Norway with its mighty fjords, crystal clear lakes and dense forests – it’s easily one of the most scenic places in Europe and a bucket list item for many. In addition to stunning scenery complete with jaw-dropping vistas and sweeping landscapes that can only be described as vast, Norway is also home to a rich history spanning thousands of years and a unique culture. Whether you’re planning to visit or are just curious about the crown jewel of Scandinavia, here are some interesting facts about Norway.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Norway
1. The world’s longest road tunnel is in Norway
Coming in at a whopping 15 miles (24.5 km) long, the Lærdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world. It connects around 2,000 drivers daily between the rural communities of Aurland and Lærdal, around 125 miles or 200 km from Bergen. Not only that, but Lærdal Tunnel plays a key role in a ferry free connection between Norway’s two largest cities: Oslo and Bergen. It cost quite the pretty penny to build, with a price tag of 1 billion Norwegian kroner or around $110 million USD.
2. The world’s most remote island is in Norway…sort of
Some 1,050 miles (1,700 km) off Antarctica’s northern coast lies Bouvet Island. It’s not only the most isolated island in the world, it’s also a Norwegian territory. Lost between the tip of South Africa and Queen Maud in Antarctica, the island is made up of over 90% glaciers. A fact even more impressive when you consider that Bouvet Island was formed from a volcano. The nearest human settlement is nearly 1,500 miles (2,259 km) away and the steep cliffs on all sides make it difficult to get ashore, nonetheless, it has fascinated scientists for centuries.
3. There are two forms of the Norwegian language
Norway is home to two official languages – Norwegian and Sami. Norwegian, however, has two forms of writing – Bokmål and Nynorsk. The former is used by the vast majority of the country, while the latter is more popular in rural areas; especially the western fjords. Both variants are learned in school, broadcasted on television and used in government offices. However, while they are separate from one another, they are mutually intelligible.
4. Europe’s biggest herd of reindeer lives in Norway
It may surprise you to find that Norway’s southern half, rather than it’s arctic half, is known for its reindeer population. Sprawled across southern Norway, you’ll find Europe’s largest mountain plateau, along with Europe’s largest herd of reindeer. There are around 30,000-35,000 wild reindeer broken up into 23 different herds and populations. The largest totalling to 10,000 in Hardangervidda.
5. Norway’s history is vast
While most imagine the mighty vikings when thinking of Norwegian history, the viking era hardly scratches the surface. While the Viking Age which spanned from around 793–1066 AD was certainly one of the region’s most pivotal eras; Norwegian history goes much farther back than the days of Erik the Red. Around 11,000 years, in fact. In around 9,000 BC, settlers arrived in Norway and survived off hunting seal, deer and various other wild animals.
6. It’s one of the least populated places in Europe
Norway spreads across nearly 150,000 square miles and shares a border with Sweden, Finland and Russia (yes, Russia). However, the entire country has a population of just 5.4 million making it one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. In fact, if the entire population spread out evenly, you’d have less than 40 people per square mile. No wonder Norway is a place travellers go to get escape the city life and indulge in its beautiful nature.
7. Norway is one of the happiest places on earth
Maybe it’s the fresh air, maybe it’s the extremely high quality of life, maybe it’s the stunning fjords; either way, Norway is a very happy place. In fact, according to the World Happiness Report of 2017, it ranked number one in the world. Plus,it has been in the top 10 since 2013. The other regular contenders are its Scandi cousins Denmark, Iceland and Finland proving that Nordic countries must be doing something right.