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Solovetsky Monastery, aerial view
Lofoten Islands, Reine
|The village of Reine, Lofoten Islands; Solovetsky Monastery; Lofoten Islands; ||
This tour visits the following countries. Please select one to view its details.
| Norway | Russia |
|To see our current selection of tours in Norway click here.|
Coastal areas have a moderate climate owing to the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift. Inland temperatures are more extreme with warm summers and often very cold winters (November to March). In general, the lowlands of the south and the inland mountains experience colder winters than the coastal areas. Rain is distributed throughout the year with frequent inland snowfalls during the winter. The northern part of the country inside the Arctic Circle has continuous daylight in midsummer, and twilight all day during winter - you might even see the Northern Lights if you're lucky. The best time to visit is between mid May and mid August, unless you're coming to ski, in which case the best time is December to Easter.
European according to the season. Light- to medium-weights are worn in summer. Warmer clothing, gloves and hats are necessary during the winter. Waterproofing is advisable throughout the year.
Northern Europe, Scandinavia.
385,155 sq km (148,709 sq miles).
12.9 per sq km.
Constitutional monarchy. Declared independence from Sweden in 1905.
Norway is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by Finland, the Russian Federation and Sweden, to the south by the Skagerrak (which separates it from Denmark) and to the west by the North Sea. The coastline is over 25,000km (15,534 miles) long, its most outstanding feature being the numerous fjords. Most of them are from 80km to 160km (50 to 100 miles) long, and are usually flanked by towering mountains. Much of northern Norway lies beyond the Arctic Circle and consequently, mostly takes the form of rugged tundras. The south is covered with pine and larch forests, and dotted with lakes, rivers and mountains.
Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk)is the official language but Northern Sami, Lule Sami, Kven and Southern Sami are also recognised. English is widely spoken throughout Norway as are Swedish and Danish.
According to 2010 figures, 79.2% of Norwegians belong to the Church of Norway â€“ an Evangelical-Lutheran denomination. Another 4% belong to other Christian denominations such as Catholicism and 10% have no religious beliefs at all. Of the remaining 9%, the largest group are Muslims, followed by Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism, all of which account for less than 1% of the population.
Norway Mainland: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October). Jan Mayen Islands, Svalbard: GMT + 1.
Normal courtesies should be observed and follow similar lines to those of other European countries, with a few regional exceptions, for example, guests refraining from drinking until the host has toasted their health. Hosts and hostesses often expect an invited guest to offer small gifts on arrival for a meal. Punctuality is expected if invited out for dinner. Lunch, generally a light open sandwich snack known as a matpakke, takes place between 11.30am and 12pm, while dinner is very early - around 5pm. Punctuality is expected if invited out for dinner.
230 volts AC, 50/60Hz. European round two-pin plugs are standard.
Head of Government
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg since 2005.
Head of State
Harald V since 1991.
After the defeat of Napoleon, Norway was handed over to the Swedes. The union between the two countries was officially and peacefully dissolved in 1905, when Norway achieved true independence as a constitutional monarchy.The country's three main political parties, Labour, Liberal and Christian Democrat, were formed in the 1880s. The early 20th century was dominated by the rivalry between the Labour and Liberal parties. 1935 was the start of a period of continuous Labour government, excepting the period of German occupation during WWII. The Germans occupied the country in 1940 and a puppet government was installed under Vidkun Quisling and remained in power until the German defeat in 1945. After the war, Norway dispensed with its traditional neutrality to join NATO. In 1965, a centre-right coalition finally unseated Labour. Since then, Norway has been governed alternately by Labour and the centre-right, usually in coalition with smaller parties. The most divisive issue in contemporary Norwegian politics has been the country's relationship with the rest of Europe. Norwegians are fiercely protective of their independence and concerns about the effect of European Union membership on the country's major industries have meant that the electorate has consistently voted in national referendums (1994 and 1998) to stay outside the EU. Norway did join the European Free Trade Area, the bloc representing most of the European nations which are not members of the EU.The minority centre-right coalition (Christian Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals), which took office after the 2001 election, was led by Prime Minister Magne Bondevik, and lost the general election in 2005. A new majority centre-left 'red-green' coalition made up of the Labour Party, Centre Party and Socialist Left was formed, led by Labour Party leader Jens Stoltenberg. He was re-elected for a second mandate in September 2009.
Norwegian Krone (NOK; symbol Kr) = 100 øre. Notes are in denominations of Kr1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of Kr20, 10, 5 and 1. The 50 øre coin is now out of circulation.
Available at banks and bureaux de change.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Visa, Eurocard, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express cards are all widely accepted throughout Norway.
Accepted in banks, hotels, some shops and by airlines.
The import and export of local and foreign currency is restricted to Kr25,000. Amounts above this sum must be declared.
Mon-Wed and Fri, 0815-1530 hrs (1500 hrs in summer); Thurs, 0815-1800.
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 8.93 NOK 1.00 USD = 5.74 NOK 1.00 EUR = 7.56 NOK 1.00 CAD = 5.72 NOK Currency conversion rates as of 9 May 2013
From precipitous glaciers to steep-sided gorges and crystalline fjords, Norway’s natural beauty is impossible to overstate. The unspoilt wilderness of the Arctic north is one of the few places where the sun shines at midnight during the summer and where the magnificent Northern Lights brighten the skies during the long winter dark. Further to the south, the picturesque cities of Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen are brimful of buildings showing off Scandinavia’s age-old flair for design in cosmopolitan surroundings. Oslo is the present-day capital and financial centre, while the country’s second city, Bergen, is a picturesque former Hanseatic trading port and gateway to Fjordland. Stavanger is the focal point of the Norwegian oil industry and former capital, Trondheim, is a long-established centre of Christian pilgrimage, and more recently, technical research. Beautiful though the cities are, the real wonders of Norway are to be found outdoors, with ample skiing, fishing and rock-climbing opportunities for the adventurous and nature- lovers alike.
With so many natural marvels to choose from, the hardest part of planning a trip to Norway is working out where to start. In the far north, the glacier-covered subpolar peninsular of Svalbard is one of the few areas where polar bears can easily be seen and was made famous as the home of the polar bear kingdom in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Elsewhere, a ferry trip along Geirangerfjord has to rank among the world’s prettiest voyages with pine-topped cliffs giving way to icy green water, regularly topped up by the waterfalls that cascade down the fissured sides of the ravine. Away from Norway’s scenic splendours, the UNESCO-listed Bryggen waterfront in Bergen is a colourful jumble of picturesque wooden warehouses overlooking the busy harbour. Oslo’s waterfront is no less beautiful and has a brand new, ice-white Opera House that could give Sydney’s version a run for its money. Waterfronts and fjords aside, one of the highlights of a trip to Norway has to be getting to grips with the indigenous Sami people whose territory forms part of the northern tip of Norway as well as neighbouring Sweden and Finland. The traditional sleds might have been dispensed with in favour of snowmobiles, but the culture lives on in the form of the joik (a rhythmic poem) and handicrafts such as leatherwork and smithery.
From www.worldtravelguide.net copyright Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd, May 2013.