In Norway, nature is a majestic gift to mankind. The scenery is refreshingly unconventional, as the nature is unspoilt, exotic and mystical. Visitors will get to know the most beautiful and enchanting places they have ever seen. With miles of unspoilt fjords, towering mountains and tumbling waterfalls, Norway is receiving more visitors every year—visitors in search of untouched natural habitats and rich culture. The country attracts visitors all year round, not only thanks to the diversity of the landscape, but also its vital energy and contrast of lights, shades and seasons, which offer new discoveries with every visit. The country is noted for its natural phenomena, particularly the midnight sun and the Northern Lights. From the middle of May to the end of July, the sun is visible 24 hours per day in three of the northernmost counties. From November to February is the best time to see the Northern Lights. Watching these shimmering sheets of light chasing across the Arctic sky is magnificent.
The breathtaking fjords of the southwest are Norway's most dramatic scenic features, but there are many other reasons to visit this sparsely populated land on the northern fringe of Europe. The North Cape's midnight sun is rightly famous - here, far above the Arctic Circle, lies the spectacularly situated town of Tromsø?, where the sun never rises in winter, nor sets in midsummer.
Each of Norway's four major cities offers distinct appeal - Oslo is present-day capital and financial centre, Bergen is a picturesque former Hanseatic trading port and ‘gateway' to Fjordland, Stavanger is focal point of the Norwegian oil industry, and Trondheim is a long-established centre of Christian pilgrimage, and more recently, technical research.
Norway extends so far to the north that distances can take a long time to cover. The drive from the south to the North Cape covers about 2,500 km. However, these great distances allow the visitor to experience dramatic variations in the landscape. Norway is one of the few countries in the world with fjords, deep indentations in the coastline formed by the scouring action of glaciers millions of years ago. For those on a quest for action, Norway’s pristine nature offers great potential for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, skiing, river rafting and kayaking. Norway is truly the traveller’s dream!
In the sparsely populated wilderness that lies between the main urban centres are such delights as Jostedalsbreen, Europe's largest glacier. There are opportunities to indulge in outdoor activities including skiing, fishing and rock-climbing. Even the less energetic can simply marvel at the awesome beauty of much of the Norwegian countryside, with its countless steep-sided valleys, high mountain lakes and unbelievable views.
Norway is foremost a land for those who love nature. However, it also offers a rich cultural experience, as would be expected of such varied history, from the Vikings of the eighth and ninth centuries, to later luminaries such as artist Edvard Munch, author Bjø?rnstjerne Bjø?rnson and composer Edvard Grieg, whose centenary Norway celebrated during 2007.
The nation, one of the world's richest on a per capita basis since the discovery of oil in the late 1960s, has been independent since 1905, when it devolved from Swedish rule, and remains outside the European Union. Norway has developed an important role in international politics over recent decades, and is rated as the world's most peaceful nation by the Global Peace Index.
Population: 4,604,800, as of 1 Jan. 2005
Head of State: His Majesty King Harald V of Norway
Prime Minister: Jens Stoltenberg
Currency: Norsk Krona
Language: Norwegian (Bokmå?l and Nynorsk) (In some districts, Sá?mi is also an official language)
Total Area: The Kingdom of Norway: 385,155km2
Religion: Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran)
Location: Norway is located in Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden.
Form of Government: Constitutional Monarchy