Oslo is the capital of Norway.
The history of the city can be traced back over 1000 years, although according to the chronicles of Snorre Sturlason, Oslo was founded in 1048, by the king Harald Hardråde. The city became capital of Norway around 1300, but lost its privileges during the Danish-Norwegian union from 1348 to 1814. In 1624, a fire devastated old Oslo, and the city was moved some kilometres west, to gain protection from the fortress at Akershus. The city was then renamed Christiania, a name that remained until it was officially renamed on January 1st, 1925.
Following the latest reform of January 1, 2004, the city is divided into fifteen boroughs (bydeler) that are to a considerable extent self governed. Each borough is responsible for local services not overseen by the City Council, such as social services, basic healthcare, and kindergartens.
Sentrum (the city centre) and Marka (the rural/recreational areas surrounding the city) are separate geographical entities, but do not have an administration of their own. Sentrum is governed by the borough of St. Hanshaugen. The administration of Marka is shared between neighbouring boroughs.
Oslo is often overshadowed by the natural landscape of more rural parts of the country, and the other largest cities of the country like Bergen and Trondheim tend to be more “typical” Norwegian. Nevertheless, Oslo has plenty of sights, good nightlife and is worth seeing.
Oslo, with its approximately 453 square kilometers, is one of the largest capitals in the world by area. Granted, most of this is forest, making Oslo a city in close contact with the nature surrounding it.
Oslo is situated in an amphitheater like setting, with the city centre in the bottom close to the Oslo fjord, and residential areas stretching uphill from there in all directions. Behind the residential areas, the forested area of Marka (Nordmarka, Østmarka, Lillomarka) extends, with flora and fauna that is quite extraordinary for a city of this size. Moose are commonplace (easily spotted in winter), and the area is also part of Norway’s wolf reserve (even if they rarely come here).
The Oslo fjord is an inlet of the Skagerrak bay, stretching inland from the North Sea towards Øresund and the Baltic Sea. Oslo has an impressive archipelago of islands, which in summer becomes the city’s favoured playground.
The city is bound by Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) to the east, the Royal Castle (Slottet) to the west and the sea to the south. It’s a fairly compact area and easily walkable. However, several of the neighbourhoods close to the centre hold interesting sights and entertainment offerings, so to explore these you should make use of the city’s comprehensive public transport system.
Oslo has a population of about half of a million people.
Although well into the northern latitudes, Oslo’s climate is fairly temperate thanks to warm air being wafted across the Atlantic from the Gulf Stream. Summer weather in Oslo is mild and pleasant, with frequent hot spells, and plenty of long sunny days. In winter temperatures hover just above or below freezing. Snow is plentiful in winter, making the city a great winter sports venue, and rainfall is spread across the year, the rainiest month being August.
The diverse population includes some of Norways wealthiest celebrities and socialites, as well as tens of thousands of immigrants. This has made Oslo a multi-cultural society, with 20% of the city population being from a foreign country. This makes Oslo the “melting pot” of Norway. The cultural differences has affected the society in the matters of food, shopping, items and so on, which has blended in perfectly to the everyday life of Norwegians. The most notable immigrants are from Sweden, Denmark, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Iraq, Vietnam, Poland, Ex-Yugoslavia, America, Russia, Albania, Thailand, China, Germany, England, Philippines, Morocco, Turkey, Korea, Sri Lanka and so many other nations which helps to make Oslo a diverse and exciting place to visit.
The Oslo region is the countrys premier business centre and has a diverse and dynamic economy with one of the highest regional GDPs in Europe. Figures published by the regional development agency for Oslo show that GDP per capita in the region was €44,190 ($51,950) (excluding oil and gas) in 2000, compared to an EU average of approximately €20,000 ($23,512). According to a report produced by the city’s Chief Commissioner’s Department and the Department of Finances and Development, the service sector dominates employment in Oslo. In 2001, Public and Business services accounted for more than 59 percent of jobs. Other major employment areas within the service sector include trade, hotels and catering, banking and insurance.