Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a sovereign and unitary monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus the island Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. Until 1814, the Kingdom included the Faroe Islands(since 1035), Greenland (1261), and Iceland(1262). It also included Shetland and Orkney until 1468.
Norway has a total area of 385,252 square kilometres (148,747 sq mi) and a population of 5,213,985 (May 2016). The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden (1,619 km or 1,006 mi long). Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.
King Harald V of the Dano-German House of Glücksburg is the current King of Norway. Erna Solberg became Prime Minister in 2013, replacing Jens Stoltenberg. A constitutional monarchy, Norway divides state power between the Parliament, the Cabinet, and the Supreme Court, as determined by the 1814 Constitution. The Kingdom is established as a merger of several petty kingdoms. By the traditional count from the year 872 the Kingdom has existed continuously for 1,144 years, and the list of Norwegian monarchs includes over sixty kings and earls.
Norway has both administrative and political subdivisions on two levels: counties and municipalities. The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliamentand the Finnmark Act. Norway maintains close tieswith the European Union and the United States. Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD; and is also a part of the Schengen Area.
The country maintains a combination of market economy and a Nordic welfare model with universal health care and a comprehensive social security system. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water, and hydropower. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). On a per-capita basis, Norway is the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East.
The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMFlists. On the CIA's GDP (PPP) per capita list (2015 estimate) which includes territories and some regions, Norway ranks as number eleven. From 2001 to 2006, and then again from 2009 to 2015, Norway had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world. Norway has topped the Legatum Prosperity Index for seven years in a row as of 2015. Norway also ranks first on the OECD Better Life Index, the Index of Public Integrity, and the Democracy Index.
The overall impression of Norway is a country with ample space and unusually rugged landscape. While famous for the great fjords along the Atlantic, also the interior has great valleys, wide forests and fjord-like lakes. Norway is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Water in all varieties is perhaps what characterizes Norway most: The endless coastline, the great fjords, countless waterfalls, crystal rivers, lovely lakes and numerous glaciers.
Although the great outdoors is Norway's number 1 attraction, there are also many interesting and lively cities like Oslo and Bergen. Man-made attractions include Norway's cultural heritage as well as modern structures and architecture - often found in cities but also in terms of impressive engineering in remote corners.
Norway sits on a large peninsula shared with Sweden in the north of Europe. In the north, it also borders Finland and Russia. Some 5 million inhabitants share an area about the size of Germany and larger than Britain. Norway is primarily a very long country - driving from the most southern to the most northern cities equals the distance from Hamburg to Malaga (and through much more rugged terrain). Norway's coastline is also one of the longest in the world - if islands and fjords are included the coastline has been calculated as 50,000 to 100,000km. Nordland county alone has a longer coastline than the entire United Kingdom when fjords and islands are included.
Norway is well known for its amazing and varied scenery. The famous fjords are long narrow inlets of the ocean, flanked on either side by tall mountains where the sea penetrates far inland. Norway's endless coastline also includes countless islands of all sizes - there are more than 200,000 identified islands along Norway's coast (only surpassed by Greece). The many islands and skerries shelter the coast from the rough Atlantic such that Hurtigruten and other ships can travel long stretches on calm waters. These sheltered (internal) waters (fjords, bays and straits) covers some 100,000km2.
There are more than 450,000 lakes throughout Norway; even inside the city of Oslo there are several hundred lakes. Norway is home to the deepest lakes in Europe. The vast majority of the land (about 95 %) is rocky wilderness and forests, and thus Norway has large, completely unpopulated areas, many of which have been protected as national parks. Also outside the national parks, much of the land is largely unspoiled nature - there is in fact no need to visit a national park to experience wilderness and great landscapes. Roads and railways as well as ordinary ferries offer easy access to great panoramas. There are few sandy beaches along Norway's endless shores; shores are typically rocky, steep cliffs or gentle polished slabs of rock.
