Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remained neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shipping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.
Country Profile for Norway
The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. 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 its oil production and international oil prices, with oil and gas accounting for one-third of exports. Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway. Norway opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994; nonetheless, it contributes sizably to the EU budget. The government has moved ahead with privatization. Norwegians worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas will begin to run out; accordingly, Norway has been saving its oil-boosted budget surpluses in a Government Petroleum Fund, which is invested abroad and now is valued at more than $150 billion. After lackluster growth of 1% in 2002 and 0.5% in 2003, GDP growth picked up to 3.3% in 2004 and to 3.7% in 2005.
Norwegian natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, nickel, fish, timber, hydropower
about two-thirds mountains; some 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline; strategic location adjacent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic; one of most rugged and longest coastlines in the world
Norwegian religion is Church of Norway 85.7%, Pentecostal 1%, Roman Catholic 1%, other Christian 2.4%, Muslim 1.8%, other 8.1% (2004).
Natural hazards in Norway include rockslides, avalanches.
Travel Advice for Norway
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Health section (EHIC) and General section (EU Aviation Regulations). The overall level of the advice has not changed.
The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Around 250,000 British tourists visit Norway every year. Most visits are trouble-free. The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Norway is for arrests for drugs offences and replacing lost or stolen passports. Petty crime does occur but at a low level compared to other European countries.
You should be aware that drugs and drink driving laws are stricter in Norway than in the UK.
We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Norwegian authorities allow the importation of up to a maximum of 10kgs (combined total) of meat and cheese for personal consumption. If you have any other import queries may contact http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/gen-inf/controls.htm for additional information.
You should consult the Norwegian Embassy in London before travelling to Norway with pets.
Norway is not in the EU. Many shops operate a VAT refund shopping system for non-residents. This enables you to receive refunds of the VAT on purchased goods, usually at the airport as you leave Norway. UK authorities cannot refund Norwegian VAT.
There are limits to the amount of currency you can personally carry into or out of Norway. This is currently set at 25,000 Norwegian Krone (about £2,000). If you bring any more than this into the country, the amount must be declared to Customs on arrival. Exporting currency from Norway in excess of the set limit has to be approved in advance by Norwegian Customs and transferred through a bank. Forms for this and further information can be found at http://www.toll.no. You will need a form RD0026.
Failure to comply with these rules can lead to arrest, a substantial fine and temporary confiscation of currency in excess of the limit which may then be released only through a bank.
Visas are not required for Norway but you must hold a valid British Passport. Norway is a member country of the EEA, which entitles you to work or reside in Norway. To do so an EEA permit is required, which the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) issue.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Norwegian representation in the UK.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling and, if appropriate, that this includes cover for winter sports. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance
The standard of healthcare is high. Under the terms of the EEA Regulation, you are covered for emergency treatment whilst visiting Norway. The Form E111 is no longer valid. You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Norwegian nationals. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. For more information about how to obtain the EHIC please see Europe and the EHIC.
The Norwegian Food Control Authority warns that local advice should be sought if you intend to eat mussels harvested off the coast and certain types of fish from lakes and fjords.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
EU Aviation Regulations
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in Norway. For more details about this please see DfT - Airline Security Update.
Norway is very expensive - bring or have electronic access to plenty of money, especially if you intend to eat and drink in restaurants and bars. Bank opening hours are more restrictive than in the UK - especially in summer, though cashpoints are widely available. Most Norwegian cashpoints accept Visa, Mastercard and Cirrus cards issued by British banks. You should be aware that credit cards are generally not accepted as a means of payment in Norwegian supermarkets and petrol stations. You can send money electronically to Norway via Forex, which has one office in Oslo. Details of its opening hours and addresses can be found on their website: http://www.forex.no. Money can also be sent visa Western Union, which has offices in Oslo and Bergen. More details can be found on their website: http://www.westernunionbank.com or by telephoning 00800 33443355.
Visiting in Summer
If you intend to visit forest, lake and mountainous regions you should bring plenty of insect repellent as mosquitoes and midges can be a problem. Fire bans (ie no campfires) are strictly enforced in many areas during the summer months. If you plan to go off the beaten track or out to sea, you should seek local advice about weather conditions and have suitable specialist equipment. Because of Norway’s northerly latitude the weather can change rapidly, producing Arctic conditions even in summer on exposed mountain tops. The winter is long (it can last well into April) and temperatures can drop to minus 25 degrees C and below.
You should bring warm clothes and practical footwear to cope with icy roads and pavements. Special clamp-on grips (brodder) to give extra security in icy conditions can be bought locally.