Kjell Magne Bondevik
(pronounced "shayll MANG-yeh bohn-de-VEEK")
"We have succeeded in creating a new debate about values in the country—in making a new family policy that makes it easier for parents to take care of children. We have started a more active policy regarding district and rural areas, and we have emphasized human rights more strongly in our foreign policy."
The Kingdom of Norway occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian peninsula. The country's northern regions are in the Arctic Circle and share a 167 km (104 mi) border with Russia, an important factor influencing Norwegian foreign policy. Norway also shares a long border with Sweden to the east, and its territory fronts Finland in the northeast. At the same time, Norway's long coastline looks west across the North Sea to Great Britain, and south toward Denmark. These geographic characteristics play a political and economic role in linking Norway to Western Europe. The capital and largest city is Oslo.
The estimated population of Norway was estimated at 4,525,116 in 2002. About 86% of Norwegians describe themselves as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is the official state religious institution.
Norway covers 324,220 sq km (125,181 sq mi) of territory. Fishing and forestry once dominated commercial life, but the development of petroleum and natural gas fields since the 1970s has made hydrocarbons the driving force of the economy. It is second globally only to Saudi Arabia in petroleum production. Norway is also Europe's leading producer of natural gas and one of the world's wealthiest countries. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $31,800 in 2002. A United Nations (UN) survey conducted in July 2001 found that Norwegians had the world's highest standard of living, based on life expectancy, literacy, and GDP per capita. The Norwegian currency is the krone.
Office of the Prime Minister