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Tuesday 21st October
Norway Information - Page 1
Geography
The Kingdom of Norway is in Northern Europe, bordered by the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean (the "Norwegian Sea"), the Barents Sea, Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are numerous islands along the coastline. The Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen Island belong to Norway.

Oslo is the capital city and a major port. Other important cities are Bergen, Drammen, Fredrikstad, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Tromso and Trondheim.

Norway is mountainous with high plateaux. It has a very long and rugged coastline with a number of fjords. The Sognafjorden is Norway's longest fjord. The Glomma is the longest river and the Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in Northern Europe.

Winters are mild and summers cool although it is much colder in the North which falls within the Arctic Circle. The Midnight Sun provides light for twenty-four hours a day from 20 May to 22 July. Between 27 November and 15 January, Nordland, Troms and Finnmark experience Polar Night when the sun is not visible. The phenomenon of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) light up the dark winters.

Environment
Norway is known for fjords, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls. Over a quarter of its terrain is forested mainly with coniferous pines and spruce. Deciduous trees include ash, oak and maple.

There are over twenty national parks with three on the Svalbard Archipelago. Rondane was Norway's first national park. Others include Ovre Anarjakka, Ovre Pasvik and Stabbursdalen in Finnmark and Hardangervidda (Hardanger Fjord)

The Vega Archipelago, just south of the Arctic Circle, is on the World Heritage List. Geirangerfjord and Naeroyfjord, among the world’s longest and deepest fjords, were added to the List in 2005.

Norwegian wildlife includes elk, moose, reindeer and lemmings. Polar bears and puffins live on Svalbard. Whales can be seen along the north coast.

Architecture
Timber has always been in good supply in Norway and has been used for building homes throughout the centuries. Unfortunately a number of fires have destroyed wooden houses in the World Heritage Site of Bryggen (Bergen), although fifty-eight of the old buildings are still in use today.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site is Roros, an old mining town, which has around eighty wooden houses.

Stave churches are a particular example of Norwegian wooden architecture. These churches are constructed with self-supporting posts or staves. A fine example is the twelfth century stave church at Urnes, also on the World Heritage List.

A modern landmark building is the National Opera House in Oslo, opened in 2008. Timber is used inside but sloping roofs, rising from the shore of the Oslo Fjord, are covered with white marble.

Population
Norway's population was estimated 4,644,457 in 2008.

Languages
Bokmal Norwegian and Nynorsk Norwegian are official languages. Sami is official in six municipalities.

Religion
Over eighty-five percent of the people are members of the Church of Norway.

Food
With such a long coastline it is inevitable that fish should feature in Norwegian cuisine. The more recent introduction of aquaculture provides plenty of salmon and sea trout. Recipes include fish soup, lye fish (lutefisk) and smoked, salted and pickled fish for the smorgasbord. Cured meat is also traditional in Norwegian cuisine.

Milk is an important ingredient in Norwegian cooking. Other dairy products, such as sour milk cheese and brown goat's cheese, are part of the Norwegian diet. Vegetables include potatoes, cabbage and peas. Thin crispy flat bread is eaten with some meals.

Desserts make use of apples, rhubarb and berries. Pancakes and cakes are popular.

Beer and aquavit (spirit distilled from potatoes and flavoured with caraway) are traditional Norwegian drinks. Coffee is also popular.

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