Great futures begin here.
The long, thin arm of Norway wraps around the
top of Finland and Sweden, opening its palm toward Denmark. Within its
embrace are 20,917 kilometers (13,000 miles) of coast, the country's
lifeline. The waters of the seas and the fjords beat against rocky shores
or glide through green valleys, connecting many communities that would
otherwise be fairly isolated by the rugged terrain and impassable mountains.
This country is long and very narrow—about 2,092 kilometers (1,300 miles)
from top to bottom. it is the coastal industries—fishing, shipping,
and offshore oil drilling—that have brought Norway its prosperity and
its prominence in international commerce.
Most students come to Norway with a checklist of things to see and do.
The fjords top the list, for nowhere else is there anything quite like
these deep, water-filled slices between precipitous mountains. Next
on most students' lists is the midnight sun. Norway has more hours of
daylight each year than any other country in the world, and thousands
of tourists trek to the North Cape to see the red glow of the sun at
midnight. Nonetheless, summer visitors to towns above the Arctic Circle
experience 24 hours of daylight, and the disorientation caused by having
to go to bed "by day."
Students journeying north are often surprised to find that the cities
above the Arctic Circle are rather lively, surrounded in summer with
green hills and sparkling fjords. The snow and gloom are there as well—especially
in Finnmark—and there is that period, which can last from November to
February, when there is virtually no light beyond a pale, rosy glow
for an hour or so. For a truly arctic landscape, students can visit
Svalbard/Spitzbergen, the group of islands west of the mainland in the
Arctic Ocean, where winter iciness lingers most of the year. Here, only
a few inches of ground ever thaws, but even so, during the brief summer,
many varieties of plants thrive in the frigid soil.