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Economy of Norway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Economy of Norway
Oslo at night.jpg
Currency1 Norwegian krone (NOK) = 100 øre= 0.1 EUR[1]
Calendar year
Trade organisations
OECD, WTO, European Economic Area and others
GDP$400 billion (nominal; 2018)[2]
GDP rank23rd (nominal) / 48th (PPP)
GDP growth
2% (2018 est.)
GDP per capita
$73,450 (nominal; 2017)[2]
$70,660 (PPP; 2017)[2]
GDP by sector
agriculture: 1.6%; industry: 34.7%; services: 63.5% (2016 est.) [1]
0.2% (2017 est.)
25.9 (2017)[3]
Labour force
2.8 million (2015 est.)
Labour force by occupation
agriculture: 2.7%; industry: 18.3%; services: 79% (2015) [2]
Unemployment4.0% (November 2017)[4]
Average gross salary
NOK44,300(US$5,300) monthly (2017)[5]
Main industries
Increase 7th (2019)[6]
Exports$92.4 billion (2016 est.)
Export goods
petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish
Main export partners
 United Kingdom 22.2%
 Germany 17.9%
 Netherlands 10,2%
 France 6.6%
 Sweden 6.1%
 Belgium 5.0% [7]
Imports$73.02 billion (2016 est.)
Import goods
machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs
Main import partners
 Sweden 12.0%
 Germany 11.8%
 China 9.8% (2015)[8]
 United Kingdom 6.7%
 United States 6.6%
 Denmark 6.0%
FDI stock
$200 billion (2013) [3]
$626 billion (Dec 2016) [4]
Public finances
30.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
Revenues$0.3 trillion (2012 est.)
Expenses$0.2 trillion (2012 est.)
Economic aid$4.0 billion (donor), 1.1% of GDP (2017) [5]
Foreign reserves
$59 billion (May 2017)[12]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
Norway's GDP, 1979 to 2004. Source: Statistics Norway.
Norway's GDP, 1979 to 2004. Source: Statistics Norway.

The economy of Norway is a developed mixed economy with state-ownership in strategic areas. Although sensitive to global business cycles, the economy of Norway has shown robust growth since the start of the industrial era. The country has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries, and a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway's modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.[13][14][15][16][17]

