Many of the world’s fjords are located on the coast of Norway, such as Sognafjorden, pictured here. At more than 200 km (more than 120 mi) in length, Sognafjorden is the longest fjord in Norway. Numerous waterfalls spill down the walls of the fjord, and some of the cataracts are used to produce electric power.
To discover in this country : Bodo, in northern Norway, is referred to as the Land of the Midnight Sun because for one month during the summer the sun does not fully set. Here, the sun shines on the Arctic Ocean during a summer night. The Nærøy winds through one of Norway’s steepest gorges on its way to the Nærøyfjorden, ultimately emptying into the Norwegian Sea off the country’s west coast. The river valley is so narrow that the sun’s rays do not reach its floor between October and February. Rising from the valley are mountains reaching heights of up to 1,524 meters (up to 5,000 feet), including the distinctive conical peak of Jordalsnuten, which is bare rock from base to summit.
Far north of the Arctic Circle lies an ice-encrusted archipelago called Svalbard, or « cold coast. » About 60 percent of these mountainous Norwegian islands are covered with glaciers and snowfields. Spitsbergen, the largest island, has some ice-free valleys. Glaciers have carved deep fjords on the islands’ north and west coasts. There are no native inhabitants, but Arctic explorers have used Svalbard as a base since 1773. The shallow seas around the islands are covered with pack ice during winter, but during summer tourists visit by boat.
Flowers and other delicate plants abound in North Cape, a high bluff rising north of the Arctic Ocean in Norway. As the northernmost point on the European mainland, North Cape enjoys some of the longest spring days anywhere in Europe and can support many forms of plant life that would not otherwise survive so far above the Arctic Circle. Between 17 May and 29 July, the sun does not set at all. Conversely, winters are long and dark, with little daylight between 21 November and 21 January.