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Kingdom of Norway
National name: Kongeriket Norge
Sovereign: King Harald V (1991)
Prime Minister: Jens Stoltenberg (2005)
Land area: 118,865 sq mi (307,860 sq km); total area: 125,182 sq mi (324,220 sq km)
Population (2006 est.): 4,610,820 (growth rate: 0.4%); birth rate: 11.5/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.7/1000; life expectancy: 79.5; density per sq mi: 39
Other large cities: Bergen, 211,200; Stavanger, 168,600; Trondheim, 144,000
Monetary unit: Norwegian krone
Languages: Bokmål Norwegian, Nynorsk Norwegian (both official); small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities
Ethnicity/race: Norwegian, Sami 20,000
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 86% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, other 1%, none and unknown 10%
Literacy rate: 100% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $194.7 billion; per capita $42,400. Real growth rate: 3.7%. Inflation: 2.1%. Unemployment: 4.2%. Arable land: 3%. Agriculture: barley, wheat, potatoes; pork, beef, veal, milk; fish. Labor force: 2.4 million; services 74%, industry 22%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 4% (1995). Industries: petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles, fishing. Natural resources: petroleum, copper, natural gas, pyrites, nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead, fish, timber, hydropower. Exports: $111.2 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish. Imports: $58.12 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Major trading partners: UK, Germany, Netherlands, U.S., France, Sweden, Denmark, China (2003).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 2.735 million (1998); mobile cellular: 2,080,408 (1998). Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM at least 650, shortwave 1 (1998). Radios: 4.03 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 360 (plus 2,729 repeaters) (1995). Televisions: 2.03 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 13 (2000). Internet users: 2.68 million (2002).
Transportation: Railways: total: 4,178 km (2002). Highways: total: 91,454 km; paved: 69,505 km (including 143 km of expressways); unpaved: 21,949 km (2000). Waterways: 1,577 km along west coast; navigable by 2.4 m draft vessels maximum. Ports and harbors: Bergen, Drammen, Floro, Hammerfest, Harstad, Haugesund, Kristiansand, Larvik, Narvik, Oslo, Porsgrunn, Stavanger, Tromso, Trondheim. Airports: 102 (2002).
International disputes: Norway asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Queen Maud Land and its continental shelf); despite recent discussions, Russia and Norway continue to dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone.
Flag of Norway


Norway is situated in the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula. It extends about 1,100 mi (1,770 km) from the North Sea along the Norwegian Sea to more than 300 mi (483 km) above the Arctic Circle, the farthest north of any European country. It is slightly larger than New Mexico. Nearly 70% of Norway is uninhabitable and covered by mountains, glaciers, moors, and rivers. The hundreds of deep fjords that cut into the coastline give Norway an overall oceanfront of more than 12,000 mi (19,312 km). Galdhø Peak, at 8,100 ft (2,469 m), is Norway's highest point and the Glåma (Glomma) is the principal river, at 372 mi (598 km) long.


Constitutional monarchy.


Norwegians, like the Danes and Swedes, are of Teutonic origin. The Norsemen, also known as Vikings, ravaged the coasts of northwest Europe from the 8th to the 11th century and were ruled by local chieftains. Olaf II Haraldsson became the first effective king of all Norway in 1015 and began converting the Norwegians to Christianity. After 1442, Norway was ruled by Danish kings until 1814, when it was united with Sweden—although retaining a degree of independence and receiving a new constitution—in an uneasy partnership. In 1905, the Norwegian Parliament arranged a peaceful separation and invited a Danish prince to the Norwegian throne—King Haakon VII. A treaty with Sweden provided that all disputes be settled by arbitration and that no fortifications be erected on the common frontier.
When World War I broke out, Norway joined with Sweden and Denmark in a decision to remain neutral and to cooperate in the joint interest of the three countries. In World War II, Norway was invaded by the Germans on April 9, 1940. It resisted for two months before the Nazis took complete control. King Haakon and his government fled to London, where they established a government-in-exile. Maj. Vidkun Quisling, who served as Norway's prime minister during the war, was the most notorious of the Nazi collaborators. The word for traitor, quisling, bears his name. He was executed by the Norwegians on Oct. 24, 1945. Despite severe losses in the war, Norway recovered quickly as its economy expanded. It joined NATO in 1949.
In the late 20th century, the Labor Party and the Conservative Party seesawed for control, each sometimes having to lead minority governments. An important debate was over Norway's membership in the European Union. In an advisory referendum held in Nov. 1994, voters rejected seeking membership for their nation in the EU. The country became the second-largest net oil exporter after Saudi Arabia in 1995. Norway continued to experience rapid economic growth into the new millennium.
In March 2000, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik resigned after Parliament voted to build the country's first gas-fired power stations. Bondevik had objected to the project, asserting that the plants would emit too much carbon dioxide. Labor Party leader Jens Stoltenberg succeeded Bondevik. Stoltenberg and the Labor Party were defeated in Sept. 2001 elections, and no party emerged with a clear majority. After a month of talks, the Conservatives, the Christian People's Party, and the Liberals formed a coalition with Bondevik as prime minister. The governing coalition was backed by the far-right Progress Party. But in Sept.2005 elections, the center-left Red-Green coalition gained a majority of seats, and Jens Stoltenberg of the Labor Party once again became prime minister.
See also Norwegian dependencies.
See also Encyclopedia: Norway.
Statistics Norway www.ssb.no/www-open/english/ .