According to United Nations data for 2016, Norway together with Luxembourg and Switzerland are the only three countries in the world with a GDP per capita above US$70,000 that are not island nations nor microstates.[18]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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The land of midnight sun, a place where every corner is picture perfect, Norway. The country is not only picturesque but also is one of the richest countries in the world. Norway is one of the two countries with GDP per capita above US$70,000. United Nations Development Programme ranked Norway 1 out of 188 countries. The country is one of the best and happiest places to live in. Norway has come a long way from being Europe‘s most impoverished country in 1905 to the country with the highest GDP. Norway is rich, prosperous and happy country. Its GDP saw a dramatic rise of 177 percent between 1971 to 2001. The country enjoys a mixed as well as a developed economy. Every sector is developing parallelly in the nation. The country has a very high standard of living when compared to other European nations. The economy in Norway pre-industrialization Norway had an agriculture-based economy before industrialization. A major part of its population was involved in the primary sector. Since the resources were scarce, the standard of living was low. The survival was based on the cultivation of hardy grains such as rye, oats, and barley. Another source of income was livestock to goats, cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. In few parts of the country, fishing was also practiced as a supplement to farming. Post industrialization The economy in Norway saw a robust growth post-industrialization, in between the nineteenth century. With the establishment of industries, a large chunk of the population got jobs. Banks were set up by the government to provide financial assistance to entrepreneurs. Wages offered in the country were way too high as compared to neighbor nations. This led to a significant shift from agriculture sector to industrial sector. It was only during industrialization that Norway asserted sovereign rights over the oil and petroleum in the North Sea that helped in the further blooming of the economy of the country. Taxation No doubt Norway is country of rich. Norway is known to levy hefty taxes on its citizen. The personal tax rate is 47.8 percent and the corporate tax is 25 percent. Another kind of taxes is environmental and value-added taxes. The corporate profit tax ranges from 28 percent to whopping 78 percent. How rich is the Living standards of people in Norway Norway has a life expectancy of 81.6 years; its per capita income is $64,992. The country has consequently earned top position for twelve years in human development index. Health: Every citizen of the country is registered in Norske Folketrygden; it is responsible for providing affordable health care to all. It is state funded. Under this programme you just have to pay the visiting fees to the doctor, stays at the hospitals are free. A huge number of private hospitals have also been established in addition to the public hospitals. Accommodations: The price of houses and apartment is only increasing in Norway. The cost of living in the cities like Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger is quite high. The accommodation cost is lower outside the central area. The transportation can also make a big hole in your pocket. Transportation shares 18 percent of a person's total income in Norway. Low unemployment rate: The country has many employment opportunities. The wages are very high and working hours are less. Moreover, the free services by government help people in the country to save more. Low population: The population is really scarce in the country; it is around 5 million only. With less number of people to share wealth the living standards automatically increases. High purchasing power: A citizen of Norway spends more than Americans. Since the wages are high the purchasing power also increases simultaneously. The citizen of Norway is affluent and well educated and the government is working tirelessly to provide good living conditions to its people. Economy of Norway Although the economy in Norway is considered to be a liberal one, the government is the major stakeholder in most of the industries. Norway enjoys balanced growth in all the sectors. But the champion of country's economy is oil production. It won't be wrong to say that Norway has emerged as the oil-producing capital on the world map. The primary sector contributes 2.4 percent to the economy, the industrial or secondary sector contributes 31.1 percent and the service or tertiary sector contributes 66.5 percent to the economy. The major contributors to the economy of the country are - petroleum - hydropower - fish - mineral - trade Petroleum: Since claiming independent rights in the North Sea in 1969, oil production has become a major source of income in Norway. Today Norway is standing eighth in the list of oil exporting nations. The petroleum production share of 9 percent in jobs, 13 percent in states revenue and 30 percent of its exports. Norway is eight largest exporters of crude oil and ninth largest exporter of refined oil in the world. In 2005 Norway started to extract oil from the Barents Sea. 'Statoil' dons the badge of the largest oil company in the region. Hydropower: The hydropower generation in Norway started in 1862. The country produces 4.3 percent of world’s hydropower. The 98 percent of energy is produced in the country through renewable energy resources. The energy production has enabled the country to both export and import the energy. Fish: Even before industrialization fishery was a major part of Norway's economy. Norway has a 21000 km long coast. Fisheries make up to 31 percent of total export in Norway. Minerals: Norway is very affluent when it comes to natural resources. It is endowed with forest and minerals and has successfully exploited it. The country is a major producer of alloys, particularly aluminum. Trade: When it comes to trade, Norway is EU's 7th most important partner. Internationally, Norway is 30 the largest economy based on export. Looking at the data Norway exported a total sum of $89.4 billion and imported a total sum of $72.3 billion in the year 2016. The major exports in the list are petroleum, crude petroleum, petroleum gas, cars, computers.



Pre-industrial revolution

Prior to the industrial revolution, Norway's economy was largely based on agriculture, timber, and fishing. Norwegians typically lived under conditions of considerable scarcity, though famine was rare. Except for certain fertile areas in Hedemarken and Østfold, crops were limited to hardy grains, such as oats, rye, and barley; and livestock to sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, and some poultry; in places this was complemented with hunting. In areas of Central and Northern Norway, the Sami subsisted on the nomadic herding of reindeer. Fishing all around the coast was dangerous work, though fish such as herring, cod, halibut, and other cold-water species were found in abundance. The introduction of the potato to Norway (in the 18th century) provided considerable relief for Norwegians.

All around the coast, the harvesting of fish (including cod, herring, halibut, and other cold water species) was an important supplement to farming and was in many areas in the north and west the primary household subsistence. Fishing was typically supplemented with crop-growing and the raising of livestock on small farms.

