The kingdom of Norway is a constitutional monarchy in the north of Europe. It is part of Scandinavia and has close ties with Sweden, which it shares a border with. This beautiful country is known for its snow-covered mountains, glaciers and many fjords. The capital city is Oslo and the official language is Norwegian, although most Norwegians speak fluent English too. It has retained the Norwegian Krone as its currency. It is also not a member of the European Union but does have a trade treaty with EU countries. Due to its northerly latitude it is known as the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ as the sun never dips below the horizon in the summer. Conversely daylight does not appear during the winter in the north, making it very depressing.
Norway is surprisingly the fourth largest oil exporter in the world, and one of the wealthiest countries too. It has huge natural gas reserves and a wealth of resources which it exports including hydropower, fish, timber and minerals.
Over 90% of the country is ethnically Norwegian. With just 4.8 million residents in this large country, the population is very sparse and is found mostly along the coast and in the major cities in the south. The lowlands around Oslo have the warmest summers but are still bitterly cold in the winter. The climate is generally very cold with the northern areas having an Arctic Tundra climate. The south and west have milder winters, partly due to the warming Gulf Stream and westerly winds.
Norwegians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, and the economy is booming. The country has a huge sovereign wealth fund to support its citizens in old age. The cost of living is much higher than in the USA or even the UK. Housing costs are comparatively high and even rents are considerable as most people own their own homes. Low unemployment and high productivity show the true work ethics of the Norwegians. Since 2007 immigrants have begun to move to Norway, mainly for work. They have arrived from Poland, Pakistan, Sweden, Iraq, Somalia, Vietnam, Denmark and Germany. Visas are not generally required by EU and American short-stay visits of up to 3 months.
Healthcare standards are exceptionally high in Norway and residents are covered through their Social Insurance Scheme. Medicines are expensive but subsidized for some. Over the counter medications are good things to bring if you are moving to Norway as they will save you a fortune.