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Oslo fjord. Section of the Scream by Edvard Munch, 1895.
A painter's impression of Oslofjord and Oslo.

By the Oslofjord at Ekeberg: "Suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused . . . there was blood . . . above the blue-black fjord and the city . . . I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream . . .," wrote the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. [The Scream page]

Screams are not all without reasons. Here are some that Munch did not know about:

Looks Beneath the Surface

The scenery is good some places in the countryside, where there are less people. These things are much inverse: The less people around, the "more" scenery. So the prettiest places are where there are few or no Norwegians. It is the same in Sweden somehow . . . The exception is likely to be landscapes with farms in them, but Norwegian farms are being closed down, nearly a thousand farms a year lately.

Norway is perhaps best known for its many beautiful and dramatic fjords, but about ten years ago the water was so poisoned that you should not eat fish, shellfish or fish stuffing from at least thirty-four of them. The main registered poisons are quicksilver, PCB, cadmium, and lead. The poison fjords include Åsefjorden (also called Borgundfjorden) and Ellingsøyfjorden in the Ålesund district. [◦NRK, July 8 2007]

To rub it in: Nationen published this on 15 July 2009: in Norwegian fjords, PCB, mercury and lead are among the environmental toxins which pose a health risk to humans. A polluted sea bottom is a problem in more than a hundred ports and sea areas due to closed or existing industry, and the cleanup of contaminated fjords takes much too long. The Norwegian Parliament should press much harder to hasten the cleanup work, for these environmental toxins pose a risk to many people. Among the sources of contamination are fillings from shipyards and ship paint factories that are leaking, and this has been known for over twenty years.

Also, along the Norwegian fjords there are more than 2,300 wrecks, and several of them are filled with oil. Kystverket, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, has pointed out that thirty-two of them are risk wrecks.

There is also some slight radioactive contamination going on in Norwegian waters. Radioactive discharges - most significantly technetium-99 - from the British reprocessing plant Sellafield are transported with ocean currents to Norwegian waters. Its effects on the Norwegian marine environment build up slowly, very slowly. Still, the greatest contamination of these waters comes from global fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests from the fifties and sixties. For all that, radioactive contamination of fish and other seafood in Norwegian waters is still low.

Recently, microplastic and nanoplastic poisoning of fish and shellfish has shown up to be part of ongoing pollution too. The happy tourist hardly spends much thought on it yet . . . but stays on the surface of things fairly often.

[◦34 fjords - Dagsavisen in 2007] -- [◦A source from 2009]

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Claude Monet. Houses in the Snow, Norway, 1895
Claude Monet. Houses in the Snow, Norway, 1895. - "[I] will give and idea of Norway . . . This morning I was painting under constant falling snow . . . white all over, my beard overgrown with icicles." - Claude Monet

Norway: Facts and Figures

A country less horrible than I had imagined. - Claude Monet on Norway

It is possible for quite many to live far north because of the warming, sustaining effects of the Gulf Stream (Evensberget 2010, 16). Today, Norway, a kingdom in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world in monetary value. The capital city of Norway is Oslo. The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world, while the cost of living is about 90% higher in Norway than in the United States.

Like many countries today, Norway is experiencing a decrease in the stability of marriage, and an increasingly large elderly population.

There are two main, official languages: (1) Nynorsk Norwegian and (2) Bokmål Norwegian, which has Danish roots too. Many speak some English. The currency is Norwegian krone (NOK)

Norway has a total area of 385,252 square kilometres (148,747 sq mi) and 5 302 778 legal inhabitants (SSB, 26. juni 2018). It is the second least densely populated country in Europe. The majority of the country shares a border to the east with Sweden; its northernmost region is bordered by Finland to the south and Russia to the east. In its south Norway borders the Skagerrak Strait. Denmark is south of that again.

The main attractions of Norway are the varied landscapes, famous fjords along the long coast, besides mountains, ski resorts, lakes and woods.