The economic conditions in Norway did not lend themselves to the formation of feudal system, though several kings did reward land to loyal subjects who became knights. Self-owning farmers were—and continue to be—the main unit of work in Norwegian agriculture, but leading up to the 19th century farmers ran out of land available for farming. Many agricultural families were reduced to poverty as tenant farmers, and served as the impetus for emigration to North America.

Industrial revolution

Capital formation 1865–2003 Source: Statistics Norway
Capital formation 1865–2003 Source: Statistics Norway

Aside from mining in Kongsberg, Røros and Løkken, industrialization came with the first textile mills that were built in Norway in the middle of the 19th century. But the first large industrial enterprises came into formation when entrepreneurs' politics led to the founding of banks to serve those needs.

Industries also offered employment for a large number of individuals who were displaced from the agricultural sector. As wages from industry exceeded those from agriculture, the shift started a long-term trend of reduction in cultivated land and rural population patterns. The working class became a distinct phenomenon in Norway, with its own neighborhoods, culture, and politics.

Social democratic reforms and state ownership

Public vs. private consumption Source: Statistics Norway
Public vs. private consumption Source: Statistics Norway

The roots of the socialist movement in Norway were based on dangerous working conditions, exploitative labor relations policies, and the demand for collective bargaining. As socialism became part of the mainstream labor movement, it also became part of the mainstream political discourse.

The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, such as the strategic petroleum sector (Statoil), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminum production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DNB) and telecommunication provider (Telenor). The government controls 31.6% of publicly listed companies. When non-listed companies are included the state has an even higher share in ownership (mainly from direct oil license ownership).

After World War II, the Norwegian Labour Party, with Einar Gerhardsen as prime minister, embarked on a number of social democratic reforms aimed at flattening the income distribution, eliminating poverty, ensuring social services such as retirement, medical care, and disability benefits to all, and putting more of the capital into the public trust.

Highly progressive income taxes, the introduction of value-added tax, and a wide variety of special surcharges and taxes made Norway one of the most heavily taxed economies in the world. Authorities particularly taxed discretionary spending, levying special taxes on automobiles, tobacco, alcohol, cosmetics, etc.

Norway's long-term social democratic policies, extensive governmental tracking of information, and the homogeneity of its population lent themselves particularly well for economic study, and academic research from Norway proved to make significant contributions to the field of macroeconomics during this era. When Norway became a petroleum-exporting country, the economic effects came under further study.

Petroleum and post-industrialism

Oil-exporting country

Oil production, Norwegian sector; Source: Statistics Norway
Oil production, Norwegian sector; Source: Statistics Norway

In May 1963, Norway asserted sovereign rights over natural resources in its sector of the North Sea. Exploration started on 19 July 1966, when Ocean Traveler drilled its first well.[citation needed] Oil was first encountered at the Balder oil field at flank of the Utsira High, about 190 km west of Stavanger, in 1967.[19] Initial exploration was fruitless, until Ocean Viking found oil on 21 August 1969.[citation needed] By the end of 1969, it was clear that there were large oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The first oil field was Ekofisk, produced 427,442 barrels (67,957.8 m3) of crude in 1980. Since then, large natural gas reserves have also been discovered.

Against the backdrop of the Norwegian referendum to not join the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Industry, headed by Ola Skjåk Bræk moved quickly to establish a national energy policy. Norway decided to stay out of OPEC, keep its own energy prices in line with world markets, and spend the revenue – known as the "currency gift" – wisely. The Norwegian government established its own oil company, Statoil, and awarded drilling and production rights to Norsk Hydro and the newly formed Saga Petroleum. Petroleum exports are taxed at a marginal rate of 78% (standard corporate tax of 24%, and a special petroleum tax of 54%).[20]

The North Sea turned out to present many technological challenges for production and exploration, and Norwegian companies invested in building capabilities to meet these challenges. A number of engineering and construction companies emerged from the remnants of the largely lost shipbuilding industry, creating centers of competence in Stavanger and the western suburbs of Oslo. Stavanger also became the land-based staging area for the offshore drilling industry. Presently North Sea is past its peak oil production. New oil and gas fields have been found and developed in the large Norwegian areas of the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, including Snøhvit.

