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Norway’s Geography and Economy Essay

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Updated: Oct 15th, 2019

Introduction

Although most scholars have diverted their attention to other UK countries with disregard to Northern Europe, some of the Scandinavian countries possess imperative scholarly aspects of Geography and Economy.

Norway in particular is one of the Scandinavian countries, which very few people understand its dramatic geographical and environmental sceneries. Its economic expansion in terms of GDP competes with that of the super-economies such as UK, Germany and the US. This essay discusses these aspects to demonstrate how Norway is one of the best countries in the world.

Geography

Location

Norway is a Western Scandinavian country located 57° and 81° N, latitude, and 4° and 32°E Northern Europe. Sweden and Russia border Norway to the East while it shares borders with Finland and Skagerrak Strait to the south (Franklin 23). Barent Sea borders Norway to the North while Norwegian Sea to the West. It has an estimated area of 385,252 KM2. Oslo is the capital city of Norway. The country is famous for the fjords located along its extensive coastline.

Climate

Being a Scandinavian country, Norway is generally a cold climate. This beautiful country experiences precipitation in most parts of the south and west. Winter and summer characterize the climate of this country. During winter, the lowlands in Oslo city experience snow and cold weather while the western part experiences relatively balmier winters than the south.

Warmest and sunniest weather however, characterize the summer climate of the Oslo City. Norway also experiences significant variations in daylight seasons due to high latitude. To the North of Arctic Circle, the country experiences ‘midnight sunlight’ with the other parts experiencing 20 hours of daylight between May and July. However, between November and January, the country experiences very short daylight hours.

Brief History

Before the writing of history, historians hold that hunters and gatherers, the pre-Indo speakers, inhabited the Norwegian country. The Norwegian ancestors dominated this territory at advent of the fourth millennium BC. Historians refer these people as Proto-Indo speakers. Patriarchy and individualism characterized their culture. Historians attribute the civilization of Norway to these people. Besides domesticating animals and agriculture, “the proto-Indo people traded bronze and manufactured weapons” (Karen 134).

After the pre-Roman Iron period, Hafrfjord battle and Barbarian invasions, Harald I unified the discrete kingdoms into Norwegian kingdom under one king. In history, Sweden, Denmark and other countries colonized Norway until 1905 when Norway declared its independence. During the World Wars, Norway was a neutral territory although between 1940 and 1945, the Hitler’s Nazi power dominated the country. In 1994, through a referendum Norway declined to become a member of European Union.

Population

Pyramid

Norway has a population of more than 4.9 million with majority being the Norwegians. Currently, statistics predicts a projected 48% population increase by 2050. Table below shows the trend of population of Norway since 1500

Year Population %+-
1500 140,000
1665 440,000 214.3%
1735 616,109 40%
1801 883,603 43.4%
1855 1,490,047 68.6%
1900 2,240,032 50.3%
1950 3,278,546 46.4%
2000 4,478,497 36.6%
2050? 6,627,000 48%

Table 1: Norway populations

Source: Karen, Larsen. A History of Norway. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948. Print.

The above data depicts growing Norwegian population.

The population pyramid below (figure 1) shows sex and age distribution in 2010.

Pyramid: Sex distribution

Figure 1: Pyramid: Sex distribution

Source: World Bank. Data & Statistics, 20 Feb. 2011. Web.

Demographics

The majority of the population is the Germanic people, accounting for more than 45% of the population. Sami and Kven people are some of the minority nationals in Norway. Other minorities include Forest Finns, Roman travelers and the Jews. Like any other nation, Oslo City, the capital city, is the highly populated city in Norway. This implies that most of the citizens live in urban areas.

Issues in population

Immigration is the major issue of population in Norway. In fact, immigrants account for 50% of the Norwegian population. Statistics show that 61,200 people immigrated to the Norway in 2007, 35% higher than 2006. Reports on population revealed that 552,313 people had immigrant background by the end of 2009.

The majority of these immigrants are from Poles, Iraqis, Somali, Germany and Sweden. Since most of these immigrants live around the capital, Oslo, the government of Norway is greatly concerned about its security. Most of these immigrants have fled their war torn countries with only a few for investment. Overpopulation in cities due to immigration and urban settlements is another issue in the Norwegian population.

