Cruising in Norway


Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence.

Although Norway remained neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shipping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.


Location: Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden
Geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 10 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 324,220 sq km
Land: 307,860 sq km
Water: 16,360 sq km


25,148 km (includes mainland 2,650 km, as well as long fjords, numerous small islands, and minor indentations 22,498 km; length of island coastlines 58,133 km)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 10 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm


Temperate along coast, modified by North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; rainy year-round on west coast


glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m
highest point: Galdhopiggen 2,469 m


The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas such as the vital petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises). The country is richly endowed with natural resources - petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals - and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices, with oil and gas accounting for one-third of exports. Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway.

Norway opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994; nonetheless, it contributes sizably to the EU budget. The government has moved ahead with privatization. Norwegians worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas will begin to run out; accordingly, Norway has been saving its oil-boosted budget surpluses in a Government Petroleum Fund, which is invested abroad and now is valued at more than $150 billion. After lackluster growth of 1% in 2002 and 0.5% in 2003, GDP growth picked up to 3.3% in 2004 and to 3.7% in 2005.

Transportation and Airports

Total: 100 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 67
2,438 to 3,047 m: 13
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 29 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 27 (2005)


1,577 km (2002)

Merchant marine

Total: 694 ships (1000 GRT or over) 15,804,021 GRT/21,843,570 DWT
By type: barge carrier 4, bulk carrier 45, cargo 145, chemical tanker 142, combination ore/oil 16, container 2, liquefied gas 80, passenger/cargo 115, petroleum tanker 72, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 21, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 44
Foreign-owned: 161 (China 3, Cyprus 2, Denmark 31, Estonia 1, Finland 4, Germany 2, Hong Kong 50, Iceland 3, Italy 4, Japan 1, Lithuania 1, Monaco 3, Netherlands 3, Poland 3, Saudi Arabia 7, Singapore 4, Sweden 22, UK 4, US 13)

Registered in other countries: 794 (Antigua and Barbuda 10, Australia 1, The Bahamas 258, Barbados 24, Bermuda 6, Brazil 2, Cambodia 1, Canada 1, Cayman Islands 2, Comoros 1, Cook Islands 1, Cyprus 14, Denmark 3, Dominica 1, Estonia 2, Faroe Islands 4, Finland 1, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 3, Gibraltar 9, Hong Kong 22, Ireland 1, Isle of Man 23, Liberia 46, Malta 43, Marshall Islands 35, Mexico 1, Netherlands 6, Netherlands Antilles 2, Nigeria 1, Panama 57, Portugal 8, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 17, Singapore 96, Spain 7, Sweden 8, Thailand 30, Tonga 1, UK 40, US 2, unknown 3) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Borg Havn, Bergen, Mo i Rana, Molde, Mongstad, Narvik, Oslo, Sture


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 be)

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Belgium - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - Germany - Latvia - Lithuania - Netherlands - Norway - Poland - Russia - Sweden

Further Reading

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