Landscapes of Norway

Norway is a country located in Northern Europe on the northern and western parts of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The majority of the country borders water, including the Skagerrak inlet to the south, the North Sea to the southwest, the North Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea) to the west, and the Barents Sea to the north. It has a land border with Sweden to the east and a shorter border with Finland and an even shorter border with Russia to the northeast.

Norway has an elongated shape, one of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world, and some 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline. It is one of the world’s northernmost countries, and it is one of Europe’s most mountainous countries, with large areas dominated by the Scandinavian Mountains. The country’s average elevation is 460 metres (1,510 ft), and 32 percent of the mainland is located above the tree line. Its country-length chain of peaks is geologically continuous with the mountains of Scotland, Ireland, and, after crossing under the Atlantic Ocean, the Appalachian Mountains of North America. Geologists hold that all these formed a single range prior to the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea.

During the last glacial period, as well as in many earlier ice ages, virtually the entire country was covered with a thick ice sheet. The movement of the ice carved out deep valleys. As a result of the ice carving, Sognefjorden is the world’s second deepest fjord and Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in Europe.

Even though it has long since been released from the enormous weight of the ice, the land is still rebounding several millimeters a year. This rebound is greatest in the eastern part of the country and in the inner parts of the long fjords, where the ice cover was thickest. This is a slow process, and for thousands of years following the end of the ice age, the sea covered substantial areas of what is today dry land. This old seabed is now among the most productive agricultural lands in the country.