Relations with India

Norway offers different electronic and technological items to India, besides machinery, iron and steel, electronic machinery appliances, general industrial machinery, scientific control equipment. A Power Project in Jammu and Kashmir is a landmark in Indo-Norwegian collaboration. Yet, Norway accounts for only 0.31% of India's total trade. Many Indian students go to Norway for higher studies in such as science and technology.

Living conditions in Norway by and large

Most likely we are not fit for wealth at all. - Ivar Eskeland (Norwegian), in Lesseth 1996, 20.

Main sides to the living conditions are quite good for many in Norway too, even though the number of poor people has increased over the last ten years or so. Still, for several years the United Nations has chosen Norway as the best country to live in. [WP, sv. "Human Development Index"]

What is called the Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic of (1) life expectancy (a sign of health and longevity), (2) education (years of schooling), and (3) income indices (signs of the standard of living) that the United Nations use to rank countries.

Admittedly, there is more to life than these three "strands of the rope". It is difficult to capture all the factors that go into human conditions in a single index. For example, climate is also factor to consider in real life, and the degree of inequality - "where some get rich and influential, and many more poor". The difference between the have's and have-not's is into it. A mere average masks these much significant inequality sides to life too.

A Norwegian might disagree with the ranking: Professor Svein Sjøberg at the University in Oslo, for example, says the UN report's criteria are too crude, and the variables that go into it, are a selection based on figures. Norway has money from oil production and still some oil reserves, but the good professor finds it completely unreasonable to say it is better to live in Norway than in any other of the twenty countries on top of the list. One may add, cautiously, "not better than in some of the top ten, perhaps."

What you would rather not experience - much and free access to burnt-down areas, impoverished wildlife, untimely draughts, wildfires, poisoned fjords, fish with microplastic in their guts and nanoplastic in their brains, and soaring prices, for example - , could make some countries stand out as better than others for you. Which country is preferred, is also somewhat individual. Even though some say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable [inappropriate] clothing," climate does have an effect on thriving. During long, dark, very cold winter months in the north more people may get depressed. Other countries are attractive to thousands of Norwegians who have reach retirement age - they are "snowbirds" of Europe, so to speak. [◦Survey]

A glance at a happiness report too

A forest bird never wants a cage. - Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright

The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. When self-declared happiness is used to figure out how good a country is to live in, Norway is among the top ten or better, but it does not say how much of this declared happiness is due to antidepressants, where Norway is among the top-ranked countries, with some 300.000 users (2011). If they should stop that use, it is quite probable that a larger percentage would have self-reported differently, and the happiness ranking of Norway could have been different. I point at a possibility. [http://worldhappiness.report/]

How rich you are also means a lot. "In Norway you know you are poor if the food in your fridge is placed to make it look fuller than it actually is." Joking aside, poverty in Norway exists mostly among immigrants and single parents. Also, poverty is a greater problem in the big cities than in the countryside, according to recent findings by SSB (2011). [Wikipedia, s.v. "Fattigdom"] [1]

Finally, the UN report above has focused on health, education, and economy. But living in a society is more that that, says Sjøberg. Freedom of speech counts, legal security, democracy, absence of corruption, happiness in life, and conditions for realising oneself are significant factors too. However, they are not measured in this UN report, which therefore is not really a proper documentation that "Norway is the best country to live in". The happiness report does not really say that either, even though some seem oblivious of such apt points, concluded Professor Sjøberg as early as in 2001. [◦Link]

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Imminent Tourist Dangers

"This country is undoubtedly infinitely more beautiful without snow, or at least when there isn't so much of it." - Claude Monet

Geological features

The two principal forces involved in shaping Norway's land features) are mountain building and glaciation. A long mountain range extends in a north-south direction along the western margin of the Scandinavian peninsula. It is part of the Caledonian mountain range, which extends from Ireland, Wales, northern England, through eastern Greenland and Norway, to Spitsbergen.

"Mountains dominate Norway's physical landscape. In fact, the country's average elevation is about 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level and more than a quarter of the land exceeds 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in elevation. Glaciers are the most important erosional agent that has scoured and shaped Norway's spectacular rugged terrain. (Fouberg and Hogan 2004)."