Reservations about European Union

Exports and imports in Norway
Exports and imports in Norway

In September 1972, the Norwegian parliament put to a referendum the question whether Norway should join the European Union. The proposal was turned down with a slim margin. The Norwegian government proceeded to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU that would give Norwegian companies access to European markets. Over time, Norway renegotiated and refined this agreement, ultimately joining the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area.

Although Norway's trade policies have long aimed at harmonizing its industrial and trade policy with the EU's, a new referendum in 1994 gave the same result as in 1972, and Norway remains one of only two Nordic countries outside the EU, the other being Iceland.

Although much of the highly divisive public debate about EU membership turned on political rather than economic issues, it formed economic policy in several important ways:

  • Both politicians and the public came to terms with the fact that Norway's economic development was dependent on taking advantage of its comparative advantage by specializing in certain areas for export and relying on import for everything else. This has had a significant effect on Norway's agricultural policy, which has been reshaped to address population patterns rather than self-sufficiency.
  • The proceeds from oil revenue could not fuel private or public consumption if Norway were to sustain its prosperity when oil reserves run out.
  • In order to participate in European markets, Norway has had to open its domestic markets to European imports. Although some pricing and distribution issues (e.g., alcohol and automobiles) remain unresolved, Norway's consumer, capital, and employment markets are increasingly approaching those of Europe in general.[citation needed][clarification needed Prices are very high in Norway!]

Norwegians have sought accommodations on a range of specific issues, such as products from fish farms, agricultural products, emission standards, etc., but these do not appear to differ substantially from those sought by bona fide EU members. It is expected that the issue of membership will be brought to a referendum again at some point.

Post-industrial economic developments

GDP growth 1865–2004
GDP growth 1865–2004
The Labour productivity level of Norway is second highest in Europe. OECD, 2015[21]
The Labour productivity level of Norway is second highest in Europe. OECD, 2015[21]

Several issues have dominated the debate on Norway's economy since the 1970s:

  • Cost of living. Norway is among the most expensive countries in the world, as reflected in the Big Mac Index and other indices. Historically, transportation costs and barriers to free trade had caused the disparity, but in recent years, Norwegian policy in labor relations, taxation, and other areas have contributed significantly.
  • Competitiveness of "mainland" industries. The high cost of labor and other structural features of the Norwegian environment have caused concern about Norway's ability to maintain its cost of living in a post-petroleum era. There is a clear trend toward ending the practice of "protecting" certain industries (vernede industrier) and making more of them "exposed to competition" (konkurranseutsettelse). In addition to interest in information technology, a number of small- to medium-sized companies have been formed to develop and market highly specialized technology solutions.
  • The role of the public sector. The ideological divide between socialist and non-socialist views on public ownership has decreased over time. The Norwegian government has sought to reduce its ownership over companies that require access to private capital markets, and there is an increasing emphasis on government facilitating entrepreneurship rather than controlling (or restricting) capital formation. A residual distrust of the "profit motive" persists, and Norwegian companies are heavily regulated, especially with respect to labor relations.
  • The future of the welfare state. Since World War II, successive Norwegian governments have sought to broaden and extend public benefits to its citizens, in the form of sickness and disability benefits, minimum guaranteed pensions, heavily subsidized or free universal health care, unemployment insurance, and so on. Public policy still favors the provision of such benefits, but there is increasing debate on making them more equitable and needs-based.
  • Urbanization. For several decades, agricultural policy in Norway was based on the premise of minimal self-sufficiency. In later years, this has given way to a greater emphasis on maintaining population patterns outside of major urban areas. The term "district policy" (distriktspolitikk) has come to mean the demand that old and largely rural Norway is allowed to persist, ideally by providing them with a sustainable economic basis.
  • Taxation. The primary purpose of the Norwegian tax system has been to raise revenue for public expenditures; but it is also viewed as a means to achieve social objectives, such as redistribution of income, reduction in alcohol and tobacco consumption, and as a disincentive against certain behaviors. Three elements of the tax system seem to attract the most debate:
    • Progressive taxation. At one time one of the most aggressive in the world, the top marginal tax rate on income has been decreased over time. In addition, Norwegians are taxed for their stated net worth, which some have argued discourages savings.
    • Value-added tax. The largest source of government revenue. The current standard rate is 25%, food and drink is 15%, and movie theater tickets and public transportation 8%.
    • Special surcharges and taxes. The government has established a number of taxes related to specific purchases, including cars, alcohol, tobacco, and various kinds of benefits.
    • Svalbard. People living on Svalbard (Spitsbergen) pay reduced taxes due to "Svalbardtraktaten".
  • Environmental concerns. A number of political issues have had their origins in ecological concerns, including the refineries at Mongstad and the hydroelectric power plant at Alta.
Norway's exports Product Tree Map (2016)[22]
Norway's exports Product Tree Map (2016)[22]
Norwegian exports in 2006
Norwegian exports in 2006