Norway's highest point is Galdhøpiggen, 2,469m (8,100 ft) in the Jotunheimen region that lies midway between Oslo and Trondheim, but away from the coast. In the far north (Finnmark), there are relatively flat open spaces. Several of the world's tallest waterfalls are in Norway, particularly in the western fjords and the mountain region. While there are mountains all over Norway, some major mountain areas define Norway's main regions. The north-south line of mountain areas (notably Hardangervidda and Jotunheimen) are major barriers and separate West Norway from East Norway. Similarly the wide Dovrefjell separates Middle Norway (Trøndelag) from East Norway. Norway also includes the nearly unpopulated Svalbard archipelago far from the mainland, on the edge of the arctic ice shelf.
The long rugged coast, fjords, countless lakes, tall waterfalls and pretty rivers means that water is the one thing that most characterizes Norway.
Administratively, Norway is divided into counties that are grouped into regions East, South, West, middle (Trøndelag) and North. The landscape of Norway can also be described by zones that cuts across these administrative divisions.
- The "fjordland", the part of Norway dominated by fjords, runs as a wide belt all along the country, 20 to 200km wide. This particular landscape is typically a tangle of fjords and peninsulas, valleys and lakes.
- Island belt, Further out the mainland is sheltered by a belt of islands and skerries, this belt is often wide and complex for instance around Bergen or the Lofoten archipelago. Such belt of islands allows ships safe journey along major parts of the coast. Just south of Stavanger there are neither fjords nor islands, leaving the long sandy beaches unprotected.
- Mountain region: Somewhat inland and partly coinciding with fjords is the high mountain belt running basically South-North through the entire Scandinavian peninsula separating East Norway and West Norway, while further north separating Norway and Sweden. The high mountains vary from wild alpine summits and glaciers towards the Atlantic and more mellow landscapes further east.
- Big valleys: East/South of the central mountains are the land of big valleys that stretch from the lowlands around Oslo to the central mountains. Gudbrandsdal, Hallingdal, Setesdal and Valdres are typical big valleys. In eastern and central Finnmark the fjords instead of high mountains changes into a wide plateau at moderate altitude.
- Central eastern lowland: Greater Oslo, both shores of the Oslofjord (Vestfold and Østfold counties), and around big lakes Mjøsa and Tyrifjorden is the most densely populated and most important agricultural area.
The southern and western parts of Norway, fully exposed to Atlantic storm fronts, experience more precipitation and have milder winters than the eastern and far northern parts. Areas to the east of the coastal mountains are in a rain shadow, and have lower rain and snow totals than the west. The lowlands around Oslo have the warmest and sunniest summers, but also cold weather and snow in wintertime.
Because of Norway's high latitude, there are large seasonal variations in daylight. From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle (hence Norway's description as the "Land of the Midnight Sun"), and the rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day. Conversely, from late November to late January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country.
The coastal climate of Norway is exceptionally mild compared with areas on similar latitudes elsewhere in the world, with the Gulf Stream passing directly offshore the northern areas of the Atlantic coast, continuously warming the region in the winter. Temperature anomalies found in coastal locations are exceptional, with Røst and Værøy lacking a meteorological winter in spite of being north of the Arctic Circle. The Gulf Stream has this effect only on the northern parts of Norway, not in the south, despite what is commonly believed. The northern coast of Norway would thus be ice-covered if not for the Gulf Stream. As a side-effect, the Scandinavian Mountains prevent continental winds from reaching the coastline, causing very cool summers throughout Atlantic Norway. Oslo has more of a continental climate, similar to Sweden's. The mountain ranges have subarctic and tundra climates. There is also very high rainfall in areas exposed to the Atlantic, such as Bergen. Oslo, in comparison, is dry, being in a rain shadow. Skjåk in Oppland county is also in the rain shadow and is one of the driest places with 278 millimetres (10.9 inches) precipitation annually. Finnmarksvidda and the interior valleys of Troms and Nordland also receive less than 300 millimetres (12 inches) annually. Longyearbyen is the driest place in Norway with 190 millimetres (7.5 inches).
