higher education institutions, are available to students in Norway. Smaller specialized colleges offer degree programs that are just two or three years in length, while university studies tend to be longer in duration. A small percentage of students attend college outside of the country. About 40 percent of 19-year-olds meet the formal requirements for higher education and about 25 percent of them immediately enter a college or university. Another 10 percent who do not meet the formal criteria are admitted based on other criteria. Entrance to most fields of study is limited because the number of applicants exceed the number of places available. In medicine, technological fields, teacher training, and business economics, minimum entrance regulations help to limit applicants. Unlike most other countries, high achieving students are as likely to attend district colleges as they are to attend universities in Norway, and district college students have the opportunity to transfer to universities if they desire. The student to teacher ratio is 17 in colleges and 11 in universities. Although students do not usually complete upper secondary school until 19 years of age, most put off higher education for a few years while gaining work experience. Others interrupt their higher education for paid employment. The majority of young men in Norway are drafted into military service lasting more than one year, and this delays the completion of their higher education programs. The result of these delays is that about half of the students at institutions of higher education are over the age of 25, and one-fifth are over the age of 30. In terms of gender disparity, in all higher education institutions in 1998, there were 106,711 female students compared to 77,352 male students. Females also outnumber male students at universities with 43,166 female to 37,962 male students enrolled in 1998. The difference is much larger at the state college level with 51,869 female to 28,965 male students. In 2000, nearly 59 percent of students in higher education were female. Male students are in the majority at a few universities and colleges with mostly technological or economic degree programs, such as the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norwegian School of Economics & Business, and Narvik College. At military colleges, women make up only about 10 percent of students.

Two university degrees were traditionally available in Norway. These were a first degree after four or five years of study (cand.mag ) and a higher degree with two to three more years of study (cand.philol, cand.scient, and so on). An informal doctoral degree, which followed these levels, was available to students with additional training and who worked as research associates or fellows. New doctoral degree programs, inspired by those available in the United States, were established in the 1970s and 1980s because they offered more formal, structured programs that were recognized internationally. In Norway, this Ph.D. model emphasizes structure and supervised research. Typically, these programs require 3 years of research training but distributed over 4 years with the student devoting 25 percent of their work to other duties. These degrees have become prerequisites for academic positions.

Regular higher educational programs are available to international students who are capable of funding their own education. Admission for international students though is highly competitive and criteria include academic background, plan of study, and proficiency in English. If the desired program of study is taught in the Norwegian language, international students must spend their first year in an intensive language program or must pass a Norwegian language test called Bergen-testen. During that year, the institution may or may not reserve a place for the student in their chosen department.

Higher education originally developed in Norway in order to create a more educated work force. This was the prime mission of the first university, the University of Oslo, established in 1811. In the 1960s and 1970s, higher education institutions began to differentiate themselves. A binary system was the solution to the quantity versus quality problem. District colleges served vocational needs, and universities maintained a traditional focus. The 1980s brought accusations of mediocrity in terms of both university teaching and research. The Hernes Commission Report of 1988 called for higher quality teaching and research and more integration and flexibility across institutions. A more efficient higher education system was desired by the commission. Among other things, the plan called for the "Norway Network," which merged small colleges and required more cooperation between district colleges and universities, although it was not until 1995 that the district colleges were combined into a state college system. In addition, even though the plan called for integration across district colleges and universities, universities maintained their distinct status and mission. The binary system survived the attempt at integration and increased efficiency. University teachers supported this distinction. District college teachers, on the other hand, fought to obtain university type responsibilities and rewards, including the opportunity to incorporate research into part of their workload.

To further the reform plan for higher education, in the 1990s, state run institutions were given more autonomy with fewer state imposed regulations, but higher education personnel and institutions became subject to performance control. Goal formation and achievement became imperative, with a focus on greater productivity and lower costs. Funds were tied, for example, to the production of new graduates, and incentive funds were given to faculty for publications. A pay for performance system was also put into place, although its impact was minor. Overall, the 1990s brought greater power and control over higher education by the Parliament, despite the stated goal of decentralization. District colleges and students were more powerful in achieving their goals for higher education than university affiliates due to more state support and sentiment for less expensive, more applied, and shorter programs of study.

In fact, the purpose of higher education in Norway in the year 2000 seems to have shifted back to its original goal of preparing workers. The university is no longer seen as a purely cultural institution, but rather as one that needs to be responsive to corporate and consumer demands and where efficiency is prized. Providing a more skilled work force that can help Norway compete in the international economy is the desire of many Norwegians and Parliament. District colleges have shorter and more occupational oriented programs and became available to more students in more locations across the country in the 1990s. In 2000, Norway had 26 district colleges. Faculty at district colleges are primarily responsible for teaching. Universities, on the other hand, remained traditional in their orientation and actively resisted calls to be more practically oriented in their teaching programs. In 2000, the public debate about higher education focused on whether or not the higher education system is too centered on examinations and the certification of students as opposed to learning for its own sake.

The higher education system is essentially state-owned. University teachers are civil servants, and in fact, the Parliament is responsible for establishing any new professorships. A high degree of autonomy exists, and academic institutions are important regional forces, but their budgets are fully controlled by the government. One percent of the Gross National Product (GNP) of Norway was spent on higher education in 1990, while all education costs consumed about 5.8 percent of the GNP. Higher education institutions generally regard their budgets as tight and lobby for an increase in expenditures. About 25 percent of all of the research and development done in Norway is undertaken by higher education institutions. Most of this is basic research and occurs at universities, but applied research and development has proliferated at district colleges in recent years. Research funding is provided through university budgets, along with public and private contracts.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Education is controlled and funded by the central government. Government regulations cover such issues as class size, length of school year, teaching obligations, and minimum number of lessons offered. Even teacher salaries are controlled by the central government as teachers are civil servants and, as such, must lobby public employee salary regulations to impact their pay. Of course, education is also effected by government regulations concerning safety, buildings, and work environment. On the other hand, local governments control the number and location of schools, the hiring of teachers, and the maintenance of their schools. All comprehensive and upper secondary schools are under the control of the Ministry of Church and Education. On a day to day basis, primary and lower secondary schools are administered by local community authorities, and upper secondary schools are administered by the county or region. Each of the 20 counties in Norway have a school board. Members of each board are appointed by the county council which must give each political party representation on the school board in the proportion to which that party is represented on the county council. County school boards are responsible for the teachers and principals, and the county council votes on the annual budget for the school.

The central government finances the bulk of education in Norway. About 40 percent of compulsory education, 60 percent of upper secondary education, and a full 100 percent of higher education is paid by the central government. Local municipalities cover the remaining expenses. Previously, primary and secondary schools had been funded by specific grants for clearly specified activities or projects. In 1985, in an effort to transfer decisionmaking in education from the central government to local municipalities, the financing of schools was altered. A lump sum is now given to local municipalities to fund all central government services, including education. Local governments must now decide how much to allocate to education. It is generally believed that education has received more funding from this method, not less, as education is a priority in local communities. For higher education institutions, the budgets provided by the central government are a frame for decision making.

In order to facilitate developments in education, a law in 1954 established the Council for Innovation in Education (Forsoksradet ). This was the national center for research and development in education. Concerns had been raised that previous educational reforms had not been fully informed by research or testing. This council was charged with assuring educational leaders that any future innovations would be an improvement over what already exists. Experimental forms of schools and educational techniques were advanced and tested under the direction of this council, which served as a consultant to the Department of Church and Education and was responsible for a variety of reforms as described above.

Nonformal Education

Nonformal education was widely available at the end of the nineteenth century as some young people, upon finishing folk school, wanted more yet did not want to participate in college preparatory programs. Clubs or groups revolving around literature, sports, and music developed. In 1999, adult education courses numbered 61,319, and 681,845 Norwegians participated in one of these courses. Participation was distributed by age as follows: 187,626 participated from the 14- to 29-year-old group, 240,783 participated from the 30- to 49-year-old group, and 158,793 participants in adult education courses were over 50 years of age; some of the ages of participants are unknown.

The variety of nonformal or adult education opportunities are immense. Extensive programs for employment training are provided by the Ministry of Labour and Local Affairs. These programs are usually housed at institutions of higher education. Private corporations also provide their employees with numerous training courses, as do the large local public utilities. Another source of adult education in Norway comes from volunteer organizations. These organizations may be affiliated with religious institutions, trade associations, or political parties. More formal adult education programs are offered by district colleges by universities. The government encourages the participation of the disabled in these programs by offering special appropriations for accommodating programs. More than a quarter of adult Norwegians participate in at least one adult education course each year. In recent years, adult education programs have seen budgetary cuts that have resulted in fewer offerings. The desire to participate does not seemed to have changed, but government cutbacks in education have been focused on these kinds of opportunities.

Teaching Profession

Teacher training for compulsory education occurs mainly in teacher training colleges in a program that lasts four years. Primary school teachers were qualified after three years of schooling until 1992 when the training requirements were enhanced. It was felt that compulsory education teachers needed more depth and breadth in their subject education. The fourth year then became devoted to specialized study, along with education theory. In addition, the first three years of teacher training are now more constrained with fewer optional courses. This added structure insures that teachers receive more instruction in the main subjects taught in the first few years of compulsory school. Twenty teacher education colleges provide elementary teacher preparation. Upper secondary teachers must have a full university degree or professional experience in a vocational field, along with pedagogical training. Secondary teacher training is available at four universities and eight other institutions of higher education. All teacher education programs were standardized in the mid-1990s. The emphasis was on strengthening subject education and developing reflective teachers and a cooperative mentor-focused culture for educators. This was to ensure cohesion across diverse parts of the educational system and to allow for educational content to be adjusted as needs or trends in Norway dictate.

Teachers enjoyed much public support and great respect through the 1960s. In the 1970s, the developing oil industry required more infrastructure, and the public became concerned with health care and other kinds of services. The result has been less remuneration and respect for teachers, especially in comparison to growing salaries in the private sector. Teachers also complain of diminished facilities and increasing responsibilities. In 1999, the number of teachers who worked in primary and lower secondary schools, upper secondary schools, colleges, and universities numbered 110,500. This number increased by 1,400 from the previous year. Across all schools, 30 percent of teachers worked part-time in 1999. Primary school teachers have the highest percentage of part-time teachers (33 percent), while in comparison only about 20 percent of university teachers work part-time. The average age for teachers in Norway is 44.7.

Academics in Norway were considered part of the educated class (Akademikerne ) and, for most of the nineteenth century, part of the political elite. Academics had a large role in the cultural and social development of Norway. The original pedagogical purpose of the university was to prepare students for a vocation. To become an academic before the early 1980s required a two year masters-like program called the magister degree. Increasingly academic departments developed Ph.D. programs, including more structured course requirements and research work. By 1990, the doctorate was generally considered a minimum requirement for a permanent university position. Doctoral students are paid comparable to laborers outside of academics, and unlike other countries, most in Norway stay at the same university throughout their careers. This may be a function of the small higher education system in Norway and may also lend itself to the influence of a small group of senior academics and favoritism.

In higher education, beginning in the late 1960s, the equalization of both the status and the working conditions of academics was advanced. A hierarchy consisting of the sciences (amamuensises ), medicine (prosektors ), and arts and sciences (lecturers ) had existed prior to this time. Lecturers had more teaching responsibilities than the other academic groupings. Work conditions were homogenized as duties for each grouping were moved to about half of their work activities devoted to teaching and half to research. Faculty boards also became less hierarchical. While department chairs and deans had occupied faculty boards, representation was extended to all levels of faculty.


Norway has achieved a remarkable educational system. Adult literacy exceeds 99 percent, and school expectancy for a five-year-old in Norway was 17.7 years in 1998, one of the highest school expectancy rates of any country. For Norwegians age 25- to 34-years-old, 93 percent have completed upper secondary education, a rate that compares with Japan and is among the best in the world. Norway excels in educational attainment for women as well. The percentage of Norwegian women who have a tertiary level of education is exceeded only in the United States. While many more men than women have at least an upper secondary education in the 55- to 64-year-old age group, among those aged 25 to 34, 31 percent of Norwegian women and 24 percent of Norwegian men have completed a tertiary education program.

Although a prominent goal of the national educational system in Norway is to provide the same quality education to all Norwegians, some disparity still exists. For example, parental education is an indicator of children's level of education. Of all the students enrolled at Norwegian universities and scientific colleges, 23 percent had parents with a post-graduate degree, and another 31 per cent had parents with up to a 4 year tertiary degree. Only one in three had parents with only an upper secondary school education. For the state colleges, the corresponding percentages were smaller with 8 percent of students having parents with a post-graduate degree, and 25 percent having parents with up to a 4-year tertiary degree. More than 50 percent had parents with an education at the upper secondary school level. In addition to parental education, gender also seems to play a large role in educational choices. Norway's achievement is that opportunities are available to all, even though there are still significant group differences in educational outcomes.

The school system in Norway then has come quite close to achieving its primary goal of a high quality education available to all citizens, regardless of geographical location, ethnicity, gender, social class, or any other consideration. The system is subject though to constant revision. Some of the prominent issues in education for Norway at the beginning of the twenty-first century concern the development of preschool programs, including the availability of kindergartens, the decentralization of education affairs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of such a comprehensive school system. While the state provides school funding and has a strong interest in maintaining uniformity across the system in terms of the quality and the structure of education, decision making power is being dispersed to local school administrators. This philosophy of decentralization is sought in a variety of realms, extending beyond the educational system in Norway. Likewise, efficiency and effectiveness are prized across systems in Norway as this country's economic well being is tied to oil prices, and Norway has had experience with economic recession. In the vast and complex national school system then, budget cuts are common and a source of much contention. Finally, Norwegians are especially concerned that their educational system prepare their citizens to compete in a world market. The inclusion of technology in education and the development of a highly skilled workforce are key components of future educational reforms.


Aamodt, Per O. "Floods, Bottlenecks and Backwaters: An Analysis of Expansion of Higher Education in Norway." Higher Education 30 (1995): 63-80.

Statistics Norway. 2000. Available from

Eide, Kjell. "The Future of European Education as Seen from the North." Comparative Education 28 (1992): 9-17.

Huss, Helen. The Education of Children and Youth in Norway. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960.

Kogan, Maurice, Marianne Bauer, Ivar Bleiklie and Mary Henkel. Transforming Higher Education: A Comparative Study. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2000.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Reviews of National Policies of Education: Norway. Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 1990.

Rust, Val D. The Democratic Tradition and the Evolution of Schooling in Norway. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Melanie Moore

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Kingdom of Norway

Kongeriket Norge



Norway is situated in the western and northern parts of the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe. It is bordered on the north by the Barents Sea (an arm of the Arctic Ocean), on the northeast by Finland and Russia, on the east by Sweden, on the south by Skagerrak Strait and the North Sea, and on the west by the Norwegian Sea. The Norwegian coastline extends for about 2,740 kilometers (1,700 miles) and with all its deeply cut fjords and islands it totals about 21,930 kilometers (13,620 miles) in length. These islands form an internal waterway protected from the ocean, and Norway's name, meaning "northern way," reflects the importance of that route for linking the country's large number of small isolated fjord and valley settlements separated by icy rugged mountains. Norway has a land area of 324,220 square kilometers (125,182 square miles), making it slightly larger than New Mexico. Located in the south, Oslo is Norway's capital and largest city; Bergen is the cultural center of western Norway and the second-largest city with a population of 225,439. Other important urban centers include Trondheim and Stavanger.


The population of Norway was estimated at 4,481,162 in 2000; in 1998 it was 4,419,955. Due to its far northern location and mountainous landscape, the country has the lowest population density in continental Europe, with only 11 persons per square kilometer (28.5 per square mile). However, the population is very unevenly distributed across the country, with over half concentrated in the southeast, in and around the capital of Oslo. In contrast, the northernmost Finnmark and other remote districts have very small populations. The migration from the countryside and the increasing urbanization of the population, despite heavy regional governmental spending, have become a source of concern in Norway in recent years. More than three-quarters of the population live within about 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) of the sea, and some 74 percent live in urban areas.

The population of Norway is growing very slowly, with an annual rate of increase of only 0.44 percent in 1998. Norway's life expectancy was among the highest in the world in that year: 79 years for all82 years for women and 76 years for men, up from 76 years for women and 71 for men in 1965. Like much of Europe, the population is aging. One-third of the people were aged under 20 in 1971, but by 1999 the number had fallen to just over a quarter while the percentage over the age of 70 increased from 8.4 percent to 11.6 percent. In 1999, the population grew by 0.7 percent, the biggest population increase since the early 1950s. This was, however, due to a large net immigration of around 19,000 people, mostly Danes and Swedes, who filled in gaps in the employment market for medical professions and others. The fertility rate is currently around 1.8 children per woman, up from a low of 1.7 in 1985 but still far below the replacement level of 2.1. (Replacement levels help determine population growth. If one couple has 2 children, this is enough to "re-place" themselves. So if a replacement level for a society is significantly above or below 2, then the society may be growing or shrinking in overall population.) In line with the increase in the overall population size, the labor force has also expanded. In 1999, it was 2.33 million, compared to 2.19 million in 1995.

Much like the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden), the proportion of foreign citizens living in Norway is still relatively low by western European standards. The population is ethnically homogenous, and most Norwegians are Scandinavians of Germanic descent. Almost all Norwegians are fluent in English, and most of them have some cultural and family ties to the United States. Apart from about 20,000 Saami and some people of Finnish origin in the north, the country has no other significant minority groups, although there are also small numbers of Danes, Swedes, Britons, Pakistanis, Americans, Iranians, and former Yugoslavs.

At the beginning of 1999, there were 178,686 foreign citizens living in Norway (or around 4 percent of the total population), about one-third of these having come from the other Nordic states. One-sixth of all foreign citizens were registered as refugees, the largest group of them coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina's civil war in 1991-95. There were slightly more than 67,000 persons who had arrived initially with refugee status, but nearly half of them opted for Norwegian citizenship. Instances of racially and ethnically motivated violence have been growing in number in recent years despite the relatively low numbers of foreigners. Religious groups in Norway include Evangelical Lutherans, at 86 percent (state church); other Protestants and Roman Catholics, 3 percent; no religion, 10 percent; and others, 1 percent, all in 1997.


Given the country's size, Norway's economy is small by western European standards but is nevertheless considered among the healthiest in the world, largely due to its positive trade balance and lack of foreign debt . The country is widely hailed as an exemplary and prosperous combination of a social welfare state , dynamic free market activity, and active government intervention. Its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is among the world's highest, at US$28,100 in 1999, or about 18 percent higher than the western European average, ranking second only to tiny Luxembourg's in western Europe.

The country is rich in natural resources, including offshore oil and natural gas fields in the North Sea, abundant hydropower in the mountains, fish, forests, and minerals. It is a major exporter of oil and natural gas, other raw materials, and semi-processed goodsall of which make it highly dependent on international oil and gas prices for its revenues. In 2000, only Saudi Arabia exported more crude oil than Norway. But other major industries are prospering too, such as information technologies, fishing, pulp and paper products, and shipbuilding. The latter industry is under increasingly heavy competition from overseas (mostly Asian) shipyards, and fishing is heavily subsidized by the state. Norway's overall trade balance is characterized by an unusually large traditional surplus (of over US$18 billion in 1999-2000), it has no foreign debt, and is a major international net creditor and donor to the developing countries. Total foreign direct investment in Norway was estimated at about US$22.7 billion in 1998, according to the central bank of the country. The United States is Norway's leading foreign investor, followed by neighboring Sweden and other European Union (EU) members.

