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July 2011



Norway, covers an area of 385,199 sq. km. (including the island territories of Svalbard and Jan Mayen); it's approximately the same size as New Mexico. Its Capital city is Oslo (estimated population of 599,230); other major cities include: Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger. Norway has a coastline of 25,148 km. with a temperate climate along coast, modified by the North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; and rainy year-round on the west coast. The terrain is glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; and arctic tundra in north.

Located strategically adjacent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic, Norway is about two-thirds mountains; some 50,000 islands off its much-indented coastline. The natural resources of Norway are: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, nickel, fish, timber, and hydropower. Rockslides and avalanches are the most common hazards facing Norway, with one active volcano on Jan Mayen Island in the Norwegian Sea.

Norway’s northern regions lie within the Arctic Circle, where there are borders with Finland and Russia, while much of the long border with Sweden runs through the Scandinavian mountains. This range, sloping to the south-east, is 1,530 km in length and has its highest areas in the south of Norway, where Galdhopiggen, Norway’s highest point, reaches a peak of 2,469 m (8,100 ft). Almost all of Norway is high ground; in the north the country becomes narrower, with mountains overlooking the fjords and the islands along the coast, and in the center and south the mountains form a high plateau, where there are permanent ice fields. The only area of low ground is around the Oslo fjord and along the coast to Stavanger. The principal rivers are the Glomma, the Lagen, and Tanaelv. Some six percent of Norway’s area is inland water--mostly long, thin lakes. Two-thirds of the country is tundra, rock, or snowfields, and one-quarter is forested, so good agricultural land is rare. Less than three percent of Norway is cultivated, and these areas are in the south-east and in the river valleys.

Ethnic Norwegians speak a Germanic language. Northern Norway is also the traditional home of communities of Sami people who speak a non-Indo-European language. Education is free through the university level and is compulsory from ages six to 16. At least 12 months of military service and training are required of every eligible male; approximately 40% are exempted from service for health or other reasons annually. Under the terms of the will of Alfred Nobel, the Storting (parliament) elects the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who award the Nobel Peace Prize each year on December 10 to those who have "done the most or best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Norway is one of the world's richest countries in per capita terms. Its large shipping fleet is one of the most modern among maritime nations. Metals, pulp and paper products, chemicals, shipbuilding, and fishing are the most significant traditional industries. Norway's emergence as a major oil and gas producer in the mid-1970s transformed the economy. Norway does not have a fixed exchange rate. Its principal trading partners are the EU, the United States, and China.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 7/2011; 7/2011