Fast Facts

Population:
4,620,000
Capital:
Oslo; 795,000
Area:
323,758 square kilometers (125,004 square miles)
Language:
Norwegian
Religion:
Evangelical Lutheran
Currency:
Norwegian krone
Life Expectancy:
79
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $33,000
Literacy Percent:
100
Flag: Norway
Map: Norway

In northern Europe, the thinly populated Kingdom of Norway, whose dominion includes the Arctic islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, is partitioned by mountains and has a fjord-gashed shoreline that exceeds 21,000 kilometers (13,050 miles). Ever since Vikings left home waters in the ninth century, Norway has drawn strength from the sea. Today its merchant and oil-tanker fleets are among the world's largest, and its fishing flotilla lands Western Europe's biggest catch.

Wealth from oil and gas in the North Sea, first tapped in the early 1970s, subsidizes public health and welfare programs. Recession required austerity in the 1980s, but since then Norway has enjoyed a higher economic growth rate than many other European countries. In 2002 Norway was the world's third largest oil exporter. A member of NATO, the UN, and the European Free Trade Association, Norway voted against joining the European Union in 1994. The country is home to some 30,000 Sami, or Lapps—the largest population of the Arctic reindeer herders.

Norway opened the world's longest road tunnel in 2000, with a length of 24.5 kilometers (15.3 miles). The Laerdal tunnel is a third longer than the St. Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland—previously the longest. Norwegians hope the tunnel, on the main Oslo-Bergen highway, will boost tourism to the spectacular fjords. The tunnel itself is something of a tourist attraction, featuring immense caverns that simulate sunrise—to help refresh drivers, or give them a chance to pull over and rest.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products
  • Agriculture: Barley, wheat, potatoes; pork; fish
  • Exports: Petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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