For quite some time, Norway was preparing for EU membership, but, contrary to its Nordic neighbors Sweden and Denmark, Norway's citizens decisively opted to stay out of the EU in 2 referenda held in 1972 and 1994. In doing so, Norway apparently hopes to preserve in relative isolation its unique economic advantages and high living standards. Norway is still linked to the EU, however, through the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement that granted favorable access for most Norwegian non-agricultural products to the EU markets. Norway is improving its access to the European markets also by adopting internally most of the EU regulations. But its major focus at the turn of the century is rather on curbing extensive welfare spending and planning for the time when petroleum and natural gas reserves will be depleted. This is expected in less than 20 years for oil and less than 90 years for natural gas reserves at the present level of extraction and if no new fields are located.


Norway, like its Nordic neighbors Sweden and Denmark, has preserved its traditional political system of a constitutional hereditary monarchy. The parliament (Storting) is elected through a proportional system every 4 years in September (the most recent parliamentary elections occurred in 2001). In recent years, there have been 3 major factions of the 165-seat Storting. First is the Labor Party, historically the largest local party, with a social democratic and internationalist character, supported by the Socialist Left Party (the 2 groups have a total 74 seats). Then there are the 3 centrist parties: the Christian Democrats, the Center Party, and the Liberals (with a total of 42 seats). Finally there are 2 right-wing parties: the Conservative Party and the Progress Party (with a total of 48 seats). The centrist partieshistorically associated with particular, often contradictory, group interests and constituencies (such as the remote rural regions)have acquired greater political clout. But Norwegian parliamentary politics has a strong tradition for consensus and continuity, and minority governments usually seek and strike legislative agreements with several different opposition parties regarding the specific political issues at stake. Because of the conflicting interests their members and supporters represent, center-right parties have generally found cooperation difficult, both in government and in opposition.

The prime minister, the head of government, is selected by the majority in the parliament and is only formally appointed by the king. The prime minister appoints his cabinet, composed of 18 ministers. The most influential ministerial offices are traditionally those for finance, industry, shipping, petroleum and energy, and foreign affairs. The administrative structure of the ministries changes frequently from one administration to the next. The fact that the Labor government of Jens Stoltenberg, the ambitious young prime minister chosen in 2000, does not have a clear parliamentary majority has contributed to its centrist political course along the lines of most previous Norwegian administrations. The son of a well-known political family, Stoltenberg is a former oil and energy minister expected to accelerate the privatization of state-held offshore oil and gas concerns.

In a November 1994 referendum, Norwegians decisively rejected (for the second time) EU membership simply because the net benefit of joining appeared to the majority dubious, considering Norway's petroleum wealth and strong ties with the EU through the EEA. The majority in 1994 was of the opinion that the country had more to lose than to win from a full EU membership that would, in their view, jeopardize the heavy subsidies for the Norwegian fishing industry, agriculture, rural regions, and welfare system. EU membership, however, is attractive for the Labor government in the long term, especially given the depletion of oil and gas fields, and the membership issue may be reviewed after the September 2001 election, particularly if the party stays in power. The population remains dramatically split, as is the Labor party itself, with the national leadership more in favor of joining the EU than the rank-and-file party members and the regional bodies. Norway has already had some negative political experiences arising from not being an EU member. As a member of NATO (a military alliance of several western European countries along with the United States and Canada), it has voiced concerns after the EU's decision taken at the summit in Nice, France, in 2000, to develop the much-debated European rapid reaction force. Norway requested to be consulted on equal terms with the rest of the EU members on the issue, fearing that it might not be properly integrated into the negotiations and troop deployment process and alienated from decision-making regarding the European force.

Norway's economy remains an essentially mixed one, with economic policies and, particularly, income distribution patterns strongly influenced by government intervention. There is still a very significant state ownership component in petroleum, telecommunications, and commercial banking. The state extensively subsidizes agriculture, fishing, some large manufacturing companies, and remote northern and mountainous regions with scarce resources. An extensive government welfare system redistributing incomes through taxes remains at the core of the Norwegian economic model. The government also heavily stresses curbing unemployment and maintaining economic opportunities in remote and undeveloped areas. The private sector dominates in industries such as shipping, services outside the banking sector, and small to medium-scale manufacturing facilities. In 1999, the contribution of the private sector in GDP was one of the lowest in western Europe, at just 48.5 percent, compared to an average of 56.6 percent. There is indeed some political discussion about the future reduction of public sector ownership, and a government privatization program has been set up.

The most significant privatization deals in Norway by 2000 were probably the sale of 21 percent of the stock of the state-owned Telenor telecommunications firm, the sale of 91 percent of the equity of the state-controlled Christiania Bank (Kreditkassen) to Swedish-Finnish banking operation MeritaNordbanken, and the planned partial privatization of the government-owned oil giant Statoil. The Labor Party's plan involves the privatization of about one-third of Statoil, about 10 percent via the stock markets and about 20 percent through alliances with foreign companies, most likely with large western European utilities like Ruhrgas of Germany or Gaz de France. Norway may also offer foreign investors over half of the State Direct Financial Interest fields contributing for some 40 percent of the offshore petroleum production in the country. In 1999, Statoil was roughly estimated to be worth about 120 billion Norwegian kroner but it may be more highly valued in the future if international oil prices remain higher than the level they were at in 1999. Norsk Hydro, the second large oil company in which the government also has a controlling share, is reckoned to be worth considerably less than Statoil. The government, however, seems determined to keep the most profitable oil fields under its control.

Although a social welfare economy, Norway's tax rates are generally lower than the EU average. Companies and their branches are subject to both income and capital tax. Income tax of 28 percent applies to all forms of income of the corporate bodies and all other entities liable to taxation. The value-added tax (VAT) was increased to a 24 percent rate as of 1 January 2001, and an 11 percent dividend tax for shareholders may be introduced in 2002 to support generous domestic welfare spending. Norway has no foreign debt and is a major net external creditor.


The quality of the Norwegian transportation infrastructure is quite good, although its high mountains and deeply cut valleys and fjords combined with a severe northern climate make inland transportation difficult during the winter months. Railroads are located mostly in the south while most of the northern regions are accessible only by ship, car, or aircraft. The importance the government attaches to regional issues and to investments in transport and communications is significant since many tunnels, bridges, and ferryboat services are indispensable in many parts of the country.

In 1999, the road network totaled 90,741 kilometers (57,000 miles), the majority being concentrated in the more populated areas, especially in and around Oslo. The 4,023 kilometer-long railroad system is also concentrated in the south of the country, connecting Oslo with the larger towns, notably Bergen and Stavanger, and leading to neighboring Sweden. A high-speed railroad connects the new international airport at Gardemoen with downtown

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Norway 588 915 579 160.1 474 50.0 373.4 754.15 2,000
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Germany 311 948 580 214.5 170 73.1 304.7 173.96 14,400
Sweden 445 932 531 221.4 464 50.9 361.4 581.47 3,666
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Oslo. The state railroad company, Norges Statsbaner, also provides local commuter services in the urbanized areas of Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.

Air transport is very popular and there are 58 airports in the country, 22 of which are the properties of the state. In the 1990s, sizeable public investment was invested in modernizing the larger airports, and in 1998 a new international airport opened at Gardemoen, 50 kilometers north of the capital. The new air terminal, conceived as a showcase for the country's new oil prosperity, had severe financial problems in its first year of service and the plans for a second terminal have been suspended for the time being. The government (along with Sweden and Denmark) holds a 29 percent stake in the pan-Scandinavian air company Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS). SAS is partnering with, among others, Lufthansa (Germany), New Zealand Air, and United Airlines (U.S.) to form the Star Alliance, competing successfully in the global aviation markets. There are also a number of smaller private Norwegian airlines, the best known of which is the Braathens, serving both domestic and international destinations.

Norway relies on shipping as a vital component of its transportation system. Ports are securely built, and there are many ice-free harbors on the coastline. The west and north coasts from Bergen to the Russian border form an important international shipping route for passengers and cargo from the Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean, and many ferry lines carry automobiles from Norway to Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Dependence on local ferryboat services remains very significant, including in the Oslo and Bergen urban areas.

Norway is still one of the foremost shipping nations in the world, and it offers extensive shipping and shipbuilding services, notably ship owning, brokerage, and shipyards. Norwegian merchant shipping companies own some 10 percent of the world's total fleet, and the fleet of offshore service ships is the world's second-largest in tonnage due mostly to the country's huge oil and gas industry. Norway is especially influential in the sphere of specialized and complex vessels, as Norwegian companies, among other things, control about 25 percent of the world's passenger cruise boats and close to 20 percent of all the world's chemical tankers and gas carriers.

Norway's energy production, as well as its usage per capita, ranks steadily among the highest in the world. Industry (especially the very energy-intensive aluminum and ferro-alloy industries) consumes 66 percent of all energy. Norway is one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world, yet hydropower accounts for almost all electricity generation. About 60 percent of all exploitable water resources have already been utilized. Other renewable energy sources in the country are rather limited, and there is a single atomic power plant which has not yet been used for large-scale electricity generation. The domestic energy market was deregulated in 1991, boosting the already significant competition for large power consumers. Power is now sold by the utilities directly to the large-scale users or is instead traded on the NordPool, a fully developed international electricity market, covering Norway, Sweden, and Finland, the first one of its kind in Europe. Domestic electricity production, however, has been insufficient to meet rising demand, forcing Norway to import energy, mostly from Denmark. Over the 1990s, Norway planned to construct 2 new gas power plants in the west, but the debate over the increased pollution from these literally brought down one of the previous governments. The cabinet in office in 2001 supports the plans but still has to offset strong public opposition. It is also considering other possibilities, however, such as recycled and renewable energy sources, and plans to sharply curb electricity consumption.

Norway's telecommunications infrastructure is one of the most developed in the world, with a complete digitization of the telephone network. The number of fast Internet connections, such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) subscriptions, is rising very rapidly, reaching around 460,000 in 1999. Norway is a world leader in the development and use of mobile phone technologies. In 1999, the number of mobile phone lines surpassed that of the fixed ones, the former amounting to 2.6 million compared with 2.3 million for the latter. This rapid development comes partly from the country's liberalized telecommunications market, which has been open to foreign competition since 1998. Despite this competition, the state-owned telecommunications group, Telenor, has managed to maintain a large share of the market. Attempts to merge the group with its Swedish counterpart, Telia, were aborted in late 1999, forcing the government to consider alternative plans. In 2000, the Norwegian government said it would privatize between 15 percent and 25 percent of Telenor in 2001, reducing its holding to 51 percent of the company.

Electronic commerce and use of the Internet are also on the rise and by 2000, 63 percent of the Norwegians had access to the Internet and about 340,000 customers bought goods and services online every month.


Like most of its Western European counterparts, the Norwegian economy has undergone significant structural changes over the last decades of the 20th century. It has become increasingly services-oriented, while the once leading sectors of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing have gradually declined in terms of contribution to GDP. In 1999, agriculture, forestry and fishing although still employing 4 percent of the labor forceaccounted for 2.2 percent of GDP in 1998. Industry as a whole accounted for 26.3 percent of GDP while services, including those provided by the government, accounted for 71.5 percent of GDP. This distribution is much like that of other Western European countries, except that the offshore oil and gas sector is much larger in Norway.

In 1995, the labor force was distributed by occupation as follows: services, 74 percent; industry, 22 percent; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing, 4 percent. The capital-intensive offshore oil sector absorbs only 3 percent of the labor force.


Agriculture in Norway accounts for about 2 percent of annual GDP, and only 3 percent of the land is cultivatedwhich seems natural, given the cold climate, thin soils, and mountainous terrain. Grains are grown only in the south while western Norway has some livestock raising and dairy farming. The leading crops in 1998 were cerealsparticularly barley, wheat, and oats (total output of 1.3 million metric tons)and potatoes (400,320 tons). In 1998, there were 2.5 million sheep, 998,400 cattle, and 768,400 hogs in the country. Norway is still a major fishing nation and is self-sufficient in many agricultural products, but fruits, vegetables, and most grains are all imported. Agriculture and fishing remain heavily protected by the Norwegian government.



Mining was of relatively little importance in Norway before oil and natural gas fields were found in the North Sea and offshore drilling began in the early 1970s. In 2000, this sector accounted for about 13 percent of GDP (compared with a peak of 18.5 percent in 1984), and the percentage in any year depends mostly on world oil and gas prices. The sector is still largely state-owned, yet as a consequence of restructuring in the global oil industry in the late 1990s, the government has announced plans to allow some partial privatization of its assets.

Oil production started on an experimental basis in 1971, and in 1974 the first seabed pipeline was installed to bring crude oil to the United Kingdom. In 1997, annual oil output was 1.15 billion barrels and gas production was 45.3 billion cubic meters (1.6 billion cubic feet). Natural gas is now piped to Germany and Scotland. Norway also has several modern petroleum refineries. With the high world oil prices in late 2000, its external trade account remained very strong. The oil and gas sector will continue to play a leading role in the economy over the next several decades although its prominence will decline gradually with the progressive depletion of the deposits. According to the Norwegian state petroleum directorate, the remaining oil and gas resources were expected to last 19 and 87 years, respectively, from 1998 at that year's rates of extraction.

Other raw products mined and processed in Norway include iron ore, lead concentrates, titanium, iron pyrites, coal, zinc, and copper. Major iron mines are located in the far north at Sydvaranger, near the Russian border, and a large integrated iron and steel plant is situated at Mo i Rana, near the Arctic Circle. All the coal is mined in the Svalbard (Spitzbergen) archipelago beyond the Arctic Circle where a coal mining concession is also given to neighboring Russia.


Manufacturing accounts for 1 percent of annual GDP. The electrochemical and electro-metallurgical industries form the leading manufacturing sector. They need an abundance of inexpensive electrical power, which Norway can easily supply. Although all raw materials for the aluminum industry must be imported, Norway produces about 4 percent of the world's output of refined aluminum. It is also a major ferroalloy supplier.

Norway has traditionally been a major shipbuilding nation, but its share of the world's newly built tonnage was less than 1 percent in the mid-1980s. Shipbuilding declined dramatically in the late 1970s as the industry encountered financial problems and Asian competitors carved out larger market shares worldwide. Many shipyards have since shifted capacity to the manufacture of equipment for the oil and gas offshore drilling industries and to transportation. Other manufactures include confections and other food products, chemicals, pulp and paper, and machinery.



The Norges Bank (the central bank) is the executive body for monetary, credit, and exchange policies. It is also the bank of issue . It is a joint-stock company with the government holding all the shares. Major players in the Norwegian banking sector include some large full-service banks active in the wholesale and retail sectors and many small private retail institutions. Commercial banks are influential and have close relationships with trade and industry, but merchant banks have not reached the prominent position they enjoy elsewhere in Europe. There is also a wide range of savings banks with a long tradition, serving a substantial part of the local credit market. The Norwegian Post Office also keeps its own banking network. There are several specialized smaller banks serving the fisheries, agriculture, shipping, industry, house building, and export trades. The government participates in all of them to various degrees. Banking in Norway is very modern, automated, and computerized. Banking activities are regulated by several pieces of legislation such as the Commercial Banking Act, the Savings Bank Act, and the Act on Financing and Finance Institutions. The liberalization of the sector in the 1990s allowed foreign banks to operate in the country.


Tourism accounts for around 15 percent of total service revenues. In 1998, there were 1,176 hotels with a total capacity of over 137,000 beds, and nearly 1,000 registered campsites existed. In 1998, foreigners accounted for 32 percent of hotel guest nights, much less than in previous years. The country's main attractions are its picturesque coastline and its fjords, and it boasts a number of well-known ski resorts (Norway has hosted winter Olympic games and other major international sporting events).


Mainly as a result of Norway's relatively small domestic market, retailers have been unable to develop into major international players and have remained small even by the modest Nordic standards. In retail, the best-known companies include Rimi, Rema 1000, Kiwi, and ICA. Direct marketing is gaining some ground, and e-commerce is particularly robust as almost two-thirds of the population had access to personal computers in 2000.


Norway's economy is comparatively small and highly dependent on international trade and oil and gas prices, yet it seems less open than the western European average. In 1998, its exports and imports of goods and services accounted for only 38.9 percent and 33 percent of GDP, respectively. Chief export partners include the EU countries with 77 percent of exports (United Kingdom, 17 percent; Germany, 12 percent; Netherlands, 10 percent; Sweden, 10 percent; France, 8 percent), and the United States at 7 percent. Imports were shipped mostly from the EU with 69 percent (Sweden, 15 percent; Germany, 14 percent; the UK, 10 percent; Denmark, 7 percent), the United States at

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Norway
exports Imports
1975 7.232 9.705
1980 18.562 16.926
1985 19.985 15.556
1990 34.047 27.231
1995 41.992 32.968
1998 39.645 36.193
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

7 percent, and Japan with 4 percent (1998). Norway has a strongly positive balance of trade, and its surplus increased in 1999 and 2000 due to the increase in the volume of oil exports and the higher average international oil prices. Exports in 1999 stood at US$47.3 billion while imports stood at US$38.6 billion.

Energy and raw and semi-processed goods (oil, metals, and chemicals) still account for some 80 percent of Norwegian exports. The rest consists of exports of machinery and equipment, and various manufactured goods. In 1998, petroleum accounted for some 40 percent of exports, followed by metals and metal products, chemicals, and foodstuffs (mostly fish and fish products). The bulk of imports (55 percent) consisted of machinery, automobiles, equipment, and various manufactured items, followed by industrial raw materials, notably ores for the aluminum industry (40 percent) and food and beverages (6 percent).


Norway's financial and banking industries are following the general consolidation trend characterizing the global and the Nordic financial sector in the 1990s, yet with greater reluctance than elsewhere, largely due to its independent, somewhat insular, mindset that has kept Norway outside the EU for so long. In the late 1990s, for example, the centrist coalition government did all it could

Exchange rates: Norway
Norwegian kroner per US$1
Jan 2001 8.7784
2000 8.8018
1999 7.7992
1998 7.5451
1997 7.0734
1996 6.4498
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

to prevent the sale of the second-largest Norwegian commercial bank, Christiania Kreditkassen, to the Scandinavian (Finnish-Swedish) conglomerate MeritaNordbanken. The government preferred a domestic Norwegian solution to the problem, potentially involving the country's largest bank, Den Norske Bank, the majority of which is state-owned.

Norway's financial system is still afflicted by a banking crisis of the early 1990s. The origin of that crisis dated back to 1984, when the dropping of lending limitations combined with very low interest rates led to a vast expansion of debt among Norwegian households and businesses. Households were not able to meet their repayments, and bankruptcies among companies increased when macroeconomic policies were tightened in response to rising inflation . In 1990 Christiania Kreditkassen and the third-largest commercial bank, Fokus Bank, were almost brought to insolvency. In 1991, to prevent a confidence crisis, the government created a bank insurance fund that provided resources for the country's largest commercial banks. As a result, the state became a major shareholder in these banks.

The Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE) is still very small by international standards, with 215 listed companies and an annual turnover of US$57.1 billion (1999), but it performs well mostly due to the interest in information technology and high-tech stocks in recent years. Yet the largest companies in terms of market capitalization still originate from the "old economy": Norsk Hydro (oil), Orkla (consumer products), and Den Norske Bank and Christiania Kreditkassen (banking). Foreign investors held 31 percent of the equity listed on the OSE in 1999, and their share has been relatively constant since 1994. Equity (stock) ownership has become popular in Norwegian society, although to a lesser degree than it is in the United States, with 7 percent of the population holding shares. The OSE is a partner in the Norex alliance, consisting of stock exchanges from Denmark and Sweden, and these 3 indexesplus Iceland'splan to begin trading on a new electronic system in 2001.

