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.
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.
Why I Love Norway
By Anthony Ham http://www.lonelyplanet.com/norway/introduction
The first time I stood on the waterfront at Aurland
and contemplated the fjords, not long after having passed among the
peaks of Jotunheimen National Park, I was utterly convinced that there
was no more beautiful country anywhere on earth. On my many Norwegian
journeys since then, in winter and in summer, I've never lost that
feeling. Even more than the fjords and the high country, I now find
myself drawn to the gravitas of Svalbard, to the perfect juxtaposition of water, rock and human habitation in the Lofoten Islands, and to the far horizons and Sami encampments of Norway's Arctic North.
drama of Norway's natural world is difficult to overstate. Impossibly
steep-sided fjords of extraordinary beauty cut gashes from a jagged
coastline deep into the interior. The fjords' fame is wholly merited,
but this is also a land of glaciers, grand and glorious, snaking down
from icefields that rank among Europe's
largest. Elsewhere, the mountainous terrain of Norway's interior
resembles the ramparts of so many natural fortresses, and yields to
rocky coastal islands that rise improbably from the waters like
apparitions. And then, of course, there's the primeval appeal of the
Arctic. These landforms provide a backdrop for some of Europe's most charismatic wildlife – polar bears (in Svalbard), reindeer and musk oxen to name just three – and the setting for many a picturesque wooden village.
The Call of the WildIn Norway, nature is very much an active pursuit, and Norwegians' passion for exploring their natural world has created one of Europe's
most exciting and varied adventure-tourism destinations. Some
activities may only be for the young, energetic and fearless, but most –
world-class hiking, cycling and white-water rafting in summer;
dog-sledding, skiing and snowmobiling in winter – can be enjoyed by
anyone of reasonable fitness. On our travels we've encountered
93-year-old snowmobilers and whole families racing down rapids. Whether
you're here in summer when the possibilities seem endless, or in winter
for the soul-stirring spectacle of the northern lights, these activities
are an exhilarating means of getting close to nature.
Worth the Expense
one topic above all others dominates conversations among travellers to
Norway, it's the formidable cost of travel here. Make no mistake: Norway
is one of the most expensive countries on earth, which is yet another
reason why saving up to come here is akin to planning the trip of a
lifetime. But is it worth it? Absolutely: Norway will pay you back with
never-to-be-forgotten experiences many times over.
counterpoint to so much natural beauty is found in Norway's vibrant
cultural life. Norwegian cities are cosmopolitan and brimful of
architecture that showcases the famous Scandinavian flair for design
through the ages. At the same time, a busy calendar of festivals, many
of international renown, are worth planning your trip around.