Map of Norway
Map of Norway

Introduction to Norway

The Kingdom of Norway (Norwegian: Kongeriket Norge / Kongeriket Noreg) is a Nordic country on the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, bordering Sweden, Finland and Russia. Norway's extensive coastline along the North Atlantic Ocean is home to its famous fjords. The country has a very elongated shape. The Kingdom of Norway also includes the arctic island territories of Svalbard and Jan Mayen. The Norwegian sovereignty on Svalbard is based on the Svalbard Treaty, but this does not apply to Jan Mayen. Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean and Peter I Island in the South Pacific Ocean are also external dependencies, but these are not part of the Kingdom. Additionally, Norway has a claim for Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica.

In 1944, the Germans evacuated the provinces of Finnmark and northern Troms, using a scorched earth tactic to create a vast area of No-man's land in response to the Red Army attacking their positions in eastern Finnmark. The Soviets attacked into eastern Finnmark to create a buffer zone after pushing the German forces out of the arctic Kola peninsula. The Russians peacefully returned the area to Norwegian control after the war. The German forces in Norway surrendered on 8 May 1945.

The occupation during World War II disturbed the Norwegians' confidence in neutrality, and they turned instead to collective security. Norway was one of the signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and was a founding member of the United Nations, providing its first secretary general – Trygve Lie. Norway has twice voted against joining the European Union (in 1972 and 1994), but is associated with the EU via the European Economic Area. However, Norway is a member of the much smaller European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The landscape is generally rugged and mountainous, topped by glaciers, and its coastline of over 83,000 km [2] is punctuated by steep-sloped inlets known as fjords, as well as a multitude of islands and islets. The Northern part of the country is also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun because of its northern location, north of the Arctic Circle, where for part of each summer the sun does not set, and in winter much of its land remains dark for long periods. The southern part is not known for this, however in summertime, the sun is only away for a few hours.

Norway is bounded for its entire length by seas of the North Atlantic Ocean: the North Sea to the southwest and its large inlet the Skagerrak to the south, the Norwegian Sea to the west, and the Barents Sea to the northeast. To the east, in order from south to north, it shares a long border with Sweden, a shorter one with Finland, and a still shorter one with Russia. Norway's highest point is the Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 m. With a maximum depth of 514 m, Hornindalsvatnet is Norway's and Europe's deepest lake.

The Norwegian climate is fairly temperate, especially along the coast under the influence of the Gulf Stream. The inland climate can be more severe and to the north more subarctic conditions are found, especially in Finnmark.
Flag of Norway
Flag of Norway

Cultural notes about Norway

Norwegian culture should be understood in the context of Norwegian history as well as Norwegian geography. The unique Norwegian farm culture resulted not only from scarce resources and a harsh climate, but also from Norway's ancient property laws, which sustained a unique character still visible in Norway today. This unique character resulted in a strong romantic nationalistic movement in the 18th century which is visible to this day in the Norwegian language and media.

Norwegian culture is very egalitarian, and this has both positive and negative effects.

Famous Norwegians include the playwrights/novelists Baron Ludvig Holberg and Henrik Ibsen, explorers Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen, and Thor Heyerdahl, expressionist painter Edvard Munch and the romanticist composer Edvard Grieg. The playwright/novelists Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Knut Hamsun and Sigrid Undset have all won the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1903, 1920 and 1928 respectively.

Norwegians celebrate their national day on May 17, Constitution Day. Many people wear bunad (traditional costumes) and most participate in or watch the 17 May parade through the towns. Henrik Wergeland was the founder of the 17 May parade. These parades differ markedly from those of many other countries in that, rather than the military parades of, for example, France, they consist of children.

Official Canadian government advisories for travelling to, in and around Norway

There are no serious safety or security concerns. The crime rate is low. Petty theft, such as pickpocketing, occurs. Remain vigilant, in public places, including tourist areas. Ensure personal belongings and passports are secure. Avoid poorly lit areas, especially the streets behind Oslo's Central Railway Station after dark.

Exercise caution during excursions to mountainous and isolated areas. For high-altitude mountaineering and ski touring, travellers should hire a professional guide. Ensure that you are properly equipped. Do not venture off established trails, especially in early or late winter. Avoid hiking alone.
Country Data
Population 4,574,560
Capital City Oslo (Oslo)
Major Cities(s) Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Drammen, Tromsoe, Skien, Bodoe, Moss
Major Religion(s) Evangelical Lutheran 86% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, other 1%, none and unknown 10% (1997)
Language Norwegian (100%)
Physical Size 324,220 km²
Land Area 307,860 km²
Water Area 16,360 km²