Norway is a relatively large, sparsely-populated country in Northern Europe. The official language is Norwegian, but minority Sami languages are also often spoken by Laplanders. The fjords, glaciers, tundras, and mountains predominant in some Norwegian regions form a dramatic landscape. Overall the climate is wet and cold, but it is milder in lowland areas. Native animal species include the false killer whale, the cross fox, and the brown big-eared bat. Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, and their non-material wealth is also abundant. Residents read the most of any people in the world, and they are among the most peaceful. Mainstays of the economy include natural resources like petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals, as well as banking and telecommunications. Polar bears hang out in the arctic islands of Svalbard in the far North of the country. This is a rugged area that takes some trouble to reach, and a guide would be best to help navigate the attractions and potential dangers. If you enjoy art, don't miss the chance to view Munch's painting The Scream up close and personal at Oslo's Nasjonalgalleriet. You can visit distinctive stave churches such as the one at Heddal to stare at strange pagan carvings. The wide variety of breads include wittenberger (crisp-crusted wheatbreads) and cereals such as muesli are also popular. Starchy vegetables like peas, carrots, and potatoes are among the most commonly eaten, and cabbage is often served pickled. Many types of game, sausage, and lamb are typical meats, and fish is consumed in large amounts. Gravlaks is a sweet and salt-cured salmon which often includes dill and brandy. Try cake with cardamom. Organic, vegetarian-friendly options include Italian food, cafe fare, vegan Norwegian or Vietnamese, and a few scattered health food stores (a lot in Oslo). Some of the most intriguing drinks and desserts contain lingonberries and cloudberries. Just a bit of whipped cream on fresh fruit can be a little piece of heaven.


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