Norway Flag

The official name of Norway is Kingdom of Norway and its local name is Norge. It is located in north-west Europe, bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean; to the east by Sweden, Finland and Russia; to the west by the North Sea and Norwegian Sea; and to the south by the Skagerrak that includes the dependencies of Svalbard and Jan Mayen Island (Arctic) and Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land (Antarctica).

Norway Locator

Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe slowly diminished following King Olav TRYGGVASON adoption to Christianity in 994. The conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark lasting more than four centuries. Norwegians declined the cession of their country to Sweden in 1814. Instead, they adopted a new constitution.

Membership: UN, NATO, OSCE, OECD

Capital: Oslo

Oslo City Hall

Population: 4,611,000 (estimated)

Area: 323,895 sq km/125,050 sq mi including the Arctic island territories of Svalbard (formerly known as Spitsbergen, 62,924 sq km/24,295 sq mi) and Jan Mayen (380 sq km/147 sq mi).

Chief towns: Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Kristiansand

Currency: 1 Norwegian Krone (NKr) = 100 øre

Time zone: GMT +1

Languages: Two official forms of Norwegian – Bokmaal (80%) and Nynork (or Landsmaal (20%); Lappish.

Religions: Christianity 90% (Protestant, Lutheran in particular, 87%, Roman Catholic 1%, other Christians 2%), Islam 2%, Others and unaffiliated 8%

Ethnic groups: Norwegian 96%, Sami (Lapp) 1%, others 3%

Norway Map

Norway's Geography

The interior of Norway is covered by mountains and elevated barren tablelands, especially in the south-west and centre, and separated by deep, narrow valleys. Much of the interior rises above 1500m/4921 ft. The highest point is Galdhøpiggen (2469m / 8100ft).

Norway has numerous lakes, the largest of which is Lake Mjøsa. It has some of the highest waterfalls in the world.

Norway's major rivers include the Glomma (Glama), Namsen, Lagen, Otra, Tanaelv. Its coastline is irregular, with many long, deep fjords, and fringed by small islands. The two largest island groups, off the north-west coast, are the Lofoten and Vesteralen groups. Half the country lies inside in the Arctic Circle and about 25% is forested.

Norway Naeroy Fjord

Norway's Climate

Norway has an arctic winter climate in the interior highlands, with snow, strong winds and severe frosts. Comparatively, mild winter conditions exist on the coast and rainfall is heavy on the east coast. The average annual rainfall at Bergen is 1958mm, however, there are colder winters, and warmer and drier summers in the southern lowlands.

Government of Norway

Norway is a hereditary constitutional monarchy with a King as head of state. It is governed by a Prime Minister and Council of State, and a unicameral Parliament, Storting, which divides into an Upper House, Lagting, and a Lower House, Odersting, to debate on legislative matters.

The current sovereign is HM Harald V, King of Norway, who succeeded upon the death of his father in 17th January 1991.

The 165-member Parliament (Storting) is elected under a system of proportional representation by universal suffrage for a four-year term. In order to legislate, the Storting divides itself into two houses – the Lagting (containing one quarter of the members) and the Odelsting (containing the remaining three quarters of the members). The King appoints a Prime Minister who commands a majority in the Storting. The Prime Minister, in turn, appoints a Council of Ministers who is responsible to the Storting.

Norway's largest parties include Labour Party, Centre Party, Conservative Party, Christian Democratic Party, Conservative Party, Socialist Left Party, Progress Party Liberal Party.

The local government consists of 19 counties plus the dependencies of Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

Norway's Economy

Norway has a prosperous market economy based mainly on oil and gas extraction and processing, and on fisheries. The other main activities are engineering (including shipping, telecommunications and hydro-electric power equipment), shipping freight services, forestry, pulp and paper products, textiles, food processing, metals, chemicals, mining, and tourism. Less than 3% of the land is under cultivation.

Communications of Norway

Internet country code: .no

International country code: 47

Its telephone system is modern in all aspects and considered one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in Europe. Norway has a domestic satellite system and encourages the wide use of mobile-cellular systems in rural areas. It shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries, namely: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.

Norway's Military Branches

  • Norwegian Army (Haeren)
  • Royal Norwegian Navy (Kongelige Norske Sjoeforsvaret, RNoN; includes Coastal Rangers and Coast Guard (Kystvakt))
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force (Kongelige Norske Luftforsvaret, RNoAF)
  • Home Guard (Heimevernet, HV)

Norway's Military Service Age and Obligation

For male compulsory military service, 18-44 years of age, 16 years of age in wartime, 17 years of age for male volunteers, 18 years of age for women, 12-month service obligation, in practice, shortened to 8 to 9 months.

Although all males between ages 18 to 44 are liable for service, in practice they are seldom called to duty after age 30, there is a reserve obligation to age 35-60, and 16 years of age for volunteers to the Home Guard who serve 6-month duty tours (2009).

History of Norway

At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Danish-ruled Norway attempted to regain autonomy, but the country came under the rule of the kings of Sweden although a separate Norwegian Parliament was allowed a considerable degree of independence. Growing nationalism in Norway placed great strains upon the union with Sweden, and in 1905, following a vote by the Norwegians to repeal the union, King Oscar II of Sweden gave up his claims to the Norwegian crown to allow a peaceful separation of the two countries. After a Swedish prince declined the Norwegian throne, Prince Carl of Denmark was confirmed as King of Norway by a plebiscite becoming Haakon VII.

In the First World War, Norway was neutral. Likewise, it declared neutrality in World War II but was occupied by German forces in 1940 who set up a puppet government under Vidkun Quisling. After the war, Norway abandoned neutrality and joined NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes.

In 1972, and again in 1994, Norway agreed to enter the EU, but a national referendum rejected membership on both occasions, leaving Norway increasingly isolated outside Western Europe's economic , political and defense organizations. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted.

Sources: - World Factbook

Chambers Book of Facts, Chambers Harrap Publishers 2007