On another note

"Norway is a country of winter darkness and midnight sun, advanced technology, small towns and a few cities. It has a big government sector, free education and health services, and a modern and dynamic private sector.

"Norway is home to large communities of Pakistani, Afghan and other immigrants and refugees.

"Norway is one of the world's richest and most egalitarian societies. The country's beauty has made tourism a major income-earner, and fishing, shipping and shipbuilding industries are still important.

"In the last generation, North Sea oil and gas production has made Norway one of the world's largest oil exporters." (Hetland 2010, front cover)

Drowned Cattle and the Geiranger Fjord

Norway is largely mountainous. Along the west coast of our country there are mountains and steep and high cliffs that one may throw oneself out of with a hang-glider to ride the wind or fail. A mere slip is enough. You may do without a hang-glider or parachute by following secure enough paths from cottage to cottage in the mountains. Such a trek can be lovely.

Landslides are expected; tourists are welcome

There is a snag to the magnificent view along stupendous fjords in Norway: There are unstable mountain areas along some of them. Landslides have killed many people earlier, in part drowning them by tsunami-like waves. For example, the Tjelle avalance in Sunnmøre in 1756 caused a 25 meter high tsunami. 32 people were killed.

In 1905 a catastrophe struck Loen in Stryn when Ramnefjellet ("the mountain of ravens") unleashed a rock slide, and 61 people were killed.

Along the pretty fjord around Tafjord on the west coast of Norway there was a landslide in 1934. A huge avalanche of rocks - perhaps three million cubic metres - rushed into the sea. The tsunami waves drowned cattle and pigs and 40 people in Tafjord and Fjørå. The waves were up to 64 metres high. Most houses, roads, bridges, boats, and quays were washed away.

There have been other deadly landslides into fjords over the last hundred years too, and also clayed mud slides and avalances of snow and slush. A clayed mud slide in Gauldal, Trøndelag, killed 500 people in 1345. A slide of the same sort killed 118 people in Verdal in 1893, for instance.

Astor Furseth writes of these and other natural catastrophes, telling there have been more than 3000 avalanche and landslide disasters in Norway over the past 400 years, and over the last 200 years nearly 2500 persons have been killed so far, and there is more in store. [◦Link].

Landslides occur almost everywhere in the country. Modern researchers expect more landslides to come along Storfjorden ("the big fjord") in the Møre and Romsdal county, but cannot tell exactly when. For example, at Åkerneset near Stranda a major avalanche of up to 100 million cubic metres is expected, and tsunamilike waves that are tens of metres high, depending on how big the landslide is, the distance from Åkerneset and some more factors. The cracks in the mountain side above the fjord are widening year by year. If a major landslide comes in the summer, several visiting cruise ships in the fjord may chance to see it and be at risk.

The Geiranger fjord area is now a Unesco site too, along with Bryggen in Bergen, Urnes Stave Church, Røros Mining Town; Rock Art of Alta; The Vega Archipelago; and another West Norwegian Fjord, the Nærøyfjord. Struve Geodetic Arc may be counted in too.

There are lots of gulches and sagging fjords along the west coast of Norway. Elps and fjords of Norway may impress a visitor, while those who live along the fjords may get used to them. There is also a lot more to earth living than plenty of fjords and mountains.

Forefathers, Norgs and Others

Life would be all right if we didn't have to put up with . . . creditors who keep pestering us." - Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright

A lucky tourists may enjoy the sight of a sheep or a whole flock in the countryside. As for biological value, they are far above castles of rock. A word to the wise: "A castle of bone is more than a castle of stone (British proverb)." Compare 1 Corinthians 6:13.

An aside: The name of Norway is Noreg and Norge in Norwegian. A Norg, on the other hand, is a tiny folklore creature from the Alps of Tirol and around it.

On the Riffianer Alm, a bad Norg often appeared after sunset and damaged the cattle so that they died of poisoning. (Riffian.) (Zingerle 1891, No. 129.)

