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Norway is the most Western of the Scandinavian countries in Europe and it is also the country in Europe which stretches the furthest up North. The country borders on Sweden in the East and Finland and Russia in the Northeast. In the South, Norway meets with the Northern sea at the Skaggerrak while the Norwegian sea lies to the West and the Barents Sea to the North. Overall, the country has a size of 385,199 km2, which includes Bear Island, Svalbard and Jan Mayen in the Northern Barents Sea, the Bouvet Peter I islands in the South Atlantic and the Queen Maud mountains in Antarctica. Mainland Norway’s coastline alone is nearly as long as half of the equator and from North to South, the country stretches over around 1,800km.
From the Cape Nordkinn, the most Northern point in Europe, to the Pysen in Lindesnes, the most Southern point, Norway has of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world. Most of the country is shaped by rock and water and only 3% of Norwegian land can be used for agriculture. Mountain ranges rise behind the coast, whose peaks are often covered in snow and ice, also over the summer months. Much of the countryside does not carry any vegetation at all. Most of the more than 1,700 Norwegian glaciers are quite young and only formed around 500BC due to a change in climate.
The coastline is dominated by fjords deeply carving their way into the land. The Western fjords area between Stavanger and Molde is home to the most impressive fjords, often reaching considerable depth and framed by high, steep rock walls. The Sognefjord with a length of 183km and a depth of 1,308m is the biggest fjord in Norway. “Fjell”, a bare high plateau with lakes and rocks formed during the Ice Age, is another Norwegian characteristic landscape.Hardangervidda between Oslo and Bergen is considered to be the most distinctive fjell in Norway.
Norway is divided into five main areas - Sørlandet in the South, Vestlandet in the West, Östlandet in the East, Tröndelag around the Trondheimsfjord and Nord-Norge in Northern Norway. Around half of the country’s population lives in Östlandet, taking up a third of Norway. The highest peak of Norway, Jotunheimen with an elevation of 2,469m, can be found in Westland. Forests and agricultural land shape most of the countryside while alpine vegetation is typical in higher areas over 1,000m and in Northern Norway, where agriculture is hardly possible.
Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary and democratic regime. The democratic regime and monarchy were constituted in 1814 and the Norwegian King acts as the highest representative of the country. The Norwegian parliament is called “Storting” and is elected every four years.
The country is divided into eleven provinces, which are further divided into 356 municipalities, which enjoy some autonomy in regards to their budget and look after schooling, social establishments, local infrastructure and regional planning.
Norway is considered to be one of the richest countries in the world and the country with the highest level of life quality after Iceland. A large part of the wealth is contributed to the rich oil reserves which have been discovered in the late 1960s. Norway is the second largest producer of oil and the fourth largest producer of natural gas in Europe and the country delivers around 3% of conventional oil worldwide. Nearly 70% of Norwegian exports are made of oil.
Tourism plays an important role and the country has been capitalizing on its unspoiled scenery and outdoor opportunities. In 2018, the tourism industry accounted for 4,2% of the GDP and employed just under 170,000 people. The vast majority of people contributing to the touristic expenditure were Norwegian.
Further, Norway is considered to be one of the largest fishing nations in the world. Cod, salmon, mackerel, herring and shrimps are commonly found in Norwegian waters. Fishing contributes around 5% of the international exports.
Norway also has the fifth largest trade fleet in the world and century long tradition in sea trade. The shipping industry is the second largest contributor to the GDOP. Wood is another important resource.