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Learn more about doing successful business in Norway. This page has information about Norway’s economy, history and even some useful local phrases. Expand your international business expertise with Lingo24’s International Business Knowledge Base.

Facts & figures

Norway lies west of Sweden and north of Denmark in Scandinavia in the north of Europe. Large mountains, lakes and fjords dominate the Norwegian landscape. The harsh weather conditions have greatly influenced the way Norway works. From the beginning, people settled in small groups separated from each other by significant geographical features. This explains all the different dialects and various accents of the Norwegian language. It is also why there are lots of small, very close-knit communities where everybody knows everybody. Till this day Norway is still a small country in this respect, and when two Norwegians from different parts of the country meet for the first time, they are likely to ask something along the lines of “Oh, you’re from Bergen? Do you know Ole?”.

Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, and at the same time one of the smallest. The population is just about to reach 5 million people. Norway is very independent and likes to control its own affairs, which is why it is still reluctant to join the EU.

Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are members of EFTA (the European Free Trade Area) and of the joint EU/EFTA economic area, the European Economic Area. Unlike EU-members UK and Ireland, non-EU-members Norway and Iceland are members of the Schengen visa treaty. This means that Norway receives a lot of the same benefits as the EU countries do, without actually being a part of the EU.

Norwegians are known to be very patriotic and proud of their country. They almost certainly think that Norway carries a bigger importance on the world arena than it actually does.

Major cities

Oslo

Population: 500, 000 (greater Oslo area about 1 million)
Oslo is Norway’s capital and biggest city, and is situated on the east side. It is home of the government, royal castle and parliament (Stortinget). Oslo is the city in which you will find the greatest number of people with culturally diverse backgrounds. Over the past few decades, the city has put a lot of effort into integrating these people into its urban society.

Stavanger

Population 100, 000
The oil capital of Norway is situated on the south-west side. Statoil, the state-owned Norwegian oil company, has its headquarters here. Because of its location on the coast, it has always been involved in international business through shipping and the fishing industry. It is also known for its canning industry and, of course, the oil & gas industry.

Bergen

Population: ca. 250 000,
The main port of western Norway, medieval Hansa-town in western Norway, the home town of the composer Edvard Grieg and as such the host of the annual Bergen International Festival in May/June.

Trondheim

Population: 150, 000
Trondheim is known as the technical capital of Norway and is the home of the technological and scientific university NTNU and the research centre SINTEF (The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research). Here you will also find Norway’s main cathedral, Nidarosdomen. The best Norwegian soccer team of the last decade, Rosenborg, is also situated here.

Tromsø

Population: 60, 000
Tromsø is Norway’s arctic capital and port. The University of Tromsø is the world’s northernmost university.

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Language & useful phrases

Norwegian is the main language, but in the far north the Samii people has their own language, which is totally different from Norwegian. Norwegians have always valued the knowledge of foreign languages. Since their own language is so small they have been forced to learn other languages in order to communicate with the outside world. You will find that just about everyone you meet speaks excellent English. Compared to other European countries, Norwegians are known for their good skills in English. There is also a fairly big chance that you will be able to get by in German, as many Norwegians like to show off their skills when dealing with German speakers. Over the last years we have seen a tendency among Norwegian students to choose Spanish as a foreign language. Norwegians like languages, and see it as a great communicative advantage to be able to talk to people in their own language.

Glossary

Hello – Hallo
Good morning/evening/night – God morgen/kveld/natt
Goodbye – Hadet bra
Pleased to meet you – Hyggelig å treffe deg
Yes please – Ja takk
Thank you – Takk
No thank you – Nei takk
Cheers (when drinking) – Skål
See you again soon! – Ses senere!

Norway’s economy

Major industries

Oil and fishing have always been among Norway’s main industries. There is also a lot of technology development related to these two important activities. Norway is also big on building tunnels and bridges – much needed in a country with lots of mountains and large fjords!

Oil and fishing have always been among Norway’s main industries. There is also a lot of technology development related to these two important activities. Norway is also big on building tunnels and bridges – much needed in a country with lots of mountains and large fjords!

Currency

Norway’s currency is NOK, Norwegian Kroner.

Main players

Statoil
Norsk Hydro
Orkla
AkerKværner

Monarchy

The monarchy is of great importance to Norway, associated as it is with history and tradition. The royal family does not have much influence on the running of the country anymore, but is still important to Norway’s identity and held in higher esteem than in other European countries. The present royal family dates back to 1905 when Norway separated from Sweden. At that time, King Haakon VII (a Danish prince) and Queen Maud (an English princess) landed in Kristiania (from 1925 named Oslo). Haakon VII was succeeded in 1957 by his son Olav V who in 1991 was succeeded by his son, the present King Harald V.

Government

Compared to other countries Norway has many different political parties; seven parties are represented in the parliament Stortinget.

Useful background info:

Norway has always been closely tied to Denmark and Sweden, historically as well as geographically. For a long time, Norway was under Denmark and was ruled by their king in Copenhagen. Later, from 1814 – 1905, Norway was in a union with Sweden. Norway worked hard for a long time to become an independent nation. Being free and independent is therefore still very important to most Norwegians. Every year on their national day May 17, the Norwegian people celebrate their freedom and their country’s independence.

Things to avoid

Norwegians expect people to recognise their country’s uniqueness and independence. Do not under any circumstances forget that Norway is an independent country in its own right – and a very successful one at that!

Things to bear in mind

When doing business with Norwegians it is smart to keep in mind that Norwegians are informal, easy-going people. They might give the impression of being cold and distant, but that is just because they are shy and not usually on a first name basis with strangers. They like to act professionally and keep their personal feelings in check while doing business. It normally takes a while for Norwegians to open up and develop a connection. But when they finally do, the connection will be long-lasting and real. Norwegians might be suspicious of people who are too open and welcoming at first, and see this as being fake and superficial.

When doing business, Norwegians like to limit the small talk to a few minutes, and after that get straight down to business. They do not like to waste time talking about things that are beside the point. Norwegians value being on time and sticking to a planned schedule which is mutually agreed upon in advance. They prefer not to work overtime, and if a problem is not solved by 4 pm on a Friday afternoon, it is better to just leave it until Monday morning. Norwegians are also known to separate their professional life from their private life. When a meeting is over, they usually go their separate ways, and are not likely to invite a new business contact to their home. Norwegians put a very high price on their private life, and value spending time with friends and family. On the weekends they like to get away from the stress of their everyday life, so a majority owns a “hytte”, which is a cabin/mountain house, situated in idyllic, natural surroundings. They love their hillsides, lakes and mountains, and are huge fans of mountain walking, hiking and fishing.

Some useful websites:

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