Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Area north of 60 latitude: estimated at 82% of its total area (324 220 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix:
4, 554 000 population; the majority are Norwegian; there is a sizable Sami minority

Principal industries:
Petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metal, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles, and fishing (one of world’s top 10 fishing nations).

krone (pl. kroner) (NKr) = 100 oere

Aboriginal peoples:
Sami (sometimes called Laplanders by others). There are about 40,000 Sami in Norway, 17,000 in Sweden, 6000 in Finland and 2000 in Russia. In the last few centuries, reindeer herding has been their specialty.

Did you know?
The Government of Norway created the Sami Assembly (the Sameting) in 1989. It has 39 members, elected by the Sami on the same day elections are held for Norway’s National Assembly. Its main job is to protect and develop the Sami language, culture, economy and way of life. While it cannot make laws, Sameting offers advice to the government and pressures it to follow that advice. One success is that Sami children in Norway are entitled by law to learn their school subjects in their own language.

Learn more:
The official information web site of the Norwegian Government

Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)


The treeline is an important feature of all circumpolar countries and is simply defined as the northern limit at which trees stop growing. Something unique about Norway is that its treeline is formed by a broadleaf, deciduous tree, the Mountain Birch, unlike the coniferous, needle bearing treeline found across much of the rest of the Arctic.
Why? The climate, in particular the influence of the ocean, is the reason. Higher humidity helps speed up the bud break of birch to a greater degree than for most other deciduous trees. More importantly, the birch grows at lower summer temperatures than spruce and pine in the region.

While climate determines the potential treeline, the actual limit is often depressed (i.e. kept further south) by grazing practices. In northernmost Norway, reindeer are the main grazing animal, whereas in western Norway, grazing by sheep has been very extensive and has strongly influenced the growth of mountain birch.

Surprisingly, the treeline is expected to slowly advance north in the future. One reason is climate change: higher than average annual temperatures will have an impact, although this advance may be slower than expected because of the generally harsh climate. As well, many outfarms established for summer grazing in the mountain birch belt have been abandoned over the past 50-80 years, allowing new birch growth to become established at many previously grazed-out locations.

Arctic Flora and Fauna: Status and Conservation. The Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Helsinki: Edita, date 2002

Photo: Arnold Machtinger