"I'm glad we've cleared it up," you could say in a folkloric vein. But there is one more thing: The forefathers of the Norwegians are known as Vikings and Norsemen, and some went Berserk too. Many became looting bands of murderous pirates and slave-takers "all over Europe" and further.

A scholar wrote around 793 CE, "Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God." (MacLeod et al. 2016, 13) The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from 793 CE records that "the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne through brutal robbery and slaughter (Ibid. 25)." That year is often used to tell when the Viking Age began.

Macleod et al explain further: "Most people know that Vikings did not actually wear horned helmets, yet for some reason the myth persists." (2015, 19). Do we say, "Like father, like son" or not? Or perhaps not?

Quite an aside: Vikings Strategies

1. PREPARATION

Vikings did not strike haphazardly; instead their raids were planned . . . They would first identify a weak target to attack along the coasts . . . Because they had the fastest ships . . . no help could reach their targets in time. Towards the mid-9th century these attacks had escalated to great fleets of three to four hundred ships.

2. GATHER HORSES

Viking ships were designed to row up river, but if the target was some distance away they would leave their ships and travel by horse. With no horses on the ships, they would raid nearby villages for available mounts. These would be used to transport themselves and their booty across the land. [And they used to eat horses too.]

3. SURPRISE ATTACK

The pious and humble monks did not stand a chance . . . The well-trained Vikings would launch a sudden furious, vicious attack on the monastery, slaying the holy men. Some would be stripped naked, and cast outside, some taken prisoner, and others thrown into the sea.

4. LOOT AND BURN

Once the monks were dealt with, Vikings ravaged and pillaged everything they could. They plundered any valuables they could get their hands on, including storages of food, but especially precious relics. . . . Once they had looted the buildings they set fire to the monasteries and the villages surrounding them.

5. ESCAPE

Laden down with their prisoners and booty, the Vikings would ride back to their ships, load them and sail away. They would later sell the gold, jewels and sacred emblems, and the monks would also fetch a high price in the European slave market.

(Excerpted from MacLeod et al. 2016, 13)

Forebears of Norwegians were so much more fearsome than Norgs . . . taller too.

Norg tales
Scandinavian folklore and history dips

Housebreaking and clear-up rates in Norway

"Tourists, 'Try not to be looted all the time,'" could be fit for many. Germans, for example, bring their own food with them and may fish their own fish while on vacation in Norway. Another side to the issue is that gangs of thieves and others roam, and the police only rarely come to the spot before the crimes. This is official:

The police only clear up a small proportion of reported crimes against property. The overall clear-up rate for crimes against property in 2010 was 16.6 per cent.

The clear-up rate has been low in recent years and it fell steadily until 2010, when it rose somewhat. The low clear-up rate also applies to housebreaking. The clear-up rate for aggravated theft from residential properties has been around 13 per cent in recent years. [◦Document 3:6 (2011-2012) The Office of the Auditor General's investigation into the police's work on crimes against property, submitted to the Storting on 31 January 2012]

To take precautions, it is good to be informed about the odds and rates for this and that, although it may not feel awfully good all at once.

Happier Moments

Rustic sceneries suit many, being "here now", and being with family and friends.

Now let us consider the guided tourists sightseeing. Do they find sheep and goats and other delicious, living beings to their liking? Animals of many sorts have "built-in" advantages over stone churches and gemstones in that they are alive. By that feature alone they are naturally splendid, and more so than built stone houses. They have come further, and are thus more rewarding to watch and be surrounded by, at least in a flowery field or garden. It depends on how friendly the goings are too.

Not a few tourists in Norway have found it out. They go for experience vacations in rustic environments. There is nothing backward about a countryside teeming with hidden advantages.

A castle of bone is better than a castle of stone, although both sorts typically requre upkeep in time. (In part a British proverb).

Outright pathetic

Once there were green fields kissed by the sun.
Once there were valleys where rivers used to run.
Green fields are gone now.

