Geography of Norway: Important Geographical Information about Norway
In this Country Profile
Norway resembles a downward-facing tadpole with a very long tail. It is a Nordic country that is located on the northern and western parts of the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe. It is flanked on the east by Sweden and on the northeastern part by Finland and Russia. The North Atlantic Ocean or the Norwegian Sea is located on its western side while the Barents Sea lies to its northeast side. The Skagerrak inlet is located to the south of Norway and the North Sea borders it in its southwest side.
It was literally covered with thick sheets of ice during the last several Ice Ages and the movement of the receding melted ice carved deep valleys into the land and filled some of the valleys with seawater and turned them into the famous fjords of Norway. It can be said that Norway grew out of the sea. The deepest lake in Europe, the Hornindalsvatnet, is a remnant of the ice carving into the land.
Physically, Norway has a series of mountain ranges traversing the whole country, giving the country a varied landscape of mountainous regions with lowlands, fertile valleys, tablelands and uplands. The tundra region is to the north of the country while its long coastline is covered by coastal plains.
Norway is three times the size of Iceland, covering a total land mass of 323,800 square kilometers with an overall coastline of 21,930 kilometers, one of the longest in the world, although Norway’s coastline is convoluted and indented by numerous fjords. It has more than 50,000 islands and close to 600 mountains, rendering about one-third of the country above the treeline. Its highest elevation is Galdhøpiggen, towering at 2,469 meters. The most active volcano in Norway is Beerenberg. Jan Mayen, a volcanic island is where Beereberg can be found. It last erupted in 1985.
Norway comprises five regions, each with different characteristic. To the north is the region of North Norway or Nord Norge in Norwegian. There is also the Trøndelag / Midt-Norge, translated into Trondheim Region / Mid-Norway. The South Country is Sørlandet in Norwegian. The other regions are the West Country or Vestlandet and the East Country or Østlandet.
In Bokmål, it translates to Nord-Norge, while in Nynorsk, North Norway is called Nord-Noreg. It consists of three counties – Finnmark, Nordland and Troms and covers about 35% of the mainland. This is where the midnight sun occurs and where one can view the northern lights. It is also home to Norway’s indigenous people belonging to the Sami tribe, the Kvens or Norwegian Finns and the Kirkenes, a Russian population in Norway. Some of the richest seas in the world surround North Norway, and part of the land is very fertile, particularly those with soil made from seaweed. The most outstanding features of North Norway are the Seven Sisters mountain range close to Sandnessjøen and Mount Torghatten with a natural hole running through the mountain. The hole was formed by the erosion of the looser rocks by ice and water. It is possible to walk through this natural hole.
The name of the region means it is the home of the fertile and strong ones, from the Old Norse word Þróndheimr. It was the first capital city of Norway, founded by King Olav (Olaf) Tryggvason way back in 997 AD. And this is the place where the coronation ceremonies of the kings of Norway are conducted since the time of Harald Hårfagre up to King Harald V. The city is known as a wooden city where some of the old wooden buildings dating as far back as the 1700s are still preserved.
South Country or Sørlandet is a coastal region that receives the most sun in Norway. Its summers are mild. Shipping and agriculture are the major source of income from then until now. South Country’s Setesdalen silversmiths are known for their exquisite craftsmanship.
Østlandet or the East Country is located in the southeastern side of Norway. The region is delimited by mountains, the highest of which is the Jotunheimen mountain range that includes the highest peak in Norway, Galdhøpiggen that reaches up to 2,469 meters. Deep valleys and fjords cut through the mountains, while other parts of the region have flat cultivated lands. This is where the nation’s capital Oslo is located. One of its municipalities is Oppland where Lillehammer, made famous for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics can be found.
West Country is called Vestlandet in Norwegian. Rogaland is the area where evidences of the first human settlers in Norway are found. It is the third largest region of Norway. It is a mountainous area but also where agriculture thrives. Out of the many fjords that cut through Vestlandet, the longest and largest fjord in Norway, the Sognefjorden, stretching for 205 kilometers, is found here. It is also the second longest fjord in the world. The highest point in West Country is the Store Skagastølstind that rises to a height of 2,405 meters. Vestlandet is also the location of the largest glacier in Europe, the Jostedals Glacier, locally known as the Jostedalsbreen. It measures about 487 square kilometers.
Climate and Seasons
Norway’s geographical location and its topography give the country a varied climate that prevails over its different regions. In the northern region, the sun never sets in the summer while sunshine is not visible during the winter months.
The winter season in Norway is from December up to February. It will be above freezing near the coast from Lista in Vest-Adger up to Lofoten in Nordland. In the northern and southern parts of the Norway, the mean temperature during winter is very low. The coldest area is in the Finnmark Plateau which has a mean temperature of -5 °F monthly. The strong southerly wind brings high temperature around the Sunndalsøra area in Møre og Romsdal in winter. Temperatures of -40 °F are not unusual in the inner districts in the Troms county and Østlandet.
March, April and May are the spring months in Norway, where the sun melts the snow covering the region and the land is getting warmer faster than the cold seas. During early spring the higher temperatures are experienced near the coast on the western section of Norway. As spring progresses, the higher temperatures move to the southern part of the country around Østlandet.
June up to August are the summer months in Norway where the warmest areas are located in the coastal areas of Sørlandet and the southern areas in Østlandet. The midnight sun affects the temperature in Northern Norway and can experience temperatures that are about 86 °F.
From September up to November, Norway feels the effects of autumn, when the heat dissipates and only the coastal areas will have higher temperatures, with the warmest areas being the coastal regions of Hordaland and Rogaland.
It is notable that Norway receives three categories of rainfall and snowfall. Most of Norway receives he frontal precipitation where the warm and humid air from the south and the cold and dry air from the north meet, with the warm air rising above the cold air thus releasing precipitation. The polar cyclone activity is more active in the autumn and winter months, although this can be experienced throughout the year.
Norway also has orographic precipitation, where the air masses are lifted by the mountains, cooling the air and causes more precipitation to fall, usually occurring near the coast. Orographic and frontal precipitation normally occur in the Western Country in autumn and winter.
Showery precipitation happens when the unstable air move in vertical currents, cooling the rising air and causing precipitation to be release. Showery precipitation is more common during the summer months because of the higher temperature. It can coincide with the orographic and frontal precipitation to enhance the showery precipitation. Showery precipitation normally occurs in the inner sections of Finnmark and Østlandet, turning the summer into the wettest months of the year while the spring and winter months are the driest.
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