Politics

Government

The government is a parliamentary system with unitary monarchy. The King heads the state while the prime minister heads the government. There are three branches of the government namely: executive, judiciary and the parliament. The constitution provides for separation of power among these arms.

The prime minister’s position is political and the constitution allots it to the party with the majority in parliament. The prime minister constructs the cabinet, which is composed of members of same parliamentary party. The state composes of 19 counties headed by politically elected governor. The governor is the King’s representative in these counties. Municipalities constitute to the counties. There are 430 municipalities in Norway each headed by a mayor.

Parliament makes the law, which the judicial system implements. The judiciary consists of district courts, appellate courts and the Supreme Court. The chief justice leads 19 judges in the Supreme Court of Norway. The police service enforces the law to the Norwegian public. The service is under the ministry of Justice and headed by the Directorate at the national level. Having abolished death penalty in 1902, Norway records the lowest rates of homicides.

Political Issues

The debate among the politicians on the separation of the church and state is a major issue. Out of the 19 ministers, 10 should be members of the church of Norway. Politicians and law experts have questioned this article of the constitution. Although most politicians propose for the total separation of the church and state, the monarchy strongly clings on this article. Independence of the Judiciary is another issue since the prime minister appoints judges and the chief justice.

Transactional issues

Land disputes exists between Denmark (Greenland) and Norway over the Antarctica territory. Currently, Russia is investigating into the claims raised by Norway over this territory. Norway was also involved in maritime boundary dispute with Russia. This dispute was however resolved in 2010 through an agreement.

Economy

GDP

As CIA World Factbook notes, Norway is the “second highest GDP per-capita in Europe and fourth in the world” (56). In terms of monetary value, Norway is among the wealthiest countries in the world. It has highest standards of living. World Bank indicates, “Norway’s living standards are 30% higher than US and 50% higher than the UK.” World Bank statistics show that Norway had a GDP of more than $381 billion in 2009.

In 2010, Norway recorded $276.4 billion purchasing power; and GDP of $413.5 billion in the same year. Economists predict that Norway will remain an economically stable Scandinavian nation for thousands of years to come. This prediction is justifiable based on the oil exports and the continued accumulation of wealth.

Exports

Norway is rated third exporter of gas and fifth exporter of oil. Statistics reveal that oil and gas exports account for more than 20% of the GDP. The oil and gas constitute to 47% of the countries export, thereby rating oil and gas the largest exports in Norway. World Trade Organization (WTO) rates Norway as the second exporter of fish in the world. Norway is also among the leading exporter of arms and weapons.

Imports

Due to low population and high employment, Norway imports human capital from the neighboring countries such as Finland, Sweden among others. In 2010, it recorded electricity imports of 3.41 billion kWh. Norway is a free market with few state-owned companies. It also imports machinery, chemicals, metals and other foodstuffs from Sweden, Denmark and US.

Although, it is not a member of EU, Norway trades its products in the EU market. Its major trading partners include Germany (13.4%), UK (24.3%), Netherlands (10.87), and United States (4.82%), Sweden (5.76%) and France (8.55%). However, the Norwegian products have spread all over the world with high markets of oil, gas and arms in Africa and Middle East respectively.

Society

Education

The ministry of Education and Research is responsible for systems of education in Norway. The country has 7 public universities, 25 university colleges and 5 technical colleges. After demonstrating academic competence in the upper secondary school, the universities and college admit these citizens.

Higher education adheres to the Bologna process of education, that is, 3-year Bachelors degree, 2-year Masters Degree and 3-year PhD degree. The public institutions offer free education regardless to the nationality of an individual. The system of education emphasizes on technology, entrepreneurship and critical thinking.

Culture

Norwegian culture is widely exhibited through music, literature, art, cinema and architecture. Classical music, which is widely listened in all over the world, represents Norway’s exported culture. Jazz and folk are other forms of music deeply grown within the Norwegian culture.

The government supports cultural festivals. Oslo, for instance, hosts several festivals throughout the year with Extreme sport festival as the most notable and celebrated from all over the world. In terms of architecture, wood is the most used building material. Major foods include potatoes, fish, dairy products, bread and other seafood. Same sex marriage is legal in Norway and gender equality is almost a reality.

Religion

Norway is one of the most secular countries in the world, with 25% of its population as pagans. The 1990’s statistics show that not more than 5.3% of the Norwegians who attend church. In 2008, this statistic dropped to 2% and in 2010, it lowered further to mere 1%. Most of the citizens are followers of the Baptist Church of Norway.

