Why Norway is always seen as a model country? In this article I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why this little nation with just 5 million inhabitants can consider itself proud. Here we go with 10 things to know about Norway!
10 interesting facts about Norway
Norway has always had a special place in my heart. I started getting to know this country at University, when I fell for the craziness of studying Norwegian language. Then I went deep into its culture through classic and contemporary books, movies and tv series.
And you, how well do you know Norway? Test yourself with these 10 interesting facts about Norway.
1. Take your shoes off!
One of Norwegian habits I appreciate the most: when you enter someone else’s house, you take off your shoes and you leave them at the entrance. It’s a sign of respect towards the hosts but also towards the house itself, which can remain a clean and comfortable environment.
Don’t get embarassed if you’re wearing colorful socks: Norwegians don’t care about such things. At home everyone wears socks – rarely slippers!
This habit was born in order to avoid dirt and germs contaminating the home environment (and you know, under our shoes we have so much dirt sometimes we don’t even realize it!). I completely approve of this habit, and you?
2. It’s the most literate country in the world
In Norway, 9 persons out of 10 read at least 1 book per year. In 2015, 97% of women and 89% of men read at least 1 book. Moreover, if you decide you’re feeling like writing one, the State will buy the first 1000 copies and distribute them to the libraries all over the country.
On average, a Norwegian citizen read 1 book per year, and the 40% read at least 10 books. As to literacy, Norway has no rivals in Europe.
3. It’s the paradise of electric cars
During our trip to Oslo we were surprised to see so many electric cars. We later found out that the Norwegian government encourages people to buy electric or hybidr cars: for example, the Tesla X model has become the 4th most sold car in the country.
But that’s not all. Do you think that driving an electric car is beneficial to the environment? Surely it’s not as harmful as a diesel or gasoline car, but according the the Norwegian government there is no good car for the environment. That is the reason why, starting from 2019, Oslo will be the first city in the world without cars. Crazy, isn’t it?
4. Social equality is kept in high regard
It is known: Northern Europe countries are the ones that most respect gender equality. Norway makes no exception. As a matter of fact, being a woman or having a different sexual orientation in Norway is not a discriminating element neither in social life nor in work life.
However, it is often said that the domestic violence rate seems to be higher in nordic countries. The reason is actually quite simple: Scandinavian women are very independent and therefore more inclined to press charges against their partners in case of abuse, while in southern Europe the situation is still very different.
5. The job market is fair and flexible
In Norway people work on average 37,5 hours per week, with a fixed schedule from 8am to 4pm. From 4pm onwards it is rare to find someone still at the office, management included. Norwegians, in fact, love to dedicate the rest of the day to their familie and hobbies (maybe that’s why they read so much!).
Illegal work doesn’t exist, and the wage gap between workmen and managers is quite thin. Not only, but when a child is born the government guarantees 12 weeks with 100% of the salary to the fathers and 47 weeks to the mothers.
6. Double bed means double duvet
We personally tested this habit. Norwegians love to have their own duvet when they sleep, that’s why they came up with this funny idea: one duvet for each person! A method that doesn’t allow your partner to steal the duvet during the night. Lovely, isn’t it?
7. There are two official versions of Norwegian language
Not everyone knows about it, but there are two different versions of the Norwegian language: bokmål, also known as “language of books”, and nynorsk, literally “new Norwegian”. Nynorsk is a language invented by the linguist Ivar Aasen, who aimed to recreate some kind of writing based on the dialects of the rural areas.
Today only 15% of the population uses nynorsk, but its study is still very encouraged at school. In the past this language was more spoken than it is now, also as a form of independence from the Danish language, from which bokmål takes after.
8. 40.000 Sami live in Norway
Sami are a Scandinavian indigenous people that today counts approximately 60.000 individuals. Of these, 40.000 live in Norway. In the past the Sami were victims of persecutions and several attemps to assimilate them to the Norwegian culture.
Today the Sami people have many more rights compared to the past. There has been an increase in bilingual schools (sami-norwegians) and the areas inhabited by them became a popular touristic destination.
The funniest thing? Sami have a parliament, the Samediggi, which is located in Karasjok. It’s an ordinary parliament elected with ordinary elections, which preserves also a beautiful library dedicated entirely to the Sami culture.
9. School educates children in domestic equality
Norwegian school is famous for teaching children that there are not tasks made only for women or for men when talking about house chores.
Boys learn very early that they can sew, iron clothes or wash the dishes as well as their female friends. Girls, however, are taughts all the tasks that we usually consider “masculine”, such as home repair.
These lessons belong to the subject “domestic economy”, and contribute to model the temper of a country in which gender differences are very thin. The Norwegian wife will be able to use the drill and repair the sink, while her husband will sew a patch on his pants all by himself.
Norwegian school education goes even further: individual freedom is kept in high regard, and teachers make children understand that judging others is definitely wrong. This leads adult couples to build relationships with a positive attitude, leaning towards confrontation instead of conflict.
10. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world
There are many international rankings that put Oslo at the top of the list with the most expensive cities in the world. Oslo has indeed a very high cost of living, especially for southern Europeans.
We can surely corroborate these rumours. Prices in Norwegian restaurants made us desist from dining in the city, but food isn’t the only thing in Oslo that costs a fortune. A single ride on the public transport will cost you around 3 euros, which become 5 if the ticket is bought on board.
The list doesn’t end here, but luckily the cost of living in the capital of Norway is related to Norwegian salaries. We turist, however, need to find other way to save money while in Oslo.
Did you know any of these interesting facts about Norway? I learned to love this little – but geographically huge – country. Today I am aware of its issues, but I admire the Norwegians for their foresight on themes like job, equality and environment.
Do you have any curiosity to add regarding Norway? Leave a comment below!