Norwegian agriculture

Norway lies the furthest north of any country in Europe. It stretches from 58° N to 71°N, a length of 1,750 km, which exceeds the distance between Oslo and Rome. After Iceland, Norway is also the sparsest populated country in Europe with about 4.5 million inhabitants.
By Dag Henning Reksnes
In this elongated country farming is carried out farther north than anywhere else, and obviously local agricultural conditions vary strongly.
In 1996 the total amount of land under cultivation was 2,581,250 acres. There were 81,600 farms in operation, and 90,100 man-labour years were devoted to agriculture. This represented about 5.4 per cent of the nation's total work force.
But Norwegian agriculture consists of far more than the Norwegian farmer and his land. Norwegian agriculture is as much a matter of consumers, food production, the environment, soil protection, the cultural landscape, the formation of values, exports, regional settlement, and employment.
The term Norwegian agriculture encompasses everything to do with farming, forestry, reindeer herding, fish farming, animal husbandry, and the development of new businesses based on agriculture. These new trades consist of everything from traditional initiatives such as farm tourism to exceptional ones such as the production of office equipment.
Agriculture is essential to the retention of jobs, and thus settlement, of the entire country. Well developed agriculture based on environmentally friendly production is a guarantee for our future food security, an important
contribution to the formation of values, employment and the settlement of the entire country.
Agriculture also takes responsibility for a number of social and environmental values - such as the preservation of the cultural landscape and biological diversity.
Quality food
A prime concern for Norwegian authorities is to ensure that consumers get safe food of good quality, while contributing to give the population a nutritious diet.
At a time when pesticides, additives, salmonella, genetically modified food and meat laced with hormones worry consumers in the industrialised countries, it is vital that Norway is involved in establishing and implementing international agreements based on accepted standards of hygiene and quality. This means that the products should satisfy consumers' needs, demands and expectations and be guaranteed healthy - whether or not the food is produced in Norway. In this aspect Norway is in a good situation. We have had very few cases of contaminated food or drinking water, and few cases of disease which can be traced to food imports. We can conclude that our food security functions well.
Women and youth
The authorities have initiated a number of measures to make it more attractive for women and youth to remain in rural areas. The so-called rural development funds (see below) are primarily used to create jobs for them.
Norwegian agriculture has traditionally been dominated by men and family farms are usually passed on to males. Although the law guarantees girls and boys equal allodial privileges, only 17 per cent of Norwegian farms where taken over by women in the ten-year period 1983-92. In man-labour years, women carry out about 25 per cent of agricultural work. Women must often look elsewhere for work and thus they leave rural agricultural areas. The same can be said about young people who must move to cities or larger towns for work or a higher education. This development has left rural regions with a male surplus.
To turn this tide, rural firms have been established which give youth training in running their own businesses. A system of rural development funds has been created to ease the establishment of workplaces for women. These funds ensure the development of profitable small-scale businesses connected with agriculture. In 1996, 27 per cent of the funds were given to women, while another 35 per cent were allocated to women-oriented initiatives.
It has been demonstrated that relatively modest public funding is sufficient to create new rural jobs. The rural development funds help boost the formation of values and bolster employment, thus decreasing moves from rural areas.
Restrictive protection of land
Food production depends on access to productive soil where acreage can be effectively utilised. It is vital that cultivated and productive land does not grow fallow. From 1945 to 1995, cultivation was discontinued on some 250,000 acres of land, much of this in the best areas for harvesting grains. The same rate of de-cultivation in the future would have a serious effect on the country's food production capabilities, particularly production of grains, potatoes and vegetables.
The authorities carry out a restrictive land protection policy to prevent such a scenario. To preserve agricultural acreage and resources, the authorities are involved in decisions made by other sectors. This can involve planning in accordance with the Plan and Construction Act, the Nature Preservation Act, the Cultural Heritage Act and the Watercourse Act.
The agricultural authorities also have a goal of making the importance of agricultural clear to county and municipal planners. Therefore they provide professional advice and take initiatives in municipal and county plans, impact reports and preservation plans.
Vital contributions in CO2 reduction
The lumber, wood processing, and related wood product industry is not only Norway's third largest export industry, it is also essential to sustainable development.
As the nations of the world strive to reduce CO2 emissions, a well managed forest can play an important role in climate preservation. More trees are currently planted than felled in Norway. This helps bind large amounts of CO2 and is thus one of our biggest contributions to the global struggle to reduce atmospheric discharges of greenhouse gasses. Forestry is also based on the utilisation of renewable resources and it yields environmentally friendly products.
Norwegian forests are connected with sizeable investments and values. The woods form the basis for a large share of production in the countryside as well as in industry. Productive forest covers 17.5 million acres, or 22 per cent of the land area of Norway. Forestry and the forest industry is our largest export industry after the oil and gas industry and fisheries. The export value of wood products was $1.87 billion in 1996.