Parts of southeastern Norway including parts of Mjøsa have warm-summer humid continental climates (Köppen Dfb), while the more southern and western coasts are mostly of the oceanic climate (Cfb). Further inland in (southeastern and northern Norway, subarctic climate (Dfc) dominates; this is especially true for areas in the rain shadow of the Scandinavian Mountains. Some of the inner valleys of Oppland get so little precipitation annually, thanks to the rain shadow effect, that they meet the requirements for dry-summer subarctic climates (Dsc). In higher altitudes, close to the coasts of southern and western Norway, one can find the rare subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc). This climate is also common in Northern Norway but there usually in lower altitudes, all the way down to sea level. A small part of the northernmost coast of Norway has the tundra/alpine/polar climate (ET). Large parts of Norway is covered by mountains and high altitude plateaus, many of which also exhibit the tundra/alpine/polar climate(ET).
|Climate data for Oslo-Blindern (Köppen Dfb) (1961–1990), Norway|
|Record high °C (°F)||12.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||−1.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−4.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||−6.8|
|Record low °C (°F)||−24.3|
|Average precipitationmm (inches)||49|
|Average precipitation days||6||4||6||5||5||7||7||8||7||8||8||6||77|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||40||76||126||178||220||250||246||216||144||86||51||35||1,668|
|Source #1: Norwegian Meteorological Institute eklima.met.no|
|Climate data for Bergen (Köppen Cfb), 1961–1990|
|Record high °C (°F)||16.9|
|Average high °C (°F)||4.4|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||0.1|
|Record low °C (°F)||−16.3|
|Source #2: Voodoo Skies for extremes|
|Climate data for Brønnøysund (Köppen Cfc), 1960-1990|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−1.1|
|Average prec.mm (inches)||138|
|Source: Meteorologisk Institutt|
|Climate data for Rena-Haugedalen (Köppen Dfc) (1961–1990), Norway|
|Average high °C (°F)||−7.1|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−11.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||−15.6|
The total number of species include 16,000 species of insects (probably 4,000 more species yet to be described), 20,000 species of algae, 1,800 species of lichen, 1,050 species of mosses, 2,800 species of vascular plants, up to 7,000 species of fungi, 450 species of birds (250 species nesting in Norway), 90 species of mammals, 45 fresh-water species of fish, 150 salt-water species of fish, 1,000 species of fresh-water invertebrates, and 3,500 species of salt-water invertebrates. About 40,000 of these species have been described by science. The red list of 2010 encompasses 4,599 species.
Seventeen species are listed mainly because they are endangered on a global scale, such as the European beaver, even if the population in Norway is not seen as endangered. The number of threatened and near-threatened species equals to 3,682; it includes 418 fungi species, many of which are closely associated with the small remaining areas of old-growth forests, 36 bird species, and 16 species of mammals. In 2010, 2,398 species were listed as endangered or vulnerable; of these were 1250 listed as vulnerable (VU), 871 as endangered (EN), and 276 species as critically endangered (CR), among which were the grey wolf, the Arctic fox (healthy population on Svalbard) and the pool frog.
The largest predator in Norwegian waters is the sperm whale, and the largest fish is the basking shark. The largest predator on land is the polar bear, while the brown bear is the largest predator on the Norwegian mainland. The largest land animal on the mainland is the elk (American English: moose). The elk is in Norway known for its size and strength and is often called skogens konge, "king of the forest".
Stunning and dramatic scenery and landscape is found throughout Norway. The west coast of southern Norway and the coast of northern Norway present some of the most visually impressive coastal sceneries in the world. National Geographic has listed the Norwegian fjords as the world's top tourist attraction. The 2014 Environmental Performance Index put Norway in tenth place, based on the environmental performance of the country's policies.
