Nature and Norwegians - An ideal base for authentic experiences
A country of contrasts and magic. Norway doesn´t resemble any country in Europe: Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun. The fiords that can only elsewhere be found in Chile or New Zealand. The magical Lofoten Islands with thousands of steep mountains, white beaches and crystal clear waters. The Arctic with the tundra and the indigenous Lappish people. And Spitsbergen – Europe’s most densely populated place so close to the North Pole.
Norway’ coastline stretches 2700km from the South to the North. The country borders on Sweden, Finland and Russia.
The Golf Stream runs along the entire coast - keeping the sea from freezing and allows people to live in this wonderful country.
A country as big as Germany with only 5 million inhabitants and 3 languages. Norway was – not too long ago - one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is now one of the most affluent nations in the world. Norwegians are down to earth and close to nature. One reason might be that Norway was part of Sweden and Denmark for hundreds of years and that the majority of the inhabitants were fishermen and farmers.
Norway is a country that offers a wide range of experiences and beautiful encounters with the locals.
Despite their high standard of living, Norwegians are very simple people. Unlike Sweden and Denmark, Norway never really had nobility. The Norwegians were either farmers or fishermen ruled by a king who often had his base abroad. The harsh climate conditions have through all times forced them to live on the terms of nature. Today this is less visible in the larger cities, but in rural areas closeness to nature and values connected to nature, are still very strong. It makes the Norwegians earthbounded and close to basic values like having time to one another, respecting theperson, honesty, willingness to help and be present in the moment, values that seem to be fading in modern societies.In the Norwegian language we have the word “ildsjel”, which translated means “firesoul” and is used for passionate people who live their dream and burn for what they do. They are our local partners and together with them we design our programmes with the intention to let our guests experience the heart of Norway, to learn about a local way of life and participate in those activities which reflect the soul and essence of each area the most authentic way.
Quick facts about Norway
- Official Name: Kingdom of Norway
- Area: 386 958 km2
- Population: 4 525 000 (2002)
- Population per km2: 11.7 persons
- Capital city: Oslo (approximately 500 000 inhabitants)
- Language: Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk. In some districts, Sámi is also an official language).
- Religion: Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran)
- Currency: 1 Norwegian Krone = 100 øre
- System of Government: Constitutional Monarcy
- 9000 BC – 8000 BC Earliest signs of human settlement.
- 8000 – 4000 BC Old Stone Age, hunters and fishermen, rock carvings.
- 4000 BC – 1500 BC New Stone Age, early agriculture, livestock.
- 1500 BC – 500 BC Bronze Age, agricultural tools, jewellery, glass, weapons.
- 500 BC – 800 AD Iron Age, iron ploughs and scythes.
- 800 AD – 1050 AD Viking Age, longships, trade and conquest, runic inscriptions, voyages of discovery, Leif Eiriksson discovers America.
- 900 AD Norway united into one kingdom.
- 1030 Christianity adopted in Norway.
- 1130 Start of High Middle Ages, population growth, and consolidation of power both of church and crown.
- 1100 – 1200 Monarchy controls the church, slavery abolished.
- 1350 The Black Death reduces the population by almost two-thirds.
- 1380 – 1536 Union with Denmark through royal intermarriage.
- 1536 Norway ceases to be an independent kingdom.
- 1814 The Norwegian Constitution adopted, based on the American Declaration of Independence.
- 1814 – 1905 Union with Sweden.
- 1905 End of Union. Haakon VII crowned king.
- 1913 Universal right to vote for women: Norway is among the first in the world to grant suffrage.
- 1940 – 1945 World War II, Norway occupied by Germany.
- 1957 Death of Haakon VII – Olav V crowned king.
- 1970 Oil and gas deposits discovered off the Norwegian coast.
- 1981 Norway’s first female Prime Minister.
- 1991 Death of Olav V, Harald V becomes king.
- Electrical Current: The electrical current in Norway is 230 Volts. Plugs are of the continental type, with two round prongs. American appliances require a transformer and a plug adapter for use in Norway. British plugs, with three prongs, will also require a plug adapter.
- VAT and tax refunds: In Norway, VAT is included in the retail price and makes up to 20% of the price tag. Thousands of stores across the country offer visitors the opportunity to make use of the Tax Free Shopping service, which enables visitors to receive cash refunds of 12 – 19% when leaving the country. Some facts about tax free shopping:
- 1) The VAT rate in Norway is 25% on regular goods, which makes the VAT content 20%. For foods the rate is 11%.
- 2) The goods must be exported in unused condition within 1 month from purchasing date.
- 3) The Tax Refund Service is applicable to all EU residents provided they live outside Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
- 4) The minimum purchase amount is NOK 315 on regular goods, on foods NOK 280.
- Getting to Norway: Oslo and Bergen are the natural gateways to Norway when travelling from abroad. Both cities receive international flights and are only a couple of hours flight away from the main cities of Central – Europe. Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, it has signed the Schengen Agreement and thus citizens of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Island, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden can enter Norway simply by showing their national identity card.
