World of Wonders Project:
The Norway Expedition


Welcome to the eleventh phase of the Around-the-World driving expedition of the World of Wonders Project.  Join Kim & Don as we explore Norway, the northernmost country in Europe  We explored for five weeks during the summer of 2009 as we drove across Denmark, Finland and Sweden to complete the Expedition.

Come explore with us, the coastal regions, the mountains, glaciers and fjords.  Travel with us through the ancient home of the Vikings and the indigenous Sami as we cross the Arctic Circle. 




  • Origins
  • Symbols
  • Regions
  • History
  • Economy
  • Geography and Climate
  • Population, Ethnic Groups, Culture and Religion
  • Fauna and Flora
  • Environment
  • Lesson Plans
    Check out the Maps
    Route Maps
    (View our actual route in Google Earth!)

    Send us an Email

    Camping Information



    Be sure to receive your Expedition Updates!


    Lend a  Helping Hand

    You can help make the Virtual Classroom available to students by making a donation today.


    Click on either map to enlarge

    Origin of the name Norway Norway is the English name for the constitutional monarchy in northern Europe on the western side of the Scandinavian Peninsula.  In Norwegian language the country is known as Norge.


    Click on each link below to learn more about the symbols.
    • Official Name - Kingdon of Norway
    • Capital - Oslo
    • National Animal - Elk (also called Moose)
    • National Flower - Purple Heather
    • National Bird - Dipper
    • National Flag -
    • National Anthem -  Ja, vi elsker dette landet
      ("Yes, we love this country")
    • Coat of Arms -  
    • Motto -  Royal: Alt for Norge / Alt for Noreg
      ("Everything for Norway")
      1814 Eidsvoll oath: Enig og tro til Dovre faller
      ("United and loyal until the mountains of Dovre crumble")
    • Norwegian National Day - May 17
    Regional Councils

    Norway Has Nineteen Counties



    (Click on any map to see it in detail)

    Norway is divided into nineteen counties and 430 municipalities.

    The counties of Norway are,
    from north to south:

    Møre og Romsdal


    Sogn og Fjordane




    Language Norway’s official language is Norwegian, a northern Germanic language closely related to Danish and Swedish. For the most part, speakers of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are easily able to understand one another.  There are two official written versions of Norwegian, Bokmål (“Book Norwegian”) and Nynorsk (“New Norwegian”).  Bokmål and Nynorsk have been accorded equal status officially, although Bokmål is somewhat more widely used in Oslo and the larger towns. 

    Some 20 000 individuals in Norway have the Sámi language as their mother tongue. Sámi is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of languages, and its roots in Norway may extend as far back as Norwegian. North Sámi has been established as an official language on a par with Norwegian in the North-Norwegian districts of Kárášjohka-Karasjok, Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino, Unjárga-Nesseby, Porsanger and Deatnu-Tana and Gáivuotna-Kåfjord.

    History and Government History

    The Viking period (9th to 11th centuries) was one of national unification and expansion. The unification of Viking settlements along the Norwegian coast was well advanced by the death, in 1030, of St. Olav, who had overseen the population’s conversion to Christianity. A period of civil war ended in the 13th century when Norway expanded its control overseas to parts of the British Isles, Iceland, and Greenland. Norwegian territorial power peaked in 1265, and the following year the Isle of Man and the Hebrides were ceded to Scotland.

    Competition from the Hanseatic League and the spread of the Black Death weakened the country. The Norwegian royal line died out in 1387, as the country underwent a period of union with Denmark under King Olaf; union with Sweden followed in 1397. Attempts to keep all three countries united failed, with Sweden finally breaking away in 1521. By 1586, Norway had become part of the Danish Kingdom. In 1814, as a result of the Napoleonic wars, Norway was separated from Denmark and combined with Sweden again.

    There were numerous disputes between the Norwegian Government and Sweden.  In 1905 the union between the two countries was dissolved following two votes in Norway, one opting for independence and one for a constitutional monarchy.

    During World War II Norwary was invaded and occupied by German.  Norway was one of the signers of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and was a founding member of the United Nations. The first UN General Secretary, Trygve Lie, was a Norwegian.  Under the terms of the will of Alfred Nobel, the Storting (parliament) elects the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who award the Nobel Peace Prize to champions of peace. Norway voted on entry to the European Union (EU) in 1974 and 1994, rejecting membership both times. Today a strong majority is opposed to EU membership.

    Source: US Dept of State


    Norway is a Constitutional Monarchy.  The Council of State consists of the Prime Minister (the head of government) and other ministers, formally appointed by the King. It is the equivalent of a cabinet.

    The Norwegian parliament is the Storting (Stortinget). It currently has 169 members.  The Storting (Norwegian national assembly) has served as the highest political body in Norway since the introduction of Parliamentarianism in 1884. 

