Pronounced uschlu, the name Oslo probably comes from the city’s longest river, the Alna, which is 15 kilometres long. Originally called Lo(en), it makes its way through the Scandinavian capital along with the better-known river Akerselva, which is more like a mountain stream, as well as eight other rivers. ‘Os’ in Norwegian means ‘estuary’. The moist continental climate is strongly influenced by the sea and gives Norwegians mild winters and pleasant summers, but often with plenty of rain. Almost half the population of the country of 5.4 million people lives within a 500 kilometre radius of Oslo.
Oslo was founded by King Harald III in 1048, according to Heimskringla, a collection of sagas about Norwegian kings. Excavations prove that the city is even older. Evidence of human life dating back to the time of the Viking rulers has been found in what is now the area covered by the city, long before it became a town in the Middle Ages thanks to its agriculture, trade and shipbuilding activities. This means that Oslo is the oldest trading town in Scandinavia.
Oslo first became the capital of Norway under King Håkon V at the end of the 13th century, but repeatedly experienced invasions, fires and phases of reconstruction down through the centuries. A major fire in 1624 meant that the town was relocated about one kilometre to the north-west, closer to Akershus Castle, and was renamed Christiania on this occasion when King Christian IV was the Danish ruler; the official spelling was then changed to Kristiania under the Swedish/Norwegian King Oskar II in 1877.
Oslo regained its original name on 1 January 1925, two decades after Norway had obtained its independence. The city is now the official place of residence of King Harald V and the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting.
Industry in Norway is enormously dependent on the maritime sector with shipbuilding and shipping, fishing and fish breeding as well as on mining and processing minerals and metals. The mineral industry, which is present in all the country’s regions, extracts iron ore, titanium minerals and individual industrial minerals. The oil and gas industry and mining are industries based on raw materials. Process manufacturing, on the other hand, involves companies working with materials such as aluminium and iron, the chemical industry, the mineral industry, fertilisers and refineries. The food industry is the second-largest industrial sector in the country. Many companies have also specialised in niche products in the consumer goods sector.
The latter mainly involves small and medium-sized enterprises – and the industry based on the mainland includes about 20,000 companies that employ approx. 230,000 people. Because of the fundamentally high level of costs coupled with the high proportion of exports, Norwegian industry is extremely dependent on international business. In order to remain competitive, it is increasingly relying on continually introducing innovations and using cutting-edge technologies. The strategy forum known as ‘Prosess21’, which was initiated by the Norwegian government in 2017, is designed to pave the way towards climate neutrality and supports this shift in technology.
Oslo has a rich selection of tourist sights both for local people and for visitors to the city. Those interested in history can follow in the footsteps of the Vikings and visit the city centre, which has retained a great deal of its medieval outline. Meanwhile, lovers of art can enjoy the remarkable variety of museums and galleries, the innovative architecture or the distinctive street art scene. Sports fans and those who enjoy an active holiday will be delighted by the former Olympic city too for it offers a wealth of leisure activities such as hiking tours, climbing courses and a great deal more.
Norway’s most popular tourist attraction is not only home to the world-famous ski-jumping facility, which is 60 metres high, and a skiing simulator, but also has the oldest skiing museum in the world. It recalls the history of skiing, which goes back 4,000 years. The Nordic Skiing World Cup is held here every winter.
Those who are interested can examine the life’s work of the sculptor, Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), at the Vigeland Sculpture Park. The 212 stone and bronze sculptures are located in the middle of Frogner Park and symbolise the cycle of human life, ranging from the development of an embryo to small children and all the other stages of life. The Ekebergparken Sculpture Park displays works by renowned artists from all over the world, including Louise Bourgeois, Dan Graham, Sarah Lucas, James Turrell and Roni Horn.
The MUNCH building with its impressive architecture was opened at the end of 2021 following a construction period that lasted about six years. In addition to the 28,000 works of art created by the Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch (1869-1944), it presents a large number of works on paper, watercolours, drawings, prints, sculptures and photos in 11 galleries on 13 floors.
Visitors to the Viking Ship Museum can discover more about the legendary seafaring people from northern Europe. The exhibition contains some of the most significant Viking discoveries in the country, including longships that have been outstandingly preserved, from well-known locations such as TØnsberg and the burial ground at Borre in Vestfold. The Viking Ship Museum is currently closed for extensive renovation work and will probably reopen in 2025/2026.
The new main branch of the city library, which is one of the oldest public libraries in the country, combines a love for the printed word with the flair of an urban living room – and this, along with its futuristic architecture, makes it one of the most modern libraries in Europe. Not only are there many books on display, but the facilities also boast a cinema, a restaurant, lounges, a gaming area and workshops for all generations.
When it comes to cuisine, this Scandinavian capital offers everything that any heart (or stomach) could possibly desire. The menus of the huge selection of bars, cafés and restaurants not only feature dishes from all over the world, but also typically Norwegian national dishes such as RØmegrØd, a mixture of sour cream, semolina, butter, cinnamon and sugar. It is impossible to imagine life without high-quality fish products in a country that has one of the longest coastlines in the world: ranging from cod to smoked salmon and even seafood such as mussels and scallops, crayfish and crabs, fish markets and restaurants offer all sorts of delicacies. Lamb has also been a traditional dish in the extensive and rich natural surroundings in Norway from time immemorial – for example, smoked leg of lamb known as Fenalår or Fårikål, a stew consisting of lamb and cabbage, which people particularly like to eat in autumn
The port city of Oslo is the most important logistics hub for groupage freight consignments that are imported into and exported out of the country. The cargo is then distributed from Oslo’s Yilport to the constantly growing population in the wider region surrounding the city. Most of the goods are ultimately transported by rail to parts of the country that are farther away. Norway’s largest port, which now covers an area measuring 164 hectares and includes terminals for containers and bulk commodities, was extended just last year and now has another modern container terminal with cranes, trucks and smaller vehicles all powered by electricity. Oslo Yilport is therefore one of the most efficient ports in the world. The well-developed infrastructure with its efficient means of transport and traffic routes also makes Oslo an ideal business site for international logistics specialist Rhenus. It not only caters for air and ocean freight, but offers other services such as supplying offshore platforms and project logistics as well as logistical support in the health, mining, ancillary services, renewable energy and perishable goods sectors.
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