We recently travelled to Norway and fell in love with the country and its culture. Here are some of the weirdest and most interesting facts about Norway:
1. Lofoten has the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude. The islands are within the arctic circle yet they can receive temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius (86F) in summer and do not freeze in winter. This is compared to places in Alaska, Canada and Siberia which are the same latitude but can experience days of more than -30 degrees celsius (-22F) during winter.
2. Norway spent $US7 million on an underground 'doomsday' vault in Svalbard; 1,300 kilometres inside the arctic circle.
3. Residents have to pay a fee of approximately $US300 per year to watch TV in their house... No wonder they are so active!
4. Norway is one of two countries who still commercially hunt whales (surprisingly, the other is Iceland not Japan - Japan hunts whales for 'scientific purposes'... yeah right!). Norway has a quota of 1,286 Minke Whales per year, although this quota has never been met in the past decade with the average number of Minke Whales caught being about 550 per year.
5. Norwegians buy over 20 million Grandiosa Pizzas per year. They love it so much that the Grandiosa Pizza 'jingle' once reached number 1 on the Norwegian charts.
6. It is illegal to pay for sex but it is not illegal to sell yourself for sex... the opposite to most Western countries.
7. Norway has over $US850 billion in cash reserves as a result of royalties received from oil exploration and it has one of the largest sovereign funds in the world. This money helps fund free education and healthcare for Norwegians. If only Australia had thought ahead during our mining boom!
8. Naeroyfjords is the narrowest fjord in the world with a width of only 250 metres.
9. According to Forbes, Norway is the 4th richest country in the world on a GDP per capita basis (behind Qatar, Luxembourg and Singapore).
10. Snow days... in the northern Norway town of Karasjok students are required to go to school until the temperature reaches -50 celsius (-58 F), at that point they are able to stay home.
11. You cannot be buried on the island of Svalbard as the permafrost stops the bodies from decomposing.
12. When venturing out of the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard you are required to carry a rifle to protect yourself from polar bears.
13. In complete contrast to the US, Norwegian police only fired a gun once last year.
14. If you own an electric car in Norway you are entitled to free parking everywhere and free transport.
15. Don't think about drink driving in Norway, if you get caught you can end up in Jail for between 3 weeks and one year! A pretty strong incentive not to drink and drive!
16. Norwegians will tell you that they introduced Japan to salmon sushi.
17. Ever wondered where the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree comes from each year... Norway, as a thank you to London and the UK for their help in WWII.
18. Norway's national emblem contains a lion holding an axe... except there are no lions in Norway.
19. Norway has three territories in the Southern Hemisphere. The largest is Queen Maud Land which is a 2.7 million square kilometre section of Antartica.
20. The Northern Norway town of Tromso, which is 350 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle and has a population over 50,000, has the northern most University, Brewery and Cathedral in the world.