Capital | Oslo
Population | 4,691,849 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 324,220 SQ KM
Official Language | Norwegian
Holidays | Constitution Day, 17 May (1814)
Currency | Knrone (NOK)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | May to September (late spring to summer)
Connecting with the Culture | Being overawed by the grand fjords of Arctic Norway, which dwarf anything in the south. Wandering the streets of colourful, historic Bergen. Visiting the virtually intact 9th-century Osberg Viking ship and museum in Oslo. Touring the stave churches at Borgund, Heddal and Urnes. Viewing the midnight sun from Nordland. Spotting walruses, polar bears and whales in the high Arctic.
Read | A Doll’s House by quintessential Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, or Jostein Gaarder’s bestseller Sophie’s World.
Listen | to composer Edvard Grieg or Sami artist Aulu Gaup.
Watch | The Pathfinder, based on a medival legend and presented in the Sami language, or Anja Breien’s Jostedalsrypa, about a 14th-century girl who survived the Black Death.
Eat | lapskaus (a hearty meat stew with vegetables) or lutefisk (dried cod soaked in potash lye).
Drink | the national spirit, aquavit (or akevitt)- a potent potato and caraway liquor. The standard Norwegian beer is pils lager.
In a Word | Vær så god (an all-purpose expression of goodwill).
Characteristics | Viking; fjords; the aurora borealis; stave churches; skiing; the midnight sun; whaling.
Surprises | Lemmings don’t throw themselves off cliff in mass suicide; the legal drinking age is 18 years for beer and wine, but 20 for spirits.