Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park is a part of Frogner Park, located in Oslo, Norway, 3 km northwest of the city centre. The park covers 80 acres (320,000 m2) and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland. Vigeland personally sculpted every figure out of clay and individual craftsmen were contracted to fabricate the pieces into what they are today. These works of art reside along an 850 meter-long axis divided into six sections: The Main Gate, The Bridge, The Children’s Playground, The Fountain, The Monolith Plateau and the Wheel of Life.

The Main Gate
Forged of granite and wrought iron, the Main Gate serves as an entrance to the park itself. It consists of five large gates, two small pedestrian gates and two copper-roofed gate houses, both adorned with weather-vanes. The Main Gate was erected in 1926 and was financed by a Norwegian bank.

The Bridge
58 of the park's sculptures reside along the Bridge, a 100 meter (328 ft) long, 15 meter (49 ft) wide connection between the Main Gate and the Fountain. All are clad in bronze and contribute to the ‘Human Condition’ theme of the park. Here visitors will find one of the parks more popular statues, Sinnataggen or, ‘the Little bad Angry Boy’. In 1940 the Bridge was the first part of the park to be opened to the public. Visitors could enjoy the sculptures while most of the park was still under construction.

The Children's Playground
At the end of the bridge lies the Children’s Playground, a collaboration of eight bronze statues, all in the likenesses of children at play. In the centre, mounted on a granite column, is the representation of a fetus. In this area there is also a pond where ducks and geese swim.

The Fountain
Originally designed to stand in front of Parliament (Eidsvolls plass), the Fountain was fabricated from bronze and adorned with 60 individual bronze reliefs. Portraying children and skeletons in the arms of giant trees, the Fountain suggests that from death comes new life. On the ground surrounding the Fountain lies an 1800 square meter mosaic laid in black and white granite. It took Vigeland a great deal of time to establish the monument: from 1906 to 1947.

The Monolith Plateau
The Monolith Plateau is a platform made of stairs that houses the Monolith totem itself. 36 figure groups reside on the elevation bringing with them the ‘circle of life’ message. Access to the Plateau is made via eight figural gates forged in wrought iron. The gates were designed between 1933 and 1937 and erected shortly after Vigeland died in 1943.

The Monolith (Monolitten).
At the highest point in the park lies the park's most popular attraction, The Monolith (Monolitten). The name derives from the Latin word monolithus from the Greek word μονόλιϑος (monolithos), derived from μόνος (‘one’ or ‘single’) and λίϑος (‘stone’) implying the totem to be fabricated from one (mono) solid piece of stone (lith). Construction of the massive monument began in 1924 when Gustav Vigeland himself modeled it out of clay in his studio in Frogner. The design process took him ten months, and it is speculated that Vigeland had the help of a few sketches drafted in 1919. The model was then cast in plaster. In the autumn of 1927 a block of granite weighing several hundred tons was delivered to the park from a stone quarry in Halden. It was erected a year later and a wooden shed was built around it to keep out the elements. Vigeland’s plaster design was set up next to it to give reference to its sculptors. Transferring of the figures began in 1929 and took 3 stone carvers 14 years to accomplish. On the Christmas of 1944 the public was allowed to admire The Monolith and 180,000 people crowded the wooden shed to get a close look at the creation. The shed was demolished shortly thereafter. The Monolith towers 14.12 meters (46.32 ft) high and is comprised of 121 human figures rising toward heaven. This is meant to represent man’s desire to become closer with the spiritual and divine. It portrays a feeling of togetherness as the human figures embrace one another as they are carried toward salvation.

The Wheel of Life
At the end of the 850-meter-long axis lies a sundial, forged in 1930, and finally the Wheel of Life, crafted in 1933-34. The wheel is more or less a wreath depicting four people and a baby floating in harmony. It is a symbol of eternity, and implies the overall theme of the park: man’s journey from the cradle to the grave.

Most of the statues depict people engaging in various typically human pursuits, such as running, wrestling, dancing, hugging, holding hands and so on. However, Vigeland occasionally included some statues that are more abstract, such as the ‘Man attacked by Babies’ statue, which shows an adult male, fighting off a horde of tiny babies.

Vigeland park is a well known picnic area, popular in the summer for sunbathing, games, and relaxation.

In March 2007, the park was defaced when an anonymous person or group affixed black strips of paper to every exposed nipple, crotch, and posterior on the sculptures found in the park.

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Oslo (formerly Christiania) is the capital and largest city in Norway. Oslo is the cultural, scientific, economic and governmental centre of Norway. Oslo is an important centre of maritime knowledge in Europe and is home to approximately 980 companies and 8,500 employees within the maritime sector, among which are some of the world's largest shipping companies, shipbrokers, and insurance brokers. The city of Oslo has a population of around 575,000 (2009) while the metropolitan area of Oslo is home to around 1.4 million. It is the fastest-growing Scandinavian capital.

