Wildlife enthusiasts will simply love Norway! You can see moose, reindeer, lynx, wolves, polar bears, foxes and even musk oxen. In Norway, you’ll find everything in place for a great fishing holiday as well, a wide variety of well-stocked waters, an unspoiled environment, and large fish. The country is well known for its spectacular fjords, snowy mountains and dancing northern lights… the list goes on with these interesting facts about Norway…
The origin of the name
Norway or the Kingdom of Norway’s two official names are Norge and Noreg, depending on which written standard of the Norwegian language you’re using – Bokmål or Nynorsk. The Anglo-Saxons named the region “Norway” back in the late 800s. It means “northern way” or “way leading to the north,” signifying the country’s Atlantic coastline.
The Viking Age
Most people relate Norway with its Viking Age, from the 8th to the 10th century AD. The Viking seafarers raided, traded, and colonized all across Europe and the Atlantic, from the British Isles to Iceland and even eastern Canada, during this time.
The foundation of a Kingdom
In 872, the Kingdom of Norway was founded when several different kingdoms were united by the Viking King Harald Fairhair. The Kingdom of Norway has existed ever since, changing shape and often being a part of larger kingdoms with Denmark and/or Sweden. In fact, Norway still has a king, Harald V, and it’s a legitimate monarchy, but the Parliament, Cabinet, and the Supreme Court hold the state power.
Size and population
Area and neighbours
Norway covers just less than 150,000 square miles. Its borders include Sweden to the east, Finland and Russia to the north-east, the Norwegian Sea to the west, and the North Sea to the south.
If you pull a straight line along the coast of Norway it would be about 1,650 miles long. If you add all the bays and long fjords, plus the distance around all the islands, the “real” length of its coastline could be anywhere between 16,000 miles and 63,000 miles long!
Population and density
Norway has a population of about 5.4 million, and it’s one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. If you spread the inhabitants evenly, you’d have less than 40 people per square mile.
- The official language of Norway is Norwegian.
- Norwegians live for an average of 82.76 years. (2018)
- The capital is Oslo; it covers an area of 175 square miles (454 square kilometres) and had a population of 986,000 in 2015.
The Sami are an indigenous people who inhabit the northern reaches of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia that are mostly reindeer herders. Unfortunately, there are only about 80,000 Sami people left today.
Civil liberties and democracy
One of the safest countries in the world
Norway is regarded as one of the safest countries in the world, with a very low crime rate and is relatively high ranking on the Global Peace Index. The Global Peace Index – GPI is a report created by the Institute for Economics & Peace – IEP which calculates the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness.
Norway is known for “The Fund”, social welfare programs that afford its residents a certain amount of social and financial security. All Norwegians are entitled to universal healthcare, free education, including higher education, paid parental leave: 49 weeks of leave at 100% pay, or 59 weeks at 80%.
Its eco friendly
World leaders in environmental protection
Norway is a world leader when it comes to being eco-friendly at home, with 98% of the country’s electricity production coming from renewable energy sources (mostly hydropower). Where is the biggest number of electric cars per capita in the world, you might ask? Hat’s off to Norway in that eco-department as well!
Norwegians love to ski
Norwegians love getting outside to walk, hike and ski. Cross-country skiing is a kind of religion for many Norwegians, and they also love downhill skiing and ski jumping. No wonder, considering that skiing was invented in Scandinavia. In the Winter Olympics Norway wins most of the medals in sports that involve skis. In fact, everybody skis in Norway, and what’s even more impressive is that kids learn cross-country skiing in school! Nice!
The Northern lights
A great place to see the Northern lights
Interestingly, the Northern Lights are very rarely visible as far south as Bergen or Oslo. For the ultimate Northern lights experience, you want to be at least as far north as the city of Tromsø, nicknamed the “Gateway to the Arctic.”
Experience both the Polar Night and the Midnight Sun
The Arctic Circle runs through the northern part of Norway, meaning that locations above this line experience both Polar Night and the Midnight Sun, and offer a good possibility of seeing the Northern Lights through the dark winter months.
The Nobel Prize
- The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded in the capital city of Norway, Oslo, since 1901. While the Nobel prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, due to the wishes of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, who bequeathed his fortune to create the awards upon his death.
Industry & Economy
- Norway’s economy was mainly fishing and other maritime industries before the 1970s. Even today large parts of Norway’s economy are the fishing and aquaculture industries, along with shipping, timber, tourism, and now hydropower.
Oil and natural gas production
Thanks to its oil production, today Norway is considered a “rich” country in Europe. The country is also one of the biggest producers of oil and natural gas in the world. Norway’s government has been investing surplus revenues from its oil industry since 1990 in what’s formally called the Government Pension Fund of Norway.
A happy fact
I feel happy…
Norway is constantly ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. It was #1 on the World Happiness Report in 2017, and has been in the top 10 since 2013!
Some bonus facts about Norway…
- Norwegians enjoy a temperate climate along the coastline, whilst the temperatures drop further inland.
- At 15.2 miles long, the Lærdal Tunnel in Norway is the longest road tunnel in the world!
- The cheese slicer was invented in 1925 by Thor Bjørklund, a Norwegian inventor!
- If you’d like to sample some Reker, a Norwegian dish of prawns served on fresh bread, topped with lemon juice, mayonnaise and dill (sounds delicious doesn’t it!), you’ll need to exchange your spending money to Norwegian Krone, the official currency here.
- In 2011, Norway suffered a ‘butter crisis’ where packs of butter were sold within minutes of delivery to shops! This was caused by heavy rain reducing the grazing for cattle, resulting in a 250g pack of butter selling for around £32!
- Did you know that Norway introduced salmon sushi to Japan in the 1970s?
- In 2008 Norway knighted a penguin that, despite living in Edinburgh Zoo, is considered a part of the Norwegian Army! Baffled? We certainly are!
- It is illegal to have your dog neutered in Norway as it is seen as cruel.
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about Norway? Share them here in the comments below!
And if you’re fascinated about Scandinavia, check out these interesting facts about Finland