Government finances and external trade balance are both in surplus, and Norwegian interest rates are higher than the euro area rates. The Norwegian krone's appreciation against the euro throughout 1999 and 2000 was largely due to these factors.


Norwegians enjoy a healthy economy with strong socialist traditions in equitable income distribution and generous welfare spending. Living standards are high, but so is the cost of living. Norway's Gini index score (which rates social equality in a country, with a score of 0 indicating perfect equality and a score of 100 indicating perfect

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Norway 19,022 23,595 27,113 28,840 36,806
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Germany N/A N/A N/A N/A 31,141
Sweden 21,157 22,283 24,168 26,397 27,705
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

inequality) in 1995 was 25.8, far below those of other affluent economies such as the United States (40.8), the United Kingdom (36.1), and Switzerland (33.1), which means that there are few very large private fortunes and virtually no blatant poverty in the country. The unemployment rate was estimated at 2.9 percent in 1999, and consumer price inflation was 2.3 percent in 1998, both much lower than the western European averages. The extensive welfare system helps keep public expenditures steady at more than one-half of GDP.

Despite high per capita income and generous welfare benefits, many Norwegians worry about the time when oil and gas begin to run out in the next 2 decades. As in other Nordic countries, many young and educated Norwegians consider moving abroad partly in pursuit of greater personal challenge.


The Norwegian economy is characterized by strong socialist and labor union traditions. The annual wage growth averaged 6.3 percent in 1998, and manufacturing workers' hourly wages were 30-40 percent higher than in the United States. Safety at work and environmental protection are among the most advanced in the world, and the average working time is 37.5 hours per week. Senior executives in Norway, however, are paid considerably less than their U.S. colleagues.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Norway
Lowest 10% 4.1
Lowest 20% 9.7
Second 20% 14.3
Third 20% 17.9
Fourth 20% 22.2
Highest 20% 35.8
Highest 10% 21.8
Survey year: 1995
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

In 1999, unemployment dropped to 2.9 percent (from 4.1 percent in 1997) due to the continuing economic growth. While skilled and semi-skilled labor has been traditionally available, strong economic expansion since 1992 has led to shortages of some categories of professionals (mostly medical doctors and nurses) and construction workers. The government has a practice of imposing mandatory wage mediation in the event strikes threaten to disrupt the economy seriously. In 1998, for example, the cabinet ordered striking air traffic controllers' and health workers' unions to return their members to work.



King Harald I the Fairhair reigns over the first Norwegian kingdom, which is later disbanded into small feudal states. Vikings begin exploration and invasions all over Europe, settling in the late 9th century in Ireland, Britain, Iceland, the Orkney Islands, the Faeroe Islands, and the Shetland Islands.

985. King Eric the Red leads an expedition to Greenland. His son, Leif Ericson, is among the first Europeans

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Norway 16 7 11 5 4 6 51
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Germany 14 6 7 2 10 7 53
Sweden 17 5 12 4 14 6 41
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

to explore North America. Other Vikings settle in France, becoming ancestors of the Normans.

995. King Olaf I, a scion of Harald I, takes to Christianizing Norway and is later canonized as Norway's patron saint.

1035. Olaf's son, Magnus I, returns from Russia to the throne and unites Denmark and Norway. For 3 centuries, native kings rule Norway, which begins to emerge as a nation, enjoying a comparative prosperity due to its merchant fleet.

1397. Norway becomes a neglected part of Denmark when Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are put into a single administrative unit. Prosperity and culture decline in Norway as the plague decimates the population. For 4 centuries under the Danish rule the country remains largely stagnant.

1799-1815. Norwegian nationalism starts to rise. In 1814 Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden. The Norwegians declare independence, but European powers force them to accept Swedish rule. They are allowed in return to retain their new constitution and have autonomy with a legislature, army, navy, and customs within their boundaries.

1905. The Norwegians vote for independence from Sweden. The new liberal Norwegian government becomes one of the most advanced in Europe in the area of unemployment, insurance benefits, old-age pensions, and liberal laws on divorce and illegitimacy.

1913. Norwegian women are given the right to vote, and the government promotes equality in the workplace and other progressive policies. Women begin to play an important role in politics.

1914. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark agree to stay neutral in World War I.

1935. The Labor Party is elected to office and continues the policies of moderation and political liberalism dominating domestic politics since 1905.

1940. Norway's traditional neutrality notwithstanding, German forces invade the country in World War II, and a resistance movement in the country cooperates with the government-in-exile in London.

1945. The Labor Party takes office (after Germany surrenders) and remains in power for 20 years. Norway develops a social democratic welfare state as the government takes over the planning of the economy, reinforcing positions in international markets, redistributing wealth more equally, and introducing social welfare legislation.

1959. Norway becomes a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

1967. Norway starts a comprehensive social security program.

1970. Norway applies for membership in the European Community (now the EU), but in a referendum in 1972 the voters reject the government's move.

1970s. Oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea fields by a state company begins.

1981. The first woman prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland of the Labor party, takes office.

1994. The European Parliament endorses membership for Norway in the EU, but in a referendum, Norwegians reject joining by about 52 percent to about 48 percent, fearing that it would affect farm subsidies and fishing rights.


Norway will most likely preserve its healthy economy and high living standards over the next decades, although the EU membership controversy will, no doubt, continue to be a major issue in domestic politics.

Privatization will enter the oil industry as Statoil is expected to be partly privatized in 2001. The Labor government will further sell a part of the State Direct Financial Interest in offshore oil production and will continue to invite major foreign investors to the industry. Gradual liberalization of offshore oil licensing policy will attract smaller foreign companies to the sector. Foreign tradeexcept in agriculture, fishing, and energywill gradually become more and more regulated by the EU through the EEA.

Norway is seriously planning for the time when oil and gas will become depleted and is not very likely to experience significant economic disruption and social hardship once this happens. Yet a serious restructuring of the economy is expected to occur, and social welfare spending may be put to some considerable strain. The perspective of losing the oil wealth may also convince the majority of Norwegians to opt for EU membership in the long run.


Norway has no territories or colonies.


Bjørnland, Hilde Christiane. Trends, Cycles, and Measures of Persistence in the Norwegian Economy. Oslo-Kongsvinger: Statistisk sentralbyrå, 1995.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Norway. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Galenson, Walter. A Welfare State Strikes Oil: The Norwegian Experience. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986.

Norwegian Trade Council in North America. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Royal Norwegian Embassy in the United States of America. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Norway. <>. Accessed January 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Norway. <>. Accessed January 2001.

Valentin Hadjiyski




Norwegian krone (NOK; also known as Kr). One krone equals 100 øre. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 20 krone, and 50 øre, and notes of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 krone.


Petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, raw materials, metals, chemicals, ships, fish.


Machinery and equipment, automobiles, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs.


US$111.3 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$47.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$38.6 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Norway
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 4,503,440
Language(s): Norwegian (official)
Literacy rate: 100.0%
Area: 324,220 sq km
GDP: 161,769 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 82
Total Circulation: 2,578,000
Circulation per 1,000: 720
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 74
Total Circulation: 365,000
Circulation per 1,000: 102
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 5,705 (Kroner millions)
As % of All Ad dExpenditures: 44.60
Number of Television Stations: 360
Number of Television Sets: 2,030,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 450.8
Number of Cable Subscribers: 826,200
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 183.6
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 530,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 117.7
Number of Radio Stations: 656
Number of Radio Receivers: 4,030,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 894.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 2,200,000
Computers per 1,000: 488.5
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 2,200,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 488.5

Background & General Characteristics

Norway is officially known as the Kingdom of Norway and includes a large mainland, a variety of small islands, and other territories totaling 385,155 square kilometers. Norway lies on the Scandinavian Peninsula and is surrounded by three seas to the west and shares most of its eastern border with Sweden. The northern section of Norway experiences cold winters and weeks of continuous darkness, along with weeks of continuous sun in the summer. The country includes large barren and mountainous regions and had a population of just 4.5 million people in 2001. In 1999 it was estimated that 28 percent of Norwegians live in one of the four largest urban areas, and only these four areas have more than 100,000 inhabitants. Oslo, the capital of Norway, has approximately 500,000 inhabitants; the next largest area, Bergen, has 220,000 inhabitants. Just 15 communities have more than 20,000 inhabitants.

Compared to most countries, Norway's population is overwhelmingly homogeneous. The vast majority of Norwegians are Nordic in heritage and appearance, and more than 60 percent have blue eyes. About 20 percent of Norwegians are under the age of 15, and 38 percent are married. Approximately 85 percent of Norwegians claim membership in the Lutheran Church of Norway, although most are merely nominal members of the state-run church with less than 3 percent attending regular religious services. Freedom to practice any religion is available to all. The language of Norway is German in origin, and modern Norwegian has several dialects but all are understood across Scandinavian countries. One written language, known as Riksmal, or "official language," was in place until about 1850. Landsmal, or "country language," was a written form created out of rural Norwegian dialects. A struggle over these two written forms resulted in both being given equal status. Over 80 percent of schools use Riksmal, now known as Dano-Norwegian (Nynorsk). English is a compulsory subject in school.

Norway was an agricultural society just 100 years ago. In 2000, the three largest sectors of employment were public services (40 percent), commerce, hotels, and restaurants (18 percent), and industry (17 percent). Norway is one of the world leaders in the exportation of petroleum. With an abundance of offshore oil and peaceful political and labor relations, Norway's standard of living is one of the highest in the world. Norwegians also rank among the highest in the world in projected life expectancy. A social democracy, Norway has a parliamentary monarchy with numerous political parties. A strong sense of equality dominates social policy. National health and welfare systems provide for all Norwegians, and include free medical care and full support in retirement or because of disability. Norway offers fully funded education for all Norwegians from 6 years old through a college education, and children are required to attend school for 10 years from the age of 6 until the age of 16. The government attempts to provide a high quality education to all citizens, regardless of geographical location, ethnicity, gender, social class or any other consideration, and is especially concerned that the educational system prepares citizens to compete in a world market. In 2000, among all Norwegians between the ages of 25 and 34 years old, 93 percent had completed at least an upper secondary education. Adult literacy in Norway exceeds 99 percent.

The development of Norway's press began with independence from Denmark in 1814. In the 1300s, clergy distributed handwritten reports of events. Printed reports seem to have begun in the 1600s. Norway's first full newspaper, Norske Intelligenz Seddeler, was established in Bergen in 1763. Censorship by the ruling Danish monarchy limited the content of early newspapers in Norway. By the end of the eighteenth century though, a few newspapers began to criticize the Danish monarchy and were influential in pushing Norway to declare independence. Denmark had ruled Norway for the previous 400 years, but turned over control to Sweden when Napoleon was defeated. To counter this transfer of control, Norwegians quickly created a constitution that called for the most democratic political structure to date, including a parliamentary system, the abolition of any further hereditary titles, and expanded voting privileges. Although a small elite still ruled Norway, this constitution resulted in the limitation of Sweden's control and has been maintained, with the addition of amendments, to this day. With independence and a democratically based constitution, modern Norway was designed to be open, a society in which all children have the right to be literate, and all citizens participate in decision making. A free press was thought to be essential for this and to make an informed nation out of such a dispersed population. To this end, the constitution provided for a free press, similar to the one developed earlier in the constitution of the United States.

The result was that Norwegian newspapers became important sources of information and commentary about the state of affairs in Norway. With industrialization in the middle of the nineteenth century, the press grew and began to participate in the political debates between liberals and conservatives. In fact, newspapers took sides and became associated with specific political parties. This partisan journalism survived through the 1990s. From 1900 until the start of World War II, some 80 newspapers opened their doors. However, many papers were subsequently eliminated with the Nazi occupation of Norway during the war, and many newspaper editors were imprisoned or murdered. Nonetheless, underground newspapers flourished as Norwegians risked their lives to keep their fellow citizens informed about the war and other international events. This news was obtained from short-wave radio broadcasts by the British. When the occupation ended, Norwegians were adamant about re-establishing a fully active and free press.

In 1999, Norway had 233 newspapers serving 117 different communities. For a country of just 4.5 million people, this is a large number of newspapers, although most are small and distributed less than three times a week. The 78 daily newspapers serve 62 different communities across Norway. Oslo, the capital of Norway, with a population of half a million, has nine daily papers and accounts for 42 percent of all newspaper production in the country. Norway has consistently led the world in per capita newspaper reading with an average household reading 1.65 newspapers a day in 1999. Unlike other countries that have experienced a substantial decrease in circulation at the end of the twentieth century, newspaper circulation remained consistent in Norway across the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, the only documented change in these decades was a decrease in the amount of time spent on newspaper reading. In 1999, this figure stood at just over 30 minutes per day. Even with the blossoming of Internet news and numerous radio and television broadcasts of local news, Norwegians remain devoted to printed newspapers for their information.

The large number of small newspapers in this country is attributed to geography and government support. The numerous mountain ranges and fjords mean that the country has many isolated communities that require a unique paper to report on local events. In fact, the local press experienced growth in the 1990s whereas newspapers covering larger areas decreased circulation in that decade. However, in medium-sized cities where a major competitor exists for advertising, smaller, local papers have been challenged. The result is that generally only the larger paper survives, as only 10 communities have two or more local papers competing with one another. The large number of papers in existence is also possible because of economic support from the government. Tax breaks for all papers as well as subsidies for local papers that have small circulation numbers or other competing papers allow many newspapers to survive. This strong support for local presses may also reflect Norwegians distrust of centralized authority.

The largest Oslo newspapers include Aftenposten, Dagbladet, and Verdens Gang. Although these newspapers are available to the entire nation, local community papers dominate their individual markets. Bergen has the Bergens Tidende; Trondheim has the Adresseavisen, and Stavanger has the Stavanger Aftenblad. Popular business papers include Dagens Naeringsliv and Finansavisen. Although large headlines with popular appeal and photographs are prominent in Norwegian papers, the quality and extensiveness of the news reporting is considered high. In fact, the Aftenposten is recognized internationally as one of the elite daily newspapers in the world.

Economic Framework

Welfare capitalism flourishes in Norway. The economy features both free market activity and government control of key sectors, such as the management of Norway's rich natural resources and, in particular, the critical petroleum industry. Norway's economy is quite dependent on exporting oil. In fact, this small country is second only to Saudi Arabia in the amount of oil exported. Privatization of this industry began in 2000. Although Norway's economy is fairly robust at the beginning of the twenty-first century, concern over the expected depletion of petroleum resources in the next couple of decades is mounting. To prepare for this economic adversity, the government has invested internationally and, as of 2000, had investments totaling more than U.S. $43 billion. In 2000 the labor force consisted of 2.4 million workers with unemployment estimated at 3 percent. Despite an economic downturn in the late 1990s, Norway remained one of the top countries in the world in standard of living.

One substantial source of money for newspapers in Norway has been political parties. The party press developed with the political struggle over creating a parliamentary government in the 1800s. The press was the primary means for political debate and influence among citizens as nationally organized parties did not exist at the time. As parties developed, they subsidized newspapers in exchange for representing their political positions. Opposing parties would then subsidize other papers to present competing positions to the public. The economic role of political parties in the subsidy of newspapers flourished following the Nazi occupation. Because many papers were closed down by the German invasion, start-up money was needed to begin papers again. Political parties, in addition to trade unions, stepped in with substantial financial contributions. The 1950s and 1960s brought a downturn in the number of newspapers in Norway. Although advertising income increased during this time, it was unevenly distributed across papers. Large circulation papers received a disproportionate amount of the advertising money available as advertisers believed that the other competing papers in an area did not represent many additional readers. The economics of the newspaper business then led to a decline in political party involvement in the press as party papers typically had smaller circulations and could not survive.

The Norwegian government was then asked to subsidize smaller political presses to keep a diversity of political views available to the public. The cost of supporting all party-related presses in such a large multi-party political system was too high. As a consequence, the government chose to economically support only struggling papers, in particular, those with small circulations or stiff competition from other papers. These are intended to be objective criteria so that the government is contributing to a rich and diverse press, as opposed to advocating a particular political position. Quality of the paper is not a factor in these subsidies, and the government asks for nothing in return for the contribution. The goal is simply to maintain a well-informed and political savvy citizenship. These subsidies were authorized in 1969, and in 2000, the government spent 164 million Norwegian krone, the equivalent of 20.5 million Euro, on newspaper support. This support allowed the party presses to survive much longer than they would have been able to otherwise. Nonetheless, party presses became less economically viable as other methods for transmitting news became popular. With the advent of the state broadcasting system and its public service philosophy of including a wide range of political party views in its programming, party papers became obsolete. Those papers then had a journalistic dilemma of whether to continue to cater to those committed to a single political perspective or to become more comprehensive in the positions presented and risk losing their devoted base of readers. As a result news journalism began to develop in Norway at the beginning of the twentieth century; however, it has been slow to progress, not replacing political-party journalism until the start of the twenty-first century.

Advertising revenues declined substantially for both newspapers and broadcast media in 2001 and at the start of 2002. Moreover, the size of the subsidies provided by the government to enhance diversity in daily presses has declined substantially since 1990. As a result, some media enterprises have gone out of business or merged. In one medium-sized city, Bodo, two large daily newspapers decided to merge because of the loss of advertising revenue. These economic problems have led to concerns about competition, as large conglomerates are created. Although severely criticized for being ineffective, the Norwegian Media Ownership Authority (NMOA) was established in 1999 to prevent concentrations in ownership of the media. This was deemed especially important in light of the fact that only three groups own most of the daily presses and also have substantial interests in broadcast media.

Press Laws

The establishment of a free press in Norway was written into the Norwegian Constitution when it was created in the nineteenth century. Article 100 of that constitution guarantees "liberty of the press." Punishment for any writing is strictly prohibited in the article, except where the writing leads to law-breaking activity, "con-tempt of religion or morality or constitutional power," or is "false and defamatory" of another person. In addition, the article includes the idea that "everyone shall be free to speak [his or her] mind frankly on the administration of the State or on any other subject whatsoever." With the exception of the limitations described in article 100, the press is not restrained in any way by the laws of Norway. However, the press is subject to the laws that apply to any other citizen. Although journalists may conceal their sources, a court can compel them to disclose pertinent information with a penalty of imprisonment if their information is deemed necessary.

In 1994, the Norwegian Press Association adopted an Ethical Code of Practice, covering the obligation of the press to protect freedoms of speech and information distribution and the obligation to offer critical commentary and a diversity of views. Although this is not a legally binding obligation, it serves as an important guideline for behavior for the press and is followed with much diligence. The code also addresses integrity and responsibility. For example, offering any sort of favors to advertisers is prohibited, and presenting accurate and truthful information is expected. Relationships with sources of information are also delineated. According to this national association, the press is obligated to use credible sources and to identify them when there is no need to protect them.

Press laws have not kept pace with changes in the media. For example, senior editors are held legally accountable for newspaper and broadcast media content, but it is unclear who should be held liable for published materials on the Internet. In 2001, a governmental committee was created to determine this. In support of freedom of the press, the national press associations in Norway oppose holding Internet Service Providers (ISPs) responsible for not removing material immediately that some authority deems unlawful, except in the case where a court has made a determination. In an effort to police themselves, a "liability label" has been created by the national association of editors for Webs sites that adhere to association policies. These policies include having an independent editor and agreeing to the other ethical and legal requirements delineated by the association. Many Web sites display this well-recognized label.


Norway prides itself on its free press and does not condone censorship. However, during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II, censorship was prevalent. Journalists and editors were murdered, and many newspapers were shut down. The Germans tightly controlled the content of the remaining newspapers. As previously mentioned, Norwegians developed an underground press to combat this kind of censorship, as having informed and politically active citizens is an important value in Norway.