Be aware that daylight varies greatly during the year. In Oslo, the sun sets at around 15:30 in December. North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun and polar night (winter darkness). However, even at Oslo's latitude, summer nights exist only in the form of prolonged twilight during June and July, these gentle "white nights" can also be a nice and unusual experience for visitors. The polar (or northern) light (aurora borealis) occurs in the darker months, frequently at high latitudes (Northern Norway) but occasionally also further South.
|City||Start darkness||End darkness||Midnight sun||End midnight sun||Notes|
|Bodø||na||na||June 4||July 8||No winter darkness|
|Tromsø||November 27||January 15||May 20||July 22|
|Svolvær||December 7||January 5||May 28||July 14|
|Alta||November 25||January 17||May 19||July 24|
|Nordkapp||November 20||January 22||May 14||July 29|
|Longyearbyen||October 26||February 16||April 20||August 22|
Because of very long twilight at northern latitudes, there is usable daylight 1-2 hours after sunset. In summer this means that for instance in Trondheim midsummer nights are not dark at all.
|City||Sun rise June 21||Sun set June 21||Sun rise December||Sun set December|
|Tromsø||all night||all night||no sun||no sun|
Norway's population was 5,096,300 people in October 2013. Norwegians are an ethnic North Germanicpeople. Since the late 20th century, Norway has attracted many immigrants from southern and central Europe, the Mideast, Africa and Asia. All of these groups speak many different languages and come from different cultures and religions.
In 2012, an official study showed that 86% of the total population have at least one parent who was born in Norway. More than 710,000 individuals (14%) are immigrants and their descendants; there are 117,000 children of immigrants, born in Norway.
Of these 710,000 immigrants and their descendants:
- 323,000 (39%) have a Western background (Australia, North America, elsewhere in Europe)
- 505,000 (61%) have a non-Western background (primarily Morocco, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran).
In 2013, the Norwegian government said that 14% of the Norwegian population were immigrants or children of two immigrant parents. About 6% of the immigrant population come from EU, North America and Australia, and about 8.1% come from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In 2012, of the total 660,000 with immigrant background, 407,262 had Norwegian citizenship (62.2%).
Immigrants have settled in all Norwegian municipalities. The cities or municipalities with the highest share of immigrants in 2012 were Oslo (32%) and Drammen (27%). The share in Stavanger was 16%.According to Reuters, Oslo is the "fastest growing city in Europe because of increased immigration". In recent years, immigration has accounted for most of Norway's population growth. In 2011 16% of newborn children were of immigrant background.
The Sami people are indigenous to the Far North and have traditionally inhabited central and northern parts of Norway and Sweden, as well as areas in northern Finland and in Russia on the Kola Peninsula. Another national minority are the Kven people, descendants of Finnish-speaking people who migrated to northern Norway from the 18th up to the 20th century. From the 19th century up to the 1970s, the Norwegian government tried to assimilate both the Sami and the Kven, encouraging them to adopt the majority language, culture and religion. Because of this "Norwegianization process", many families of Sami or Kven ancestry now identify as ethnic Norwegian.
Particularly in the 19th century, when economic conditions were difficult in Norway, tens of thousands of people migrated to the United States and Canada, where they could work and buy land in frontier areas. Many went to the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. In 2006, according to the US Census Bureau, almost 4.7 million persons identified as Norwegian Americans, which was larger than the population of ethnic Norwegians in Norway itself. In the 2011 Canadian census, 452,705 Canadian citizens identified as having Norwegian ancestry.
On 1 January 2013, the number of immigrants or children of two immigrants residing in Norway was 710,465, or 14.1% of the total population, up from 183,000 in 1992. Yearly immigration has increased since 2005. While yearly net immigration in 2001–5 was on average 13,613, it increased to 37,541 between 2006 and 2010, and in 2011 net immigration reached 47,032. This is mostly because of increased immigration by residents of the EU, in particular from Poland.
