Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Norway | Introduction

EuropeNorwayNorway | Introduction

Norway gives the appearance of a nation with plenty of space and an exceptionally harsh terrain. While the interior is renowned for its huge fjords along the Atlantic, it also boasts vast valleys, broad woods, and fjord-like lakes. Norway is one of Europe’s most mountainous nations. The vast coastline, magnificent fjords, innumerable waterfalls, sparkling rivers, gorgeous lakes, and many glaciers are probably what define Norway the most.

Although the vast outdoors is the most popular attraction in Norway, there are still many fascinating and vibrant towns such as Oslo and Bergen. Norway’s cultural history, as well as contemporary buildings and architecture – typically seen in cities, but also in terms of remarkable engineering in distant areas – are examples of man-made attractions.

Geography

Norway is located in northern Europe on a broad peninsula shared with Sweden. It shares borders with Finland and Russia in the north. A population of 5 million people lives in a region about the size of Germany and bigger than the United Kingdom. Norway is mainly a very long nation; traveling from the southernmost to the northernmost cities matches the distance between Hamburg and Malaga (and through much more rugged terrain). Norway’s coastline is also one of the longest in the world; if islands and fjords are included, the coastline is estimated to be 50,000 to 100,000 kilometers long. When fjords and islands are included, Nordland county alone has a longer coastline than the whole United Kingdom.

Norway is well-known for its breathtaking and diverse landscapes. The renowned fjords are long, narrow ocean inlets bordered on each side by towering mountains where the sea penetrates deep inland. Norway’s unending coastline is also home to a plethora of islands of all sizes – there are over 200,000 recognized islands along Norway’s coast (only surpassed by Greece). Because of the many islands and skerries that protect the coast from the stormy Atlantic, Hurtigruten and other ships may cruise for extended periods in calm seas. This area of protected (internal) waterways (fjords, bays, and straits) is about 100,000km2.

Norway has about 450,000 lakes; even inside the city of Oslo, there are several hundred lakes. Norway has some of Europe’s deepest lakes. Because the overwhelming majority of the country (about 95 percent) is rocky wilderness and woods, Norway has several huge, totally unpopulated regions, many of which have been designated as national parks. Outside of the national parks, most of the country is mainly untouched nature; in fact, there is no need to visit a national park to enjoy wildness and beautiful vistas. Roads and railroads, as well as regular ferries, provide convenient access to breathtaking views. There are few sandy beaches along Norway’s infinite coastlines; instead, the shoreline are usually rocky, with high cliffs or gently polished slabs of granite.

The highest peak in Norway is Galdhpiggen (2,469m/8,100 ft) in the Jotunheimen area, which is located halfway between Oslo and Trondheim but distant from the coast. There are rather flat open areas in the far north (Finnmark). Norway is home to many of the world’s highest waterfalls, especially in the western fjords and mountain ranges. While mountains may be found across Norway, several significant mountain ranges characterize the country’s primary regions. The north-south mountain line (particularly Hardangervidda and Jotunheimen) is a significant barrier that separates West Norway from East Norway. Similarly, the Dovrefjell divides Middle Norway (Trndelag) from East Norway. Norway also contains the virtually uninhabited Svalbard archipelago, located distant from the mainland on the northern ice shelf.

Water is the one thing that best defines Norway, thanks to its long rocky shoreline, fjords, numerous lakes, towering waterfalls, and beautiful rivers.

Administratively, Norway is split into counties, which are further subdivided into East, South, West, Middle (Trndelag), and North regions. Norway’s scenery may also be characterized by zones that span these administrative boundaries.

  • The “fjordland“,The region of Norway characterized by fjords extends as a broad belt all the way across the nation, 20 to 200 kilometers wide. This kind of terrain is usually made up of a jumble of fjords and peninsulas, valleys and lakes.
  • Island belt, Further out, the mainland is protected by a belt of islands and skerries, which may be vast and complicated, as in the case of Bergen or the Lofoten archipelago. A ring of islands like this one enables ships to travel safely over large stretches of the coast. There are no fjords or islands just south of Stavanger, thus the broad sandy beaches remain unprotected.
  • Mountain region: The high mountain belt running essentially South-North across the whole Scandinavian peninsula between East Norway and West Norway, and further north separating Norway and Sweden, is somewhat inland and partly coincides with fjords. The high mountains range from dramatic alpine peaks and glaciers to more peaceful vistas farther east.
  • Big valleys: The terrain east/south of the central mountains is characterized by large valleys that extend from the lowlands surrounding Oslo to the central highlands. The usual large valleys include Gudbrandsdal, Hallingdal, Setesdal, and Valdres. In eastern and central Finnmark, the fjords give way to a broad flat at a moderate height, rather than steep mountains.
  • Central eastern lowland: Greater Oslo, both sides of the Oslofjord (Vestfold and Stfold counties), and the region around the large lakes Mjsa and Tyrifjorden, is the most densely inhabited and agriculturally significant area.