Long-term food security
A well-established agricultural sector is a prerequisite if Norway wishes to secure its food supply on a long-term basis and remain as self-sufficient as possible with regards to feeding its population. Norway is now nearly 100 per cent self-sufficient in feed grains and 50 to 70 per cent self-supporting in grains for human consumption. In addition, the population has all it needs of domestically produced meat, dairy products and fish. However, there are foods that Norway needs to import for climatic and economic reasons.
About 800 million persons in the world suffered from chronic under-nourishment in 1996. This is a prime reason why a summit conference on the security of food supplies held that year in Rome declared that access to nutritious food is a fundamental human right. Knowing that the world population increases by some 80 to 90 million every year, the job of producing more food is vital. Norway, with its agriculture and fisheries, has an obligation toward the world's food security.
Increased confidence and competitiveness
The environmental efforts made by Norwegian agriculture contribute to public confidence and thus competitiveness of domestic farm products as well as to protecting the environment.
Concern for the environment is a basic premise for sustainable agriculture, where economic and efficiency demands are weighed against the resource base, environmental values and concern for human, animal and plant health.
Whether the subject is forests, aquaculture, reindeer herding or traditional agriculture, attention to possible environmental problems is always on the agenda. The preservation of biological diversity in forestry, a reduction in the use of chemicals on farms, and measures to prevent over-grazing by reindeer are a few key concepts in this connection.
Of course an interest in nature and consumers is a prime motivation for environmental efforts in agriculture. But the business can only gain from the growing public confidence in this sphere. A high degree of credibility with regard to environmentally sound production and products will sharpen the agricultural sector's competitive edge domestically and internationally, thus helping to ensure its future.
Agricultural subsidies
Norwegian agriculture received $1.6 billion in public money in 1998. This is a conscious choice of priorities to secure food production and maintain regional jobs and settlement - and thus a contribution to the nation's total formation of values.
Norwegian farmers manage the surface of Norway, i.e. their working of the soil and forest strongly contributes to the upkeep of the landscape in our extensive country. That is important in itself. For neither Norwegians nor tourists from abroad would be attracted to a country where large areas were abandoned and going to seed. A key reason why Norway is a popular holiday choice is its neat and tidy rural landscapes. In this respect, agricultural subsidies are a form of investment.
Because of our geographical and climatic conditions, transfers to the agricultural sector will have to continue. Natural resources such as fish, farm land, forest, minerals and hydroelectric power are the basis for a considerable share of Norway's formation of values. As such, the districts play a key role in economic developments. In 1996 some 90,000 man-labour years of work were carried out in farming, 8,000 in forestry and 1,200 in reindeer herding.
Relatively large economic subsidies are given to the agricultural sector compared to other countries. Together with Switzerland, Japan and Iceland, Norway provides the most comprehensive subsidies among the OECD countries. A goal of Norwegian agricultural policy is increased efficiency and a reduction of such transfers to the primary farming sector. Farmers are not alone in having to become more efficient - in the links between producers and consumers similar demands are made for competitive production, processing and sales of agricultural products.
New markets for such products also have to be found. Prices must be lowered to reduce differences in costs between Norwegian and imported food products.
Ecological foods
Increased demand for macrobiotic and ecologically grown products has led Norwegian agriculture to make adjustments so that such "green" goods can be sold in grocery stores. Authorities have provided a system of grants to stimulate a shift toward ecological production. This has enticed a mounting number of farmers to make such changes and a growing number of stores now offer ecological products including vegetables, milk, cream, eggs and meat. The number of ecological farms is growing but is still modest. Individual consumers can influence further developments by the shopping choices which they make.
International cooperation
International agreements and cooperation are essential to the insurance of safe foods and ample trade possibilities.
In efforts to ensure and develop food security for Norwegian consumers, the authorities have sought international solutions which are in the country's interests. This is the reason why Norwegian agricultural authorities and the government seek active participation in international collaboration efforts - among these the WTO and the EEA.
Norway is a net exporter of food, mainly because of our fisheries. In other words the value of our food exports exceeds the costs of our food imports. International agreements are also essential with this in mind. Such agreements help protect our exports and secure employment in the primary industry and the food and beverages industry. This helps form the basis for healthy and sustainable communities in rural districts.
The author of this article, Dag Henning Resknes, is the information director at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Produced by Nytt fra Norge for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The author is responsible for the contents of the article. Reproduction permitted. Printed in November 1998.
This page was last updated 10 November 1998 by the editors