Seeking some facts about Norway? Norway happens to be one of the safest and most beautiful countries on earth! It’s a fascinating part of the world filled with natural wonders and history.
We love Norway and it’s one of our favorite countries to travel around. So we decided to share some of our favorite Norway facts!
Facts About Norway
1.) Vikings are Norwegian
Partially, anyway. Vikings were a formidable force of not just Norwegians, but Danes and Swedes, too. The Vikings went on fierce raids and conquered lands around Northern Europe, even as far as the Volga River in Russia. Why all the hate? Possibly because of Christian missionaries getting up in their business and “holy” wars in the south of their lands for the Norsemen not becoming Christian.
2.) Vikings discovered Iceland by accident
A happy accident – that’s all discovering Iceland was. On a routine voyage to the Faroe Islands, a Viking longship rocked up at Iceland by mistake. Now we have all the awesome music and Game of Thrones shooting locations to enjoy.
3.) Norway has a royal family
Well, we bet you never knew that. It dates back to the 12th century. Currently sitting on the Norwegian throne are King Harold V and Queen Sonja. Much like the Queen of England, King Harold has no official power but comprises the country’s constitutional monarchy. They live in the 19th-century Royal Palace in Oslo.
4.) It’s a great spot for the aurora borealis
The what now? We mean the Northern Lights, of course. This astounding light show happens when charged particles from the sun meet atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, resulting in the release of photons (light particles). Regardless of the science behind it, the aurora borealis is beautiful, like green, red, and blue ribbons in the sky. Best seen further north.
5.) A Norwegian discovered Greenland
Specifically, it was explorer Erik the Red (named after his beard, it’s thought), whose father was banished to Iceland from Norway for multiple murders. Today, Greenland is part of Denmark, but with more indigenous people than settlers, it may be moving towards independence.
6.) Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish are mutually intelligible
So, if you don’t speak Norwegian but you do speak Danish, then you can have a conversation. Likewise, if you’re in Sweden and you speak Swedish and happen to meet a Norwegian person, you’ll probably be able to understand each other. That’s Nordic languages for you.
7.) Norway has celebrated independence twice
Yes, twice. An unequal partnership between a greedy Denmark in 1523 led to the union of Denmark-Norway. There was a glimmer of independence in the early 19th century, but then it became part of another bum deal as Sweden-Norway from 1814 to 1905. So it’s a relatively new country, which is (we’re guessing) a little known fact about Norway.
8.) There are 400,000 lakes in Norway
That’s an insane amount of water. One of these lakes, Hornindalsvatnet, is the deepest lake in the whole of Europe. It’s 1,512 feet deep, to be exact.
9.) Norway is famous for its fjords
In fact, fjord is a Norwegian word. There are 1,190 fjords in Norway, the highest density in the world, each of which is incredibly beautiful. It also boasts the second-deepest and longest fjord – the uber dramatic Sognefjord, which is 127 miles long and its depth is 4,291 feet. It’s known as the “King of the Fjords,” naturally.
10.) Norway is LGBT-friendly
In 1993, it was the first country in the entire world to enact a law punishing discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens. It was also the second nation in the world to legalize civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Today, there is full marriage equality.
11.) Vikings discovered America
A Norwegian – well, a third-generation “Icelander” – was the first to set foot on continental America. We’re talking way before Chris Columbus here. Leif Erikson, son of Erik the Red (founder of Greenland, remember?) was the man with the plan who made it all happen.
Determined to explore the region to the west of Greenland, around 1000 AD, Erikson landed at what came to be known as Vinland. Though mentioned in Norse sagas, actual archaeological evidence came in the 1960s at the southern tip of Newfoundland.
12.) The oldest humans in Norway are really old
Well, according to archaeological evidence they are. Along a massive former ice shelf from the last ice age that melted between 11000 and 8000 BC, evidence of human existence way back when has been found. We’re talking stone tools and other implements that date to around 9500-6000 BC. That’s pretty old.
13.) The sun never sets in Norway
Well, in Norwegian summers it doesn’t. And not all of Norway, but anywhere north of the Arctic Circle – which is a lot of Norway – the sun will never set in the summertime. The rest of the country sees around 20 hours of daylight. Get ready with those black-out blinds.
14.) The sun never rises in Norway
Just like in summer when the sun never sets, in winter it’s perpetually dark. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun literally never rises. If you’re a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder, this probably isn’t a good time to visit.
15.) Norway still practices whaling
Japan gets a lot of hate for the whaling thing, but Norway is just as guilty. The hunting of minke whales for commercial gain actually resumed in 1993, following the international moratorium on whaling. The government-set quota is not only for human and animal food in Norway, but for export to other countries, like (you guessed it) Japan.
16.) Norway introduced salmon sashimi to Japan
In order to offload their salmon onto Japan as part of the Norwegian marketing campaign called Project Japan in the 1980s, the raw fish market in the Land of the Rising Sun was targeted, because the mark-up of sashimi and sushi was high and attractive for buyers. The result? Raw salmon is very popular in Japan.
17.) Every Christmas, Norway gives the United Kingdom a Christmas tree
As thanks for helping them out during WWII, Norway gifts the UK a huge (really huge) Norwegian pine as their Christmas tree. It goes up in Trafalgar Square, London, each Christmas, and there’s a big ceremony that takes place at the time. Isn’t that a fun fact about Norway?
18.) Svalbard was the place where the last German troops surrendered in WWII.
