An ancient Scandinavian proverb says that the Swedish are aristocrats, the Danes are entrepreneurs and the Norwegians are farmers. Surely these people, born - so to say - with the skis on their feet, are deeply characterised by their landscape of innumerable cliffs and bays, and mountains covered with snow for a large part of the year.

In short

Area: 385,155 km² -- Population: about 4,7 million inhabitants -- Density: 12 per km² -- Government: Constitutional monarchy -- Capital: Oslo -- Language: Norwegian -- Religion: In majority Protestant -- Currency: Norwegian krone -- Telephone code: +47 -- International car plate: N -- Internet suffix: .no -- Member of: the UNO since 1945


Administrative division

Norway is divided into 19 counties or fylker which are in their turn subdivided into 431 municipalities or kommuner. The counties are: Akershus, Aust-Agder, Buskerud, Finnmark, Hedmark, Hordaland, Møre og Romsdal, Nordland, Nord-Trøndelag, Oppland, Oslo, Østfold, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Sør-Trøndelag, Telemark, Troms, Vest-Agder, Vestfold.
The Kingdom of Norway also has sovereignty over the Arctic territories of the Svalbard islands and Jan Mayen; external dependencies are the Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean and Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land in Antarctica but they are not part of the Kingdom.

The Territory

Norway is bounded by Sweden on the west, Finland and the Russian Federation in the east, the Atlantic Ocean and North sea on the west and the Arctic Ocean on the north. It is mountainous almost everywhere, with the exception of a small plain in the south-east, where the capital Oslo is situated. The main feature of the landscape, the most unforgettable, is the abrupt rock walls descending to the sea and creating the spectacular narrow and long bays called fjords, and the numberless islands and rocks following like a belt the coastline, protecting the land from the terrible Atlantic storms.

The Population

This is a nation of fishermen, accustomed to the inhospitable climate of freezing but rich Arctic waters. But when the summer comes, which all Scandinavia celebrates on 24th june, St. John's Day, all the houses are decorated with bright colours, as in Hammerfesdt the northernmost town in Europe, where the long winter night lasts from 23 November to 18 March, and in mid-May the sun starts shining without ever setting down again until late July.


Norway has always been a maritime country, with deep ties to Sweden and Denmark. The earliest human settlements took place only after 7,000 B.C., with the end of the Ice Age, then by the 8th century A.D. there were a number of tribal Kingdoms, often at war with one another. The conflicts among the tribes were the main cause of massive migration towards Britain, France and into the Mediterranean to southern Europe. These invaders were called Vikings from the word "vik" the local name of the fjords. During the 10th century AD King Harold unified a large part of Norway, and one of his descendants, Olaf II, christianised the population. In the early 14th century King Magnus VI introduced a modern law system, and the centres along the coast started to progress economically, especially Bergen, and entered the Anseatic League. In the early Middle Ages, before Columbus, Viking seamen reached parts of the American Continent sailing in their long, slender vessels.

In the late 14th century the Norwegian dynasty became extinct, and Eric of Pomerania was elected king and unified Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the Kalmar Union. In the following centuries Norway was a Danish province; then in 1841 after the Napoleonic wars Norway passed under the Swedish monarchy. In 1905 the union with the Sweden was dissolved and Norway became independent under King Haakon VII. In 1940 the country was occupied by the Germans, and a strong resistance movement rose. In the 1960's the discovery of oil and methane in the North Sea brought a remarkable prosperity, that with the traditional lumber and fishing trade has transformed Norway into one of the most advanced countries in the world.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

logo Unesco
  • Bryggen, a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings along the eastern side of the fjord near Bergen;
  • Urnes Stave Church, a medieval wooden church near Lustrafjorden in Luster municipality;
  • Røros, a site of copper mining activity for over 3 centuries;
  • Rock Drawings at Alta, an archaeological site near Alta, county of Finnmark in northern Norway;
  • Vegaøyan — the Vega Archipelago, a site of fishermen and farmers for over 1,500 years in an inhospitable Arctic environment;
  • the Struve Geodetic Arc — shared with Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Sweden, the Russian Federation and Ukraine;
  • West Norwegian Fjords - Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, among the most visited tourist sites in Norway for their astounding beauty.