    The judiciary is referred to as the Courts of Justice of Norway. It consists of a Supreme Court of 19 permanent judges and a chief justice, appellate courts, city and district courts, and conciliation councils.

    Source:, and


    Economy Economy

    Norway is one of the world's richest countries in per capita terms. It has an important stake in promoting a liberal environment for foreign trade. Its large shipping fleet is one of the most modern among maritime nations. Metals, pulp and paper products, chemicals, shipbuilding, and fishing are the most significant traditional industries.

    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 the petroleum sector, which accounts for nearly half of exports and over 30% of state revenue. Norway is the world's third-largest gas exporter; its position as an oil exporter has slipped to seventh-largest as production has begun to decline.

    Source: CIA World Fact Book, US Dept of State

    Norway's currency is the Norwegian kroner (NOK)
    1 krone = 100 øre.   What is the NOK worth today?  Check this out!

    What does the NOK look like? 
    Click on the photo to see the currency up close!


    Geography and Climate Geography

    Norway extends so far to the north that distances are long. The drive from Lindesnes in the south to the North Cape covers about 2500 km. The road network is well developed.  There are bridges over deep fjords as well as a major ferry service and there are numerous tunnels under the mountains, including the world's longest road tunnel - the Lærdal Tunnel at 15.2 mi (24.5km) long.

    Norway is one of the few countries in the world with fjords – deep indentations in the coastline formed by the scouring action of glaciers millions of years ago.  Almost all of Norway is high ground; in the north the country becomes narrower, with mountains overlooking the fjords and the islands along the coast, and in the center and south the mountains form a high plateau, where there are permanent ice fields.

    Two-thirds of the country is tundra, rock or snowfields, and one-quarter is forested, so good agricultural land is rare. Less than 3% of Norway is cultivated, and these areas are in the south-east and in the river valleys. The mountains of Norway are rich in minerals; there are deposits of iron ore, copper, titanium, coal, zinc, lead, nickel and pyrites, and large offshore reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

    Although Norway extends more than 300 mi (483 km) above the Arctic Circle, the climate is not as cold as might be expected, since the North Atlantic Drift brings warm, damp air to the whole country. The geographical conditions give rise to great climatic variation: it is cooler inland and to the north, where winters are long and dark with much snow.  From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle (hence Norway's description as the "Land of the Midnight Sun") and the rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day. Conversely, from late November to late January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country.

    Norway has seven areas that have been included on the World Heritage List.  Under Cultural Heritage there are the following:  Bryggen, Rock Art of Alta, Røros Mining Town, Struve Geodetic Arc, Urnes Stave Church and Vegaøyan -- The Vega Archipelago.  Under the Natural Heritage catagory is the incredible West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord.

    Source:, US dept of State,


    Despite its northerly location, the climate in Norway is temperate, thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream flowing along its coast. The interior highlands have an Arctic type of climate in winter with snow, strong winds and severe frosts, but during fine summer spells the daytime temperatures can rise above 86°F (30°C) with long hours of sunshine. By contrast, the coastal areas have comparatively mild winter conditions. Gales, rain and cloud are likely along the west coast, particularly in winter, and the rainfall is frequent and heavy. The lowland area around Oslo is the driest and warmest part of the country in summer.

    The effects of climate change on the Norwegian environment are already becoming apparent, and major changes in habitats and species composition are expected. 

    Source:, For more detailed information on the climate visit

    What is the weather right now in Norway?  Click here!

    Population, The Sami, Culture and Religion Population

    Norway’s population exceeded 4.8 million in 2008. This is an increase of over 1.5 million since 1950. Today net immigration contributes more to population growth than the net natural increase in the total population.

    The average age of the population is 39 years, but this figure varies greatly in different parts of the country. Twenty-six per cent of Norway’s population is under 20 years of age, 61 per cent is between 20-66 years of age and 13 per cent is over 66 years of age.

    Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents accounted for 9.7 per cent of Norway’s population in 2008, and totalled 460,000 persons from more than 200 countries. All Norwegian municipalities are home to immigrants, but Oslo has the largest proportion of immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents at 25 per cent of the population. 


    The Sami

    The Sámi are the only ethnic group in the European Union that have been classified as an indigenous people. They are also a minority that lives in four different countries and has its own language and culture. The number of Sámi varies from 60,000 to 100,000 depending on the method of calculation. The Sámi region — Sápmi — extends from Central Norway and Sweden through the northern part of Finland to the Kola Peninsula.

    For a long time the Sami were an oppressed people and their culture was in danger of dying out. Today the Sami stand stronger than most other aboriginal people in the world. They have their independence day, and their own flag and parliament.  Norway has the largest group of Sámi, approx. 40,000—45,000, half of whom live in the province of Finnmark. There are 15,000—25,000 Sámi in Sweden, over 6000 in Finland, and approx. 2000 in Russia. In Finland, Sweden, and Norway the Sámi elect from among themselves a representative body, the Sámi Parliament, which has an advisory status.