Climate

The southern and western regions of Norway get more precipitation and have warmer winters than the eastern and far northern sections due to their proximity to Atlantic storm fronts. Rain and snow totals are lower in areas to the east of the coastal mountains than in areas to the west. The summers in the lowlands surrounding Oslo are pleasant and sunny, while the winters are cold and snowy.

Because of Norway’s high latitude, daylight hours vary greatly from season to season. From late May to late July, the sun never fully sets below the horizon in regions north of the Arctic Circle (thus Norway’s nickname “Land of the Midnight Sun”), while the remainder of the nation has up to 20 hours of daylight each day. From late November to late January, however, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very limited throughout the remainder of the nation.

The coastal climate of Norway is unusually mild when compared to regions at comparable latitudes elsewhere in the globe, with the Gulf Stream flowing straight offshore the northern parts of the Atlantic coast in the winter, constantly warming the region. Temperature anomalies observed along the coast are unusual, with Rst and Vry not experiencing a meteorological winter while being north of the Arctic Circle. Despite popular belief, the Gulf Stream has this impact exclusively on the northern regions of Norway, not the south. If it weren’t for the Gulf Stream, Norway’s northern shore would be completely covered in ice. As a result, the Scandinavian Mountains prevent continental winds from reaching the shore, resulting in extremely cold summers in Atlantic Norway. Oslo has a continental climate, comparable to that of Sweden. The climates of the mountain ranges are subarctic and tundra. Rainfall is also extremely heavy in places exposed to the Atlantic, such as Bergen. Oslo, on the other hand, is dry due to its location in a rain shadow. Skjk in Oppland county is likewise in the rain shadow and is one of the driest locations in the country, with 278 millimetres (10.9 inches) of precipitation each year. Finnmarksvidda, as well as the inner valleys of Troms and Nordland, get fewer than 300 millimetres (12 inches) of rain each year. With 190 mm of rain per year, Longyearbyen is the driest location in Norway (7.5 inches).

Warm-summer humid continental climates (Köppen Dfb) prevail in areas of southeastern Norway, including parts of Mjsa, whereas oceanic climates prevail in the southern and western shores (Cfb). Subarctic climate (Dfc) prevails farther inland in (southeastern and northern Norway), particularly in regions under the rain shadow of the Scandinavian Mountains. Because of the rain shadow effect, some of Oppland’s interior valleys get so little precipitation each year that they satisfy the criteria for dry-summer subarctic climates (Dsc). The uncommon subpolar oceanic climate may be found at higher elevations along the coastlines of southern and western Norway (Cfc). This climate is also prevalent in Northern Norway, although at lower elevations, all the way down to sea level. A tiny portion of Norway’s northernmost coast has a tundra/alpine/polar climate (ET). Norway is covered in mountains and high altitude plateaus, many of which have a tundra/alpine/polar climate (ET).

Biodiversity

The total number of species includes 16,000 species of insects (probably 4,000 more species yet to be described), 20,000 species of algae, 1,800 species of lichen, 1,050 species of mosses, 2,800 species of vascular plants, up to 7,000 species of fungi, 450 species of birds (250 species nesting in Norway), 90 species of mammals, 45 fresh-water species of fish, 150 salt-water species of fish, 1,000 species of squid, and 1,000 squid. Science has described about 40,000 of these species. The 2010 red list includes 4,599 species.

Seventeen species are included primarily because they are threatened on a worldwide scale, such as the European beaver, even though the population in Norway is not considered threatened. There are 3,682 endangered and near-threatened species, including 418 fungus species, many of which are intimately linked with the few surviving patches of old-growth woods, 36 bird species, and 16 mammal species. In 2010, there were 2,398 species classified as endangered or vulnerable, with 1250 listed as vulnerable (VU), 871 listed as endangered (EN), and 276 listed as critically endangered (CR), including the grey wolf, Arctic fox (healthy population on Svalbard), and pool frog.

The sperm whale is the biggest predator in Norwegian seas, while the basking shark is the largest fish. The polar bear is the biggest predator on land, whereas the brown bear is the largest predator on the Norwegian mainland. The elk is the biggest land mammal on the continent (American English: moose). In Norway, the elk is renowned for its size and power, and it is frequently referred to as skogens konge, or “king of the forest.”