Never heard of it? This far-flung northern outpost was never taken over by the Nazis, but they did have a secret meteorological station there. After the surrender in May 1945, they were stuck on the island until September, when they surrendered to a seal hunter and became the last German soldiers to surrender in WWII.
19.) Norway is home to some BIG animals
In the surrounding seas, you can catch a glimpse of basking sharks and the gargantuan, giant-squid-eating sperm whales. On land, however, you can find not only massive polar bears, but also brown bears and huge elks. This is a land of true wilderness.
20.) Norway had a queen called the Lady King
Apparently the first “great” ruling queen of any European country. Queen Margaret I ruled not only Norway, but also Sweden and Denmark during the 14th century. She was a fierce queen that formed unions across Scandinavia.
21.) Christmas is big news in Norway
It’s winter. It’s almost always dark. Naturally, Christmas, with all the lights and festivities and seasonal good cheer, is a welcome break when it arrives. There are a ton of Christmas markets, which make it an amazing place to visit if you’re planning on a festive break during the holiday season.
22.) The Sami people are the indigenous people of Norway
These folks are the original inhabitants of Norway, with evidence pointing back for more than 10,000 years of Sami people living in the country. They have their own language (around a third of the Norwegian population speak it), their own capital called Karasjok complete with its own parliament, and a lot of them still live off the land as reindeer herders.
23.) Norway celebrates National Day on May 17
Everyone’s got to have a National Day, right? Norway’s is on May 17, which is the day in 1814 on which Norway got its own constitution (even if it wasn’t actually independent). Children put on parades through town, there are general festivities going on, and a lot of people dress up in traditional costumes known as bunad. They’re just enjoying being Norwegian.
24.) The Laerdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world
If you’re a fan of tunnels and totally geeky facts about Norway, sit tight; the Laerdal Tunnel, connecting Oslo and Bergen, is exactly 15.23 miles long (that’s 24.51 kilometers). This massive feat of engineering slices through an impassable mountain range and was opened in 2000.
25.) Mountains make up two-thirds of Norway’s landscape
These massively uninhabited landscapes comprise 300 peaks that soar more than 6,500 feet above sea level. Mountaineers, hikers, and adventurers will love the sheer wilderness of this rugged country. It’s pretty epic, we have to say.
26.) There are more bears in Svalbard than people
The Norwegian island of Svalbard, close to the North Pole (yes, the one with the German soldiers who surrendered to a seal hunter), is super remote and super wild. Think glaciers, tundra, and yes – a lot of bears. Around 2,000 people live there, which is relatively high for a nowhere sort of place; we think that’s because you don’t actually need a visa to live in Svalbard!
27.) Norwegian passports are really cool
Trust us, they really are. Put a genuine, 100% authentic Norwegian passport under a UV light and boom – you can see the Northern Lights! Not the actual aurora borealis, but a picture of one that makes these passports probably the coolest in the world, if you ask us. And it’s one of the coolest facts about Norway, too.
28.) Norway has won the most medals at the Winter Olympics
Like, ever. Winter Sports are Norway’s forte. We mean, there’s a lot of snow in this country. And winter lasts for about half the year. No wonder they’ve got so many medals. To be precise, the total number of medals they’ve won is 368 (132 gold, 125 silver, 111 bronze). They’re winners alright.
29.) The Nobel Peace Prize is decided by a committee in Norway
Though the Nobel Prizes are named after Swedish inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize is the only accolade on the Nobel roster that isn’t handed out in Stockholm. A committee in admittedly very peaceful Norway decides on who should get it, and the event is put on in Oslo Town Hall.
30.) Norway has no official religion
But it does have a state religion. This means it joins just a handful of countries in the world as those with governments intertwined with religion. For example, in England, the Queen is the head of the English Church. Same thing.
31.) It’s illegal to advertise to children in Norway
Well, children under 12 years old. Remember all those action figure commercials and stuff when you were up early watching morning cartoons at the weekend? Well, they don’t have any of that in Norway. Bad news for capitalism, good news for childhood innocence.
32.) Reoffenders almost don’t exist in Norway
With more progressive tactics in terms of incarceration, Norway’s recidivism (reoffending) rate is one of the lowest in the world at 20%; compare that with the US rate of more than 60%. Norway’s jails are some of the best and most humane in the world, and the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
33.) Police brutality also doesn’t exist (almost)
Whereas in other countries police can be pretty trigger-happy, Norway is not that sort of place. At all. In fact, the last time anyone was shot and killed by Norwegian police was in 2006. In 2007, no shots were fired by police at all. Only ten police officers have been killed in Norway since WWII. By comparison, an analysis in 2015 found that US police kill more people in one day than Norway has in the last nine years.
34.) Norway is home to the six highest waterfalls in Europe
That’s a lot of water. The highest waterfall is Vinnufossen at 2,280 feet tall, which actually makes it the sixth highest waterfall in the entire world. Norway is nuts when it comes to nature.
What to Pack for Norway
You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while you’re traveling around the world. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak. You can see all our other backpack recommendations below:
The fleece sweater is a perfect layer when combined with an outer shell to keep you warm. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Norway, but good ones weren’t easy to find. For those with less time a little bit of online shopping for wool sweaters will suffice. Start here!
Goretex Rain Jacket
We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy many times. Weather around the world can be iffy in Scotland, so it’s best to be prepared. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof and really a great travel rain jacket. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.
Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
I love real books, but for traveling it can be easier to carry a lighter and more compact item like a Kindle. Plus, then you can download new books on the go!
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourists that buys plastic water bottles. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
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