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Each of these facts is a stepping stone in understanding Norway | © Sharon Christina Rørvik/Unsplash
Each of these facts is a stepping stone in understanding Norway | © Sharon Christina Rørvik/Unsplash

13 Facts That Will Change What You Think About Norway

Picture of Danai Christopoulou
Updated: 20 February 2018

So you think you know Norway? Sure, you may know that it’s the Land of Vikings. Or that they practically discovered skiing and they’re basically owning the Winter Olympics. You may even have heard that it’s the happiest country in the world and that you can’t buy booze outside of state regulated stores. True as all these things may be, they won’t prepare you for the nuanced and multi-faceted character of this country. But the 13 quirky facts below, will help you understand Norway a bit better.

Norwegians prefer snus to smoking

It is very difficult to be a smoker in Norway. For one, smoking has been banned in all public spaces since 2004. Then, it’s the cost: a pack of cigarettes will set you back about 12 euros. But snus, a form of moist dipping tobacco that you place directly on your gums, is cheaper, better for the environment and those around you, and definitely a healthier way to get your nicotine fix. Currently, the Norwegians who use snus daily amount to 12 percent of the population — whereas daily smokers are only 11 percent.

Homemade snus | © Heather Sperling / Flickr

Homemade snus | © Heather Sperling / Flickr

Norway is becoming the first fur-free Nordic country

The new coalition government is pushing for some eco-friendly reforms — and one of them was the progressing phasing out of the fur industry in the country. The goal is that, by 2025, fox and mink farms will be banned completely and Norway will be 100 percent fur free. Despite the heated reactions from fur industry insiders, fur farming has stopped being a lucrative business in Norway for some time now (as consumers become more compassionate and choose faux fur instead). In this day and age, fur has no job being anywhere else but on the coats of living animals.

A mink at the park, free as they should be | © Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

A mink at the park, free as they should be | © Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

This is the most lustful country in the world

You’ve probably heard that Norway always scores high on the Happiness Index. But, if we’re being honest, you thought Norwegians are a bit cold, didn’t you? Well, this couldn’t be any further away from the truth: according to a global sex survey for Orgasm Day 2017, Norway is the horniest country in the world. Norwegians hold the record for the most orgasms on a weekly basis, with 35 percent of them allegedly climaxing at least once a day. Make what you will of this information.

Norway has the most electric cars

Instead of counting sheep, if you’re ever sleepless in Oslo you could very easily count Tesla cars driving by. Norway has the biggest number of electric cars per capita on a global level — and besides the fact that electric cars are better for the environment, something Norwegians care deeply about, the government is also offering many perks to entice people to switch to electric. There are great tax deductions, charging your car is free and you are exempt from paying tolls (at least in the Oslo area). The plan is to end sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2025.

Tesla car | © Matt Henry / Unsplash

…and will soon have electric airplanes

Electric airplanes may be a tad more complicated to pull off than electric cars, but Norway is making great progress. Avinor, the company that operates Norwegian airports, is currently working together with Rolls Royce and Siemens to create a hybrid fuel-electric plane model by 2020. This will be the first step for Norway’s short-haul flights (up to 1,5 hours, which covers domestic and flights to other Scandi capitals) to be entirely electric-operated by 2040. Apart from decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, electric planes also means less noise pollution in the skies.

Domestic flights in Norway may soon be electric | Courtesy of Oslo lufthavn Gardermoen

Domestic flights in Norway may soon be electric | Courtesy of Oslo lufthavn Gardermoen

Norway discovered America first

Well, not Norway per se. But Leif Erikson, a Norse explorer, did reach the shores of ‘Vinland’ (what is today northern Newfoundland) about 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. And like Columbus, it was a total accident: Leif thought he was sailing towards Greenland, but the winds blew his ship off course.

…and it also has its own Statue of Liberty

Yet another connection between the Land of the Vikings and the Land of the Free: the Statue of Liberty. It may have been a gift by the people of France to the people of the United States, but the copper used to create the statue came from the copper mine in a small village called Visnes, on Karmøy island. To commemorate that fact, a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty was built in Visnes — and there’s significantly less queuing time to visit this one.

The Statue of Liberty in Visnes | Courtesy of Opplev Karmoy

The Statue of Liberty in Visnes | Courtesy of Opplev Karmoy

Norway introduced salmon sushi to Japan

This may be hard to wrap your head around, but salmon sushi is a Norwegian invention. Until the mid-80s, the Japanese used mostly tuna and sea-bream for their staple rolls and sashimi — due to the fact that Japanese salmon is prone to parasites and therefore very dangerous to consume raw. But Norwegians have a lot of salmon (like, a lot) and started exporting it to Japan in the early ’90s, after huge efforts by the Norwegian government to convince the Japanese that Norwegian salmon is safe. Of course, nowadays salmon sushi is a popular Japanese culinary export, but Norway is reclaiming it by ways of some pretty great sushi restaurants — like the Michelin starred Sabi Omakase in Stavanger.

Salmon sushi in one of Norway's best restaurants | Courtesy of Sabi Omakase

Salmon sushi in one of Norway’s best restaurants | Courtesy of Sabi Omakase

The world’s longest wooden staircase is in Norway

4,444 stairs into the mountain. The wooden staircase in Flørli was first built for the workers of an abandoned power back in 1916, but today is a hiking destination. Situated in Lysefjord, and close to other sights like the Kjerag boulder, this is the perfect place to get a bird’s eye view.

4444 steps into the mountain | Courtesy of Flørli 4444 Kafé & Hostel

4,444 steps into the mountain | Courtesy of Flørli 4444 Kafé & Hostel

…as is the world’s longest tunnel

And from a bird’s eye view, to some tunnel vision. Lærdal is world’s longest road tunnel, stretching out at 24.5 kilometres (15.2 miles) between the cities of Lærdal and Aurland. It will take you 20 minutes to cross it (or more, because you’ll want to stop and Instagram it) but the beautiful light fixtures will keep you alert.

World's longest road tunnel is in Norway | © Jørn Eriksson / Flickr

World’s longest road tunnel is in Norway | © Jørn Eriksson / Flickr

Norway allows kids to choose their own gender

Some of the fundamental values of modern Norwegian society are equality, respect and tolerance — and their latest gender law is proof of that. As of 2016, children from the age of 6 can, with parental consent, self-identify as male or female regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth by simply filling out a form online. In a world where trans people need to endure long periods of counseling, hormonal treatments and invasive gender reassignment surgery (and proof that these procedures have taken place) in order to be able to legally change their gender in identity documents, it is very important that countries like Norway are taking a stand.

There is equal pay for male and female footballers

And speaking of taking a stand: Norway is working hard to eliminate pay gap as well. A recent agreement between the Norwegian Football Association and Norway’s players’ association, made Norway the first country to offer its women’s national team an equal salary to that of their men’s national team. The even more inspiring thing? The men’s national team all agreed to take a pay cut to help make this happen.

Norway's women's national football team | Courtesy of Fotballandslaget

Norway’s women’s national football team | Courtesy of Fotballandslaget

Anyone can see anyone’s income online

When there is equality, it’s easier to achieve transparency. Personal income tax was public in Norway since it was first introduced back 1882, but nowadays you don’t have to go to the City Hall and look at the tax lists. You can just view anyone’s income and tax returns with just clicking on a button, since the annual tax returns of Norwegian citizens are posted online on the Norwegian Tax Administration’s official website. This practice keeps companies in check and tax evasion almost non-existent proving that there’s nothing Norwegians love more than being fair.