Environment

Throughout Norway, there is stunning and dramatic landscapes and terrain. The west coast of southern Norway and the north shore of Norway have some of the most visually stunning coastline scenery in the world. The Norwegian fjords have been named the world’s top tourist destination by National Geographic. Norway ranked tenth in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, based on the environmental performance of the country’s policies.

Daylight

Throughout Norway, there is stunning and dramatic landscapes and terrain. The west coast of southern Norway and the north shore of Norway have some of the most visually stunning coastline scenery in the world. The Norwegian fjords have been named the world’s top tourist destination by National Geographic. Norway ranked tenth in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, based on the environmental performance of the country’s policies.

Demographics

In October 2013, the population of Norway was 5,096,300 people. Norwegians are a North Germanic ethnic group. Norway has drawn numerous immigrants from southern and central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since the late twentieth century. All of these groups speak a variety of languages and come from a variety of cultures and faiths.

According to a 2012 government survey, 86 percent of the entire population had at least one parent who was born in Norway. More over 710,000 people (14 percent) are immigrants and their descendants, with 117,000 children born in Norway to immigrants.

According to the Norwegian government, 14 percent of the Norwegian population were immigrants or children of two foreign parents in 2013. Approximately 6% of the immigrant population is from the EU, North America, and Australia, while 8.1 percent is from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In 2012, 407,262 of the total 660,000 people with immigrant backgrounds had Norwegian citizenship (62.2 percent ).

Immigrants have settled in every municipality in Norway. In 2012, the cities or municipalities with the greatest proportion of immigrants were Oslo (32% ) and Drammen (31% ). (27 percent ). In Stavanger, the proportion was 16%. According to Reuters, due to increasing immigration, Oslo is the “fastest expanding city in Europe.” Immigration has accounted for the majority of Norway’s population increase in recent years. In 2011, 16% of newborn infants were of immigrant origin.

The Sami are indigenous to the Far North and have historically lived throughout central and northern Norway and Sweden, as well as northern Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. The Kven people are another national minority, descendants of Finnish-speaking people who moved to northern Norway from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The Norwegian government attempted to integrate both the Sami and the Kven from the nineteenth century until the 1970s, pushing them to embrace the majority language, culture, and religion. Many families of Sami or Kven origin today identify as ethnic Norwegian as a result of this “Norwegianization” process.

Religion

The majority of Norwegians are baptized as members of the Church of Norway, the official state church. The constitution still mandates the ruling king to be a Lutheran, and the country’s ideals to be founded on its Christian and humanist history. Many people stay in the church to be a member of the community and to participate in rituals such as baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial. In 2015, about 74.3 percent of Norwegians belonged to the Church of Norway. In 2014, about 59.3 percent of all infants were baptized, and approximately 62.9 percent of all 15-year-olds were confirmed in the church.

According to surveys conducted in the early 1990s, between 4.7 percent and 5.3 percent of Norwegians attended church on a weekly basis. This number has fallen to about 2%.

In 2010, 10% of the population was religiously unaffiliated, while another 9% belonged to religious groups other than the Church of Norway. According to 2009 official data, other Christian faiths account for about 4.9 percent of the population, with the Roman Catholic Church having the most adherents (83,000). In October 2012, an article in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten said that there were about 115,234 registered Roman Catholics in Norway; the writer believed that the overall number of individuals with a Roman Catholic heritage might be 170,000–200,000 or more.

Pentecostals (39,600), Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway (19,600), Methodists (11,000), Baptists (9,900), Eastern Orthodox (9,900), Brunstad Christian Church (6,800), Seventh-day Adventists (5,100), Assyrians and Chaldeans, and others are among the others. In all, the Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic Lutheran churches in Norway have about 27,500 members. Other Christian groups account for less than 1% of the total, with 4,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and 12,000 members of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Islam is the biggest non-Christian religion, with 132,135 registered members in 2014 and likely less than 200,000 in total. It is mostly practiced by Somali, Arab, Bosniak, Albanian, and Turkish immigrants, as well as Norwegians of Pakistani origin.

Other faiths account for less than 1% of the total, with Judaism accounting for 819 followers. Hinduism was brought to Norway by Indian immigrants, and it now counts little more than 5,900 followers, or 1% of non-Lutheran Norwegians. Sikhism has around 3,000 followers, the most of whom live in Oslo, which has two gurdwaras. Sikhs arrived in Norway for the first time in the early 1970s. The unrest in Punjab after Operation Blue Star, as well as rioting against Sikhs in India following Indira Gandhi’s murder, resulted in an increase in the number of Sikh refugees fleeing to Norway. Drammen also has a sizable Sikh community; the biggest gurdwara in northern Europe was constructed in Lier. There are eleven Buddhist organizations, which are united together under the Buddhistforbundet organization, with little more than 14,000 members, accounting for 0.2 percent of the population. The Baha’i faith has little more than 1,000 followers. The secular Norwegian Humanist Association has about 1.7 percent (84,500) of the Norwegian population.