However, due to Muslim influx, Islam culture and religion has grown in major towns. According to Karen, “Orthodoxy is vigorously growing religion in Norway” with a growth rate of about 231.1% between 2000 and 2009 (147).

Health

Public health is a responsibility of the government at various levels. With very few private hospitals, the public has access to free medical care at government health centers. The government has invested heavily in health care with 9.2% of GDP allocated for the sector. As a result, Norway has the lowest infant mortality in world, with less than four per 1,000 births in 2010.

The maternal mortality is low, with a statistic of six per 1,000 births in 1998. The HIV/AIDS deaths have appreciably reduced to eight per 16,000 in 2010 (CIA Factbook). The life expectancy lies between 70 to 85 years with four out of 1,000 deaths under the age of five years.

Poverty and wealth

According to UN Human Development, most Norwegians depend on oil and gas for employment. The country has very low unemployment and its GDP is significantly higher than Germany, US, and Sweden. Since the cost of living is high, some of the immigrants languish in poverty within the urban areas.

Environment

Pollution

Norway is one of most attractive environmental sceneries in the world; however, it faces environmental pollution like any other country. The forest damage caused by acid rain adversely affects the water resources in Norway. Being one of the wealthiest country, emissions levels are high from vehicles and industries. This causes air pollution. CIA Factbook notes, “Water pollution in Norway threatens the general biodiversity.”

Global Warming Act

Norway is a signatory to several environmental agreements, which aims to reduce global warming. Some of the agreements include Antarctic Protocol, Air pollution-Sulfur of 1994, Ozone layer protection, Tropical timber 83 and 94. In order to reduce emissions, the government deploys tradable permits to protect the environment. In this way, individuals pay for what they emit to the environment. As a result, Norway is the second nation in Europe in implementation of environmental policies.

Long term Issues

Development and population trends

The transport system is less developed and the government through the ministry of transport and communication has invested in its expansion. The ministry plans to build “new high-speed rail systems to connect the major cities” (World Trade Organization). In such projects, the government allocates at least 13% of annual national budget.

The population growth rate in 2010 was 0.33%, with this trend; the country expects a high population by 2050. Since economists attribute retarded growth in transport to low population, the increase will as well enhance transport expansion. Based on the trend represented by the table below, economists predict that Norway’s economic growth will continue. From the trend, poverty will also reduce appreciably.

Country 1975 1985 1990 1998
Norway (US $) 19,022 23,595 28,840 36,806

Table 2: GDP trend

Source: WTO. Country Profile: Norway, 13 Feb. 2011. Web.

From the 2010 data, which recorded a GDP of $413.5 billion, it is justified that Norway’s economy continues to expand. With a GDP growth rate of 1.5%, the country may record more than $600 billion GDP by 2014.

Millennium Goals

Norway has significantly attained the millennium goals. According to CIA Factbook, there is 100% literacy, that is, citizens aged 15 years and above can simply read and write. In terms of gender equality, both girls and boys have access to quality education, free health care and security.

Infant mortality is significantly low, with a record of 3.52 deaths per 1,000 births in 2011. Due to quality standards of living, life expectancy is also high, with an average of 80.2 years in 2011. The unemployment rate has greatly reduced to 3.6% (CIA Factbook). As a result, there is insignificant number of citizens living below the poverty line. However, transport and communication development is relatively low.

Conclusion

Norway is a Scandinavian country largely characterized by cold weather during winter and ‘midnight daylight’ during the summer. Oslo, the capital, is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic city, which hosts several cultural festivals. It is a unitary monarchy with parliamentary system of government. The King heads the state while the prime minister heads the government.

Through its average GDP growth of about 1.5%, Norway has reduced the poverty levels to a negligible figure. The literacy of the country is among the leading in the world, with 100% people aged 15 years and above literate. It has indeed achieved most of the millennium goals.

Works Cited

. Norway. CIA, 2011. Web.

Franklin, Scott. Sweden: the Nation’s History. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1977. Print.

Karen, Larsen. A History of Norway. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948. Print.

World Bank. Data & Statistics, 2011. Web.

WTO. Country Profile: Norway. World Trade Organization, 2011. Web.

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