Norway offers free access to foreign media and is actively supportive of free press systems around the world. In 1995, 15 major media organizations developed the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression (NFFE) to support and observe Article 19 of the United Nations (UN) Declaration of Human Rights that includes freedom of expression as a human right. The NFFE worked internationally and within Norway to protect and provide for freedom of expression. The NFFE lobbied against media restrictions in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe and participated in a variety of UN-organized conferences around the world. Within Norway, the NFFE monitored governmental policies that impact freedom of expression, organized conferences and seminars on the subject, and created cities of asylum in Norway for persecuted writers from around the world. The NFFE disbanded in early 2002. Norway, however, remains one of the most open countries in the world with regard to press freedoms. Even the government looks for ways to expand, not limit, access to information and freedom of expression laws. In 1999, for the first time since the creation of the Norwegian constitution in 1814, a special Constitutional Commission examined and made recommendations for revisions in Norway's freedom of expression principles. The revisions are intended to empower individuals and the media in terms of freedom of expression. The proposed revision in Article 100 of the constitution provides for the "right of access to the documents of the State and of the municipal administration, and a right to be present at the sittings of the courts and of administrative bodies." In addition, the state is responsible for creating "conditions enabling an open and enlightened public debate."

State-Press Relations

Among all professions, journalists stand out in their representation in the national assembly or Storting. Journalists seem especially eager to seek out the prestige of political party positions. For example, Nils Honsvald served as editor of the Labour party newspaper in Sarps-borg, the Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad, at the same time that he held a variety of political positions, including Storting representative, government minister, group leader for the Labour Party, and president of the Lagting and the Odel-sting, the small and large divisions of the Storting. Helge Seip was also a Storting representative and government minister while he served as the editor of Dagbladet, the third largest newspaper in all of Norway. Many others have served in politics while simultaneously working as editors of powerful newspapers as well.

However, since the 1970s the press has become more adversarial with the government. The Freedom of Information Act allowed access to all kinds of governmental activity. In combination with the development of news-journalism and investigative reporting, the press has become less respectful and more questioning of governmental officials. Despite the shift in relations, the government continues to acknowledge the necessity of a free press for an effective democracy and is supportive of this enhanced access to affairs of the state.

The press and the Norwegian government have been involved in collusion about what information should be made available to the public, especially during the Cold War. Journalists and politicians met and decided what information to pass on to the public and what to leave out. This kind of cooperation to suppress information was possible because of the close relationship between journalists and politicians. More specifically, newspaper editors and journalists held many of the key political positions in the country. When revealed, this practice was severely criticized. Many felt that the press had ignored its responsibility to be a watchdog for the public and to protect its own constitutionally guaranteed press-related freedoms.

In 2002, with the development of the profession of journalism, politically oriented papers have been replaced with politically neutral papers in which the goal is to represent as many positions on an issue as reasonably possible. This independent version of Norway's press is expected to be less likely to respond to any kind of censorship effort. In fact, by providing a variety of political perspectives on issues, politicians now need to be available to the press to provide them with any information necessary to explain their proposals and policies. Moreover, the press is thought to be responsible at least in part for the demise of political party loyalty. Half of all voters switch party allegiance from election to election, and minority parties are firmly established in the government because they have a voice for their views in this newly established independent press, despite limited membership or funds. The press then actually seems to have more political power and control about what is reported now then during the era of the political party press.

Broadcast Media

Over 650 FM, 5 AM, and 1 short wave radio stations were operating in Norway in 1998. Norwegians own over 4 million radios. Radio was especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s during which time Norwegians would gather to listen to radio theatre. During the Nazi occupation, radio was essential because it was a primary source of information, as Norwegians could receive broadcasts from the British Isles. Although the Nazis banned radios, many families turned in one radio to the Germans but had another hidden in their homes. Radio is not as popular at the start of the twenty-first century because of the prevalence of televisions and Internet connections. Many Norwegians continue to use radio for short periods of time to get updates on news and weather. More than 60 percent of Norwegians used a radio on a daily basis in 1997, yet that represented a decrease of 10 percent since 1991.

The state broadcast system was a monopoly until 1981. Two television channels serve all of Norway. The first, the Norwegian broadcasting channel (NRK), has existed the 1960s. Not commercially funded, the channel requires a fee from all who have a television in Norway. The amount of time spent watching this station is irrelevant as all pay the same fee. The second nationwide channel, TV2, began broadcasting in the 1990s and is supported by commercials. Although NRK has been in existence much longer, both channels have about the same number of viewers. Other channels are available to Norwegians through the use of cable or satellite dish connections. These channels include local stations, other nationwide stations, and foreign stations. The Act on Local Broadcasting that passed in 1988 allowed for permanent local broadcasts. Oslo has some 72 different television stations available to viewers. It is notable that Norwegian laws prevent television stations from interrupting shows with commercials, and commercials are limited in their length. Even the shortest of infomercials have been sanctioned. Norwegians have approximately 2 million televisions for a population of 4.5 million.

In 1996, TV2 filed a lawsuit against the government arguing that the state had breached its agreement with the station to give it sole right to present advertising-funded television programming nationwide. The case involved TV-Norge's use of cable systems to broadcast commercial programming across the country. Subsequently, in 1997 an organization representing Norway's television advertisers called for a boycott of these two channels, TV-Norge and TV2, because TV2 had acquired 49.4 percent of the interest in TV-Norge. Advertisers wondered why TV2 was allowed to acquire such a large interest in its closest competitor, and worried that what had been a market of smaller stations competing with one another was now becoming a monopoly. After leaving Norway because of the availability of national news Web sites, in 2002 CNN reported that they are returning to Norway, among other Scandinavian countries. Although Norway is relatively small in size, it is distinctive in its openness to new innovations in television, such as interactive applications, and Anglo-Saxon channels are well accepted because English is required in schools and subtitles are used instead of dubbing. The result is that much of CNN's original programming can be used unaltered in Norway. Ten news agencies, all based in Oslo, served Norway in 1999.

Electronic News Media

All forms of news are duplicated to some degree on the Internet in Norway. Leading Norwegian newspapers, such as Aftenposten,Dagbladet,VG, Morgenbladet, andNytt Fra Norge have Internet versions of their papers.

The Aftenposten Web site offers a more compact version of its printed daily edition and allows the user to go directly to an overview of the news or to an outline of the paper's contents. Several regional and local newspapers also have Web sites of their contents. Regional newspapers on the Internet include Bergens Tidende,Bergensavisen,Ostlandets Blad,Moss Avis, and Gudbrandsdolen Lillehammer Tilskuer. In 2002, three local papers were available on the Internet, including News from Tysnes, a paper that covers a group of islands south of Bergen. Many magazines are available on the Internet as well, including political, cultural, science, women's, and educational publications. Norwegian radio can also be heard on the Internet. Radio Norway International has a Web site that includes information about times and frequencies of Internet broadcasts.

Thirteen Internet Service Providers are available, and 2.36 million people were Internet users in Norway in 2000. Norway ranks fourth in the number of Internet connections per capita. The internet code for Norway

Education & Training

The number of journalists in Norway increased dramatically as advertising income blossomed. Even though the number of newspapers declined substantially beginning in the 1950s, the size of newspapers grew tremendously, as did the number of journalists. The Norwegian Union of Journalists saw its membership double between 1960 and 1975, and then again by 1987 to 4,494 members. This increase sparked meaningful union activity that resulted in increased wages and improved working conditions for journalists. The union also sought input from their members when editors were appointed or promoted. As owners suspected, this was a move to limit owners' and editors' ability to present their own particular slant or political position. In addition, with the transition from a party press to a news journalism approach, the press became more professional and independent. The job market was then open to all based on ability as opposed to party affiliation, and staunch party journalists were able to seek positions with papers that were in direct opposition to their political persuasion. Journalistic methods of analysis and investigation were the qualities now sought in journalists.

Education and training of journalists in Norway is varied. Universities in Norway offer journalism and mass communication programs, and internships and apprenticeships allow for on-the-job training. Although anyone can work as a journalist and use the title of journalist, a university education is expected for most professional positions. Higher education programs in journalism are professionally oriented and qualify graduates to work in print or broadcast media. The Volda University is the central institution in Norway for a broadcast journalism education. This small college includes a Faculty of Media and Journalism, which offers bachelor's programs in journalism, media, and information and communication technology and design. Oslo University College has a Faculty of Journalism, Library and Information Science offering a variety of programs. Two-year programs in journalism and photojournalism are offered. The journalism programs address how to find, evaluate, critique, and convey information. A master's degree in journalism became available in 2001 in cooperation with the University of Oslo. This degree addresses subjects such as the history of journalism, cross-cultural communication in Norway and abroad, professional journalistic identity, and research in journalism. The University of Oslo offers degrees in journalism through their Journalism and Media and Communication Departments. These professional programs focus on the means and methods of journalists and include scientific and critical analysis of the field of journalism.


Norway enjoys a free press and a large number and rich variety of newspapers covering even some of the smallest and most remote communities. Norway's press grew from handwritten sheets produced by clergy in the 1400s to a long run for a multitude of newspapers through the start of the twenty-first century. After a press dominated by political party influence with newspapers representing particular political positions, Norway press has come to value independence and the presentation of a range of perspectives on issues. Censorship is virtually nonexistent in Norway, and few laws restrict the press in any manner. Journalism is considered an honorable and important profession. In 2002, broadcast media dominated in Norway, and Norwegians were fully in tune with the most modern means of communication, including an abundance of Internet connections, access to satellite transmissions, and a large percentage of cell phone users.

Significant Dates

  • 1814: The Norwegian Constitution is created and establishes a free press.
  • 1969: The government authorizes subsidies to ensure a diversified press, providing for local and small circulation newspapers.
  • 1981: The state broadcast system is no longer a monopoly.
  • 1988: The Act on Local Broadcasting is passed allowing permanent local television broadcasts.
  • 1994: The Norwegian Press Association is adopted an Ethical Code of Practice.
  • 1995: Fifteen major media organizations develop the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression to support Article19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights representing freedom of expression as a human right.
  • 1999: A special Constitutional Commission recommends revisions in article 100 of the Norwegian Constitution to allow for more extensive freedom of expression protections; the Norwegian Media Ownership Authority is established to prevent concentrations in ownership of the media.
  • 2001: A governmental committee is established to decide on legal liability for publication of materials on the Internet.


Hoyer, Svennik. The Norwegian Press. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Available from

"Norway." Culture Link. Available from

"Norway." World Press Freedom Review. Available from

"Norwegian Media Links." Media Links. Available from

Melanie Moore

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POPULATION: 4.3 million

LANGUAGE: Norwegian in two forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk

RELIGION: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway; small numbers of Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Muslims, and Jews


Norway is part of the region known as Scandinavia. Scandinavia includes Norway together with its neighbors Denmark and Sweden, as well as Finland and Iceland. Norway is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean for most of the country's length, on the southwest by the North Sea, and directly to the south by the Skagerrak, an arm of the North Sea. To the east, Norway shares a long border with Sweden, and for a short distance in the north with Finland and Russia.

Most Norwegians live within a few miles (kilometers) of the sea, which has played a pivotal role in their country's history. Norway's great Viking era took place during the ninth century ad, when the Vikings (Norse explorers and pirates) extended their territory as far as Dublin (Ireland) and Normandy (France). Their leader, Harald Fairhair, unified the country around the year 900, and King Olaf converted the Norwegians to Christianity. The Vikings were the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean, a feat accomplished with Erik the Red's voyages to Iceland and Greenland. Erik's son, Leif Erikson, landed on the coast of North America in the year 1001. Norway's long period of union with Denmark lasted from 1380 until 1814, when the Norwegians adopted their own constitution. Their short-lived independence ended as Norway was united with Sweden under one head of state until 1905. That year marked Norway's peaceful secession and installation of its own monarchy. Since Norway, long a subject people, had no royal family of its own, it chose Prince Carl of Denmark to become the new nation's first king, as Håkon VII.

Norway remained neutral during World War I (191418), but was invaded by Germany early in World War II (193945). Norwegian resistance to German occupation had severe consequences as the Nazis attempted to destroy the underground movement. The Norwegian merchant fleet played a vital role in aiding the Allies. Although it lost half its fleet, the country recovered quickly after the war.

Although Norway joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960, it rejected membership in the European Community (EC) in 1972, and decided against joining the new European Union in 1994.


Norway stretches across the north and west of the Scandinavian peninsula. It is a long country with bulges at the north and south, while its midsection is as narrow across as 3.9 miles (6.28 kilometers) at one point. It has an area of 125,051 square miles (323,882 square kilometers)roughly the same size as the state of New Mexico. Norway is the longest country in Europe and one of the most mountainous: only one-fifth of its total area is less than 500 feet (150 meters) above sea level. Almost one-third of the country lies within the Arctic Circle. The sun shines almost round-the-clock at the height of summer in mid-June, but in winter there is very little sunlight in mid-December. Overseas territories claimed by Norway include the Svalbard islands and Jan Mayen island (both in the Arctic Ocean), Peter I Island (off the coast of Antarctica) and Queen Maud Land (a wedge-shaped piece of Antarctica itself).


Norwegian is a Germanic language closely related to Swedish and Danish. There are actually two forms of Norwegian, both of which are considered official languages and can be understood by all Norwegians. Bokmål, the more common of the two, was developed from Danish during the nineteenth century, while Nynorsk grew out of nationalistic impulses at the same time. Nynorsk is a combination of rural dialects intended to be a distinctly Norwegian language, one not influenced by Danish. Today, Bokmål is mostly spoken by people living in cities and towns. Modern linguistic experts have proposed a third form of Norwegian, Samnorsk, that would simplify language use in Norway by combining elements of Bokmål and Nynorsk.

English Bokmål Pronunciation
one en AYn
two to tOO
three tre trAY
four fire FEE-rer
five fem fEHmm
six seks sEHx
seven syv sEWv
eight åtte AH-teh
nine ni nEE
ten ti tEE
church kirke KHEER-ker
breakfast frokost FROO-kost


Norwegian mythology originated from the ancient religion of the region. The chief god, Odin, lived in a walled city called Valhalla and was escorted into battle by nine warrior maidens called the Valkyries. Norway has a strong tradition of storytelling, and its folklore is full of odd, sometimes grotesque, creatures. Probably the most famous creatures of Norwegian folklore are the trollslarge, powerful, grotesque beings. Some trolls are considered friendly, while others delight in causing harm to human beings. Trolls appear as mascots, in Norwegian place names, in folk art, and in many folktales.

Many Norwegian folktales portray a nearly senseless world; a world in which people never quite know what is going on.

"Silly Men and Cunning Wives" is one such tale:

One day two wives were fighting over who had the silliest husband. Both of them bragged that they could get their husbands to believe or do anything. They decided to put their husbands to the test.

One wife went home and waited for her husband, Master Northgrange, to come home from the woods. When he did, she put on quite a show, saying he looked like he was at death's door with an illness. The man said he felt fine, but his wife put on such a show of it that he began to feel ill. He took to bed and fell into a stupor, during which his wife laid him out for a funeral and then put him in a casket.

The other wife waited for her husband at the loom, pretending to spin the finest linen when actually none was there. When her husband, Master South-grange, came home, he told her she was crazy to sit at a loom spinning nothing, but his wife laughed at him and said she was making the finest linen in Norway, so fine it could not even be seen. The man laughed at first, but because his wife worked so long and so hard producing a suit for him, he came to believe that the fabric was so fine it was simply invisible to him.

The next day Master Northgrange's wife let it be known that there would be a funeral for her husband. She told everyone that he had died during the night. Master Southgrange's wife told her husband of the tragedy and suggested he wear his new suit to the service. On their way, they attracted quite a lot of stares because Master Southgrange was stark naked. Mistress Southgrange assured her husband they were stares of envy for his fine suit. When they got to the cemetery, Master Northgrange peered out of one of the holes his wife had drilled in the coffin and saw his friend walking with no clothes on and started laughing out loud. All the men carrying his coffin jumped in horror and dropped the box, spilling Master Northgrange onto the frozen green earth.

Afterward, the two men realized what their wives had done and they took their revenge. If anyone wants to know what that revenge was, the tale says, he or she had better ask the woods trolls.


Norway's official religion is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. While 90 percent of the population are members, fewer than 20 percent are regular churchgoers. Norway also has small numbers of Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Muslims, and Jews.


Constitution Day on May 17 is the Norwegian day of independence and commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1814 when Norway declared independence from Denmark. It is celebrated with parades and other gala events throughout the country, often with traditional folk costumes. Midsummer's Eve on June 23 is another major holiday. It marks the longest day of the year and is celebrated with bonfires along the country's lakes, rivers, and fjords (narrow inlets of the sea, bordered by steep cliffs). Celebrants continue eating, drinking, and dancing throughout the night. All Saints' Day is celebrated on November 1, but Christmas (December 25) is Norway's major winter holiday. On Christmas Eve (December 24), families celebrate with a traditional festive dinner that often includes pork and cabbage. Afterward they sing carols around the tree, which is decorated with white candles, and open the Christmas presents. Traditionally, the Norwegians perform a thorough housecleaning before Christmas, which actually extends until January 2, the end of the holiday season. Other religious holidays include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and Ascension Day (all in the spring).


Although Norwegians are not particularly religious, the overwhelming majority of parents have their children christened as infants. Norwegian children are permitted to play unsupervised, as the crime rate is very low and even the larger cities provide safe environments.

Most teenagers go through confirmation, the primary rite of passage for young men and women in Norway, at approximately age fifteen. One of the most important events in the school life of Norwegians is high school graduation, which is celebrated in a unique way. Graduates spend their final weeks of school wearing Russ gowns (gowns made of a coarse reddish brown cloth) and engaging in all sorts of public pranks, including parading down city streets and disrupting traffic and spray-painting mildly insulting rhymes about their teachers on sidewalks outside their schools. Military service is required for males starting at the age of nineteen.


Norwegians are a hard-working and self-reliant people, with an independence fostered by their harsh climate with its long, dark winters. Emotionally reserved, they avoid direct confrontations in their relationships with other people. They are courteous and polite, and their social encounters are marked by repeated handshaking, by both men and women. Norwegians are also known for their hospitality, especially during the Christmas season. Guests in a Norwegian home do not touch their drinks until the host offers a toast using the word skål (pronounced "skawl").

English Norwegian Pronunciation
hello hei hAY
goodbye adjo AD-yurr


Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world, enhanced by the discovery of petroleum and natural gas in the Norwegian section of the North Sea in the late 1960s. Norwegian houses are typically of stone or wood, with one or two stories. City-dwellers often join into a housing cooperative called a borettslag (BOOR-ehts-lahg), from which they rent apartments.

Norway's state-supported healthcare system covers most medical expenses for its residents. Average life expectancy in 1989 was seventy-six years, up from fifty-two years a century earlier. Like those in other industrialized nations, Norway's leading causes of death include cancer and heart disease. As the average life span of Norwegians has increased, a shortage of nursing and retirement homes has developed.


The typical marriage age for men is twenty-five to thirty, for women twenty to twenty-five. Norwegian families are getting smaller, and it is not unusual for women to decide not to have any children. The parent or parents of one spouse generally live with the family, often in a separate suite of rooms in the house or they may live in a separate apartment nearby. Husbands and wives generally share decision-making responsibilities. The divorce rate, while low, is rising, with incompatibility and alcoholism cited as the primary causes.