The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017. Inflation under 2 % is in green.[23]

Year GDP
(in Bil. US$ PPP)
GDP per capita
(in US$ PPP)
GDP growth
Inflation rate
(in Percent)
(in Percent)
Government debt
(in % of GDP)
1980 61.3 14,968 Increase4.5 % Negative increase10.9 % 1.7 % 46.7 %
1981 Increase68.0 Increase16,568 Increase1.6 % Negative increase13.6 % Negative increase2.0 % Positive decrease42.5 %
1982 Increase72.4 Increase17,571 Increase0.2 % Negative increase11.3 % Negative increase2.6 % Positive decrease37.7 %
1983 Increase78.3 Increase18,936 Increase4.0 % Negative increase8.5 % Negative increase3.4 % Positive decrease34.7 %
1984 Increase86.0 Increase20,737 Increase6.1 % Negative increase6.2 % Positive decrease3.1 % Positive decrease34.5 %
1985 Increase93.7 Increase22,517 Increase5.6 % Negative increase5.7 % Positive decrease2.6 % Negative increase36.2 %
1986 Increase99.4 Increase23,814 Increase4.0 % Negative increase7.2 % Positive decrease2.0 % Negative increase45.1 %
1987 Increase103.7 Increase24,707 Increase1.8 % Negative increase8.7 % Negative increase2.1 % Positive decrease37.7 %
1988 Increase107.1 Increase25,370 Decrease−0.3 % Negative increase6.7 % Negative increase3.1 % Positive decrease31.8 %
1989 Increase112.4 Increase26,552 Increase1.0 % Negative increase4.5 % Negative increase4.9 % Positive decrease31.7 %
1990 Increase118.8 Increase27,956 Increase1.9 % Negative increase4.1 % Negative increase5.2 % Positive decrease28.4 %
1991 Increase126.6 Increase29,610 Increase3.1 % Negative increase3.4 % Negative increase5.5 % Negative increase38.4 %
1992 Increase134.1 Increase31,183 Increase3.6 % Negative increase2.3 % Negative increase5.9 % Negative increase44.1 %
1993 Increase141.2 Increase32,639 Increase2.8 % Negative increase2.3 % Steady5.9 % Negative increase52.6 %
1994 Increase151.5 Increase34,829 Increase5.1 % Increase1.4 % Positive decrease5.4 % Positive decrease49.6 %
1995 Increase161.0 Increase36,850 Increase4.2 % Negative increase2.5 % Positive decrease4.9 % Positive decrease32.1 %
1996 Increase172.2 Increase39,205 Increase5.0 % Increase1.3 % Positive decrease4.8 % Positive decrease27.8 %
1997 Increase184.4 Increase41,788 Increase5.3 % Negative increase2.6 % Positive decrease4.0 % Positive decrease25.2 %
1998 Increase191.3 Increase43,084 Increase2.6 % Negative increase2.5 % Positive decrease3.2 % Positive decrease22.9 %
1999 Increase198.2 Increase44,297 Increase2.0 % Negative increase2.4 % Steady3.2 % Negative increase24.3 %
2000 Increase209.2 Increase46,471 Increase3.2 % Negative increase3.1 % Negative increase3.4 % Negative increase28.1 %
2001 Increase218.3 Increase48,322 Increase2.1 % Negative increase3.0 % Negative increase3.5 % Positive decrease26.7 %
2002 Increase224.9 Increase49,464 Increase1.4 % Increase1.3 % Negative increase3.9 % Negative increase33.5 %
2003 Increase231.5 Increase50,629 Increase0.9 % Negative increase2.5 % Negative increase4.5 % Negative increase42.7 %
2004 Increase247.3 Increase53,771 Increase4.0 % Increase0.4 % Steady4.5 % Negative increase43.5 %
2005 Increase262.0 Increase56,558 Increase2.6 % Increase1.5 % Negative increase4.6 % Positive decrease42.0 %
2006 Increase276.5 Increase59,180 Increase2.4 % Negative increase2.3 % Positive decrease3.4 % Negative increase53.3 %
2007 Increase292.3 Increase61,909 Increase3.0 % Increase0.7 % Positive decrease2.5 % Positive decrease49.2 %
2008 Increase299.5 Increase62,560 Increase0.5 % Increase0.5 % Negative increase2.6 % Positive decrease47.2 %
2009 Decrease296.6 Decrease61,257 Decrease−1.7 % Negative increase2.2 % Negative increase3.2 % Positive decrease41.9 %
2010 Increase302.3 Increase61,602 Increase0.7 % Negative increase2.4 % Negative increase3.6 % Negative increase42.3 %
2011 Increase311.6 Increase62,656 Increase1.0 % Increase1.3 % Positive decrease3.3 % Positive decrease28.8 %
2012 Increase326.0 Increase64,700 Increase2.7 % Increase1.7 % Positive decrease3.2 % Negative increase30.2 %
2013 Increase334.6 Increase65,673 Increase1.0 % Negative increase2.1 % Negative increase3.5 % Negative increase30.4 %
2014 Increase347.4 Increase67,377 Increase2.0 % Increase2.0 % Steady3.5 % Positive decrease28.8 %
2015 Increase358.1 Increase68,796 Increase2.0 % Negative increase2.2 % Negative increase4.4 % Negative increase33.1 %
2016 Increase366.6 Increase69,807 Increase1.1 % Negative increase3.6 % Negative increase4.8 % Negative increase36.7 %
2017 Increase380.0 Increase71,831 Increase1.8 % Increase1.9 % Positive decrease4.2 % Steady36.7 %