Orthodox Christianity was the fastest-growing religious faith in Norway from 2006 to 2011, with membership increasing by 80%; nevertheless, its proportion of the overall population remained modest, at 0.2 percent. It is linked to massive immigration from Eritrea and Ethiopia, as well as, to a lesser degree, Central and Eastern European and Middle Eastern nations. The Roman Catholic Church (78.7 percent ), Hinduism (59.6 percent ), Islam (48.1 percent ), and Buddhism were among among the fastest-growing faiths (46.7 percent ).

The ancient Norse, like the peoples of neighboring Scandinavian nations, practiced a type of native Germanic paganism known as Norse paganism. When Norway was Christianized towards the end of the 11th century, the traditional Norse religion and customs were outlawed. Norway’s original religion and beliefs may still be found in names, referential names of towns and regions, the days of the week, and other aspects of daily language. Modern curiosity in the ancient ways has resulted in the resurgence of pagan religious rituals known as satru. The Norwegian Satrufellesskapet Bifrost was founded in 1996 and has about 300 members in 2011. The Norwegian government recognized Foreningen Forn Sed, which was founded in 1999.

The Sami minority practiced shamanism until the 18th century, when the majority converted to Christianity under the influence of Dano-Norwegian Lutheran missionaries. Some adhered to their ancestral faith. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in the Sami traditional way of life, which has resulted in the rebirth of Noaidevuohta. Some Norwegian and Sami celebrities are said to seek advice from shamans.

According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 22% of Norwegian people said they “think there is a deity.” Gustafsson and Pettersson (2002) discovered three years earlier that 72 percent of Norwegians did not believe in a ‘personal God.’

Economy

Norwegians have the second-highest GDP per capita in Europe (after Luxembourg) and the world’s sixth-highest GDP (PPP) per capita. Norway is now the world’s second-wealthiest country in terms of monetary value, having the biggest capital reserve per capita of any country. Norway is a net foreign creditor of debt, according to the CIA World Factbook. Norway ranked first in the world in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for six years in a row (2001–2006), and again regained the top spot in 2009–2015. Norway has one of the best living standards in the world. Norway is ranked bottom on Foreign Policy Magazine’s 2009 Failed States Index, despite being the world’s most well-functioning and stable country. Norway is ranked fourth in the 2013 adjusted Better Life Index and third in intergenerational earnings elasticity, according to the OECD.

The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a successful capitalist welfare state and social democracy with a mix of free market activity and significant governmental ownership in important industries. In Norway, public health care is free (after an annual fee of approximately $230 for those over the age of 16), and parents enjoy 46 weeks of paid parental leave. Petroleum production contributes significantly to the state’s revenue from natural resources. Norway presently has a relatively low unemployment rate of 2.6 percent. 69 percent of those aged 15 to 74 are employed. People in the labor force are either employed or seeking employment. Disability pensions are received by 9.5 percent of the population aged 18–66, while the government employs 30 percent of the labor force, the most in the OECD. Norway has some of the greatest hourly production levels and average hourly earnings in the world.

Because of the egalitarian ideals of Norwegian culture, the pay disparity between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most businesses is considerably less than in similar Western countries. This is also shown by Norway’s low Gini coefficient.

The state owns a significant portion of important economic sectors, including the strategic petroleum industry (Statoil), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminum production (Norsk Hydro), the biggest Norwegian bank (DNB), and telecommunications provider (Telenor). The government controls about 30% of the stock prices on the Oslo Stock Exchange via these large corporations. When non-listed businesses are added, the state has an even greater ownership stake (mainly from direct oil licence ownership). Norway is a significant maritime country and boasts the world’s sixth biggest commercial fleet, with 1,412 merchant boats owned by Norwegians.

Norwegians rejected attempts to join the European Union in referendums in 1972 and 1994. (EU). Norway, along with Iceland and Liechtenstein, does, nevertheless, participate in the European Union’s single market via the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement. The EEA Treaty between the European Union and the EFTA nations, which has been translated into Norwegian legislation via “ES-loven,” outlines the processes for adopting European Union regulations in Norway and the other EFTA countries. Norway is a strongly integrated member of the EU internal market in the majority of industries. Agriculture, oil, and fish are only a few of the industries not fully covered by the EEA Treaty. Norway has also ratified the Schengen Agreement and a number of other intergovernmental agreements between EU member states.