Urban region
The population of the municipality of Oslo is 575,475 (as of 1 January 2009). The urban area extends beyond the boundaries of the municipality into the surrounding county of Akershus, (muncipallities of Bærum, Asker, Røyken, Lørenskog, Skedsmo, Gjerdrum, Sørum, Oppegård) its agglomeration total 856,915 inhabitants. The metropolitan area of Oslo, also referred to as the Greater Oslo Region (Norwegian: Stor-Osloregionen), has a land area of 6,920 km2 (2,670 sq mi) with a population of 1,283,533 as of 2004. The Inner Oslo Fjord Region, or the Capital Region made up by the 5 counties of Oslo, Akershus, Buskerud, Vestfold (west bank of the Oslo fjord) and Østfold (east bank) has a population of 1.85 million people. Furthermore about 50% of the population of Norway lives within a radius of 120 kilometres (75 mi) of downtown Oslo. Oslo proper has a current annual growth exceeding 15,000; the urban zone more than 30.000, which makes it one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. The city centre is situated at the end of the Oslofjord from where the city sprawls out in three distinct ‘corridors’ from its centre; inland north-eastwards and southwards lining both sides of the fjord giving the city area more or less the shape of a large ‘Y’ when seen from the north.

To the north and east wide forested hills (Marka) rise above the city giving the location the shape of a giant amphitheatre. The urban municipality (bykommune) of Oslo and county (fylke) is the same entity, making Oslo the only city in Norway where two administrative levels are integrated. Of Oslo's total area, 115 km2 (44 sq mi) is built-up and 7 km2 (2.7 sq mi) is agricultural. The open areas within the built-up zone amount to 22 km2 (8.5 sq mi).

The city of Oslo was established as a municipality on 3 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). It was separated from the county of Akershus to become a county of its own in 1842. The rural municipality of Aker was merged with Oslo on 1 January 1948 (and simultaneously transferred from Akershus county to Oslo county). Furthermore, Oslo shares several important functions with Akershus county.

Oslo's share of the national GDP is 17%; the metropolitan area's share is 25%. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

General information
The definition of the name Oslo has been the subject of much debate. It is certainly derived from Old Norse and was in all probability the name of a large farm at the site of the first settlements in Bjørvika.

During the Middle Ages the name was initially spelled ‘Áslo’ and later ‘Óslo’. The earlier spelling suggests that the first component ás refers either to the Ekeberg ridge southeast of the town (‘ås’ in modern Norwegian), or to the Norse homonym meaning ‘god’ or ‘divinity’. The most likely interpretations would therefore be ‘the meadow beneath the ridge’ or ‘the meadow of the gods’. Both are equally plausible.

The early settlements took place where the river Lo — today known as Alnaelva — runs out into Bjørvika. With the word ‘Os’ being an Old Norse term for ‘river mouth’, this is also a plausible origin of the name.

A fire in 1624 destroyed much of the medieval city, and when the city was rebuilt it was moved westwards in order to be nearer the Akershus Fortress. King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway renamed the reborn city Christiania. From 1897, the name of the city was also spelt ‘Kristiania’. An official decision was never made, so both forms were in use. Arguably, Christiania was always the legal name of the city. The area where the city centre had been prior to the fire was still known as Oslo, however. This original name was restored by a law of 11 July, 1924, effective 1 January, 1925, a decision which caused much debate in its time.

‘When I was young, the capital of Norway was not called Oslo. It was called Christiania. But somewhere along the line, the Norwegians decided to do away with that pretty name and call it Oslo instead.’
Roald Dahl, Boy

When the city in general now took up the name of Oslo again, the eastern district of the city that had preserved the old name became known simply as Gamlebyen (Old Town). As of 2009, history is about to come full circle as the City Council has announced its intention to rename the city centre today known as Oslo Sentrum (Central Oslo)- calling it Kristiania or Christiania. This central area will roughly correspond to the area built up as the ‘new city’ after the 1624 fire. There is some debate whether to use the historical name Christiania — in use for over 300 years — or the spelling Kristiania, introduced in 1897 and used for only 27 years. The spelling ‘Kristiania’ is considered ahistorical by historians.

The city was once referred to as Tigerstaden (the City of Tigers) by the author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson around 1870, due to his perception of the city as a cold and dangerous place. This name has over the years achieved an almost official status, to the extent that the 1000-year anniversary was celebrated by a row of tiger sculptures around city hall. The prevalence of homeless and other beggars in more recent times led to the slight rewording of the nickname into Tiggerstaden (the City of Beggars), and a harsh picture of the city was drawn by Knut Hamsun in his novel Sult (Hunger) from 1890 (cinematised in 1966 by Henning Carlsen).

The Royal Palace.
Oslo is the only city in Norway, besides Bergen, that does not use a formal coat-of-arms, but uses a city seal instead. The seal of Oslo shows the city's patron saint, St. Hallvard. The seal shows St. Hallvard with his attributes, the millstone and arrows, with a dead woman on his feet. He is seated on a throne with lion decorations, which at the time was also commonly used by the Norwegian Kings. Seating him on such a throne made him equal to the kings.