Norwegians wear modern Western-style clothes for casual, business, and formal wear. At festivals, one may still see traditional costumes. Women's costumes include high-collared white blouses with embroidered or plaid bodices and ankle-length skirts, often in blue or red. This outfit may be completed by a hat of lace or other fine cloth. Men wear broad-brimmed hats, white shirts, colorful embroidered vests with dressy buttons, and tight, black knee-length breeches with white hose and silver-buckled shoes.


Norwegians eat four meals a day, of which the main one is middag (MID-dahg), a hot meal usually eaten between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. A typical middag meal would be fish served with boiled potatoes and vegetables. The remaining meals are cold meals featuring the typical Scandinavian open-faced sandwich, called smørbrød (SMUR-brur) in Norway. These consist of ingredients such as cheese, jam, salmon spread, cucumber, boiled eggs, and sardines, served with bread and crackers. While fish is often served in mildly flavored forms such as fish loaf and fish balls, the more pungent smoked salmon (røkelaks; RUHR-kuh-lahks) and aged trout (rakørret; RAHK-uhr-ruht) are popular as well. Commonly eaten meats include mutton and meat balls. Lingonberry jam is a popular accompaniment to meals, and for dessert one may be served fresh berries, cream pudding (rømmegrøt; RUH-muhgruhrt), or fruit soup. Potatoes have been a very important staple in the Norwegian diet since the 1800s, when the church urged people to plant them to help put an end to hunger during the long winters.

Coffee and aquavit, an alcoholic beverage, are the most commonly served beverages. Norwegians, like their Scandanavian neighbors, are some of the world's largest per capita consumers of coffee in the world. Norwegians generally drink it black.

Norwegians also are one of the world's largest consumers of chocolate. On average, Norwegians consume 17.6 pounds (8 kilograms) of chocolate a year.


Norwegian Christmas Bread


  • 1 cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, two of them separated
  • 2 crushed cardamom seeds or 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 oz. yeast or 2 Tablespoons (packets) dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk (bring to room temperature)
  • 3½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup candied citron
  • cup raisins


  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Separate 2 eggs, saving the whites. Whip 2 more whole eggs with the 2 egg yolks. Add eggs and cardamom to butter and sugar mixture.
  3. Dissolve yeast in milk.
  4. Add about one-third of yeast mixture, slowly, to butter mixture.
  5. Add about one-third of the flour. Repeat adding the yeast mixture, alternating with the flour.
  6. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a floured surface. Add more flour if the dough is sticky.
  7. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 3 hours.
  8. Turn the dough back onto the floured surface and knead again, adding the finely chopped citron and raisins.
  9. Place in a well-greased cake pan and let rise until twice the size (about 1 to 2 hours). Brush with egg whites and bake in a preheated oven at 350°f for 1 hour.

Norwegian Christmas bread is a staple of the holiday season. Cardamom seeds and candied citron may be difficult to find; try the local health food store. If they do not have any, they will probably be able to tell you where you can get some, or offer suggestions for replacements.


Literacy (the ability to read and write) is nearly universal in Norway. School is required between the ages of seven and sixteen. Because of its concern with equality, Norway's national government develops a curriculum that is followed nationwide.

After the age of sixteen, students choose between vocational and college preparatory training. Higher education, which is free, is offered at four universities (Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, and Tromsø) and a number of other institutions. About 1 percent of the population is enrolled in postsecondary schooling. Norway currently has a shortage of higher education facilities, especially vocational ones, which limits the number of students who may be admitted for post-secondary education.


Norwegian literature begins with the Sagas and Eddas of the medieval Vikings, written in the language of Old Norse and found mainly in Icelandic texts. Norway's most illustrious writer during the period of Danish rule was the eighteenth-century playwright Ludvig Holberg, whose comedies are still performed in Norway and Denmark (and to whom the composer Edvard Grieg dedicated a suite of pieces). Norway's liberation from Danish rule in 1814 marked the beginning of the country's modern literary tradition. Its most famous author is the playwright Henrik Ibsen, whose works of realism and social criticismincluding A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People, and Peer Gynt are known and performed throughout the world. Other prominent nineteenth-century authors included Henrik Wergeland and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (a 1903 Nobel laureate). In the twentieth century, Knut Hamsun's novels explored social problems, and Sigrid Undsetwho won the Nobel prize for literature in 1928por-trayed the Norwegian past in sweeping historical novels, the most famous being the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter.

In the visual arts, the painter Edvard Munchknown worldwide for his famous painting The Scream pioneered expressionism in Norway during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Gustav Vigeland is known for his sculptures. Norway's most famous composer is Edvard Grieg, who during the nineteenth century incorporated elements of Norwegian folk music, culture, and history into his compositions.


Children under the age of fifteen are prohibited from working in Norway. Those under eighteen are not permitted to work at night or to work overtime. The government regulates other aspects of employment law as well. It requires four weeks of paid vacation each year, limits the number of hours employees can work in one week, and offers generous parental leave (with full pay) to new parents. Women are granted thirty-three weeks of maternity leave at full pay.

The economy of Norway provides most of its citizens with a comfortable, relatively wealthy lifestyle, regardless of career choice. Norwegians can also expect a lifetime of full social benefits paid for by the state.

Much of Norway's formerly agricultural employment has shifted to both small industries (paper, textiles, and food and beverage processing) and larger ones, such as shipbuilding, shipping, and North Sea oil development. Today only about 20 percent of the population is engaged in farming.


Skiing, once a means of transportation, is now the national sport. Children learn to ski at an early age. Downhill, cross-country, and slalom skiing are all popular. Other winter sports include iceskating and bandy, a game similar to hockey. Soccer (called "football") and tennis are popular summer sports.


Norwegians enjoy many outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing (including ice fishing), hiking, boating, and white-water rafting. Watching televised competitive skiing and speed skating events is a favorite pastime. Many people take skiing vacations in the mountains during Easter week. Summer vacations are often spent either in cabins in the mountains or in the area between the cities of Stavanger and Krageroe in the south. The fjords there are sheltered from the wind and sea, and vacationers enjoy swimming, sailing, relaxing on the sandy beaches, and viewing waterfalls.


Norwegian craftspeople turn out knitted and woven goods, and wood products including utensils, bowls, and furniture. Another leading craft is the production of traditional Norwegian costumes. Folk dancing and singing are enjoying a revival and are practiced at festivals throughout the country.


Traditionally, heavy drinking and the resulting alcoholism have been Norway's most important social problem. Since the 1960s, drug use has been a significant problem as well. Drugs have not been legalized in Norway, and liquor and wine are only available through state-operated liquor stores.


Bendure, Glenda, et al. Scandinavian and Baltic Europe. Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 1995.

Charbonneau, Claudette, and Patricia Slade Lander. The Land and People of Norway. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Gall, Timothy, and Susan Gall, eds. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit: UXL, 1996.

Kagda, Sakina. Norway. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995.

Norway in Pictures. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications Co., 1990.

Taylor-Wilkie, Doreen. Norway. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1996.

Vanberg, Bent. Of Norwegian Ways. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1970.


Embassy of Norway, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available, 1998.

Norway Online Information Service. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Norway. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Norway, Nor. Norge, officially Kingdom of Norway, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 4,593,000), 125,181 sq mi (324,219 sq km), N Europe, occupying the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula. Extending from the Skagerrak, which it borders in the south, c.1,100 mi (1,770 km) northeast to North Cape and Vardø on the Barents Sea in the extreme northeast, the country forms a narrow mountainous strip along the North Sea in the southwest and in the west the Atlantic Ocean, whose local waters are also called the Norwegian Sea. It has a long land frontier with Sweden in the east and in the northeast borders on Finland and Russia. Oslo is the capital and largest city. The nation's outlying possessions are Svalbard and Jan Mayen in the Arctic Ocean and Bouvet and Peter I islands in the S Atlantic; Norway also has claims in Antarctica.

Land and People

The coastline, c.1,700 mi (2,740 km) long, is fringed with islands (notably the Lofoten islands and Vesterålen) and is deeply indented by numerous fjords. Sognafjorden, Hardangerfjord, Nordfjord, and Oslofjord are among the largest and best known. From the coast the land rises sharply to high plateaus such as Dovrefjell and the Hardangervidda. Galdhøpiggen, in the Jotunheimen range, is the high point (8,098 ft/2,468 m); west of it lies Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier field in Europe. The mountains and plateaus are intersected by fertile valleys, such as Gudbrandsdalen, and by rapid rivers, which furnish hydroelectric power and are used for logging. The Glåma, in the south, is the most important river. Because of the North Atlantic Drift, Norway has a mild and humid climate for a northern country.

Most of the population is concentrated along the southern coast and valleys, where the chief cities—Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Drammen—are located. Farther north along the coast is Trondheim, and in the extreme north are Narvik, Tromsø, and Hammerfest.

The majority of Norwegians are of Scandinavian stock, but in the northern county of Finnmark, Sami (Lapps) and Finns predominate. The literary language of Norway for many years was Danish, from which Riksmål (officially Bokmål), one of the two official idioms of Norway, is derived (see Norwegian language and Norwegian literature). Landsmål (officially Nynorsk), the other official idiom, is similar. Frequent spelling reforms account for the variation in Norwegian place names. The Lutheran Church is the state church, but all other religions enjoy freedom of worship. The king nominates the nine bishops and other clergy of the Lutheran Church.


Almost three quarters of Norway's land is unproductive; less than 4% is under cultivation and the country imports over 50% of its food. The vast mountain pastures are used for the grazing of cattle and sheep, and, in the north, for reindeer raising. Barley, wheat, and potatoes are grown. About one quarter of Norway is forested; timber is a chief natural resource and is the basis for one of the main industries. The beautiful Norwegian fjords and the midnight sun of the far north attract many tourists. Fishing (notably of cod, herring, and mackerel) is important, and fresh, canned, and salted fish are exported.

The country's chief industries are petroleum and natural gas production, shipping, and trading. Since the discovery of petroleum in the Ekofisk field in 1969, the petroleum and natural gas industries have become vital to Norway's economy, bringing increased employment, but also increased inflation and a vulnerability to fluctuations in the world petroleum market (most of the oil and gas is exported). Other mineral resources include iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, and nickel. Aluminum, ferroalloys, and semifinished steel are produced. Almost all of Norway's electricity is supplied by hydroelectric power, and the country exports hydroelectricity as well. Food processing, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, and textiles are important to the economy. The great Norwegian merchant fleet carries a large part of the world's trade. Petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, and fish are the main exports; imports include capital goods, chemicals, metals, and foodstuffs. The chief trading partners are Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, and France.


Norway is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1814 as amended. The hereditary monarch is the head of state. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the monarch with the approval of Parliament, as is the cabinet. Members of the 169-seat unicameral Parliament or Storting are popularly elected to four-year terms. Administratively, Norway is divided into 19 counties (Nor. fylker).


Medieval Norway

The history of Norway before the age of the Vikings is indistinct from that of the rest of Scandinavia. In the 9th cent. the country was still divided among the numerous petty kings of the fylker.Harold I, of the Yngling or Scilfing dynasty (which claimed descent from one of the old Norse gods), defeated the petty kings (c.900) and conquered the Shetlands and the Orkneys, but failed to establish permanent unity. Harold's campaigns drove many nobles and their followers to settle in Iceland and France. In the next two centuries Norsemen raided widely in W Europe and established the Norse duchy of Normandy. Harold himself concentrated on developing a dynasty; before he died (c.935) the country was divided among his sons, but one of them, Haakon I, defeated (c.935) his brothers and temporarily reunited the kingdom.

Christianity, brought by English missionaries, gained a foothold under Olaf I and was established by Olaf II (reigned 1015–28). Olaf II was driven out of Norway by King Canute of England and Denmark, in league with discontented Norwegian nobles; however, his son, Magnus I, was restored (1035) to the Norwegian throne. Both Magnus and his successor, Harold III, played a vital part in the complex events then taking place in England and Denmark. After Harold died while invading England (1066), Norway entered a period of decline and civil war, precipitated by conflicting claims to the throne.

Among the major events of 12th-century Norwegian history were the mission of Nicholas Breakspear (later Pope Adrian IV), who organized the Norwegian hierarchy, and the rule of Sverre, who created a new nobility grounded in commerce and, with the help of the popular party, the Birkebeiner, consolidated the royal power. His grandson, Haakon IV, was put on the throne by the Birkebeiner in 1217; under him and under Magnus VI (reigned 1263–80) medieval Norway reached its greatest flowering and enjoyed peace and prosperity. During this time Iceland and Greenland recognized Norwegian rule.

Norway and Denmark

The separate development of Norway was halted by the accession (1319) of Magnus VII, who was also king of Sweden. He was unpopular in Norway, which he was compelled to surrender (1343) to his son, Haakon VI, husband of Margaret I of Denmark. Margaret subsequently united the rule of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in her person and in 1397 had the Kalmar Union drawn up. Although the union was strictly a personal one, Norway virtually ceased to exist as a separate kingdom and was ruled by Danish governors for the following four centuries. Its power had greatly declined even before Margaret's accession, however, and its trade had been taken over by the Hanseatic League, which maintained its chief northern office at Bergen.

Norway's political history became essentially that of Denmark. Christian III of Denmark (1535–59) introduced Lutheranism as the state religion. Under Danish rule Norway lost territory to Sweden but developed economically. The fishing industry flourished (late 17th cent.), lumbering became an important industry (18th cent.), the merchant class grew, and Norway became a naval power. During the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was blockaded by the British. In 1814, Denmark, which had sided with France, was obliged to consent to the Treaty of Kiel, by which it ceded Norway to the Swedish crown in exchange for W Pomerania.

Norway and Sweden

The Norwegians resisted union with Sweden and attempted to set up a separate kingdom, with a liberal constitution and a parliament, under Prince Christian (later King Christian VIII of Denmark). A Swedish army obliged Norway to accept Charles XIII of Sweden, but the act of union of 1814 recognized Norway as an independent kingdom, in personal union with Sweden, with its own constitution and parliament. Despite some Swedish concessions to growing Norwegian nationalism, Swedish-Norwegian relations were strained throughout the 19th cent. Johan Sverdrup, the Liberal leader, succeeded in making the ministry responsible to parliament despite royal opposition (1884), but other problems remained.

The Norwegian interest in obtaining greater participation in foreign policy came to a crisis in the late 19th cent. over the issue of a separate Norwegian consular service, justified by the spectacular growth of Norwegian shipping and commercial interests. Finally, in 1905, the Storting declared the dissolution of the union and the deposition of Oscar II. Sweden acquiesced after a plebiscite showed Norwegians nearly unanimously in favor of separation; in a second vote Norway chose to become a monarchy, and parliament elected the second son of Frederick VIII of Denmark king of Norway as Haakon VII.

Modern Norway

Two important features in Norwegian history of the late 19th and early 20th cent. were the large-scale emigration to the United States and the great arctic and antarctic explorations by such notable men as Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Three outstanding cultural figures of the period were Edvard Grieg, Henrik Ibsen, and Edvard Munch. In World War I, Norway remained neutral. The industrial development of Norway, spurred by the harnessing of water power, contributed to the rise of the Labor (socialist) party, which has predominated in Norwegian politics since 1927. In the 1930s much social welfare legislation was passed, including public health and housing measures, pensions, aid to the disabled, and unemployment insurance.

Norway attempted to remain neutral in World War II, but in Apr., 1940, German troops invaded, and in a short time nearly the whole country was in German hands. King Haakon and his cabinet set up a government in exile in London, and the Norwegian merchant fleet was of vital assistance to the Allies throughout the war. Despite the attempts of Vidkun Quisling to promote collaboration with the Germans, the people of Norway defied the occupation forces. German troops remained in Norway until the war ended in May, 1945. Although half of the Norwegian fleet was sunk during the war, Norway quickly recovered its commercial position. Postwar economic policy included a degree of socialism and measures such as price, interest, and dividend controls.

Norway was one of the original members of the United Nations (the Norwegian Trygve Lie was the first UN Secretary-General), and it became a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. King Olaf V succeeded to the throne in 1957. Norway joined the European Free Trade Association in 1959. Norwegian voters rejected membership in the European Community (now the European Union) in 1972, but trade agreements with the market were made the next year. Between 1965 and 1971 the Labor party was out of power for the first time since 1936.

The Labor party returned to power in 1971 under the leadership of Trygve Bratteli, whose government resigned but was restored to power in the 1973 elections. Bratteli was succeeded as prime minister by Odvar Nordli in 1976, who was quickly succeeded (1977) by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first woman prime minister. Brundtland was defeated by Conservative Kåre Willoch in the 1981 election, but she returned to the office of prime minster in 1986 and 1990. In 1991, Harold V succeeded his father Olaf V as king of Norway.

Norway sparked international controversy in 1992 when it refused to conform to the International Whaling Treaty (see whaling). During 1993, the Norwegian government facilitated secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which led to agreements on Palestinian self-rule. Norwegian voters again rejected membership in the European Union (EU) in 1994. Bruntland resigned in 1996 and was replaced by Thorbjørn Jagland. Following elections in 1997, Jagland resigned and Christian Democrat Kjell Magne Bondevik became prime minister, heading a center-right coalition government that included the Center and Liberal parties.

In Mar., 2000, Bondevik resigned after losing a key vote in parliament, and Labor party leader Jens Stoltenberg formed a new government. In parliamentary elections in Sept., 2001, Labor suffered a significant setback, with nonsocialist opposition parties winning a bare majority of the seats. Bondevik again became prime minister, heading a center-right minority government consisting of the Christian Democrat, Conservative, and Liberal parties.

Parliamentary elections in Sept., 2005, brought Labor and its allies into office, and Stoltenberg became prime minister. The far-right Progress party, espousing a populist, anti-immigration platform, became the largest opposition party after the vote. The Labor-led coalition government remained in office after the Sept., 2009, parliamentary elections. In July, 2011, the country was stunned by the bombing of government offices in Oslo, which killed eight, and the killing of 68 people at a Labor party youth camp; the attacks were by an extreme rightist who accused the government of allowing the Islamization of Norwegian society. The Sept., 2013, parliamentary elections resulted in a victory for the conservative opposition, though Labor won a plurality. The Conservative party formed a minority coalition government with the populist Progress party, and Conservative leader Erna Solberg became prime minister.


See K. Gjerset, History of the Norwegian People (1932, repr. 1969); A. Hagen, Norway (tr. 1967); M. Drake, Population and Society in Norway, 1735–1865 (1969); P. S. Andersen, Vikings of the West (1971); R. G. Popperwell, Norway (1972); T. K. Derry, A History of Modern Norway, 1814–1972 (1973); B. Vanberg, Of Norwegian Ways (1984); W. Galenson, A Welfare State Strikes Oil (1986); A. Selbyg, Norway Today (1987); J. J. Holst, Norwegian Foreign Policy in the 1980s (1988).

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ETHNONYM: Nordmenn


Identification. The nation of Norway constitutes the Western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Its population is substantially of Scandinavian stock, with the exception of Saami and Finns in the north and recent European and other immigrants in the urban south.

Location. Norway is a narrow, essentially mountainous strip, with an almost 3,200-kilometer coastline to the west and south on the Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea), which is characterized by fjords and numerous islands. Norway shares a long border with Sweden to the east, and shorter boarders with Finland and the Russia to the north and east. Oslo is its capital. It is located at approximately 58° to 73° N and 3° to 31° E. The Gulf Stream assists in producing a continental climate in much of Norway. Despite its northerly location and a short growing season, agriculture and animal husbandry accompany fishing and timbering as primary traditional Subsistence occupations. Average yearly rainfall (Oslo) is 68 centimeters.