You can have it all - Norway´s geography is extremely diversified
The Kingdom of Norway consists of the western and northern parts of the Scandinavian peninsula as well as the northern territories of Jan Mayen and the Svalbard archipelago, Bouvet Island, Peter I Island, and Queen Maud Land in the southern hemisphere. Europe’s sixth largest country in terms of land mass, Norway is sparsely populated and ranks only 28th in terms of population. The length of Norway’s mainland coast, including fjords and bays, exceeds 20 000 km and all over distance from the South to theNorth is about 2700 km.
To the east, Norway shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia, and is otherwise surrounded by sea. Only a small percentage of Norway’s land area is suitable for productive agriculture or forestry, but the country is richly endowed with natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, various ores, fish, timber and hydropower. These resources, particularly in the offshore sector, have helped Norway to develop into one of the world’s richest countries per capita. This is partly due to the country’s proximity to the important markets of Western Europe and its easy access to energy, widespread industrialization, political stability and high educational standards. Post World War 2 an active policy of social distribution has been implemented as a means of sharing the increase in national wealth. This policy has led to overall income equalization independent of place, gender, age or profession, and has helped to create a financially and socially cohesive society.The name Norway is thought to mean “Path to the North”.
Norway is a young nation with a long history, especially as a maritime nation. In spite of being joined to Denmark for 400 years, Norway retained a strong cultural tradition of its own which, together with cultural impulses from abroad, produced its own unique diversity. This can be seenin the areas and people in this huge country. It was a tough country to live in with its harsh nature and climate and that is the reason why there exists a wprd for passionate people in the Norwegian language: “ildsjel”, translated “Firesouls”. It is used for people who live their dream and burn for something. To get something done in the old days one had to truly burn for it and be passionate.
In addition to its music, literature and art, Norwegian culture is evident in the traditional national costumes or bunads, which are worn with pride on special occasions such as weddings, christenings and of course on 17 May, the Norwegian national day. The Sami are the indigenous people of Norway and are today a minority group. They have their own parliament and live mainly in Oslo and in the county of Finnmark in northern Norway. The Sami people traditionally make their living from reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. They have a very interesting cultural heritage of which they are proud, and they produce beautiful arts and crafts.
Weather - Ask us what to pack
Norway’s climate fluctuates greatly from place to place especially in its most northern parts. The lowest minimum temperature recorded is -51°C in Karasjok in northern Norway. Due to the gulfstream along the entire coastline, the temperatures are moderate and often can reach more than 20 degree in the summer.
The coldest months of the year are January and February and the warmest time in the inland areas is mid-July, while the coastal and mountains regions may reach their peaks in August. During this time temperatures may reach 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Given Norway’s extreme northerly position, its mainland climate is surprisingly mild. This is due to the trade winds forced across the Atlantic Ocean by the American continent and the warm currents flowing north from the Equator towards the Norwegian Sea.
The climate in Norway differs from that of the rest of Scandinavia. The high mountain ranges dividing mainland Norway provide protection from precipitation to large areas of inland eastern Norway, giving this area a more continental climate than would be expected in light of its proximity to the coast. Some of these areas east of the mountains have an annual rainfall of less than 300 mm. Most of the precipitation from the sea falls along the west coast of Norway, with some areas recording a maximum rainfall of 3000 mm annually. There are about 100 rainy days in inland Norway and some 150-200 rainy days on the coast. The strength and direction of the wind in Norway varies greatly as a result of fast-moving pressure fronts, and the winds along the coast and in the mountains are often quite strong.
Winter reigns from December to March/April and offers snow clad landscapes, innumerable winter sports, ice blue skies and a fantastic light, especially in the north. Spring comes in April/May and fights its way through snow and ice to give life to streams and rivers before dressing nature up in vivid greens and other gleaming colours. Summer turns up in June and strengthens the colours and growth of spring while reminding us how wonderful life can be. In the north of the country the midnight sun creates endless days. By the end of August, summer takes its last breath and gives way to the cooler autumn. The crisp air and the red, orange and yellow leaves on the trees make September and October a true seasonal symphony to the eyes.
Norway is noted for its excellent raw products, particularly fish. You can find smoked salmon, gravlaks (cured salmon) and trout in most restaurants, but you can also enjoy freshly caught white fish such as cod, monkfish and halibut. Herring and shellfish are also very popular – try a bag of shrimps fresh from the fisherman’s boat and enjoy it on the quayside!
If you like meat dishes, you should not leave Norway without trying reindeer, moose, red deer or grouse. Enjoy it with a creamy sauce – and if you treat yourself to a glass of good red wine it should make for a very fine meal indeed.
Goat’s milk cheese prepared in a special way (brunost) is a Norwegian speciality. This brown, sweet cheese is not widely known outside of Norway, but is loved by Norwegians of all ages. Cured or dried meat (spekemat) in the form of ham and dried sausages is popular summer food in Norway. Spekemat is usually served with wafer-thin crisp bread (flattbrød- another Norwegian speciality), sour cream and scrambled eggs, and always goes down well with a good Norwegian beer and a shot or two of aquavit. In recent years, a number of Norwegian chefs have won top international awards in highly prestigious culinary competitions. They have helped to raise the standard of Norwegian restaurants and develop a modern cuisine based on traditional Norwegian produce.