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Geography of Norway

Learn Information about the Scandinavian Country of Norway


Norway Flag

The Norway flag is red with a blue cross outlined in white that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag).

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated July 08, 2011

Population: 4,691,849 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Oslo
Bordering Countries: Finland, Sweden and Russia
Area: 125,020 square miles (323,802 sq km)
Coastline: 15,626 miles (25,148 km)
Highest Point: Galdhopiggen at 8,100 feet (2,469 m)

Norway is a country located in Scandinavia in Northern Europe. It fills the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula as well as an area within the Arctic Ocean due to islands such as Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Norway is known for its extensive coastline that is home to many fjords and glaciers as well as its strong ties with the rest of Europe and the United States through its participation in the United Nations and other international organizations. Norway has extensive natural resources, a highly developed economy and the world's highest human development index in 2009 and 2010.

History of Norway

Norway's organized history begins with the Vikings who lived in the region from the 9th to the 11th century. During their time in Scandinavia, Norway underwent both expansion and unification (U.S. Department of State). There was also a period of civil war which ended around the 13th century, at which time Norway began to expand into the British Isles, Iceland and Greenland. By 1265 Norway had reached its territorial height. In 1266 however the Isle of Man and Hebrides were ceded to Scotland and a plague struck Norway shortly after. By 1387 Norway's royal family lineage had died out and it joined a union with Denmark and Sweden in 1397. This union eventually broke apart and in 1586 Norway became a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

In the 1800s the Napoleonic wars hit Europe and Norway was separated from Denmark and joined with Sweden in 1814. Norway's citizens however ignored the shift in power to Sweden and chose Denmark's prince as their king. On May 17, 1814 they adopted the Eidsvoll Constitution. Shortly thereafter though the government agreed on a Swedish-Norwegian union and Norway was given permission to develop its own parliament and government. Despite these agreements there were several conflicts between the two governments and in 1905 the union between Norway and Sweden was dissolved. At that time Norway became independent and the Danish Prince Carl (who changed his name to Haakon VII) was elected as King by Norway's parliament.

Following its independence, Norway began to develop policies to protect its national security, especially during World War I and World War II and in 1949 it signed the North Atlantic Treaty joining NATO. In addition, it was one of the founding members of the United Nations. In addition, it developed a strong economy, as well as a stable government and social structure.

Government of Norway

Today the Kingdom of Norway's government is considered a constitutional monarchy. Its executive branch of government is made up of the chief of state (King Harald V) and a head of government (the prime minister). Norway's legislative branch consists of a modified unicameral Parliament (called the Storting), while its judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court. Norway is divided into 19 counties for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Norway

Norway has a strong economy that is based on the principles of welfare capitalism. As such it has a combination free market economy that has some government control (CIA World Factbook). For example the government controls things like Norway's petroleum sector and other natural resources. The main industries in Norway are petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles and fishing. Agriculture is practiced in only in small amounts because the country's extreme northern latitude means that it has a very short growing season. The main agricultural products of Norway are barley, wheat and potatoes. Pork, beef, veal, milk and fish also represent a portion of Norway's production.

Geography and Climate of Norway

Norway is located in northern Europe along the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west of Sweden (map). It also shares borders with Finland and Russia. Norway has a highly varied topography that is mostly glaciated. It also consists of arctic tundra in the north, high plateaus and rugged, undeveloped mountain ranges. These areas are separated by fertile valleys and plains. Norway is most famous for its coastline however because it is rugged and carved with deep fjords. The highest point in Norway is Galdhopiggen at 8,100 feet (2,469 m).

The climate of Norway varies based on location. In its coastal areas it is temperate because it is moderated by the North Atlantic Current. Farther inland however the winters are cold and summers are cool. Norway's west coast is rainy and cool year round and its arctic northern areas have very harsh winters. Norway's capital and largest city, Oslo, has an average January low temperature of 20˚F (-6.7˚C) and an average July high temperature of just 71˚F (21.5˚C).

To learn more about Norway, visit the Geography and Maps page on Norway on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (15 June 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Norway. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/no.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Norway: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107851.html

United States Department of State. (7 December 2011). Norway. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3421.htm

Wikipedia.com. (27 June 2011). Norway - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway

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