Demography. The population of Norway is approximately 4.1 million. The direction of population migration in Norway in recent years has been generally from the country and into the urban centers, the three largest cities currently accounting for approximately one-fourth of the population.

Linguistic Affiliation. Norwegian is one of the languages of the North Germanic (i.e., Scandinavian) Branch of Germanic languages, which are in turn a branch of the Indo-European Language Family. It is written with the Latin alphabet and is closely related to both Swedish and Danish, the latter having had a strong historical influence on the Norwegian language beginning in the fourteenth century. Today there are two forms of standard written Norwegian. The Danish-influenced Bokmal is characteristic in urban and upper-class use. Nynorsk, based on Norway's rural dialects, is associated with independent "Norwegianness" and social egalitarianism. In spoken usage, Norway's mountainous geography has spawned a multitude of local dialects (and local cultural variation in general), although recent urbanization has eroded dialect distinctiveness in some areas.

History and Cultural Relations

Norway was populated by people who are the forerunners of today's Norwegian ethnics as early as 10,000 b.c. Stone Age subsistence in southern Norway was characterized both by foraging and farming. The Bronze Age (1500-500 b.c.) and Iron Ages (500 b.c.-a.d. 400) are clearly demarcated in the archaeological record, the former characterized by rock art, the latter by expanded agriculture and population and by contact with the culture of the Roman Empire. The Germanic migrations of a.d. 500-800 affected primarily the coastal Norwegian population. The Viking Age (a.d. 800-1100), one of exploration, was accompanied by political unification of Norway under a line of kings and the arrival of Catholicism, although growing cultural unification of Norway was interrupted in the fourteenth century by the Black Death. Norway was politically unified with Denmark, as one of its provinces, from 1380 to 1814. Thereafter, it was politically unified with Sweden until 1905, when it gained independence. Norway experienced substantial emigration to North America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Norway is traditionally an ethnically homogeneous Society, with the notable exceptions of the Saami and Finnish Immigrants in the north and of recent urban immigrants in the south. Cultural and economic conflict characterizes Saami-Norwegian relations, with language use and resource use and allocation being commonly contested issues. Despite substantial cultural similarities with Sweden and Denmark, the colonial history that Norway has experienced with both has strained its relationships with them.


Villages are nucleated settlements providing focal points (for marketing, schooling, and religion) for dispersed settlement in the area. Towns are increasing in size, complexity, and degree of interrelatedness to urban centers. The largest cities in Norway are Oslo (approximately 450,000), Bergen (approximately 200,000), and Trondheim (approximately 150,000), with universities in all three (a fourth university is located in Tromsø).


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Prior to World War II, the economy was based on timbering, fishing and whaling, metal production (i.e., aluminum, copper), agriculture, and the merchant marine. Since World War II energy production (gas, oil, electricity) has played an increasing role, and the service sector of the economy has grown. A mixed-subsistence base of wage labor and the primary occupations of fishing, farming, or animal husbandry was not uncommon, but it is becoming less prevalent with relative depopulation of rural areas. A typical diet consists of bread, butter, cheese, fish, and meat. Potatoes, cabbage, and carrots are the most common vegetables, and local berries (lingonberry, cloud berry) are supplemented by imported fruits as sources of vitamin C.

Industrial Arts. Many people, especially in the rural areas, produce crafts, such as knitted or woven goods and various wooden crafts (utensils, bowls, furniture). Regional costumes are a widespread manufacture.

Trade. Open-air produce markets supplement established stores in the summer months.

Division of Labor. The complementarity of female and male roles is a fundamental presumption of Norwegian social structure and is reinforced by a pattern of strong spousal Solidarity. "Feminine" and "masculine" behaviors are not strongly distinguished, and decision-making authority is often shared in families. Informal social networks of males and females are, however, substantially segregated. The public/private division of labor is operative in rural areas, with the women performing the majority of domestic duties (i.e., baking, washing, weaving) while the men hold the primary responsibility for such tasks as chopping wood. Farm labor such as making silage, harvesting potatoes, or milking cows often is shared by the entire family.

Land Tenure. Traditionally the small single-family farm was the prevailing type of landholding in rural areas. Gradually the size of these holdings has increased with rural depopulation.

Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kinship. Kinship is cognatic, with the nuclear family (or less frequently the stem family) as the coresidential group. Residence patterns in rural areas tend to virilocality, whereas in larger towns and urban areas uxorilocality or neolocality are more frequent. Social ties with other cognatic kin living in close physical proximity are significant, but friendship networks and ties of voluntary association also structure everyday interaction in important ways. In modern Norway, no kin-based corporate group exists beyond the nuclear family.

Marriage. After confirmation at about age 14, young Norwegians begin to engage in sexual relations in their mid-to late teens. At formal engagement, sexual relations are openly sanctioned and accompanied by partial or complete cohabitation. Pregnancy is the most common stimulus for marriage. Men are typically 25-30 years of age at marriage and women are typically 20-25 years of age. The divorce rate is relatively low, but it is rising. Personal friction and alcoholism are the most frequently cited reasons for divorce.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear or stem family is the prevalent domestic unit. The stem family consists of a married pair and their unmarried children, plus the parent or parents of one of the spouses. These grandparents often live in a small separate apartment in the same house or in a small separate building near the main house.

Inheritance. Traditional Norwegian inheritance patterns were based on both odelsrett (a principle of primogeniture and patriliny) and asetesrett (a principle of equal inheritance of all children). In practice in rural areas, eldest sons inherited farms, together with an obligation to pay monetary compensation to other siblings.

Socialization. Norwegian adults consider children as independent individuals who will not be very much influenced by adults, and thus they have a correspondingly democratic approach to child rearing. Harsh discipline, especially corporal punishment, is discouraged, with discussion used as a substitute. Early physical independence is not especially encouraged, but it is welcomed. Avoidance of direct confrontation characterizes relationships. Children construct role models on the behavior of adults rather than on the instructions adults give them for behavior.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Norway's system of taxation and Social welfare generally precludes extremes of poverty and wealth. Class distinctions between professionals, business people, and working-class people in urban areas are greater than social differentiation in rural areas (the rural merchant-king excepted). Rural elites were and are small in number.

Political Organization. Norway is a constitutional monarchy, divided into nineteen provinces (fylke ). Of the nine major political parties (including a spectrum from Conservative to Center to Communist), the Labor party has dominated Norwegian politics since the 1930s. The current prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labor party), leads a 157-member parliament. Norway's nineteen provinces are in turn divided into counties (kommune ), each of which has a central administration. Debate of issues is highly valued in county councils. Villages do not have formal councils and local Community consciousness may or may not be the norm, as Individual independence is also strongly developed.

Social Control. Nonconfrontation and the maintenance of conformity are important Norwegian values. Breaches of law are handled by local sheriffs or by police and are adjudicated in the Norwegian judicial system. Personal relations are characterized by avoidance of expressing strong emotions, rather than open conflict.

Conflict. Norway's early kings (especially Harold Fairhair, c. a.d. 900-940) prevailed in conflicts with local lords to establish centralized leadership; this pattern of internal armed conflict was congruent with simultaneous external Viking conquest. When Norway was ceded by Denmark to Sweden in 1814, the Norwegians attempted unsuccessfully to repel the Swedish army and establish an independent government. Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905 was achieved without military conflict. Norway was occupied by Germany in World War II.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Lutheranism became the official state religion in Norway in the sixteenth century and remains such, although minority religions (Baptists, Catholics) are also evident. Although membership in the state church is high, many Norwegians are not regular churchgoers, with women generally putting more emphasis on church attendance. High festivals such as Christmas, Easter, and Norwegian Independence Day (Syttende Mai) are ritualized events with national costumes, festive foods, and church attendance integrated into the celebrations.

Arts. Various folk arts, such as rose painting and costume and clothing manufacture, are accompanied by modern forms of visual, literary, and theatrical arts.

Medicine. State-supported socialized medicine fulfills health care needs, with hospital care as a norm for childbirth and serious illnesses. Almost all drugs are dispensed on a prescription basis in pharmacies (apotek ).

Death and Afterlife. Funerals, like all life-and-death Rituals (baptism, confirmation), are generally held in the church. The concept of a continuing spirit after death, which is in accordance with Lutheran theology, is however absent in a significant number of nonchurchgoing Norwegians, approximately 30 percent of the total population.

See also Saami; Finns


Barnes, John A. (1954). "Class and Committee in a Norwegian Island Parish." Human Retenons 7:39-58.

Barnes, John A. (1957). "Land Rights and Kinship in Two Bremnes Hamlets." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 87:31-56.

Barth, Fredrik, ed. (1963). The Role of the Entrepreneur in Social Change in Northern Norway. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Eliot, Thomas D., et al. (1960). Norway's Families. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hollos, Marida (1974). Growing Up in Flathill. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.


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Official name: Kingdom of Norway

Area: 324,220 square kilometers (125,182 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Galdhøpiggen (2,469 meters/8,100 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,752 kilometers (1,089 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest, 430 kilometers (267 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries: 2,515 kilometers (1,562 miles) total boundary length; Finland 729 kilometers (453 miles); Sweden 1,619 (1,006 miles kilometers); Russia 167 kilometers (104 miles)

Coastline: 21,925 kilometers (13,594 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 7 kilometers (4 nautical miles)


Norway is located on the Scandinavian peninsula in northern Europe, west of Sweden and east of the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. The country also shares borders with Russia and Finland. Almost one-third of the country sits north of the Arctic Circle. With a total area of about 324,220 square kilometers (125,182 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico. Norway is divided into nineteen counties.


Norway has claimed four island dependencies. Bouvet Island is located in the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and Antarctica. Peter I Island is also located off the Antarctic coast. Jan Mayen Island is located in the Arctic Ocean northeast of Iceland. All three of these islands are uninhabited.

The Svalbard Archipelago, located north of Norway in the Arctic Ocean, is at the center of a maritime border dispute between Norway and Russia.

In addition to the four islands, Norway also has a territorial claim in Antarctica.


The warm waters of the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerly winds keep the climate of Norway mild, even though the country is so far north. Along the west and southwest coast, high temperatures average 3°C (38°F) in January and 19°C (66°F) in July. The climate is more extreme and temperature ranges are broader in Norway's interior. The arctic north is much colder than the south, but even here the Gulf Stream keeps temperatures relatively warm and the coast ice-free. Oslo, in the southern interior, has an average high temperature of 28°C (82°F) in July and 5°C (41°F) in January.

The coastal areas of the west receive almost year-round rainfall. Some areas average 330 centimeters (130 inches). Precipitation is not as great in the interior. Oslo, in the southern interior, averages 76 centimeters (30 inches) of precipitation a year.


Norway consists of five geographic regions. The West Country (Vestlandet) is an area carved by glaciers and features majestic fjords and the abrupt slope of the western Scandinavian Mountains toward the North Sea. Connected to the West Country by numerous valleys, the East Country (Ostlandet) contains rolling hills and valleys that contain some of the country's richest agricultural soil. The Trondheim (Trøndelag) Depression forms a natural boundary between the northern and southern halves of the country. It is a region of hills, valleys, and fjords north of the high mountain ranges. Farther to the north is North Norway (Nord Norge), which is marked by fjords, mountains, vast snowfields, and some of Europe's largest glaciers. In the far south is an area of agricultural lowlands known as South Country (Sorlandet).


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Most of the western coast of Norway lies on the Norwegian Sea. Part of the southwest coastline borders the North Sea. Both seas are extensions of the Atlantic Ocean. The north-ernmost coast of the country borders the Barents Sea, an extension of the Arctic Ocean.

Sea Inlets and Straits

On the southernmost coast of Norway, the Skagerrak Strait separates the country from Denmark.

Most of the Norwegian coastline is cut with countless fjords, for which the country is most famous. High plateaus often surround these fjords, forming breathtaking natural harbors.

Islands and Archipelagos

Except in the southwest and the far north, the Norwegian coast has a stretch of islands called the Skjaergard. Containing roughly fifty thousand islands, this island zone reaches its broadest width of over 60 kilometers (37 miles) at the southern approaches to the Trondheim Fjord. The outer islands, protruding from relatively shallow waters, rarely exceed 30 meters (100 feet) in height, while the inner islands may rise to 305 meters (1,000 feet). These islands are characterized by a series of rock terraces known as strandflats.

The Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands off the northwestern coast are the country's most extensive island chains. They are formed from glaciers that covered the tops of partially submerged ancient volcanic ranges. The larger islands of Hinnøya, Kvaløy, Senja, and Ringvassøy also lie off the northwest coast.


Scandinavia is the region of northwestern Europe that lies on the peninsula bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (in the form of the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea), the Baltic Sea, and the Gulf of Bothnia. Even though Norway and Sweden are the only two countries that lie directly on this peninsula, the countries of Denmark, Iceland, and Finland also are usually considered to be Scandinavian countries in a cultural context.

The Svalbard archipelago, a dependency that includes the Spitzbergen archipelago, North-East Island, Edge Island, and Barents Island, is located north of Norway in the Arctic Ocean. The island group covers an area of 62,700 square kilometers (24,208 square miles). Although ice sheets and permafrost blanket most of the islands, they are the sites of the northernmost permanent settlements in Europe.

Bouvet Island was claimed for Norway in 1927. It is located in the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and Antarctica. It is uninhabited and is almost completely covered by ice. Additionally, Norway has claimed Peter I Island, off the Antarctic coast.

Coastal Features

Except in the southernmost part of the country, Norway's coastline is extremely irregular. Deep fjords extend far into the interior of the country in many places. Glaciers carved these troughs into the interior plateau. The longest and deepest fjord is Sogne Fjord (Sognafjorden). It is approximately 204 kilometers (127 miles) long, with walls rising sharply from the coast to elevations of 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) in some places. Other major fjords in the south include Oslo Fjord, Hardanger Fjord, Bokn Fjord, and Romsdals Fjord. In the middle of the country, the Trondheim Fjord extends 126 kilometers (78 miles) into the interior. Arctic fjords such as Tana, Porsangen, and Varanger tend to be broader and somewhat shorter.

In the far north of Norway, on Magerøya Island, is North Cape (Nordkap). This is the northernmost point in all of Europe.


Glacial lakes abound in Norway. Nearly onetwelfth of the country is under fresh water. Lake Mjøsa, at 363 square kilometers (140 square miles) in area and 452 meters (1,982 feet) in depth, is by far the largest lake. Most of the other larger lakes are 122 meters (400 feet) above the sea; these elevated lakes perhaps were once heads of fjords that have since been sealed off from the ocean.


Norway has numerous glacier-fed rivers. Most are swift and turbulent, rushing through steep valleys and rocky gorges. The only navigable rivers are the Glåma and the Dramselva. The Glåma is the longest river in Scandinavia, at 563 kilometers (350 miles) long. It rises more than 610 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level at Aursunden Lake and flows south into the Skagerrak. Many lakes widen the stream, and the river is famous for its waterfalls. The Dramselva River rises in the central part of the country and also flows south, entering Oslo Fjord at Drammen. Other major rivers in the south are the Otra, Sira, and the two Lågen Rivers. The Reisa and the Tana Rivers are situated in the extreme north.


There are no desert regions in Norway.


The East Country contains rolling hills and valleys that support most of the agriculture of the country. Only 3 percent of Norway's land is considered arable, however, and there are no regions of permanent pasture. The Trondheim Depression forms a natural boundary between the northern and southern halves of the country.


Norwegian mountain ranges are roughly divided into three groups. In the north, the Kjølen range forms a natural barrier between Norway and Sweden and extends northward toward the border with Finland. Further south is the Dovrefjell chain, which abuts the Trondheim Depression in the south; together, the mountains and valleysplit the country into its northern and southern areas.

Norway's highest mountain range, the Langfjell, lies south of the Trondheim Depression and the Dovrefjell. This range, comprised of sharp peaks called fjells and high plateaus called vidder, runs southwest to northeast and divides the West and East countries. The Rondane Mountains and the Jotunheimen are part of this range. Galdhøpiggen, Scandinavia's highest mountain at 2,469 meters (8,100 feet), belongs to the Jotunheimen.

The Beerenberg volcano (2,277 meters/ 7,470 feet), the world's northernmost active volcano, created the uninhabited dependency of Jan Mayen Island in the Arctic Ocean northeast of Iceland. Jan Mayen has an area of 373 square kilometers (144 square miles). Beerenberg erupted most recentlyin 1970.


The movements of glaciers created most of the cave areas in Norway. Svarthammergrotta has the largest chamber of any cave in Norway. "Glacier Hall," as the chamber is called, has a width of 30 to 50 meters (98 to 164 feet), a height of 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet), and a length of 200 meters (656 feet). Ice samples taken from the cave have been dated to approximately 1,200 a.d.


Glaciers of the Ice Age carved countless plateaus into the Norwegian landscape, some of them very large. The Norwegian Plateau includes the western and eastern vidders in the high mountains of the central region. Other major plateaus are the Finnmark Plateau in the far north and the Hardangervidda in the south. The Hardangervidda has an elevation of 1,830 meters (6,004 feet) and an area of 6,474 square kilometers (2,500 square miles), with steep sides scarred and grooved by waterfalls and valleys.


Known as the "land of the midnight sun," the far northern region of Norway has 24-hour daylight from May through July. Oslo and the rest of the southern region have summer daylight from about 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Conversely, from November to the end of January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north.

Most of the northern end of the Norwegian Plateau in the country's central region is covered by icecaps. The Jostedalsbreen glacier is found in this area. It is the largest glacier in Europe at 1,502 square kilometers (580 square miles) in area and possibly 457 meters (1,500 feet) thick. The Folgefonn glacier is also found here. The top of this glacier is over 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level.

Norway's northern extremes, including the Finnmark Plateau, are also heavily glaciated. Other large snowfields include Hallinskarvet in the Hardangervidda, Snohetta in the Dovre-fjell, Seiland near Hammerfest, and Oksfjordjokel near Kvanangen.


There are no significant man-made structures affecting the geography of Norway.



Blashfield, Jean F. Norway. New York: Children's Press, 2000.

Charbonneau, Claudette. The Land and People of Norway. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Norway in Pictures. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992.

Vanberg, B. Of Norwegian Ways. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

Zickgraf, Ralph. Norway. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 1999.

Web Site

Visit Norway. (accessed June 18, 2003).

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Psychoanalysis has throughout its history in Norway had strong connections with both the psychiatric health-care system and with academic psychiatry and psychology.

In 1905, Ragnar Vogt, who was to become the first professor of psychiatry in Norway, referred to the "psychocathartic" method of Freud in his psychiatric textbook, Psykiatriens grundtreok (An outline of psychiatry). Freud (1914d) referred to this as the first textbook of psychiatry to refer to psychoanalysis. It was not until the 1920s, however, that psychoanalysis was practiced in Norway, first and foremost under the leadership of Harald Schjelderup, who was from 1928 professor in psychology at the University of Oslo.

Schjelderup and several others went to central Europe for training, and psychoanalysis was established as a clinical discipline over the course of the 1930s, although there were intense debates and at times heavy opposition from the medical and clerical establishments. In the cultural field psychoanalysis was discussed both theoretically (the Freud-Marx debate) and on the practical and political level in the struggle for a healthier attitude toward sexuality. The latter was spear-headed by the journal Sexual Information, published by Karl Evang, later the surgeon general in Norway.

