Outside of the cities, Norway is mostly very rugged terrain: mountainous regions cover most of Norway, interspersed with valleys, fjords and the occasional glacier. The scenery is, to put it plainly, spectacular, with breathtaking vistas almost everywhere.
The fact that most of Norway is made of rock also turns Norway into one of the least populated countries in europe. only iceland has less people per square mile than Norway. This means that you don’t have to go very far outside the cities before you’re out of the populated areas (in most cases, less than an hour of walking out of the city centre will get you into semi-wilderness).
The great outdoors
Norwegians do live in the strangest of places, often quite far away from city centres. You’ll be surprised at the kind of places it is possible to build a house. It is not uncommon to find a house on some grassy patch on an outcropping far above a fjord; or to find 9 tiny houses on a craggy piece of rock out in the ocean, with the inhabitants making a living farming sheep.
However, many Norwegians have getaway cabins ("hytte") in more remote areas, and head there during vacations and national holidays. These are often very simple accommodations, with bunk beds, no running water and outdoor toilets. But this is not really to get away from people. It should also be remembered that these cabins also constitute a social scene. One goes there with friends and family to spend time together. If nothing else, they point to the strange need Norwegians have for taking long, gruelling hikes or ski trips through the wilderness.
When living in Norway you should just familiarise yourself with the Norwegian term "Gå på tur" (literally "Go for a hike"). We can do it any day of the week, in the morning or late at night. For a newbie this activity may seem being without any useful purpose as the goal normally is not to get from point A to point B, but rather the process of walking itself. So, do not fear when your friends drag you out of bed a Sunday morning to go hiking - even though you had planned a quiet day in front of the television.
The social Norwegian
The reputation that Norwegians have for being unsociable is thoroughly disproven several times a year. Norway’s National
Day celebrations on May 17th, for instance. The National Day celebrates Norway’s first constitution of 1814, and is a celebration of spring and warm weather. The traditional way of celebrating this is to dress up in one’s finest clothes - often the national costumes ‘bunad’ - and take to the streets (which are cleared of cars for the occasion) in great throngs to enjoy parades, music and performances.
A new lifestyle
It should also be noted that the typical Norwegian way of life, if such a notion still makes sense, is changing rapidly, and that the last two generations’ lifestyle have had an incredible impact on the shape and structure of Norwegian society and the Norwegian mentality. The young tend to travel much more than their parents and grandparents, they spend far more time and money at restaurants and bars, and they are less prone to the simple outdoor life that Norwegians traditionally lived.
With the unprecedented levels of economic wealth now enjoyed by most Norwegians, many prefer to travel the world for their holidays – or they build big luxury cabins that wouldn’t have been considered a “hytte” twenty years ago. What people do, how they define themselves, is changing drastically with each generation. today, people are trying to find a place in the information economy.
Education patterns; gender roles and family structures; social patterns and habits; values and cultural status: it’s all changing with each passing month. What Norway is, is hard to define. But that this is an important time in Norwegian history is for certain.