Norway is known for its fjords and Midnight Sun. The population of 4.3 millions are Norwegians and Samis. The capital is Oslo which had been rebuilt many times. In 1624 there was a Great Fire and it had been restored and renamed Christiania until 1924. The majority of Norwegian people live in towns. Norway has mastered their harsh environment and is becoming a most prosperous nation in Europe.
Norway's country is mainly mountainous. It is on the western side of the Scandinavian Peninsula. All along the coast are thousands of deep, narrow sea-inlets which are called fjords, The longest is the Sognefjords which measures 180km and has a depth of 1305m at its deepest point. Sweden, Finland and Russia border on Norway on the eastern side.
FEIGEFOSSEN, SOGN OG FJORDAN
RONDESLOTTED IN RONDANE NATIONAL PARK -- EASTERN NORWAY
MUSCOX IN THE LOW ALPINE TUNDRA AT DVREFJELL
Norway also owns a group of eight islands which are about 657km north of the Norwegian mainland called Svalbard. Two of the main islands are Jan Mayen, in the Greenland Sea and Svalbard. The entire area is one and a half times the size of Denmark. Spitzbergen is the largest and has a size of 39,000 sq km. It lies near the Gulf Stream which opens the sea ice all year round and therefore it is possible to ship the mined coal out continuously.
The smaller islands could be as many as 150,000 which lie along the coast of the country. They are great protection from the North Sea to Norway's great fishing vessels.
The islands have a population of about 3400 and have mainly coal mines. Even the harshness of the environment has not stopped the adventurous tourists and is becoming a popular destination.
In the highlands of Norway are glaciers and the fast flowing rivers from there are producing hydroelectric power which is a natural and import source. Not many people live in those mountainous areas. They mainly live in the flatter south-west of the country and mostly around Oslo.
Norway has severe winters in the north with always heavy snow fall. The ports on the west coast are not ice-bound because of the Gulf Stream. The warm air from the Gulf Stream and water drifts across the Atlantic Ocean from south-west to north-east.
Norway is so far north that the Sun disappears below the horizon during December and January. Therefore there is very little daylight in winter in Norway.
However, there is another side to it. Between June and July the Sun never sets and Norway earned the northern Scandinavian name 'Land of the Midnight Sun'
CLIMATE, POPULATION, EDUCATION.
Due the harsh weather conditions many areas of Norway are barren. However, rowan and silver birch trees grow on higher ground. The country also has large forests of pine and spruce trees. In the summer a carpet of wild flowers spread across the valleys. There are also yellow cloudberries, blueberries and cranberries growing and almost to be found everywhere. Norway has a great wildlife with lemmings, foxes, deer and elk in abundance. There are also bears, wolves and lynxes but not as widespread.
The native Sami people still herd reindeer in the far north. The Sami people are in contrast dark in colour and rather short while the Nordic people are tall, blond and blue eyed. The Nordic people are the majority of the Norwegian population. 90% of the population are part of the Lutheran Church. The Sami had and still practicing their traditional religion.
The children have to attend school from the age of seven to 16 and then, if they wish, can go on to higher education. Norway, like the other Scandinavian countries, has a system which is called 'folk high school'. It is for adults and they can attend regardless of their qualifications. Norway has a very high standard of living. The welfare system provides medical treatment for everyone. The pensions and benefits are also very generous.
Fishing was always part of Norway and it is the oldest industry. However, since so many countries are fishing the fish stock a reducing in the North Sea and strict controls were necessary. More and More fish farms are being established. Despite a ban on whale hunting, Norway started again to hunt whales and their was a great outcry.
During the '70s oil and gas was discovered in the North Sea. The discovery provides a most important export for Norway. The smelting of imported ores to produce iron, alloys and aluminium proved economical because of the great supply of hydroelectric power. Norway has to import grains because of the shortage of land. The Winter Olympic at Lillehammer in 1994 increased the tourism tremendously especially for winter sports.
A SAMI FAMILY IN NORWAY AROUND 1900
SAMI MOTHER WITH CHILDREN
A PITE SAMI FROM BEIARN, NORWAY
It is believed and quite plausible that the Sami people came from central Asia, most probably 10,000 years ago. The Viking pushed them up to the north in the 8th century BC. When King Olav ruled in the 11th century the country was converted to Christianity. By the end of the 14th century Norway joined Denmark and Sweden. In 1523 Sweden left and in 1536 Norway became part of Denmark.
In 1905 Norway became independent when the grandfather of the present king became king. He was a Dane. During the First World War Norway was neutral. In the Second World War the country was invaded by the Germans. After the war Norway joined NATO and the United Nation. Norway decided not to join the European Community after a national referendum.