On August 22, 1931, a group of Scandinavian psychoanalysts gathered in Stockholm to establish a study-circle of psychoanalysts, with the aim of seeking an affiliation with the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA). In 1933 a Nordic psychoanalytic society was formed with Alfhild Tamm from Sweden as president and Schjelderup as vice-president. At the Luzern congress in 1934, it was decided to establish a Danish-Norwegian and a Finnish-Swedish society, following a heated debate on the subject of unscientific analysis. This debate stemmed an part from the fact that Wilhelm Reich came to Oslo in 1934 at the invitation of Harald Schjelderup. Ernest Jones, the president of IPA, set the condition that Wilhelm Reich was not to be member of the Danish-Norwegian society. This was unacceptable as a condition, but Reich was nevertheless rejected for membership by society vote. The Danish-Norwegian society (soon altered to Norwegian-Danish because of the limited participation from Denmark) was then established, with Harald Schjelderup as president and Otto Fenichel as secretary. Fenichel had arrived in Oslo in 1933 and stayed until 1935. The first years of organized psychoanalysis in Norway were then marked by the struggle between the forceful personalities of Fenichel and Reich. This created a split in the milieu. The battle, which also engaged the medical establishment and the public, was centered on Reich's development of character-analysis, "vegetotherapy," and his quasi-scientific discoveries of the energy of life. Reich was ordered to leave Norway in 1939. His work on character-analysis has, however influenced psychoanalysis and psychiatry, and especially child-psychiatry through the work of Nic Waal.

When Germany occupied Norway, it was decided to temporarily dissolve the psychoanalytic society, to avoid being seen in Germany as interfering with the Nazi regime. Most of the members of the society participated in the resistance movement or in other defensive activities. Harald Schjelderup, as leader of the resistance at the university, was sent to the Grini concentration camp, near Oslo, and several others were forced to flee. Landmark died in violence in northern Norway, and P. Bernstein died in a concentration camp in Germany.

The temporary dissolution during wartime was not intended as a resignation from the IPA, but was treated as such by IPA authorities. The pioneers Schjelderup, Braatøy, and Simonsen re-established the Norwegian-Danish society in 1947, and it continued until 1953 when the Danes started their own organization. They were accepted as a component society in 1957 but it was not until 1975 that the Norwegian society received this status. The reason for the exclusion after wartime has not been established, and there is no official documentation that such an exclusion occurred. It was, however, obvious that the shadow of Wilhelm Reich's influence was a disadvantage for membership. An application made at the XVIII congress in London in 1953 was turned down with the argument that there were some members of the group who did not practice psychoanalysis, obviously referring to people seen as followers of Reich. The Norwegians argued that it was impossible to break with colleagues with whom one had resisted during the war. There followed a long struggle for recognition, with applications made at different congresses. One problem was the limited practice of Schjelderup, who maintained few sessions a week in training analysis, with the express purpose of increasing the educational capacity (he also claimed good results). In 1971 the Norwegian society was given status as a study group, and it finally regained status as component society in 1975 (Alnæs, 1994).

The Norwegian Psychoanalytic Institute had already been established in 1967 under the leadership of Peter Andreas Holter and the formal recognition by IPA gave impetus to an expansion of its activities, with a responsibility for psychoanalytic education being at the center. In later years other activities have seen increased focus, including research, teaching, and lecturing. The institute publishes the Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review in collaboration with the other Scandinavian societies.

The modern Society has more than fifty members and still more candidates. There is an active child-analytic group and a group working with psychoanalytic research. The main trend is a broad object-relational approach with emphasis on analysis of character, along with some inspiration from ego-psychology.

The most significant figures in Norwegian psychoanalysis have contributed in a variety of capacities. Harald Krabbe Schjelderup (1895-1974) was the main pioneer of psychoanalysis in Norway. His numerous publications on psychoanalysis include, Neurosis and the Neurotic Character (1940) and "Lasting Effects of Psychoanalytic Treatment" (1957). Trygve Braatøy (1904-53) trained in Berlin. He worked at the Menninger clinic, 1949-1951, and was clinical director of a psychiatric hospital in Oslo. His publications include Foundation of Psychoanalytic Technique (1954). Hjørdis Simonsen (1899-1980), perhaps the most important figure in the 1930s and after the war, was trained in Berlin, and later worked as a training analyst. Nic Waal (1905-1960), trained in Berlin and became a child psychiatrist. Finn Hansen (b. 1918), trained in Berlin and worked as training analyst. Peter Andreas Holter (b. 1927), a training analyst, was the first leader of the institute.

Sverre Varvin


Alnaes, Randolf. (1994). Psychoanalysis in Norway. History, training, treatment, and research. Nordisk Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 48.

Braatøy, Trygve. (1954). Fundamentals of psychoanalytic technique. London: Wiley.

Freud, Sigmund. (1914d). On the history of the psychoanalytic movement. SE, 14: 1-66.

Schjelderup, Harald K. (1957). Lasting effects of psychoanalytic treatment. Psychiatry, 18, 109-133.

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323,900sq km (125,050sq mi)



capital (population):

Oslo (507,467)


Constitutional monarchy

ethnic groups:

Norwegian 97%


Norwegian (official), Lappish, Finnish


Christianity (Lutheran 88%)


Krone = 100 ore

Scandinavian kingdom in nw Europe. The Kingdom of Norway forms the w part of the Scandinavian peninsula. Its coast is fringed by many islands and fjords. Many of Norway's cities lie on or near the fjords, including the capital, Oslo, and Bergen and Trondheim. The land rises steeply from the coastal lowlands to a 1500m (5000ft) central plateau. Europe's largest glacier field, Josdtedalsbreen, lies w of Galdhøppigen, Norway's highest point, at 2469m (8100ft). The plateau contains many deep valleys with lakes and rivers, such as the Glåma. The distant Arctic islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen are Norwegian possessions.

Climate and Vegetation

North Atlantic Drift gives Norway a mild climate. Most of its ports remain ice-free throughout the year. Snow covers the land for more than three months every year. In Trømso, the Sun does not rise between November and January. Large areas of the rugged mountains are bare rock. Forest and woods cover c.27% of Norway.

History and Politics

Norway's seafaring tradition dates back to the Vikings, who raided w Europe between the 9th and 11th centuries. Olaf II introduced Christianity in the early 11th century, but was deposed by Canute II of Denmark. Haakon IV re-established unity in the 13th century. In 1319, Sweden joined with Norway.

In 1397, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were united in the Kalmar Union. For the next four centuries, Norway was subject to Danish rule. Lutheranism became the state religion in the mid-16th century. In 1814, Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden. Norway declared independence, but Swedish troops forced Norway to accept union under the Swedish crown.

Norway became an independent monarchy in 1905. It remained neutral in World War I. In the 1920s and 1930s, Norway industrialized and adopted progressive social welfare provisions. In April 1940, German troops invaded. More than 50% of Norway's merchant fleet was destroyed in the resistance. Liberation finally arrived in May 1945. Norway joined NATO in 1949, and was a co-founder (1960) of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In 1972 and 1994 referendums, Norway voted against joining the European Community. In 1977, Gro Harlem Brundtland became Norway's first woman prime minister. In 1991 Harald V succeeded his father Olaf V. In 1996, Brundtland was replaced as prime minister by Thorbjoern Jagland. In 1997 elections, a centrist coalition, led by Kjell Magne Bondevik, defeated Jagland. In 2000, Bondevik resigned and was replaced as prime minister by Jens Stoltenberg.


Norway has one of the world's highest standards of living (2000 GDP per capita, US$27,700). Its chief exports are oil and natural gas. Oil was discovered in 1969. Norway is the world's eighth-largest producer of crude oil. Per capita, Norway is the world's largest producer of hydroelectricity. Major manufactures include petroleum products, chemicals, aluminium, wood pulp and paper. Farmland covers c.3% of the land. Dairy farming and meat production are the chief activities, but Norway has to import food. Norway has the largest fish catch in Europe (after Russia).

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Norsk (in Norwegian), Norse (historical)


Identification. The name Norge ("the Northern Way") originally pertained to a region of the country before political consolidation under Harald the Fair-Haired around 900 c.e. In later use, the country's name indicates its location on the northern periphery of Europe. Some of the northerly sections of the country are home to at least two main groups (coastal and mountain) of an indigenous population of Sami (previously called Lapps) with a separate language and distinct cultural traditions. Some groups of Sami practice reindeer nomadism and range across northern Sweden and Finland. A smaller Gypsy population also was part of the otherwise homogeneous population. For humanitarian reasons, in the late twentieth century, the country welcomed asylum seekers and immigrants from other countries. Norwegians have an acute sense of identity fostered by a nineteenth century national romantic movement and by the country's emergence in 1905 as an independent constitutional monarchy. The small scale of Norwegian society, with a population of little more than four million, also promotes cultural sharing.

Location and Geography. Norway is situated on the western side of the Scandinavian peninsula, which it shares with its eastern neighbor, Sweden. The North Sea borders the country on the west, and the Barent Sea lies to the north. Spitsbergen, a group of islands four hundred miles to the north in the Arctic Ocean, is a Norwegian dependency. The country also shares borders with Finland and Russia in its northern regions. A long and narrow landmass, Norway extends more than 1,100 miles from north to south and varies in width between 270 miles and 4 miles. One-third of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle. The dominant feature of the topography is a backbone of mountains extending down the Scandinavian peninsula, with fjords, or long inlets of the sea, penetrating inland on the west and south. With a total area of 125,181 square miles (324,200 square kilometers), much of the country is dominated by rugged mountainous or coastal landscapes that have made tourism an important industry. Only about 3 percent of the land area is suitable for raising crops, and nearly half of that land is situated in the east, near Oslo, the capital, where broad, open valleys produce grain and root crops. The west coast traditionally has supported smaller farms perched along the fjords or nestled in mountain valleys. Farming and fishing have always been major occupations in this region. Trondheim, a medieval cathedral city on the west coast, also has an agricultural hinterland. The northern region constitutes the largest part of the country, with 35 percent of the land area and only 12 percent of the population. Fishing has been the major traditional occupation in this region. Oslo, which was called Kristiania before the nation gained independence, has long been associated with major governmental functions.

Demography. In January 2000, the total population was 4,478,497. Approximately thirty thousand to forty thousand of those residents self-identify as Sami. The first census which was taken in 1769, recorded 723,618 residents. For most of the nineteenth century, the population grew at an average annual rate of 1.7 percent in spite of substantial migration to the United States during the second half of that century. The postWorld War II growth rate declined to about 0.2 percent annually.

Immigrants constitute just under 6 percent of the total population. The largest number of immigrants came from Sweden and Denmark, with the third largest contingent coming from Pakistan.

In 1999, the population grew by 0.7 percent, the largest annual rate of growth since the first half of the 1950s. This unusual growth is accounted for by the arrival of 19,300 persons from abroad. Approximately 67,200 persons with a political refugee background lived in Norway at the beginning of 1999. Among the recent refugees, the largest groups are from Bosnia (11,000), Vietnam (10,500), and Iran (8,100). Refugees are concentrated in and around the largest cities, with approximately one-third living in the Oslo area.

Linguistic Affiliation. The major languages of the indigenous minority and majority populations are Samisk (Lappish), a Finnic language, and two official Norwegian languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk, both of which are Germanic languages. Bokmål, or "book language," is derived from the Danish-influenced Norwegian used in the eastern region. A product of the national romantic movement, Nynorsk, or "New Norwegian," was constructed in the nineteenth century from peasant dialects to create a genuinely Norwegian written language. Formulated by Ivar Aasen, a self-taught linguist from the west coast, Nynorsk was consciously constructed to reveal a clear relationship to Old Norse, linking contemporary Norway with the Viking age.

Symbolism. The flag, folk costumes, the land (or landscape), and the home are the major symbols of national unity. The flag (a red background with blue stripes outlined in white) is owned and flown not only by public agencies but by many private individuals. On Constitution Day (17 May), citizens appear at public celebrations carrying small flags and wearing red, white, and blue streamers pinned to their clothing. In the year 2000, there were thirteen official flag days. Folk or national costumes (bunad) are owned by large numbers of both men and women. Based on local traditional peasant apparel, women's costumes include elaborate skirts, blouses, jackets, stockings, and shoes adorned with silver pins and decorations. Because of increased affluence in recent decades, more individuals own costumes, which are considered correct attire for any festive or formal occasion. The design and colors of the costumes vary according to locality so that each large fjord or valley has a distinctive costume. Fostered by national romanticism, folk costumes are partially constructed traditions, with some historically authentic elements and some new elements. The costume for the city of Bergen, for example, was designed in 1956.

The national anthem affirms a love for the land and the importance of the home as symbols of nationhood. Festive days in this home-centered society often feature a public celebration followed by gatherings of families and relatives in people's homes. Entertaining is done at home, not at restaurants or bars. Homes are comfortable refuges and are decorated to express the identity of the family. Because there is less geographic mobility than is the case in some other countries, family members and relatives tend to live in the same region over a number of generations and identify with the local area. This attachment to place is also apparent in people's relationship to nature. Half the nation's families have access to nearby ski huts, cabins, or boats, and virtually everyone engages in outdoor pursuits such as skiing, hiking, and boating. In a variety of ways, Norwegians aim to preserve rather than transform the local natural landscape. At the same time, they attempt to preserve the cultural traditions of the locality through numerous folk museums and other specialized heritage organizations.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Norway claims the heritage of early Norse seafarers, raiders, colonizers, explorers, and merchants for whom the "Viking Age" (793 to 1050 c.e.) was named. In the ninth century Harald Fairhair became the first king of all of Norway, consolidating smaller kingdoms through alliance and conquest. Harald's descendant, Olaf Tryggvesson (Olaf I), converted to Christianity while in England and came to Norway in 995 to force conversion of the country from the Norse religion. Killed in 1030 at the Battle of Stiklestad, Olaf II (Saint Olaf) was the first king to organize an administration for church and state. His brother, Harald III, was killed invading England in 1066. The Black Death devastated the country in 13491350, killing at least one-third of the population. A weakened Norway was politically joined with Sweden and Denmark at the Union of Kalmar, in 1397. Danish kings ruled Norway until 1814.

The emergence of the nation-state can be traced to the development of a national culture, then to that of a national identity, and finally to the political events that led to the country's final emergence as an independent nation in 1905. The Napoleonic Wars resulted in the dissolution of the union between Denmark and Norway in 1814, the year in which the Norwegian constitution was established. Norway had been a province of Denmark for nearly four hundred years before it was ceded to Sweden. The union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905.

The foundation for the development of a national culture can be traced to the national romanticism of an intellectual elite. In the late eighteenth century, Norway was predominantly rural, with a tiny elite of religious and government officials under the king of Denmark. Those administrators began to collect information about the topography and landscape of the national regions and the natural history of the land. Later, the educated bourgeoisie wrote about the history of the country, tracing the connection between the present and the Icelandic sagas, the Viking period, the medieval period, and the decline of Norway in the period before the union with Denmark (13801814). Those intellectuals also began recording and describing rural culture, including folktales, architecture, customs, clothing, mythology, music, and peasant dialects. From a national romantic perspective, this information helped make the case for a distinct Norwegian land, culture, and history quite different from those of other Nordic countries. Rural culture became identified as Norwegian culture, a culture that could be traced back to Viking times.

National Identity. The idea of a distinct Norwegian culture piqued the interest of writers, painters, dramatists, musicians, and religious leaders. The culture of the rural peasants was not the culture of the intellectual elite, but the elites reinterpreted and identified with that tradition. By the middle of the nineteenth century, schoolbooks reflected the theme of a distinct, rural Norwegian culture, as did a variety of popular journals. Writers conveyed the notion that everything of true value was found close to home, in the everyday life of simple people. In the second half of the century, voluntary organizations that promoted popular enlightenment helped shape the consciousness of a common culture and history. In the national dialogues that followed, a national identity was formed, contributing to the eventual dissolution of the union with Sweden.

Ethnic Relations. Relations between the majority population and the indigenous Sami peoples have been problematic on occasion. In 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission asked Norway to explain the delay in giving the Sami population self-determination. Defining the population has been difficult in that many people in that population who were not engaged in reindeer nomadism chose or felt compelled to assimilate into mainstream Norwegian culture. The establishment in Karasjok, north Norway, of a Sami parliament to coordinate relations with local, regional, and national government offices has helped draw attention to the needs of that population. The Sami parliament and the governments of Norway, Sweden, and Finland are beginning to coordinate Sami issues across national boundaries.

Because immigration has been tightly controlled, immigrants from non-Scandinavian countries have not constituted a large or visible minority until recently. In the 1980s, as the attitude toward asylum seekers became somewhat less sympathetic, survey data showed that about half the respondents felt that those newcomers were given too much special treatment.

Surveys have shown that outside of business dealings, relatively few Norwegians have contact with the immigrant populations. Those who have had informal contact with immigrants tend to be sympathetic and positive toward them, but those who have not had such contact tend to be less positive. In a survey in 2000, 64 percent of residents agreed that the country should continue to take in as many immigrants and asylum seekers as it does currently. Over 90 percent of the surveyed population agreed that immigrants should have the same job opportunities as native residents, affirming a basic belief in equality of opportunity.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The national culture is informed by an anti-urban bias that idealizes the natural environment and rural life. Regional policies are aimed at providing a high level of services and amenities in less populated regions to encourage people to remain there rather than migrate to urban centers. Cities such as Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim have low population densities since they incorporate substantial areas of undeveloped "natural" forests within their boundaries that are used by the residents for recreation. In Oslo, streetcars run through the city to the edge of the forest, where they empty their cargo of hikers and skiers. While all the cities have parks for relaxation and enjoyment, those manicured urban environments are not as culturally important as the wilder and less regulated woods, mountains, and seashores. A walk in the woods on Sunday morning, either on a challenging trail or on the "family path" suitable for baby buggies and wheelchairs, is considered almost essential for coping with urban stress. In the winter, these paths become cross-country ski trails. Cities, thus, attempt to incorporate natural areas to counterbalance the built environment. Similarly, residential dwellings usually have their own mode of indoor-outdoor living. Single-family homes and apartment houses usually have a deck, balcony, or porch that gives residents convenient access to the outdoors.

While many older residences have straight sidewalks and broad, open lawns, many newer houses are nestled into their own miniature woods of closely planted trees and evergreen shrubs. The distinction between the built environment and the natural environment is often blurred as these two areas are made to interpenetrate.

Except perhaps for Oslo's City Hall, which serves as a landmark for ships coming up the fjord to the harbor, government architecture is usually less awe-inspiring and intimidating than inviting and approachable. The Storting, or parliament hall, in Oslo is built to a human scale and is embedded within a busy downtown area with considerable foot traffic. The Royal Palace, which is situated on a small hill overlooking a busy street, is the destination for thousands of cheerful marchers in the Constitution Day parade as they greet and are greeted by the royal family waving from the balcony.

