Introduction to Oslo

Oslo in brief

Oslo is the capital of Norway. The city lies by the Oslo Fjord and is surrounded by forests and hills.

Both the Norwegian Government and Parliament are placed in Oslo, and the Royal Palace is situated at the end of Karl Johan Street - the main street of Oslo.

The city limits encompass wilderness areas as well as an array of restaurants and nightlife as such. In winter, the city has an artificial skating rink nearby the National Theatre and the University.

Oslo's City Hall is located in the city centre only a few hundred metres from the city’s main street and overlooks the Oslo Fjord.

The pier Aker Brygge is also in the near vicinity of Oslo City Hall. Many restaurants are situated here and the pier can also offer great shopping possibilities as well as ferry transportation to the main islands in the Oslo Fjord.

Oslo abounds with sights of interest, such as museums, parks and urban districts with listed buildings. Most of these sights are within walking distance of each other.

History & population

Oslo is the oldest of the Scandinavian capitals, and it's history goes back to 1000 years ago, when the first settlements were built at the inlet of the Oslo fjord.
After the Great Fire that destroyed the city in 1624, the Danish King Christian IV, decided to rebuild the city in brick and stone, and named it Christiania. Three hundred years later, in 1925, the citizens decided to rename their city Oslo.

The population of Oslo proper is 548,617 (as of January 1, 2007). The city area extends into the surrounding county of Akershus, its agglomeration totaling 839,423. The metropolitan area, also referred to as the Greater Oslo region (Stor-Osloregionen) which extends beyond the city boundaries, has an estimated population of 1,121,020 citizens (2005) and a land area of 6,920 km².


Oslo occupies an arc of land at the northernmost end of the Oslofjord. The fjord, which is nearly bisected by the Nesodden peninsula opposite Oslo, lies to the south; in all other directions Oslo is surrounded by green hills and mountains.

There are 40 islands within the city limits, the largest being Malmøya (0.56 km²). Oslo has 343 lakes, the largest being Maridalsvannet (3.91 km²). This is also the main source of drinking water for large parts of Oslo. The highest point is Kirkeberget, at 629 m.

Although the city's population is small compared to most European capitals, it occupies an unusually large land area, of which two thirds are protected areas of forests, hills and lakes. Its boundaries encompass many parks and open areas, giving it an airy and often very green appearance. It is not uncommon to encounter wild moose in relatively urban areas of Oslo, especially during wintertime.


Summers in Oslo are mild or even warm, with daily high temperatures averaging between 20.1 °C and 21.5 °C during the summer months (June-August). Heatwaves occur several times every summer, from June to late August, with temperatures usually up to 32-33 °C.

The Oslofjord has many public beaches and recreational areas, which are very popular in the summer months. The water temperature usually lies around 20 °C, and sometimes is as high as 23-24 °C.

September is often as warm, with colder temperatures usually arriving before the end of October.

The winter is cold, chilly and wet. Temperatures can drop down to -20 °C or more when there is a high pressure and blue skies. Almost every winter, ice develops in the inner parts of the fjord, making icefishing, ice-skating and even cross-country skiing possible on sea-ice.

Temperatures below zero may be experienced from November until March, the coldest month being January with a mean temperature of -4.3 °C, and both January and February may have daily minimum temperatures of around -7 °C.

Snowfall is spread evenly throughout the winter months and on average more than 25 cm of snow cover is experienced 30 days per year. Temperatures have tended to be higher in recent years.

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Published June 11, 2010 7:44 AM - Last modified Feb. 22, 2016 2:17 PM