Norway Population, Economy and Languages

By | January 12, 2022


At the beginning of the 18th century. the Norway had 700,000 residents. These increased significantly in the following century, rising to over 2 million in 1900 and then doubling in the time leading up to the end of the 20th century. The excessive increase in local resources, together with the serious agricultural crises that hit the country from 1865 to 1905, prompted many Norwegians to emigrate overseas, especially to North America: in 50 years (1870-1920) more than 625,000 people left the country. This flow then continued attenuated during the economic crisis of the 1930s. From the 1970s the immigration phenomenon developed, with increasing flows coming mainly from Asia, Africa and South America.

According to collegesanduniversitiesinusa, the country’s demographic dynamics are substantially aligned with European averages, while maintaining a certain vitality: the birth rate is estimated at 10.9 ‰ (2009), mortality is 9.2 ‰, due to aging of the population, and the annual natural increase is 0.3 ‰.

Norway constitutes one of the most advanced realities in the world but presents, like the other Nordic countries, a gap between northern and southern regions that definitely favors the latter: the South, thanks to the better climate and proximity to central-western Europe, is the region with the highest demographic density and concentration of productive activities, which is counterpointed by a weakly populated North, less dynamic and with significant environmental constraints. These contrasts are reflected in the distribution of the population, concentrated in the coastal strip of the southern regions.

Among the cities, the capital Oslo stands out for its demographic weight as well as for its economic and functional importance. The exploitation of the North Sea oil fields has given new life to the already important coastal urban centers of Stavanger and Bergen (the second largest city in Norway), which, together with Trondheim, constitute the other strong points of the urban and economic framework of the Norway; Trondheim then acts as a hinge between the South and the North of the country. In the northern section, the population is concentrated in a few small port towns, including Bodø, Narvik and Tromsø.

The population is made up almost exclusively of Norwegians, with small minorities of Lapps and Finns. The dominant religion is the Protestant (88.4%).

Economic conditions

The key to understanding the Norwegian territorial organization is maritime. If in the past the sea was the main source of food resources, the vector of exploration and mercantile activities, as well as the main route for internal communications, today it represents a sort of physical extension of the national territory. In fact, also the main and most recent resource of the Norway comes from the sea, the rich off-shore hydrocarbon deposits, which constitute the first item of exports (2565 million barrels per day of oil extracted in 2007 and 99.300 million m 3of natural gas estimated in 2008). In the yards of Stavanger, Oslo and other ports, the structures have adapted to the construction and maintenance of the platforms necessary for the extraction of oil at sea. The solid Norwegian economy finds its strengths both in traditional sectors and in those of more recent development, but there is no doubt that the resource of hydrocarbons is fundamental for the surplus of the trade balance.

Within the primary sector, agriculture occupies the least weight, in particular the agricultural sector, while the livestock sector (cattle and sheep in the South, reindeer and fur animals in the North) is of some importance. Even more important, even if lower than the Swedish and Finnish ones, is the forestry heritage (21.7% of the territory) which feeds the industrial sectors of wood and paper. Norway excels in fishing thanks to a technically advanced fleet, which allows it to occupy the tenth place in the world for size of fish (especially cod and herring). Despite the ban imposed by the IWC (International Whaling Commission) and strong opposition from international public opinion, Norway still practices whaling.

Energy wealth was at the origin of the industrialization of the country, in which aluminum processing, shipbuilding, petrochemical and food industries and some high-tech sectors of recent affirmation stand out.

A strong voice of the national economy is represented by tourism, which has experienced a significant expansion, thanks to an efficient valorisation policy also from an environmental point of view: 3,859,000 admissions in 2005. Overall, the Norwegian economic situation appears solid, even if some problems need to be addressed such as those of excessive dependence on North Sea oil, the gigantism of state assistance and the regional imbalance between North and South.


The Scandinavia had a common written language in ancient times (the ‘common Nordic’ or ‘runic’). With the Viking age, the educated language of Norway and its colonies was distinguished (as Norse language) from that of Denmark and Sweden. The late Middle Ages (1350-1525), while it recorded profound linguistic changes (dissolution of the old inflectional system and consequent less syntactic freedom; loans, especially Low-German), saw the political and cultural decline of Norway, which lost its literary language, replaced by Danish which became, with the Reformation, the language of the Church and culture (even if pronounced in Norwegian). The return to Norwegian took place along two different lines: the first is represented by the Norwegian fairy tales by PC Asbjørnsen and J. Moe (whose language, based on popular usage, was immediately taken as a model), and, above all, by writers such as H. Ibsen, B. Bjørnson, AL Kielland and J. Lie, with whom the bokmål (“bookish language”) achieved its classic, distinct from the Danish form; the second director, a populist romantic, is headed by I. Aasen, promoter of landsmål (“country language”, today called Nynorsk “Neonorvegese”) which was intended to be a common denominator of the purest and that is the most archaic dialects. This ‘constructed’ language, albeit with authentic materials, was an immediate success and in 1892 it officially entered the school. Both languages ​​have been reformed several times and the situation seems to be moving towards a gradual rapprochement.

Norwegian belongs genealogically to the family of Germanic languages ​​and therefore preserves its essential innovations (the consonant mutation; the fixation of the accent on the first syllable; the ‘weak’ inflection of the adjective and verb). As a ‘Nordic’ language it reflects the innovations characterizing this group (the definite article affixed to the end of the name; formation of a passive in -s, -sk ; new pronouns etc.). A strong musical accent (in which two main species are distinguished, as in Swedish) has preserved the vocalism well. The voiceless stops are well preserved and, like Swedish, Norwegian has reinforced consonants. Starting in 1938, Norwegian returned to the (archaic) system of 3 grammatical genders. The simplification of the nominal inflection has progressed quite a lot: the genitive is moderately used; the dative survives only in formulas and idioms.

Norway Economy