Economic structure and sustained growth

The emergence of Norway as an oil-exporting country has raised a number of issues for Norwegian economic policy. There has been concern that much of Norway's human capital investment has been concentrated in petroleum-related industries. Critics have pointed out that Norway's economic structure is highly dependent on natural resources that do not require skilled labor, making economic growth highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the demand and pricing for these natural resources. The Government Pension Fund of Norway is part of several efforts to hedge against dependence on petroleum revenue.

Because of the oil boom since the 1970s, there has been little government incentive to help develop and encourage new industries in the private sector, in contrast to other Nordic countries like Sweden and particularly Finland. However the last decades have started to see some incentive on national and local government levels to encourage formation of new "mainland" industries that are competitive internationally. In addition to aspirations for a high-tech industry, there is growing interest in encouraging small business growth as a source of employment for the future. In 2006, the Norwegian government formed nine "centers of expertise" to facilitate this business growth.[24] Later in June 2007, the government contributed to the formation of the Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC) as a center of expertise, capitalizing on the fact that 80% of cancer research in Norway takes place in proximity to Oslo and that most Norwegian biotechnology companies are focused on cancer.[24]

Regional variation

Region GDP per capita 2015
in euros As % of EU-28 average
 European Union 29,000 100%
 Norway 46,300 160%
Richest Oslo and Akershus 51,800 178%
Agder and Rogaland 40,600 140%
Vestlandet 39,400 136%
Trøndelag 35,500 122%
Nord-Norge 33,500 115%
Sør-Østlandet 30,000 103%
Poorest Hedmark and Oppland 29,100 100%



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  24. ^ a b Aldridge 2008
  25. ^ Gross domestic product (GDP) at current market prices by NUTS 2 regions Archived 24 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Eurostat

See also


External links

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