The nation is blessed with abundant natural resources like as petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Large quantities of petroleum and natural gas were found in the 1960s, resulting in an economic boom. Norway has one of the best living standards in the world, thanks in part to a huge quantity of natural resources relative to population size. The petroleum sector contributed 28 percent of state income in 2011.

Norway was the first nation to prohibit tree cutting (deforestation) in order to avoid the extinction of rain forests. In 2014, the nation, together with the United Kingdom and Germany, announced its intention at the United Nations Climate Summit. Timber, soy, palm oil, and cattle are often associated with forest degradation. Norway must now find alternative ways to supply these vital goods without negatively impacting the environment.

Resources

Oil and gas export earnings have grown to almost 50% of total exports and account for more than 20% of GDP. Norway is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and third-largest gas exporter, although it is not an OPEC member. The Norwegian government created the sovereign wealth fund (“Government Pension Finance — Global”) in 1995, using oil earnings, including taxes, dividends, sales revenues, and license fees, to fund it. This was designed to minimize overheating in the economy caused by oil profits, to lessen uncertainty caused by oil price volatility, and to create a cushion to compensate for expenditures associated with population aging.

The government controls its petroleum resources via a mix of state ownership in major oil field operators (with about 62 percent ownership in Statoil in 2007) and the wholly state-owned Petoro, which has a market value almost twice that of Statoil, as well as SDFI. Finally, the government regulates the licensing of field exploration and production. Outside of Norway, the fund invests in established financial markets. The budgeting guideline (Handlingsregeln) states that no more than 4% of the money should be used each year (assumed to be the normal yield from the fund).

The Government Pension Fund’s assets were valued at about US$884 billion (equivalent to US$173,000 per capita) in August 2014, or nearly 174 percent of Norway’s current GDP. It is the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund. The fund owns about 1.3 percent of all listed shares in Europe and more than one percent of all publicly traded shares worldwide. The Norwegian Central Bank has offices in London, New York, and Shanghai. Guidelines established in 2007 enable the fund to invest up to 60% of its capital in shares (up from a previous limit of 40%), with the remainder allocated to bonds and real estate. As the stock market plummeted in September 2008, the fund was able to purchase additional shares at bargain rates. As a result, by November 2009, the losses caused by the market volatility had been recovered.

Other countries with resource-based economies, such as Russia, are attempting to emulate Norway by creating comparable funds. The Norwegian fund’s investment decisions are guided by ethical standards; for example, the fund is not permitted to invest in businesses that manufacture components for nuclear weapons. The worldwide community applauds Norway’s extremely transparent investment system. The fund’s future size is inextricably tied to the price of oil and developments in international financial markets.

In an IPO in 2000, the government sold one-third of the state-owned oil firm Statoil. Telenor, the major telecom provider, was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange the following year. The state also holds a sizable stake in Norway’s biggest bank, DnB NOR, as well as the airline SAS. Since 2000, the economy has grown rapidly, reducing unemployment to levels not seen since the early 1980s (unemployment in 2007: 1.3 percent ). The worldwide financial crisis mainly impacted the manufacturing sector, although unemployment remained low in August 2011, at at 3.3 percent (86,000 individuals). In comparison to Norway, Sweden had much higher actual and predicted unemployment rates as a consequence of the recession. Thousands of mostly young Swedes moved to Norway seeking employment during these years, which was simple since the Nordic countries’ labor markets and social security systems overlapped. Norway’s GDP exceeded Sweden’s for the first time in history in the first quarter of 2009, despite having half the population.

Norway has substantial mineral resources, and its mineral output in 2013 was estimated at US$1.5 billion (Norwegian Geological Survey data). Calcium carbonate (limestone), building stone, nepheline syenite, olivine, iron, titanium, and nickel are the most valuable minerals.

Norway is also the world’s second-largest seafood exporter (in value, after China). Hydroelectric facilities provide about 98–99 percent of Norway’s electric power, more than any other nation on the planet.

Oil fields

Between 1966 and 2013, Norwegian firms developed 5085 oil wells, the majority of which were in the North Sea. 3672 are utviklingsbrnner (normal production); 1413 are letebrnner (exploration); and 1405 have been discontinued (avsluttet).

Wisting Central—calculated size in 2013, 65–156 million barrels of oil and 10 to 40 billion cubic feet (0.28 to 1.13 billion cubic metres) of gas (utvinnbar). The Castberg Oil Field (Castberg-feltet) is estimated to have 540 million barrels of oil and 2 to 7 billion cubic feet (57 to 198 million cubic metres) of gas (utvinnbar). The Barents Sea is home to both oil fields.