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Introduction: Norway, basic facts (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
nordic flags
The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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Introduction: Norway, basic facts

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Subject: 6.1 

Fact Sheet

Name: Kongeriket Norge (Bokmål)
Kongeriket Noreg (Nynorsk)
Telephone country code: 47
Area: 323,878 km² / 125,065 sq mi.
Overseas territories: Svalbard 62 700,0 km²
Jan Mayen 380,0 km²
Bouvet Island 58,5 km²
Peter I Island 249,2 km²
Land boundaries: Sweden, Finland, Russia
Terrain: mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys;
small, scattered plains;
coastline deeply indented by fjords;
arctic tundra in north
Largest glaciers: Jostedalsbreen, 486 km²
Svartisen, 369 km²
Folgefonni 212 km²
Highest point: Glittertinden, 2,472 m (8,110 ft)
Natural resources: crude oil, copper, natural gas, pyrites,
nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead,
fish, timber, hydropower
Population: 4,413,800 (1997)
Population density: 13.6 persons per km² (35 per sq mi).
(lowest in Finnmark: 1.7 persons per km²)
Distribution: 71% urban, 29% rural. (1990)
Average annual growth: 3.5% (1997)
Life expectancy: women 81 years; men 75 years (1994)
Infant mortality: 5.2 per 1,000 live births. (1994)
Average fertility: 1.87 (1995)
Average age at marriage: women 32.6; men 29.5 (1994)
Divorces per marriage: 53% (1994)
Capital: Oslo (population: 500,000) (1997)
Other major towns (1995): Bergen (223,000),
Trondheim (144,000),
Stavanger (104,000)
Fredrikstad (65,700)
Kristiansand (62,300)
Tromsø (56,600)
Flag: a blue Nordic cross outlined in white on a red background.
Type: Constitutional monarchy
Head of state: King Harald V
National anthem:Ja, vi elsker dette landet
Royal anthem: Kongesangen
Languages: Norwegian (two written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk).
Small Finnish- and Sámi-speaking minorities.
The North Sámi language has official status in
the northern parts of the country.
Currency: krone (Norwegian crown, NOK).
for the current exchange rate,
see the URL <http://www.dna.lth.se/cgi-bin/kurt/rates>
Climate: temperate along coast, warmed by the Gulf stream;
colder interior. Rainy year-round on west coast.
Average temp. in Oslo:
-7°C - 2°C in Jan.,
13°C - 22°C in July.
Current and historic data on temperature/precipitation/humidity
from 50 stations all over the country are available at:
<http://norpre.nlh.no/weather/>
Religion: Evangelic-Lutheran (88%) (official state-religion)
Exports: petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, fish,
aluminium, ships, pulp and paper.
 


Subject: 6.2 

General information

 

6.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation

Norway is located on the Scandinavian peninsula; its long, craggy coast forms the western margin of the peninsula and fronts the Atlantic Ocean (sometimes known as the Norwegian Sea) for most of the country's length. To the southwest the North Sea separates Norway from the British Isles, and directly to the south the Skagerrak separates it from Denmark. In the east Norway shares an extensive border with Sweden and for a shorter one with Finland and Russia in the north.

From north to south, Norway is about 1,770 km long, but for much of the distance it is very narrow, exceeding 160km of breadth only in the south. About one third of the country lies within the Arctic Circle, where the sun shines 24 hours at the height of the summer. Characteristic of the terrain are rugged mountains interrupted by valleys that cut into the land. Along much of the coast cliffs drop impressively to the sea, forming the fjords which are among the most distinctive features of Norwegian geography. The longest and deepest of them is the Sogne Fjord. About 150,000 offshore islands serve as a barrier that helps to protect Norway's coast from Atlantic storms. Among these, the Lofoten Islands are the largest and also a very popular tourist attraction.

The climate is temperate, and the severity of winter along the coast is moderated by southerly air currents brought in above the waters of the North Atlantic Drift, which is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Summers are relatively cool throughout the country; rainfall is high everywhere, most of all on the coasts, of course. The rivers contain abundant salmon and trout, which are among the country's most famous exports. Spruce and pine are the most common trees in Norway's forests, and deciduous trees, such as birch and ash, are common in the lowlands. In the mountain regions, heather is abundant, as well as low bushes that provide numerous delicious berries. Timber is one of the foremost natural resources. In addition, Norway has tremendous resources in its offshore oil and gas fields in the North Sea as well as in the hydroelectric potential of the numerous rapids and waterfalls. Iron and copper are also mined.