    In the 19th century, Norwegian authorities put the Sami culture under pressure in order to make the Norwegian language and culture universal. A strong economic development of the north also took place, giving Norwegian culture and language status. On the Swedish and Finnish side, the authorities were much less militant in their efforts; however, strong economic development in the north led to a weakening of status and economy for the Sami.  To make up for past suppression, the authorities of Norway, Sweden and Finland now make an effort to build up Sami cultural institutions and promote Sami culture and language.

    Traditionally, the Sami have plied a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding. However, the best known Sami livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding - which about 10% of the Sami are connected with and 2,800 actively involved with full-time. For traditional, environmental, cultural, and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.



    Norway has an official Protestant State Church based on the Evangelical-Lutheran religion. There is no separation of Church and State.  Eight out of ten ethnic Norwegians are members of the State Church of Norway.

    Norwegian religious expression is largely private. While roughly 80% of the population belong to the Church of Norway, only 10% attend church services or other Christianity-related meetings more than once a month.

    Some 5.9% of the population are members of other religious communities, while 6.2% do not belong to any religious community at all. The largest religious and life-stance communities outside the Church of Norway are the Humanist Movement, represented by the Norwegian Humanist Association (63 000), Islam (60 000), the Pentecostal Movement (45 000), the Roman Catholic Church (40 000 or more), the Evangelical-Lutheran free church (20 000), Methodists (13 000) and several lesser free churches.


    Fauna and Flora Flora and Fauna

    Norway contains approximately two thousand plant species, yet only a few of them are native.  There are forests of spruce, a rich variety of deciduous trees, lichens, moss and heather, wild flowers and an assortment of berries including blueberries and cloudberries.

    Most of the larger Arctic region predators are virtually extinct with the survivors confined to the inaccessible regions of the far north.  Smaller predators like fox and badger are more common.  The beaver population has increased due to a ban on their hunting.  Elk, also known as moose, are more common. In the north you can find reindeer, although they are all domesticated.  Lemmings, a rodent, are also found here. 

    There are 472 recorded species of birds to found in the mountains, woodlands, marshes and coastal areas.  Puffins must be the most recognizable species. Along the coast are nesting grounds for puffins and cormorants; whales, salmon, and cod frolic in the icy seas offshore.

    Source: roughguides

    Environment Environment

    The mean temperature in Norway is continuing to rise. Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions rose by around eight per cent from 1990 to 2008. We expect the long-term trend of a substantial rise in total emissions to continue unless much more substantial measures are taken.

    In Norway, many effects of the rising temperatures have already been observed both on land and in water. Migratory species of birds are arriving earlier in spring; animals are reaching sexual maturity more quickly; production and reproduction rates are higher; trees are coming into leaf earlier; salmon leaving rivers for the sea are younger; and the spawning areas used by fish in the sea are changing.

    In the past 100–150 years, human activities have resulted in far-reaching changes in Norwegian nature. Local variability in habitats and the fauna is being lost, and some species have been wiped out. Almost 4000 species are on the current Norwegian Red List, and half of these are threatened. Invasive alien species also cause harm to the local fauna and flora.

    The largest source of local air pollution is road traffic, including exhaust emissions and asphalt dust from the use of studded tires. Other sources are residential heating systems and industry. In addition, pollutants from road traffic and the combustion of oil and coal are transported to Norway from other parts of Europe.

    The state of Norway’s marine environment is generally good, but human activities are causing some problems, for example discharges of oil and chemicals from the petroleum industry.

    At both national and international level, work is in progress to reduce releases of pollutants that result in poor water quality. The oil and gas industry and other industries are being required to phase out the use of environmentally harmful substances and develop environmentally sound technology.

    Overall about 70 per cent of all waste generated in Norway is recovered.

    The Arctic is no longer an untouched wilderness. More than 70 000 tourists visit Svalbard every year, and the impacts of climate change are already marked in the far north. The annual mean temperature has been rising about twice as fast in the Arctic as in the rest of the world in the past few decades. Glaciers in Svalbard are melting, and the temperature of the permafrost is rising. Alarmingly high levels of pollutants have been measured in polar bears, ivory gulls, glaucous gulls, fulmars and other species. Pollutants are carried to the Arctic from further south and east by winds and ocean currents.

    Source: State of Environment Norway (


    Contact us for information regarding sponsorship opportunities.  

    Join the Virtual Classroom. Complete the free registration form for your classroom today.

    Support the expeditions.  Your donation will help to continue the research, documentation and Virtual Classroom web site presentation of these wonderful cultures and experiences to the broadest possible audience. To find out how you can help, please follow this link to our Helping Hand page.  

    Thank you, now it's time to explore!

    We thank our Expedition Sponsors
    Please visit their websites






    ALF Home    Norway Home
    Photo Album
    Expedition Listings    Send us an Email