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New Harvest from the Sea

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Norway: Land and people, Seagoing Tradition, Education and standard of living, Oslo, Mjosa, Mo i Rana, North Cape, Jostedalsbreen, Jotunheimen, Tromso, Stavanger, Trondheim, Lofoten, Narvik, Finnmark, Svalbard




New Harvest from the Sea

Norway
New Harvest from the Sea

THE NEW HARVEST FROM THE SEA IS OIL AND GAS - AND IT PAYS MUCH BETTER THAN FISHING

The Viking warriors of the land that is now Norway were once among the most feared people in the world. Between the 9th and 11th centuries, places as far afield as North America and Constantinople experienced their impact, while the British Isles suffered their invasions. Today, though Norwegians are still strong and resilient in the face of a harsh environment, they have a far gentler image abroad.

Norway is a prosperous and picturesque country, welcoming tourists to its attractive villages and spectacular scenery of fords, cliffs, rugged uplands and forested dales.

It is a narrow, very long country, stretching 1752 km (1100 miles) from Lindesnes, in the south, to the NORTH CAPE. Norwegians like to mention the fact that the northern frontier of Italy is as close to Oslo as the North Cape -and less expensive to reach. In the south, Norway is about 400 km (250 miles) across, but near NARVIK in the north the land narrows to only 6.5 km (4 miles). It has a Siamese twin - Sweden, to which it is joined back to back along a 1619 km (1017 mile) border. In the northern province of FINNMARK the frontier is shared with Finland and the USSR. Even farther north, the islands of SPITSBERGEN, in the SVALBARD archipelago, lie within 1100 km (700 miles) of the North Pole.



The land is rugged and mountainous. Two-thirds stands more than 300 m (1000 ft) above sea level. Massive erosion during the last great Ice Age scoured the fords of the west coast so that some are the deepest in the world. For instance, the longest fiord, Sognefjord, 184 km (l15 miles) long, reaches a depth of 1220 m (4000 ft). Inland, the ice scooped out deep dales which are now ribboned with lakes, one of which, Hornindalsvatn, is the deepest lake in Europe - 500 m (1640 ft).

The ice also sculpted a giant dragon's tail of northern islands, the LOFOTENS, extending 240 km (150 miles) in the Norwegian Sea. Between two of the Lofoten islands the strong and treacherous tidal current known as the Moskenstraumen flows. It is known in literature and legend as the Maelstrom, and is the subject of exaggerated stories of a destructive whirlpool that sucks ships down.



Such dangerous natural phenomena, together with avalanches, landslides, floods and storms at sea, partly explain Norway's rich folklore of the supernatural - with its trolls and giants inhabiting lakes, caves and fords, and stirring up catastrophes. The Norse mythology from before the 10th century also had its destructive gods, such as Thor, wielding thunderbolts, and Woden, snatching warriors from battle to an afterlife of feasting in Valhalla - the Hall of the Slain.

The Norwegian imagination was perhaps all the more stimulated by sombre conditions: the long dark winters bred storytellers. Although one-third of the country is north of the Arctic Circle, the climate is modified by the North Atlantic Drift off the west coast. This warm current ensures that almost all the coastal waters are ice-free in winter, and helps to support a rich variety of fish. Wet west winds bring heavy rain and snow to parts of the country, particularly the west coast; BERGEN in the southwest, for example, receives nearly 2000 mm (79 in) a year. But in some areas only 200 km (125 miles) inland, irrigation is needed to row crops.

As a compensation for dark winters, northern Norway is one of the best places from which to see the AURORA Borealis (Northern Lights). In summer, Arctic Norway enjoys the beauty of the midnight sun - for three months at TROMSO.

Much of Norway is heavily wooded, but as the climate grows colder farther north, the forests give way to rocky wastes where only mosses and lichens grow, overlooked by snow-clad peaks. Norway has mainland Europe's largest glacier, JOSTEDALSBREEN, with an area of 816 km2 (315 sq miles).

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