Seating in parks and public places is not conducive to conversation among strangers. Acquaintances can find seating next to each other, but not in an arrangement that encourages eye contact and conversation. This configuration allows people to use public space without drawing attention to themselves or invading the personal space of others. In homes, in contrast, furniture often is arranged to encourage conversation among family members and friends. Homes should be furnished to reflect the good taste of their owners, often with the clean simplicity of Scandinavian design, using natural materials such as wood and wool.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The food considered by many to be most typically Norwegian is brown cheese that is thinly sliced with a cheese plane (a Norwegian invention) and eaten on bread. Breakfasts (frokost) usually consists of coffee, breads (including flatbread or crisp bread), pickled or smoked fish, cold meats, perhaps boiled eggs, and milk products such as cheese, butter, yogurt, and varieties of sour milk. Breakfast may be more substantial than the noon meal (lunsj) which may consist of an open-faced sandwich of bread, cheese, paté, or cold meat, perhaps accompanied by a piece of fruit and coffee. Fish and meat (pork, beef, lamb, chicken, and whale) and boiled potatoes, usually served with gravy or melted butter, traditionally have defined the late afternoon meal (middag). Root vegetables such as carrots often supplement potatoes. Beer or wine is drunk occasionally in the evening. Pizza and hamburgers are popular occasional meals and often are served at fast-food restaurants. Cafés and cafeterias serve open-faced sandwiches with cold meats, smoked fish, or cheese as well as simple but substantial meals of meat or fish and boiled potatoes. Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic restaurants often occupy the medium-price niche, while restaurants with seafood and continental cuisine are the most expensive. In the last several decades, the cuisine has become more diversified and international. The consumption of fats has gone down in the last twenty years, the consumption of meat has never been higher, and the consumption of fish has gone down and is much lower than recommended by the Nutritional Council. The popularity of potatoes has declined, while that of rice and pasta has gone up. Cereal consumption is stable. Norway has continued to hunt minke whales along its coast. Whale meat is eaten as steaks or in a stew.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. For Constitution Day, many families traditionally eat a meal of flat bread, thinly sliced dried meats, and milk porridge, with beer or aquavit as a beverage. Christmas meal traditions vary by region and may include roast pork, other meat, or lutefisk. On festive occasions, both restaurants and family meals may feature a kaldt bord with a large array of cold meats, cheeses, shrimp, smoked or pickled fish, salads, jams, and soft and crisp breads. Cloudberries and lingonberries, both of which grow wild on mountain plateaus, are particular favorites.

Basic Economy. The country is highly dependent on international trade for manufactured consumer goods but has a trade surplus. Most employment is in highly specialized services and manufacturing, with only a small workforce in the traditional occupations of forestry, farming, and fishing. In a labor force of more than two million workers, approximately 72 percent are in services, 23 percent work in industry, and 5 percent engage in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The currency is the Krone (Crown).

Land Tenure and Property. The allocation of farmland is regulated carefully to encourage the continuity of ownership within the family line. Farms are not divided among heirs, thus avoiding the fragmentation of farms into small, economically nonviable units. The lineal descendants of a farmer have the first right to purchase a farm. Conflicts over farm boundaries and the surreptitious movement of boundary stones are part of the folklore of most agricultural districts. Hikers have the right to walk on unplanted farmland.

Commercial Activities. Firms produce, package, distribute, and sell food products, beverages, textiles, clothing, footwear, wood products, furniture, and chemicals for domestic consumption. Printing, publishing, and media production are important enterprises for a highly literate nation that is a world leader in the consumption of newspapers, magazines, and books per capita.

Major Industries. As a consequence of the discovery and exploitation of North Sea oil in the 1970s, Norway has become the world's second largest exporter of oil and natural gas. Much of this production is managed by Statoil, a government enterprise. Since 1993 the country has exported hydroelectricity, which it produces in excess of domestic needs. Although shipbuilding has declined, Norway has one of the leading merchant fleets, with approximately 762 ships. Other exports include transportation equipment, electrometallurgical products, electrochemical products (processed with hydroelectric power), paper and pulp from the extensive forests, and fish, increasingly produced in fish farms in coastal waters. For the home market, the country produces equipment, furniture, and textiles. About half the manufacturing firms are located along the Oslo fjord. Livestock are the most important products of the subsidized agricultural sector.

Trade. Norway exports goods to its main trading partners: the European Union, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, and the United States. Exports include petroleum and natural gas, hydroelectric power, metals, chemicals, paper pulp, and fish. The United States is a significant importer of smoked salmon. Manufactured goods, machinery, and chemicals are imported from the trading partners.

Division of Labor. Government, labor, and management are integrated into a centralized industrial planning system. Since the 1970s, the principle of codetermination has meant that labor and management increasingly share the determination of daily operations and longer-term planning. Workers typically have a great deal of autonomy. As a consequence of this trend in industrial democracy, emphasis is placed on training and the upgrading of workers' skills. In contrast to countries where labor is cheap and training is limited, decision making frequently is delegated to lower-level workers. The division of labor is based more on skills than on status and seniority.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The ethos of egalitarianism is reflected in the highly progressive marginal tax rate on personal incomes. While income differences are relatively flat, there is a small proportion of extremely rich owners and managers of merchant fleets. Although the affluent are likely to own ski huts in the mountains, their huts may not be better furnished than those of less affluent workers. Conspicuous consumption is not admired. Leisure time is an important resource for industrial workers, who in 2002 will have five weeks of vacation annually. Counting national holidays, this brings the number of working hours in the year down to 1,703 for industrial workers. Immigrant populations have tended to move into some of the less desirable and less well-paid occupations such as cleaners and fast food workers.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Affluent individuals signal their wealth by driving a luxury car, wearing expensive clothing, and taking expensive vacations. They may have a posh Oslo accent. However, these differences in possessions and advantages do not symbolize differences in moral worth. The author Aksel Sandemose, in En Flyktning krysser sitt spor (1953), described the law of the fictional village of Jante, which warns that "you should not believe that you are better than we are." The Law of Jante expresses a widespread cultural belief in egalitarianism.

Political Life

Government. Norway is a constitutional monarchy that divides responsibility between the parliament (Storting) and the King's Council of State, which consists of a prime minister and other ministers of state. The Storting, which consists of 165 representatives, is the supreme authority and controls finances. Representatives are elected by direct vote for a four-year term. One-quarter of the representatives serve in the upper chamber (Lagting), and the rest form the lower chamber (Odelsting). Local government is represented by 450 municipalities in eighteen counties.

Leadership and Political Officials. Leaders are supposed to be articulate and dedicated spokespersons for the policies of their parties. The major parties, listed roughly in order of their popularity in recent elections, are the Norwegian Labor Party (Arbeiderpartiet), a socialist party affiliated with labor unions; the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), a nationalistic party; the Conservative Party (Høyre ); the Christian People's Party (Kristelig Folkepartiet), which supports the use of the principles of Christianity in politics; the Center Party (Senterpartiet), which originally focused on agrarian issues; the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstrepartiet); and the Liberal Party (Venstre), a reform party. Coalition governments that rely on the cooperation of two or more parties are not uncommon. Party leaders receive considerable media attention and are supposed to be accessible to the electorate. They are not likely to respond to offers of gifts or special privileges.

Social Problems and Control. The judicial system has three levels: the district (Herredsrett) and city courts (Byrett), the High Court (Lagmannsrett) with six jurisdictions in the nation; and the Supreme Court (Høyesterett). Each municipality has a conciliation council (Forliksråd), where civil cases go first for mediation and possible out-of-court settlement. If this effort fails, the case can be taken to the district or city court. An "ombud" system has been established to hear complaints about actions by government agencies and private firms. The crime rate is about ten reported crimes per hundred thousand population. While the rate of crimes against persons is increasing, most crimes involve property.

Military Activity. National military service is required, with the option of community service for conscientious objectors. The nation has an army, navy, and air force; is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); and participates in peacekeeping operations. Norway spends 3 percent of the gross national product on defense.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

After 1945, the National Insurance Scheme was developed to manage and allocate resources for health, old age, disabilities, widows, widowers, children, and single parents. Approximately 15 percent of government expenditures are for health services. Nongovernmental organizations play an important role in supplementing this welfare system in partnership with the government. Special attention is given to organizations that support disadvantaged citizens through subsidies granted by local governments.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Approximately 62 percent of the population belonged to at least one voluntary organization in 1995. Historically, voluntary organizations were first developed in the middle of the nineteenth century as agents of change to support the social movements that were sweeping the country. Voluntary organizational life has been based on unpaid participation, personal membership, and commitment to egalitarian democratic principles. While participation in religious and temperance organizations has declined, membership has increased in organizations devoted to recreation and outdoor sports.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. In the contemporary period, Norway has followed an ideology, if not always the practice, of gender neutrality in access to economic, political, social, and religious roles. Women entered the workforce in larger numbers during the 1970s but continued to be involved in unpaid work to a greater degree than were men. There are few women in the upper levels of management of businesses and industries. According to the United Nations Development Programme, which created a "Gender-Related Development Index" to measure achievements in increased life expectancy, educational attainment, and income equality for men and women in 146 countries, Norway ranked second behind Canada and ahead of Sweden.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. The cause of gender equality was advanced by the women's movement of the 1960s. At that time, nine of ten women with small children did not work outside the home. Women began to enter the labor force in greater numbers with the increase in industrialization. Now nearly eight of ten women are employed outside the home.

Education is deliberately gender-neutral, with the goal of giving everyone an equal opportunity for self-realization. In the 1980s, women entered higher education in larger numbers, and constituted approximately 55 percent of the students at universities in 2000. In law and administration, men and women are accorded equality, with parental leaves available for both. Many of the roles traditionally reserved for men, such as the military and politics, are now integrated. In 1981, at age forty-one, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland first served as the prime minister, the youngest person and the first woman to do so. Several political parties follow the "sixty/ forty" rule in establishing committees, with women constituting at least 40 percent of the membership.

The armed services are sexually integrated, although the majority of service personnel are men. In 1998, the commander of a coastal defense submarine was a woman, with a crew of twenty men and one other woman. Some women's organizations regard this as tokenism and state that when the critical mass of 30 percent women is achieved, they will be pleased with the progress of integration of the armed forces.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriages are supposed to be romantic love matches between two individuals with similar values and perspectives. Marrying for economic, social, or political reasons would seem improper to most people. When King Harald, then the crown prince, wished to marry a commoner rather than seek a bride among the royal families of Europe, the nation approved.

Currently, 38 percent of residents are married, compared with 47 percent in 1978. The divorce rate has doubled in the last twenty years. In this generation, married women have worked for pay outside the household to a greater degree than was the case in earlier generations.

Domestic Unit. Currently, families usually consist of a husband, a wife, and no more than two children. Single-parent families are increasingly common. Two major urban family cultures, with a rural variant, exist. These cultures include the urban middle-class family, which may focus on a fair exchange of services and an equal sharing of tasks, and the urban working-class family, which may focus on the common good of the family rather than the needs of the individual members. Urban families often create symbolic boundaries between themselves and others; internally, they value "peace and quiet" as a theme of family life. The typical rural farm family focuses on maintaining a committed, harmonious unit. Divorce seems to be more common in the first type of family.

Inheritance. At marriage all material goods become joint property. A couple may enter into a contract specifying that, in case of divorce, each will retain the goods they brought to the marriage. This may be important in the case of farms and other significant property. Surviving spouses have a right to continue living in the family house until death. Children inherit equally from the parents.

Kin Groups. Three-generation family households exist most commonly in rural areas. Parents and children often choose to live close to each other. Relatives on both sides of a marriage are invited for life-crisis ceremonies such as baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death.


Infant Care. With the institutionalization of parental leave from employment, both parents can be available to provide care for infants. Traditionally, infants were regarded as defenseless and in need of constant care. Infants sleep in separate beds or cribs, either in their parents' bedroom or in a separate room. Breastfeeding on demand is now usual, but in previous generations was scheduled about every four hours. Fresh air is considered important and often babies are allowed to sleep outdoors in a pram. Stimulation, exploration, and play, both indoors and outdoors, are now emphasized. Some mothers carry infants close to their breast in carrying slings, but the use of prams is more common. Many parents use day care facilities for one to six year olds, although this form of institutional care for the youngest ages is controversial. For older toddlers, the social experience of interacting with others in day care facilities is highly valued.

Child Rearing and Education. The national culture tends to be extremely child-centered. A national welfare system for children was enacted as early as 1896, and in 1981, a national ombudsperson for children was established. Ideally, children should be cooperative and independent. However, socialization tends to be permissive since children are not taught boundary-setting rules and manners early. Childhood lasts longer than it does in many European countries, with adolescence not ending before graduation from high school. Since numerous mothers are employed, many children are socialized in child care facilities, either privately or through the local authority. Paid babysitters, usually young girls, may provide child care in cities when grandmothers are not available.

Confirmation as a member of the church is an important rite of passage. The ceremony is followed by a party to which neighbors and relatives are invited. Girls usually are given a bunad, or folk costume.

In traditional rural society, children were transformed into responsible adults, participating in adult economic activities, without going through a culturally recognized stage of adolescence. In the late twentieth century, adolescence became much more important for developing an identity separate from one's parents.

Higher Education. Vocational training or higher education for the majority of citizens is emphasized. After ten years of compulsory schooling, students may go on to an upper secondary school and then to one of the four universities or many colleges. Education accounts for approximately 14 percent of government expenditures.


Residents tend to be egalitarian, private, and noncompetitive. Gender equality is observed in most social settings. People rarely use the polite or formal form of address; the use of the informal pronoun for personal address is almost universal. Independence and self-sufficiency are valued. Being indebted by borrowing or receiving favors makes people uncomfortable. Individuals generally do not call attention to themselves through loud speech or flamboyant behavior. Personal space is respected, and so individuals stand well apart from each other when conversing. Punctuality is expected both in business and in social life.

People may be reserved among strangers but are warm and friendly once a relationship has been established. One should not inquire about personal issues unless one is well acquainted with a person. Respect for each individual's dignity is expected.

Competition is downplayed in most settings, Even the victors in sports contests are supposed to be humble and not obviously proud. After the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, King Harald worried that perhaps the nation had not been a good host since its athletes had won so many medals.


Religious Beliefs. The Norwegian-born Viking Olav Tryggvason was baptized as a Christian in London in 994 c.e. Soon afterward, King Olav brought Christianity to his homeland, converting first the leaders and later the farmers. In 1536, the Reformation came to the area, with the consequence that a greater emphasis was placed on personal faith. In 1814, the Evangelical Lutheran religion was named the official religion of the state, but the constitution also guaranteed freedom of religion. The pietist movement, which was particularly strong in the country in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, posed an alternative to the state church and contributed to an individual sense of religious commitment unmediated by the clergy. The state church subscribes to a belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The main religious holidays celebrate belief in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. Other religious groups such as Roman Catholics, Pentecostalists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, and Methodists, receive state subsidies. In recent years, immigrant populations have brought Islam to the nation.

Religious Practitioners. The king is the head of the state church, which employs a system of bishops and priests in the administrative structure. Local priests hold religious services and perform baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. The king appointed the first woman priest in 1961 and the first woman bishop in 1993. More than seventy nationally organized Christian voluntary organizations reinforce religious beliefs and practices. Those organizations also carry out missionary work at home and abroad and help with youth work and welfare.

Rituals and Holy Places. During the medieval period, the holy shrine of Saint Olav in the cathedral at Trondheim was a destination for pilgrims. In the contemporary period, 87 percent of the population belongs to the state church. While about seven million church visits are recorded annually, many people are more likely to be found on ski slopes or hiking trails than in church on Sunday. Religious services in the state church occur weekly and on the major religious holidays, including Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Whitmonday.

Death and the Afterlife. According to the doctrine of the state church, souls reside in heaven with Jesus after death. After the funeral, the body of the deceased is cremated or interred in a graveyard, usually adjacent to a church.

Medicine and Health Care

Norway is one of the healthiest countries in the world, with an average life expectancy of nearly seventy-eight years. Modern medicine replaced folk medical beliefs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Currently, there are over fifteen thousand doctors and nearly sixty thousand nurses. The compulsory National Insurance Scheme provides free hospital care and modest charges for medicines and primary care. Approximately 15 percent of government expenditures go for health care.

Secular Celebrations

The major holidays are New Year's Day (1 January), Labor Day (1 May), Constitution Day (17 May), Christmas (25 December), and Boxing Day (26 December). Labor Day is celebrated by the labor unions, with parades in the larger towns. The most important celebration of nationhood is on Constitution Day, which is an occasion for massive public parades by voluntary organizations, bands, unions, schools, and other civic groups. Christmas and Boxing Day are focused on family visits and gift giving.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Because of the small population base, the artistic community is challenged to earn a living. Government subsidies coordinated by thirty nationwide artists' organizations have provided a particularly Norwegian solution. Professional artists receive a minimum income until retirement. Through a variety of cooperative arrangements with counties and municipalities, the government has sponsored the creation of touring cultural organizations, bringing concerts, theater, and art exhibitions to smaller towns.

Literature. The Icelandic sagas of Snorri Sturlusson (11781241) often are considered the beginning of Norwegian literature, followed by The King's Mirror, a thirteenth century work. Pedar Clausson Friis (15451614) wrote descriptive works about the country and translated the sagas into Norwegian. The Trumpet of the Northland (1700) by Petter Dass details life in Norway. In the early eighteenth century, Ludvig Holberg wrote in a variety of forms, including satire and comedy. Henrik Wergeland (18081845) inspired the national romantic movement. As their contribution to the discovery of a national culture, Peter Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe collected the Norwegian Folktales (18411844). In the nineteenth century, the dominant figure was Henrik Ibsen (18281906), whose psychological dramas remain important in world literature. Knut Hamsun wrote powerful novels in the twentieth century. Later writers include Sigurd Hoel, Nordal Grieg, Tarjei Vesaas, and the Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset. Significant postwar writers include Jens Bjørneboe, Bjorg Vik, and Kjartan Flagstad.

Graphic Arts. Painters in the nineteenth century helped establish a national romantic vision. Edvard Munch's (18631944) symbolist works have been influential internationally. In sculpture, Gustav Vigeland's Frogner Park sculptures are well known. Pottery, glass, jewelry, metalsmithing, and textiles are central to Scandinavian design.

Performance Arts. The nation's greatest musician, Edvard Grieg (18431907), was inspired by the folk themes of his homeland, as was the violinist Ole Bull. Many cities have festivals for the performing arts. Perhaps the most famous is Bergen's annual festival featuring music, drama, and dance. Molde's jazz festival is notable. The National Theater and National Opera in Oslo are important institutions.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The universities at Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromso have extensive science and social science departments. Many of the regional colleges are strong in one or both areas. A variety of research institutes focus on applied knowledge, in fields as diverse as fish farming and petroleum extraction.


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Stoltenberg, Jens

Jens Stoltenberg (yĕns stōl´tĕnbĕrk), 1959–, Norwegian political leader, b. Oslo. An economist, he graduated (1987) from the Univ. of Oslo and taught (1989–90) there. A member of the Labor party, he was first elected to parliament in 1993 and served as minister of trade and energy (1993–96) and finance (1996–97). Deputy party leader (1992–2002) and then party leader (2002–), he was briefly prime minister (2000–2001) and assumed the office again after a Labor-led center-left coalition won the 2005 elections. His government was returned to office in 2009 but lost power in the 2013 elections. In 2014 he became NATO's secretary-general.

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The people of Norway are called Norwegians. The population is nearly all of the same ethnicitygenerally tall and fair-skinned, with blue eyes. Minority communities include some 20,000 Sami (Lapps) and 7,000 descendants of Finnish immigrants.

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Norway •Kabwe • hatchway • trackway •tramway • gangway • Yahweh •archway • parkway • pathway •headway • segue • expressway •airway, fairway, stairway •railway • gateway •freeway, keyway, leeway, seaway •speedway • breezeway • Midway •ridgeway •shipway, slipway •Kitwe • alleyway • Hemingway •anyway • carriageway • entryway •steerageway • taxiway • passageway •byway, highway, skyway •guideway, tideway •bridleway • Steinway • driveway •Otway •doorway, Norway •Broadway • walkway •Galway, hallway •causeway • roadway • throughway •sluiceway • footway • subway •someway • runway • clearway •areaway • flyaway •stowaway, throwaway •hideaway • foldaway •breakaway, takeaway •galloway • rollaway •colourway (US colorway), mulloway •Greenaway • Stornoway • runaway •caraway • tearaway • castaway •getaway • straightaway • waterway •motorway • cutaway • Hathaway •giveaway • companionway • sternway

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