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  III  Jæren & Norway  
Where I live

I was born in Norway, which makes me a Norwegian. You don't know where Norway is? Well... Norway is located in Scandinavia, which is in North-Europe. The country borders to Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Short Facts
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 4,610,820 (July 2006)
Language: Norwegian
Capital: Oslo
National holiday: May 17th
Area: 324,220 sq km
Coastline: 21,925 km
Life expectancy: 79 years
Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
GDP per capita: $47,800 (2006)
United Nations HDI rank: #1 (2001-2006)

Culture
Peoples associations with Norwegian history and culture vary a lot. Some would mention the vikings or the sami, and others would point to internationally famous authors, composers, actors and painters such as Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Grieg, Liv Ullmann and Edvard Munch.

If you ask people what they associate with Norwegian history and culture, their answers will vary a lot. Some will say the Vikings who sailed to foreign parts to pillage and wage war, although the Vikings were in fact also merchants who founded kingdoms on foreign soil and brought back new impulses to Scandinavia. Others will point to internationally famous authors, composers, actors and painters such as Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Grieg, Liv Ullmann and Edvard Munch. Or attractions like Vigeland's sculpture park, Holmenkollen and the stave churches, the expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl, Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Maybe even smoked salmon, lutefisk, reindeer meat, shrimps or cloudberries.

One thing is certain - Norway is more than untouched nature. The country has a rich history, but is poor in large historic monuments. Nature has however formed the Norwegian character and given it a kind of durability that has formed the Norwegian national identity. Thanks to the country's rich natural resources, Norway has also long been an industrial nation. There is special pride in being one of the first countries to eradicate illiteracy. Not only Vigeland's Park, the Viking ships, the Munch Museum and Nidaros Catherdral, but many, many other museums in Norwegian cities and towns contribute to spreading Norwegian culture to all who wish to know a little about the country they are visiting.

Nature
Nature "Furrowed and weather-worn," says Norway's national anthem. Indeed, if it weren't for the Gulf Stream, no one but polar bears would thrive this far north. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and the Midnight Sun, it is possible to live in this otherwise uninhabitable land.

But thanks to that and the Midnight Sun, it is possible to live in this otherwise uninhabitable land of extremes. Especially during the dark winter months. It is the four seasons with all the changes they bring that lay the groundwork for all Norwegian life.

More than anything else, it is nature that makes Norway such a special place to visit. No matter what time of year you come. Though activities will naturally vary with the season, you'll actually find summer skiing in places like Stryn, Folgefonna and Galdhøgpiggen. Fishing enthusiasts can fish all year too, although salmon and trout fishing are restricted in the rivers and lakes at certain times in the summer. Staying in the mountains is a wonderful experience, whether it's a challenge or just peaceful silence you're looking for. There is a vast network of marked hiking trails that you can use for hiking from cabin to cabin, or you can stay in just one place and take different outings from there. And why not visit one of our many national parks? The glaciers and rivers invite the thrill seeker to glacier walking and river rafting. And there are farms throughout the country that receive guests. At some of them you can even participate in farm chores if you like. Whether it's rest you need or physical challenge, memories of your stay in Norway will last a lifetime.

History
Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav Tryggvason in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that was to last for more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Norway remained neutral in World War I and proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II. Nevertheless, it was not able to avoid a five-year occupation by Nazi Germany (1940-1945). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.

Economy
The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the vital petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises). The country is richly endowed with natural resources - petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals - and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices; in 1999, oil and gas accounted for 35% of exports. Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway. Norway opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. The government has moved ahead with privatization. With arguably the highest quality of life worldwide, Norwegians still worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas begin to run out. Accordingly, Norway has been saving its oil-boosted budget surpluses in a Government Petroleum Fund, which is invested abroad and now is valued at more than $43 billion. GDP growth was a lackluster 1% in 2002 and 2003 against the background of a faltering European economy.

More information about Norway: http://www.visitnorway.com/

Jæren
Jæren is the area in wich I live. It consists of three communities -- Hå, Klepp, and Time. I live in Klepp. There are about 40,000 people living in Jæren and about 13,000 in Klepp. Jæren is south of Stavanger. There are lots of farmers around here, which means a lot of land and fields. Most people, who are not farmers, live in large residential areas, where there are grocery stores, schools, and so on -- just like Orstad, where I live. Bryne is the only city in Jæren, and this is place where I go to school. Bryne can offer lots of stores downtown, a tiny mall, park, bowling, sport center, restaurants, churches, night clubs, and more. Jæren has long sand beaches, which are known as the nicest beaches in Norway. These are very popular in Summer, if the weather is nice, of course.

Last updated: April 9th, 2007