 


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6.2.2 Economy

Only about 3% of Norway is arable land; for this reason Norway's main source of livelihood has traditionally been fishery. Norway emerged as an industrial nation from the beginning of this century, partly due to local elites investing money in shipbuilding, woolspinning, timber and pulp production, and partly because of foreign companies building up on electrochemical industry based upon cheap hydro-electric power. Norway has also had one of the biggest merchant fleets of the world. The financial surplus made by this type of service made it possible to outweigh the deficit of trade with other countries, and hence is an important economic and political factor in Norwegian history. Production of petroleum and gas has, however, become the foremost industry with the discovery of offshore fields. Food, beverage, and tobacco processing rank second. The manufacture of transportation equipment, primarily ships and boats (the major export), ranks third, followed by production of metal and metal products.

 


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6.2.3 Population, language, culture

Norway's population is primarily Germanic. The largest ethnic minority are Sámi (Lapps) living Northern Norway (Finnmark) who number about 20,000; a few thousand Norwegian Finns (Kvens) live in northern Norway. Norwegian is a Germanic language developed from the Old Norse spoken in the viking age; it is closely related to both Danish and Swedish. Norway has hundreds of dialects of spoken Norwegian (corresponding to different geographical regions or locales) and two official written norms, Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål, which has its basis in large part in the Danish spoken during the period of Danish rule, serves as the written norm for most of the dialects of the larger urban centers. Nynorsk, created by the philologist Ivar Andreas Aasen (1813-96) who drew it from the old rural dialects that preserve Norwegian as it descended from Old Norse, serves as the written norm for most of the dialects of rural areas and some smaller urban centers. Norway, while becoming increasingly urbanized, is still one of the least urbanized countries in Europe. Population is extremely sparse in northern Norway and inland; except for Iceland, it is the lowest in Europe.

It's worth to note that both Nynorsk and Bokmål are pure written languages. No one actually speaks these languages - in Norway all spoken languages are regarded as dialects. But one has to remember that over 80% of the pupils in Norwegian schools chose to learn Bokmål, and that the vocabulary of Bokmål is influenced by Danish whereas the vocabulary of Nynorsk lies closer to Swedish. The minority language Nynorsk is thus protected by laws, ensuring for instance that at least 25% of the radio and tv transmissions are in Nynorsk, and a national theater Det Norske Teatret playing in Nynorsk,

Frequently questions about common Scandinavian names come up in the newsgroup. The national statistical office of Norway has made tables over the most common names to make your choice easier. :-)

Norway has a strongly developed tradition of folk music; its most distinguished classical composers were Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), Christian Sinding (1856-1941), and Johan Svendsen (1840-1911), all of whom made much use of traditional music. The painting of Edvard Munch (1863-1944) has achieved worldwide recognition. Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) produced a vast body of sculpture, which has been collected in Frogner Park in Oslo. For Norwegian literature, see section 6.5.

 


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6.2.4 Government

Norway is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with a constitution that was drafted in 1814. It gives broad powers to the king, but the council of ministers, headed by the prime minister, generally exercises this power as king in council. The 165 members of the Storting, or parliament, are elected for a fixed term of 4 years by all Norwegians 18 years of age or older.

The major political parties are the Labor party (Arbeiderpartiet), the largest single party, the Conservative party (Høyre), and the Center Party (Senterpartiet). The Labor party, which was responsible for creating the social-democratic welfare state, headed the government for 37 years during the period 1935-81. A debate about high taxes and rising inflation caused the Labor party to lose ground to center-right groups. The Conservatives under Kare Willoch were in office from 1981 to 1986, when they were ousted by Labor, led by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first woman premier. Brundtland has since resigned as the party leader (the office is currently held by Torbjørn Jagland), but still represents the party as the prime minister. In the current election period (1993-1997), Senterpartiet (Center Party) is bigger than Høyre.



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This page was last updated August the 11th in the year of 1998.

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