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About Norway

The following is an excerpt from The New Encyclopรฆdia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition, 2002:

Norway, officially Kingdom of Norway, ..., Europe's fifth largest country, [is] located in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. [It is a montainous country] dotted with more than 160,000 lakes ... . It is bordered by the Barents Sea (north), the Norwegian Sea and North Sea (west), Skagerak (Skager Strait; south) and Sweden, Finland, and Russia (east). The capital is Oslo. … Population [reached 5 million in 2012].

More than half of Norway lies at elevations of less than 1,600 feet (500 m), with only some 15 percent higher than 3,200 feet (975 m). …

Norway is situated in almost the same northern latitudes as Alaska; its warmer climate is caused by the Gulf stream, which usually keeps the fjords from freezing. … The country is subject to frequent gales and weather changes. …

Norway traditionally has been a fishing and lumbering country, but since the end of World War II it has greatly increased its mining and manufacturing activities. It is one of the world's largest exporters of iron-based alloys and metals combined. Norway has western Europe's largest offshore petroleum and natural-gas fields and Europe's largest deposit of ilmenite (titanium ore), and it ranks among the world's largest producers of hydroelectric power and magnesium metal.

Photo: Adde © Trondheim kommune
Most of the population … is of Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, Baltic) stock, and the largest minority group is the Sami (Lapps), who constitute less than 1 percent. Almost 90 percent of the population is Lutheran, and Norwegian is the official language. Norway has a relatively low population density. … Life expectancy is very high, 74 years for males and 80 years for females.

… Migration from rural to urban areas since World War II has been extensive; three-fourths of the population is urban. A balance between immigration and emigration rates helps to maintain a low rate of overall population increase.

Norway has a developed mixed economy that is largely based on services, the production of petroleum and natural gas, and light and heavy industries. The gross national product (GNP) is growing about as rapidly as the population, and the GNP per capita remains among the highest in the world.

Agriculture counts for less than 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs some 5 percent of the workforce. Only about 3 percent of the total land area is arable, and is concentrated in valleys and around lakes and fjords. The chief crops are barley, potatoes, oats and wheat, and the principal livestock are sheep, cattle and pigs. Foxes (blue and silver) are raised for fur.

Forests cover more than one-fourth of the land, and forestry is an important industry. Conifers predominate.

Norwegian boats land herring, blue whiting, capelin, Atlantic cod, prawn, and shrimp, and frozen and canned fish are exported. Beginning in the 1970s, fish farming has been developed by the government.

Norway is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. Its constitution, adopted in 1814, vest legislative power in the … parliament, the Storting. Its members are elected by proportional representation to a four year term. … Executive power is nominally held by the monarch, whose functions are mainly ceremonial; the State Council, led by the prime minister, exercises executive authority. …

Norway's comprehensive welfare system provides benefits for sickness and maternity, family allowances, and pensions for old age, disability, or loss of support that guarantee a standard of living close to that achieved during the individual's working life. The compulsory national health-care system provides free hospital care and physician's compensation. Well-staffed health facilities, along with extensive programs of preventive medicine, have nearly eliminated most serious infectious diseases, notably tuberculosis. …

Norway's virtually 100 percent literacy rate reflects its comprehensive educational system. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16, and almost all school-aged children are enrolled. …