With its snow-capped mountains, deep green valleys and sapphire blue fjords, Norway is recognized the world over for its scenic beauty. Combine that with Norway's cultural heritage – whether it's the Urnes Stave Church, a thousand-year-old wooden structure that's on the UNESCO World Heritage list, or the more contemporary charms of Oslo's Vigeland Park or the music of Edvard Grieg, and you'll find that living in Norway has something to offer everyone.
Northern lights and polar explorers
While Norway lies at the very top of Europe – and in fact includes the island archipelago of Svalbard, home to the most northerly communities on the planet – the country's climate is moderated by the Gulf Stream, and features four distinct seasons.
Far more unusual than the country's climate is the way that the light changes with the seasons, with the midnight sun in summer and the long twilights and northern lights of wintertime.
Norway's exceptional natural beauty and a history of famous polar explorers are two reasons why the outdoors is such an important part of Norwegian culture. Many Norwegians love to hike and ski, and there's even a Norwegian word, "friluftsliv", that literally means "outdoor life."
Newcomers to Norway will find the Norwegian work culture (pdf) to be relaxed, but efficient. The typical work week is 37.5 hours long, with a generous summer holiday time and official holidays sprinkled throughout the year.
The work culture reflects the culture at large, which is respectful of individual rights and supports a generous welfare system. Norway is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary democratic system of government.
Non-Norwegians are entitled to vote in local and regional elections, with the length of residence time required before voting rights are extended dependent on citizenship.
A ridgewalk over the clouds
"Helgelandsbukken", a 1456-meter high mountain in northern Norway, offers stunning views of the fjords and Svartisen, the country's second largest glacier.
Photo: Richard Strimbeck