In 2012, the immigrant community (which includes immigrants and children born in Norway of immigrant parents) grew by 55,300, a record high. Net immigration from abroad reached 47,300 (300 higher than in 2011), while immigration accounted for 72% of Norway's population growth. 17% of newborn children were born to immigrant parents. Children of Pakistani, Somali and Vietnamese parents made up the largest groups of all Norwegians born to immigrant parents.
Pakistani Norwegians are the largest non-European minority group in Norway. Most of their 32,700 members live in and around Oslo. The Iraqi and Somali immigrant populations have increased significantly in recent years. After the enlargement of the EU in 2004, a wave of immigrants has arrived from Central and Northern Europe, particularly Poland, Sweden and Lithuania. The fastest growing immigrant groups in 2011 in absolute numbers were from Poland, Lithuania and Sweden. The policies of immigration and integration have been the subject of much debate in Norway.
Most Norwegians are registered at baptism as members of the Church of Norway which is the official state religion. The constitution still requires that the reigning monarch must be Lutheran and that the country's values are based on its Christian and humanist heritage. Many remain in the church to participate in the community and practices such as baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial rites. About 74.3% of Norwegians were members of the Church of Norway in 2015. In 2014, about 59.3% of all newborns were baptised and about 62.9% of all 15-year-old persons were confirmed in the church.
In the early 1990s, studies estimated that between 4.7% and 5.3% of Norwegians attended church on a weekly basis. This figure has dropped to about 2%.
In 2010, 10% of the population was religiously unaffiliated, while another 9%, were members of religious communities outside the Church of Norway. Other Christian denominations total about 4.9% of the population, the largest of which is the Roman Catholic Church, with 83,000 members, according to 2009 government statistics. An article in the newspaper Aftenposten in October 2012 noted there were about 115,234 registered Roman Catholics in Norway; the reporter estimated that the total number of people with a Roman Catholic background may be 170,000–200,000 or higher.
Others include Pentecostals (39,600), the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway(19,600),Methodists (11,000), Baptists(9,900), Eastern Orthodox (9,900), Brunstad Christian Church (6,800), Seventh-day Adventists(5,100), Assyrians and Chaldeans, and others. The Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic Lutheran congregations in Norway have about 27,500 members in total. Other Christian denominations comprise less than 1% each, including 4,000 members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and 12,000 Jehovah's Witnesses.
Among non-Christian religions, Islam is the largest, with 132,135 registered members (2014), and probably fewer than 200,000 in total. It is practised mainly by Somali, Arab, Bosniak, Albanian and Turkish immigrants, as well as Norwegians of Pakistani descent.
Other religions comprise less than 1% each, including 819 adherents of Judaism. Indian immigrants introduced Hinduism to Norway, which in 2011 has slightly more than 5,900 adherents, or 1% of non-Lutheran Norwegians. Sikhism has approximately 3,000 adherents, with most living in Oslo, which has two gurdwaras. Sikhs first came to Norway in the early 1970s. The troubles in Punjab after Operation Blue Star and riots committed against Sikhs in India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi led to an increase in Sikh refugees moving to Norway. Drammen also has a sizeable population of Sikhs; the largest gurdwara in north Europe was built in Lier. There are eleven Buddhist organisations, grouped under the Buddhistforbundet organisation, with slightly over 14,000 members, which make up 0.2% of the population. The Baha'i religion has slightly more than 1,000 adherents. Around 1.7% (84,500) of Norwegians belong to the secular Norwegian Humanist Association.
From 2006 to 2011, the fastest-growing religious faith in Norway was Orthodox Christianity, which grew in membership by 80%; however, its share of the total population remains small, at 0.2%. It is associated with the huge immigration from Eritrea and Ethiopia, and to a lesser extent from Central and Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. Other fast-growing religions were the Roman Catholic Church (78.7%), Hinduism (59.6%), Islam (48.1%), and Buddhism (46.7%).
