Norway was for several hundred years a part of Denmark. On May 17 in 1814 the country got its own constitution, a date that still is celebrated with great enthusiasm every year. However, they did not gain full independence until 1905, when the union with Sweden was dissolved. Today Norway has a population of nearly five million. Discovery of oil and natural gas in the North Sea has made Norway one of the richest countries in the world, money that is used to maintain a welfare state and one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Norway has an unusual and dramatic geography, consisting mostly of mountainous terrain and coastal areas. There are thousands of islands, and many large fjords carve far into the country. Sognefjorden is the longest fjord in the world. Norway also has the deepest lake in Europe, Hornindalsvatnet. In the mountain areas there are many large glaciers, and in the northernmost parts the ground is frozen tundra all year. The southern parts, where the capital Oslo is located, can however have quite warm summers. Oslo is also the largest city in the country. Other big cities are Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim.
Norway’s nature is also is greatest tourist attraction. Many goes to the fjords and waterfalls in the western pars, other north to experience the northern lights and midnight sun. Some choose to cruise along the coast, for example with “Huritgruten” between Bergen and Kirkenes, which has been described as the “World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage”. The ski resorts in the interior of the country also draws many tourists. Lillehammer, where the 1994 Winter Olympics was held, is one of many choices.
In Oslo the Holmenkollen ski jump draws many visitors. Here is also the large open air museum Norsk Folkemuseum and the Oseberg ship, the world’s best preserved viking ship. Trondheim also has a rich cultural history with the Nidaros cathedral, and in Lærdal there is the famous Borgund stave church from the 12th century.
Shopping in Norway may not be cheap. According to some surveys, Oslo is the most expensive city in the world. But if you must shop, most things are available on the main street, Karl Johans gate. The district Grünerløkka has many independent designer stores.