Norway is a long, narrow country on the northwestern edge of the European continent. The northern third of Norway lies above the Arctic Circle and is called the land of the Midnight Sun. Because this region is so far north, it has long periods every summer when the sun shines 24 hours a day. Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city, is in the southern part of the country. Most of the Norwegian people live near or along the sea. Winds warmed by the sea give the coast much warmer winters than other regions so far north, and snow melts quickly there. Even north of the Arctic Circle, nearly all of Norway’s harbours are free of ice all year round. Inland areas are very much colder, and snow covers the ground much of the year. For thousands of years, the people have used skis for travel over the snow-covered ground. Today, skiing is Norway’s national sport. Most Norwegians learn to ski before they even start school.
Norway, along with Denmark and Sweden, is one of the Scandinavian countries. Vikings lived in all three Countries about a thousand years ago. Vikings from Norway sailed west and established colonies in Iceland and Creenland. About A.D. 1 000, Leif Ericson sailed from Creenland and headed what was the first European expedition to the mainland of America. Since the time of the Vikings, the Norwegians have been a seafaring people. Norway’s coast is famous for its many long, narrow inlets of the sea called fiords, which provide fine harbors. Rich fisheries lie off the west Coast, and dried fish were an important export as early as the 1200´s. Norway began developing its great shipping fleet during the 1600’s. Today, Norway’s fishing and shipping industries rank among the world’s largest. Norway is one of Europes largest producer of petroleum due to its massive oil reserves. Which has made Norwegians one of the richest people in the world. Norway is the land of the midnight sun: Winter is a dark time in Northern Norway, as a result, Norwegians look forward to the long days of summer—and the midnight sun!
What’s it like to live in Norway? It takes some getting used to because the Northern part of Norway is above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set until midnight during the summer—and sunrise comes two hours later. But in the winter, there are long hours of darkness.
Area: 324,220 sq km (125,182 sq miles)
Geography: The Kingdom of Norway consists of the mainland on the Scandinavian peninsula, the Svalbard archipelago and Jan Mayen island in the Arctic. About half the country lies inside the Arctic circle. The Norwegian coastline, including fjords and bays, is 21,500km with an estimated 150,000 islands and inlets.
To the east, Norway shares borders with Sweden (1,619 km), Finland (721 km) and Russia (196 km). It covers an area of 324,000 sq km, making it the fourth largest country in Europe. Only 9,000 sq km is under agricultural production, while 65,000 sq km are productive forests. The distance between the northernmost and southernmost points on the mainland is 1,752 km. At its widest Norway is 430 km across whilst at its narrowest, just 6 km.
Norway has three dependencies in the Antarctic: Queen Maud’s Land (on the mainland), Peter I Island, and Bouvet Island. Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean has been a part of Norway since 1925.
Language: Norway’s official language is Norwegian, a northern Germanic language closely related to Danish and Swedish. For the most part, speakers of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are easily able to understand one another. The Norwegian language has two forms - Bokmal and Nynorsk. Bokmal, also called Riksmal, is the major form used in the cities and towns, and in most Norwegian schools. Bokmal is a Norwegian form of Danish.
Currency: Norwegian Krone (Kr)
Credit Cards: MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and VISA and Eurocard are all widely accepted.
Travelers Checks: Widely accepted.
Banking Hours: Bank opening hours are from 8:15am – 3pm Monday - Friday (3:30 in the winter) and 8:15am – 5pm Thursday
Norway has an excellent network of routes and connections. There are about 50 airports and landing strips which make even the most northern places easily accessible. The Airlines that operate in Norway are SAS, Braathens and Wideroe.
Approximate flight times:
London to Norway is 2 hours 5 minutes
New York to Norway is 7 hours 35 minutes
Chicago to Norway is 11 hours 50 minutes
Los Angeles to Norway is 17 hours 10 minutes
Oslo/Gardermoen (OSL) is the biggest ariprot in the country and the main international hub, and is located 60km north of Oslo.
Sandefjord Lufthavn, Torp (TRF) is located just north of Sandefjord, 115km to the south of Oslo.
Social & Business Customs
Norwegians usually eat four meals a day, but many farm families have five. Breakfast generally includes cereal and open-faced sandwiches with cheese, jam, herring, marmalade, or sliced meat. Goat cheese is a favourite sandwich spread. Sandwiches are also eaten at lunch and at a late-evening supper. Dinner is usually the only hot meal of the day. It includes soup, meat or fish, potatoes, vegetables, and dessert. People in the cities and towns eat dinner in the evening, and those in farm areas have it at midday. Norwegians drink coffee throughout the day and especially at mealtimes. Many Norwegians also enjoy beer, which is sometimes served with a strong, colourless liquor called aquavit. Tea, milk, and soft drinks also are popular in Norway.
Norway is often described as a “dry” country, because alcohol is highly priced and glass of wine/beer in a restaurant is in the range of 60kr ($9.00). Technically, you’re not allowed to drink in public. This law is very strict, and even encompasses your own balcony, if other people can see you! Drinking openly in the street is probably still considered somewhat rude, and it would be more likely to bring the police’s attendtion than a picnic ina park, and is advised against.
Several hotels and restaurants in Oslo stage cabaret programmes and floor shows. Venues change so it is best to check in the local newspaper. Theatres, cinemas, nightclubs and discos are located in major centres. Resorts have dance music, and folk dancing is popular.
Norwegian patterns are a special item, as are pewter and brass goods, necklaces, souvenirs, and Norway-inspired trinkets.
Shopping hours are generally from 9am or 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, though some shops stay open until 7am or 8pm on Thursday and to 2pm on Saturday (major shopping centers, especially in Oslo, will stay open even later). Some supermarkets (especially Rimi) stay open until 10pm on weekdays and 8pm on Saturday. Almost everything is closed on Sundays.
The typical greeting is a firm handshake with good eye contact on arrival and departure.
It is not customary to tip taxi drivers. Waiters expect a tip of no more than 5 per cent of the bill; porters at airports and railway stations charge per piece of luggage. Hotel porters are tipped NOK5-10 according to the number of pieces of luggage.
When meeting with business contacts, dress is generally smart and tidy: for men, business suits and ties; for women, smart skirt suits or pants suits. To really make an impression, you may want to observe the latest local fashions and purchase something locally. Punctuality is essential; don’t be a minute late for a meeting. People normally expect to receive a business card to remind them of your name, firm, and position. It’s also important to realize that Norwegians value their free time and want to spend as little time working as possible. Meetings should be wrapped up as quickly as possible and not allowed to drag on once the main issue has been dealt with.
Given the extreme northerly position, the mainland climate in Norway is surprisingly mild. Norway is the northermost country in the world to have open waters. This is due to the trade winds forced across the Atlantic Ocean by the American continent and the warm currents flowing north from the Equator towards the Norwegian Sea. Norway’s climate fluctuates greatly from year to year, especially in its most northern parts, which are located at the edge of the global temperate zone.
The average annual temperature swings from some 8°C along the western coast to below freezing in the mountains. The coldest months of the year are January and Debruarty and the warmest time in the inland areas is Mid-July. The coastal and mountain regions may reach their peaks somewhat later.