- Green Fields, sung by Brothers Four

Let us not refrain from telling the truth that suits us too: Having a rock castle - all of solid rock or stones - could come in handy one day. Who knows? For what is claimed to be ◦a large sea serpent has been observed in a bay near Ålesund, or do we say "observed"? The place lies in the western parts of Norway.

A farmstead could be good for children to grow up in as well. However, three out of four farmsteads were closed down during the fifty years before 2008. In 2016, 2.6 farmsteads closed down each day - and since 2002 nearly 21.000 farms are gone. (Statistics Norway, SSB, 16 Dec. 2008; Anders R. Christensen: "Nesten 1000 gårdsbruk ble lagt ned i fjor [Nearly 1000 farms were closed last year]". In Nationen Updated 14th Apr. 2018).)


Norway, facts, Literature  

Evensberget, Snorre, main contributor. 2010. Norway (Eyewitness Travel). London: Dorling Kindersley. ⍽▢⍽ Let us talk of the updated edition from 2016 here: It is good first book-meeting with Norway, a very brief overview of the country and general information with maps, photographs, and illustrations. The 2016 edition is better adapted to tourism, but not in depth, and therefore does not meet the practical needs of tourists much. The 2016 edition, like the previous one, offers glimpses into attractions of the country, regionwise, with tiny glimpses into the culture, history and wildlife of Norway, with walks and hikes through landscapes, or hiking across spectacular mountains. And the glimpses are often too short to be of practical value if you plan a trip; then you need more specifics. So it may not suit those who look for more detail and advice relating to hiking in Norway or details on the non-major populated areas. Moreover, there is very limited information on Svalbard. Regardless of that, there is visitor information of major museums, dining specialties to try, things to do, area maps marked with sights, city maps, and hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps aim at showing the country as no one else. There are independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews.

Fouberg, Erin Hogan, and Edward Patrick Hogan. 2004. Norway. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House. ⍽▢⍽ For younger readers. Introduction to a nation and its inhabitants, geography, history, government, economy, and culture.

Hetland, Atle. 2010. The Know NORWAY Book: Background for Understanding the Country and Its People. Pakistan and Afghanistan ed. Islamabad, Pakistan: Mr. Books Publishers and Booksellers.

Lesseth, Ove R. main ed. 1996. Godt sagt om Norge og nordmenn (Well Said about Norway and Norwegians). Oslo: Exlex Forlag.

Macleod, Robert, Marjolein Stern and Roderick Dale. 2016. All about History Books of Vikings. 4th ed. Bournemouth Dorset; Future Publishing. ⍽▢⍽ Illustrated.

NIVA (Norwegian Institute for Water Research). 2015. Contaminants in coastal waters of Norway 2014. Oslo, NO: Norwegian Institute for Water Research. ⍽▢⍽ It is concluded that "86 [measured contamination trends] were downwards and 18 upwards". Also, "The Inner Oslofjord seems [altogether] to be an area where contaminants tend to appear in high concentrations and hence warrant special concern. For example, the investigation found an upward trend for mercury (Hg) in cod fillet and high concentrations of lead (Pb), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) and alpha-hexabromocyclododecane (α–HBCD) in cod liver." (p. 4)

Statistisk sentralbyrå (SSB). 2013. Statistical Yearbook of Norway 2013. Ed. Ingrid Modig. Oslo and Kongsvinger, NO: Statistics Norway. ⍽▢⍽ The Statistical Yearbook of Norway 2013 is the last of its kind. It contains statistics, main trends and key figures in a lot of areas of society. The statistics follow approved principles, standards and classifications that are in line with international recommendations and guidelines. The book is available in electronic format on ssb.no.

Zingerle, Ignaz V., coll. ed. 1891. Sagen aus Tirol. Innsbruck. ⍽▢⍽ Tales about people, Norgs and others.

Note
  1. Rasmussen, John. "Her er fattigdommen størst". Dagbladet, 25 April 2011.
    www.dagbladet.no/dinside/2003/09/11/378271.html

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