Norway, a Scandinavian country of Northern Europe, is bordered by Finland to the south and Russia to the east. The Kingdom of Norway comprises the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, as well as Svalbard (an archipelago) and Bouvet Island. Norway covers an area of almost 150 thousand square miles (385 thousand sq. km.) and has a population of almost five million.
The Norwegian landscape includes several hundred miles of coastline running along the North Atlantic Ocean and Barents Sea, as well as breathtaking fjords (with their lakeside mountains, orchards, waterways and hiking trails), waterfalls, castles, medieval churches, old cathedrals, historic breweries and a town of beautiful Art Nouveau buildings (Ã…lesund). There is also the natural phenomenon and visual spectacle, the aurora borealis (the ‘Northern Lights), which can be seen best late at night between September and April.
The official language of Norway is Norwegian, which has two written forms, BokmÃ¥l (used by more than 80%) and Nynorsk, while a number of national regional languages are also recognized.
Norway, which is the world’s 3rd richest economy by GDP, is a country with abundant petroleum and natural gas reserves, and outside of the Middle East is the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer. It also has copious supplies of lumber, minerals and seafood. Norway’s major exports are oil and petroleum products, machinery & equipment, chemicals, metals, ships and fish, the main food product for export being ‘tÃ¸rrfisk; (dried cod).
Like the other Nordic countries, Norway has a centuries-old tradition of fish and seafood, with food today still containing elements of a diet from 150 years ago. Typical dishes include fish soup, pickled herrings cooked in a sauce (such as tomato sauce or sour cream), pork patties, baked salmon with vegetables, meatballs and ‘Lefse’ (potato flatbread). A traditional cake is Blotkake, which is often serve for birthdays, while ginger nuts are Norwegian-style ginger cookies containing almonds and flavored with spices (cloves and cinnamon).
Norway has a rich cultural history going back to the 9th century, with archaeological excavations highlighting the artisanal talents of the Vikings, who in addition to being noteworthy shipbuilders, also developed skills for wood-carving, jewelry-making and other crafts. One of Norway’s most famous artists was Edvard Munch (1863-1944), who had significantly influenced the German Expressionists of the early 20th century and whose masterpiece “The Scream” (1893) is one of the world’s most famous works of art. During the 20th century, the culture of Norway, like that of many other countries, was impacted by foreign influences, although it has recently flourished with the work of several writers, artists, dancers and musicians winning international acclaim. The world of classical world of music contains several renowned musicians, including pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and cellist Truls MÃ¸rk, while folk music has remained popular and continued to flourish for several decades. Norway’s most famous popular music export is 1980s pop band A-ha. Norway is renowned for its creativity and high standards of design, with both the paper-clip and cheese-grater invented by Norwegians. Wood has always been the mainstay of Norwegian buildings â€“ from medieval churches to Baroque buildings of the 17th century, through to the 20th century Sami Parliament building in KÃ¡rÃ¡Å¡johka and its timber debating chamber modeled on a nomadic tent typical of the Sami people – and still plays a major role in the country’s modern architecture. Norway has several museums and art galleries that regularly host events and festivals.
Famous Norwegians (recent and current) include Morten Harket (singer with pop group A-ha), Anni-Frid Lyngstad (singer with Swedish pop group ABBA), artist, musician and former actress Bibbe Hansen (half-Norwegian and also the mother of American musician Beck) and soccer player John Carew.