General information about Norway
NORWAY – the land of the Fjords, Midnight Sun & Northern Lights
Norway is a country of natural beauty, with some of the most spectacular and unique qualities offered by nature, such as the fjords & the coast, the mountains & the glaciers, spectacular waterfalls, the Northern Lights & the Midnight Sun.
The Kingdom of Norway, is a constitutional monarchy located in Northern Europe, the western portion of the Scandinavian peninsula.
Norway & the Vikings
During the Viking Age (800-1050 AD) the Norwegian Vikings explored Europe through trade and warfare. With their Viking ships they travelled to the Mediterranean countries, to England, Scotland & Ireland, and as far as to America. The Viking Age was characterized by expansion and immigration. Many Norwegians left the country to live in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and parts of Britain and Ireland. The modern-day Irish cities of Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford were founded by Norwegian settlers.
Oslo is often called the Scandinavian Viking capital. Oslo has a magnificent Viking Ship Museum with the Norwegian Viking history and the magnificent Viking ships.
Due to the Gulf Stream ocean current Norway experiences warmer temperatures than expected at such northern latitudes, especially along the coast, with summer temperatures of around 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, and winter temperatures mostly above zero degree Celsius (+32 F). Even the Arctic city of Tromso does not have very cold winters, with a mean temperature in January of -3 degrees Celsius. The mainland experiences colder winters with snow, excellent for winter activities.
Norway has an extensive and unique coastline, with islands, skerries, fjords, narrow passages & mountain peaks, stretching from Skagerak and the south of Norway along the North Sea to the Arctic Circle and northwards to the North Cape, the barren Finnmarken coast and the Barents Sea towards the Russian border. The coast stretches over 2500 km, and over 83 000 km including the fjords and islands.
The cruise along the spectacular coast of Norway is often called the World’s most beautiful voyage. The Norwegian Coastal Steamer has been cruising along the coast of Norway for more than 100 years, carrying cargo, people living along the coast and foreign cruise passengers. This ship line is called Hurtigruten in Norway, and used to be called the post boat as it used to bring the post along to the tiny fishing settlements and islands along the coast.
Economy in Norway
Norway has experienced rapid economic growth since World War II, and is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world, with a Scandinavian welfare system. Norway is the world’s third largest oil exporter and the petroleum industry accounts for approximately a quarter of the GDP.
Norway – a peaceful country
As Norway has only approximately 4 million inhabitants Norway is considered a quiet, peaceful & safe country. The largest city in Norway- the Norwegian capital Oslo- has 500 000 inhabitants. Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006, and came second in 2007. It also rated the most peaceful country in the world in a 2007 survey by Global Peace Index.
Norway fjords & glaciers
During the Ice Age both the ice and the rivers carved deep valleys in the mountains. As the climate changed, most of the ice melted, and the valleys were gradually filled with salt water from the coast, thus creating the fjords. Not all of the ice melted though, leaving parts of the high mountain areas covered with ice, thus creating the glaciers. The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, considered the main fjord of Norway. The Sognefjord has many scenic and narrow branches (side arms), such as the narrow Naeroyfjord, the Aurlandsfjord, the Fjaerlandsfjord & the Lusterfjord. Due to the fjords cutting through the western country the car ferries crossing the fjords are considered part of the road system in Norway.
The climate in the western fjord areas is excellent for fruit growing, with the most spectacular late spring fruit blossom you have ever seen. The strawberries, cherries and raspberries are extremely tasty due to the growing conditions of the short, bright summers.
Norway – a country of mountains
Norway is also a country of mountains, with scenic mountain roads & spectacular mountain railways, such as the famous Flam Railway, the Bergensbanen train line across the Hardangervidda mountain National Park, the Dovrebanen train line across the scenic Dovrefjell mountain plateau & the spectacular Rauma train line.
The Flam Railway is a side line of the Bergensbanen line, starting at the Myrdal mountain station passing through the beautiful Flam Valley with waterfalls and rivers on its way down to the Sognefjord and the fjord village of Flam. The railway is one of the world’s steepest railway lines.
The Rauma train line passes through the breathtaking Romsdal valley, surrounded by the Trolltindene mountain peaks (Troll Peaks) with the famous Troll Wall (Trollveggen in Norwegian). The Troll Wall is the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, 1100 metres from the base to the summit at its tallest. At its steepest, the summit overhangs the base by nearly fifty metres. The Troll Wall used to be a favourite haunt of base jumpers (now illegal due to safety & rescue issues).
Arctic Norway – The land of the Midnight Sun
Due to Norway’s high latitude, there are large seasonal variations in daylight. From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle and the rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day.
View Norway Midnight Sun Tours & Cruises
See photos from Arctic Norway
The Northern Lights in Norway
Nothing else on the sky looks like the Northern Lights! While the sun, the moon and the stars are visible from everywhere and are natural parts of our everyday life, the Northern Lights can only be seen in certain areas. They vary in colour and intensity and as opposed to the moon, sun and stars they are unpredictable and unique. The Northern Lights in Norway are called the night-time Aurora because they are on the night-side of the earth. The Northern Lights – nature’s own light show – are solar winds that meet the atmosphere in a zone around the magnetic North Pole, forming arches, waves and curls of light moving across the sky, with sudden rays of light shooting down from space.