As in other Scandinavian countries, the ancient Norse followed a form of native Germanic paganism known as Norse paganism. By the end of the 11th century, when Norway had been Christianised, the indigenous Norse religion and practices were prohibited. Remnants of the native religion and beliefs of Norway survive today in the form of names, referential names of cities and locations, the days of the week, and other parts of everyday language. Modern interest in the old ways has led to a revival of pagan religious practices in the form of Åsatru.The Norwegian Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost formed in 1996; in 2011, the fellowship had about 300 members. Foreningen Forn Sed was formed in 1999 and has been recognised by the Norwegian government.
The Sami minority retained their shamanistic religion well into the 18th century, when most converted to Christianity under the influence of Dano-Norwegian Lutheran missionaries. Some retained their ancient religion. Today there is a renewed appreciation for the Sami traditional way of life, which has led to a revival of Noaidevuohta. Some Norwegian and Sami celebrities are reported to visit shamans for guidance.
According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 22% of Norwegian citizens responded that "they believe there is a god". A study conducted three years previously by Gustafsson and Pettersson (2002), similarly found that 72% of Norwegians did not believe in a 'personal God.'
Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita among European countries (after Luxembourg), and the sixth-highest GDP (PPP) per-capita in the world. Today, Norway ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. According to the CIA World Factbook, Norway is a net external creditor of debt. Norway maintained first place in the world in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for six consecutive years (2001–2006), and then reclaimed this position in 2009, through 2015. The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine ranks Norway last in its Failed States Index for 2009, judging Norway to be the world's most well-functioning and stable country. The OECDranks Norway fourth in the 2013 equalised Better Life Index and third in intergenerational earnings elasticity.
The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state and social democracy country featuring a combination of free marketactivity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. Public health care in Norway is free (after an annual charge of around $230 for those over 16), and parents have 46 weeks paid parental leave. The state income derived from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production. Norway has a very low unemployment rate, currently 2.6%. 69% of the population aged 15–74 are employed. People in the labour force are either employed or looking for work. 9.5% of the population aged 18–66 receive a disability pension and 30% of the labour force are employed by the government, the highest in the OECD. The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Norway, are among the highest in the world.
The egalitarian values of Norwegian society have kept the wage difference between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most companies as much less than in comparable western economies. This is also evident in Norway's low Gini coefficient.
The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, such as the strategic petroleum sector (Statoil), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminium production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DNB), and telecommunication provider (Telenor). Through these big companies, the government controls approximately 30% of the stock values at the Oslo Stock Exchange. When non-listed companies are included, the state has even higher share in ownership (mainly from direct oil licence ownership). Norway is a major shippingnation and has the world's 6th largest merchant fleet, with 1,412 Norwegian-owned merchant vessels.
By referendums in 1972 and 1994, Norwegians rejected proposals to join the European Union (EU). However, Norway, together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, participates in the European Union's single market through the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement. The EEA Treaty between the European Union countries and the EFTA countries– transposed into Norwegian law via "EØS-loven"– describes the procedures for implementing European Union rules in Norway and the other EFTA countries. Norway is a highly integrated member of most sectors of the EU internal market. Some sectors, such as agriculture, oil and fish, are not wholly covered by the EEA Treaty. Norway has also acceded to the Schengen Agreement and several other intergovernmental agreements among the EU member states.
The country is richly endowed with natural resources including petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Large reserves of petroleum and natural gas were discovered in the 1960s, which led to a boom in the economy. Norway has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population. In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry.
Norway is the first country which banned cutting of trees (deforestation), in order to prevent rain forests from vanishing. The country declared its intention at the UN Climate Summit in 2014, alongside Great Britain and Germany. Crops, that are typically linked to forests' destruction are timber, soy, palm oil and beef. Now Norway has to find new way to provide these essential products without exerting negative influence on its environment.
