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Norway

Basic Information

Area: 385,252 km²

Calling code: +47

Population: 4,777,100

Official Language: Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk)

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 09:48

Overview

The Kingdom of Norway is located in Northern Europe, and spans a total of 385,352km2. The eastern coast borders the Norwegian Sea and it shares its boundaries with 3 countries: Sweden, Russia and Finland. Norway has a population of 4,660,539 (2009) of which over 20% live within the greater metropolitan area of the capital city of Oslo. Oslo is located in the south-eastern region of Norway and is the countries economic and commercial centre. Other major cities of economic importance include Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger.

Norway declined membership into the European Union in 1994, although it is a member of several other organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The currency used is the Norwegian Krone (NOK).

Economy

Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $53,300, which is the highest 3rd highest in Europe, after Luxembourg and Switzerland. This is partly due to its large amount of natural resources, and the fact that the government holds stakes in a third of all publicly listed companies in the country.

The petroleum sector accounts for almost a third of Norway's total GDP, it is the largest oil producing and exporting country in Europe, and the 6th largest in the world. It is also the worlds third largest exporter of natural gas. The service sector and the industrial sector are both prominent to the economy and contribute an equal amount to the GDP, while agriculture is only responsible for 2% of the total GDP. In 2009 Norway exported $122 billion worth of goods, mainly consisting of petroleum, machinery, metal and chemicals. Norway's largest export partners are the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and the United States.

Infrastructure

Norway enjoys an efficient and well-maintained transportation infrastructure, particularly in the southern region. The country is served by 98 airports, the largest being the Oslo Gardomean Airport, which is located 35km northeast of the city centre. The airport handles over 18 million passengers annually (2009), and has frequent flights to European cities, along with seasonal flights to international destinations such as Philadelphia and Bangkok.

There are over 4,000km of railways in the country, which are owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration, and operated by Norges Statsbaner (NSB). Oslo central train station deals with the majority of passenger routes, and is the largest train station in the country. A network of modern expressways make road transport possible, and connect Norway to Sweden and Finland. There are 8 major ports in Norway: Bergen, Borg Havn, Haugesund, Mongstad, Narvik, Maaloy Oslo and Sture.

The medical system in Norway is particularly advanced, and is considered to be among the leading welfare systems in the world.

Workforce

Norway has a labour force of 2.6 million, many of which live and work around the capital city of Oslo. Over 75% of all jobs within the country are in the service sector. The labour force are hard working and motivated, and employees in Oslo have the 4th best quality of life out of all major cities in Europe, according to the European Cities Monitor 2009. The majority of the workforce are Norwegian-born, with 3.6% of the total population coming from other European countries, and 2% from international countries. The official languages for the country are dialects of Norwegian: Bokmal and Nynorsk. While Sami is spoken by small minorities and is official in six of Norway's municipalities.

Norway has a strong educational system, which is considered to be one of the best in the world. This is partly due to the large percentage of GDP (7.5%) which is invested back into educational facilities across the country. As a result Norway has a 100% literacy rate, higher than that of the United Kingdom and United States. There are a total of 25 internationally accredited universities in Norway, most of which are located in Oslo. These universities are publicly funded and generally require no tuition fees, allowing a large percentage of the public to study and further their education.

Norway has maintained an extremely low employment rate, which currently stands at 3.3% (2009), much lower than the average unemployment rate of the European Union which is 9.30% (2009). Norwegians work longer hours than most of Europe, with average working week of 40 hours.

Business Costs

The cost for renting commercial space is reasonable in comparison to other European areas, with Norway's capital city of Oslo having the highest rental costs in the country. Research conducted by Cushman & Wakefield indicated that the average rental cost for office space in Oslo is $59.25 per square foot per annum, on par with rental costs in Madrid and Frankfurt.

In Noway there are two direct personal taxes: income tax and wealth tax. Personal taxes are set at a flat rate of 28% which applies to all individuals, with an additional 9% or 12% for people earning over a specific amount, making the total tax rates range from 28% - 40%. Norwegians are also subject to a wealth tax, which is payable on all total assets over a combined total of $78,483, at a rate of 1.1%. An individual who lives and works in Norway for less than 6 months of the year is allowed a special deducted tax rate. Corporate tax rates are fixed at 28%, only marginally higher than the European Union average tax rate of 26%. Vat levels start at 14% for special essential items, and there is a 25% flat fee for most standard goods and services.

Norway has several minimum wages which vary depending on the skill level and age of the employee. For example, unskilled workers have a minimum wage rate of Kr120 ($19.88) per hour, skilled workers are entitled to Kr134.75 ($22) per hour, and workers under the age of 18 must be paid a minimum wage of Kr81 ($13.42) per hour.
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