Export revenues from oil and gas have risen to almost 50% of total exports and constitute more than 20% of the GDP. Norway is the fifth-largest oil exporter and third-largest gas exporter in the world, but it is not a member of OPEC. In 1995 the Norwegian government established the sovereign wealth fund ("Government Pension Fund — Global"), which would be funded with oil revenues, including taxes, dividends, sales revenues and licensing fees. This was intended to reduce overheating in the economy from oil revenues, minimise uncertainty from volatility in oil price, and provide a cushion to compensate for expenses associated with the ageing of the population.
The government controls its petroleum resources through a combination of state ownership in major operators in the oil fields (with approximately 62% ownership in Statoil in 2007) and the fully state-owned Petoro, which has a market value of about twice Statoil, and SDFI. Finally, the government controls licensing of exploration and production of fields. The fund invests in developed financial markets outside Norway. The budgetary rule (Handlingsregelen) is to spend no more than 4% of the fund each year (assumed to be the normal yield from the fund).
In August 2014, the Government Pension Fund controlled assets were valued at approximately US$884 billion (equal to US$173,000 per capita) which is about 174% of Norway's current GDP. It is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. The fund controls about 1.3% of all listed shares in Europe and more than 1% of all the publicly traded shares in the world. The Norwegian Central Bank operates investment offices in London, New York and Shanghai. Guidelines implemented in 2007 allow the fund to invest up to 60% of the capital in shares (maximum of 40% prior), while the rest may be placed in bonds and real-estate. As the stock markets tumbled in September 2008, the fund was able to buy more shares at low prices. In this way, the losses incurred by the market turmoil was recuperated by November 2009.
Other nations with economies based on natural resources, such as Russia, are trying to learn from Norway by establishing similar funds. The investment choices of the Norwegian fund are directed by ethical guidelines; for example, the fund is not allowed to invest in companies that produce parts for nuclear weapons. Norway's highly transparent investment scheme is lauded by the international community. The future size of the fund is closely linked to the price of oil and to developments in international financial markets.
In 2000, the government sold one-third of the state-owned oil company Statoil in an IPO. The next year, the main telecom supplier, Telenor, was listed on Oslo Stock Exchange. The state also owns significant shares of Norway's largest bank, DnB NOR and the airline SAS. Since 2000, economic growth has been rapid, pushing unemployment down to levels not seen since the early 1980s (unemployment in 2007: 1.3%). The international financial crisis has primarily affected the industrial sector, but unemployment has remained low and was at 3.3% (86,000 people) in August 2011. In contrast to Norway, Sweden had substantially higher actual and projected unemployment numbers as a result of the recession. Thousands of mainly young Swedes migrated to Norway for work during these years, which is easy as the labour market and social security systems overlap in the Nordic Countries. In the 1st quarter of 2009, the GNP of Norway surpassed Sweden's for the first time in history, although its population is half the size.
Norway contains significant mineral resources and in 2013 its mineral production was valued at US$1.5 billion (Norwegian Geological Survey data). The most valuable minerals are calcium carbonate (limestone), building stone, nepheline syenite, olivine, iron, titanium, and nickel.
Norway is also the world's 2nd-largest exporter of fish (in value, after China). Hydroelectric plants generate roughly 98–99% of Norway's electric power, more than any other country in the world.
Between 1966 and 2013, Norwegian companies drilled 5085 oil wells, mostly in the North Sea. 3672 are utviklingsbrønner (regular production); 1413 are letebrønner (exploration); and 1405 of these have been terminated (avsluttet).
Oil fields not yet in production phase include: Wisting Central—calculated size in 2013, 65–156 million barrels of oil and 10 to 40 billion cubic feet (0.28 to 1.13 billion cubic metres), (utvinnbar) of gas. and the Castberg Oil Field (Castberg-feltet)—calculated size 540 million barrels of oil, and 2 to 7 billion cubic feet (57 to 198 million cubic metres) (utvinnbar) of gas. Both oil fields are located in the Barents Sea.