The oldest known seal of Oslo showed the same composition as today's seal. The seal was probably made around 1300 and has been in use for nearly three centuries. After the Protestant Reformation, the city continued the use of St. Hallvard on its seal. The second seal of Oslo dates from around 1590. It shows the same basic design, but the saint holds his attributes in the opposite hands. Also the stars and some other smaller details were lost. This seal was used until around 1660.

At the time the church of St. Hallvard had become a ruin and the legend was no longer well known. The third seal of Oslo, made in 1659, therefore still showed the basic design, but the saint was transformed into a woman figure. She still held the arrows and had a dead knight (with harness and helmet) near her feet. The millstone had become thinner and looked more like a ring. This image can still be seen on an iron plate dating from 1770. These plates became very popular in Denmark in the 18th century and the figure was presented as Queen Margaret I, who unified the three Kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, which are represented by the ring (union) and the three arrows. The dead knight was to symbolise her opponent, Albrecht of Mecklenburg.

During the 18th and early 19th century, the image kept changing. The ring has been shown as a snake, the throne was replaced by a lion, the knight was not always present and there were similar variations.

In 1854, A. T. Kaltenborn wrote about the Norwegian municipal arms and also was shown a medieval seal of Oslo. He recognised the St. Hallvard and the legend. He managed to persuade the city to have a new seal made, based on the old medieval composition. Finally a new design was made by the German E. Doepler in 1892. He changed only one item on the old seal: in his design the woman was clothed instead of naked as on the seal. His composition was also used on a proper shield. It was made in 1899 by Reidar Haavin. In 1924, the present design was made, again with the naked woman.

According to the Norse sagas, Oslo was founded around 1049 by King Harald Hardråde. Recent archaeological research has uncovered Christian burials from before 1000, evidence of a preceding urban settlement. This called for the celebration of Oslo's millennium in 2000.

It has been regarded as the capital city since the reign of Håkon V (1299-1319), the first king to reside permanently in the city. He also started the construction of the Akershus Fortress. A century later Norway was the weaker part in a personal union with Denmark, and Oslo's role was reduced to that of provincial administrative centre, with the monarchs residing in Copenhagen. The fact that the University of Oslo was founded as late as 1811 had an adverse effect on the development of the nation.
The Akershus Fortress is a historic castle in Oslo.

Oslo was destroyed several times by fire, and after the fourteenth calamity, in 1624, King Christian IV of Denmark (and Norway) ordered it rebuilt at a new site across the bay, near Akershus Fortress and given the name Christiania. But long before this, Christiania had started to establish its stature as a centre of commerce and culture in Norway. The part of the city built from 1624 is now often called Kvadraturen because of its octagonal layout. The last plague outbreak ravaged Oslo in 1654. In 1814 Christiania once more became a real capital when the union with Denmark was dissolved. Many landmarks were built in the 19th century, including the Royal Palace (1825-1848); Stortinget (the Parliament) (1861-1866), the University, Nationaltheatret and the Stock Exchange. Among the world-famous artists who lived here during this period were Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun (the latter was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature). In 1850, Christiania also overtook Bergen and became the most populous city in the country. In 1878 the city was renamed to Kristiania. The original name of Oslo was restored in 1925.

Oslo's centrality in the political, cultural and economical life of Norway continues to be a source of considerable controversy and friction. Numerous attempts at decentralization have not appreciably changed this during the last century. While continuing to be the main cause of the depopulation of the Norwegian countryside, any form of development is almost always opposed by neighbours, and — as a consequence — the growth of a modern urban landscape has all but stopped. Specifically, the construction of highrises in the city centre has been met with skepticism. It is projected, however, that the city will need some 20,000 additional apartments before 2020, forcing the difficult decision of whether to build tall or the equally unpopular option of sprawling out.

A marked reluctance to encourage the growth of the city for fear of causing further depletion of the traditional farming and fishing communities has led to several successive bursts of construction in both infrastructure and building mass, as the authorities kept waiting in vain for the stream of people to diminish. Neoclassical city apartments built in the 1850s to 1900s dotted with remnants of Christian IV's renaissance grid dominate the architecture around the city centre, except where slums were demolished in the 1960s to construct modernist concrete and glass low-rises, now generally regarded as embarrassing eyesores. The variety in Oslo's architectural cityscape does however provide for some striking and often hauntingly beautiful sights. While most of the forests and lakes surrounding Oslo are in private hands, there is great public support for not developing those areas. Parts of Oslo suffer from congestion, yet it is one of the few European capitals where people live with the wilderness literally in their back yard, or with access to a suburban train line that allows the city's many hikers and cross-country skiers to simply step off the train and start walking or skiing.

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 km2/0.22 sq mi), and scores more around the Oslofjord. Oslo has 343 lakes, the largest being Maridalsvannet (3.91 km2/1.51 sq mi). This is also a main source of drinking water for large parts of Oslo. Although Eastern Norway has a number of mighty rivers, none of these flows into the ocean at Oslo. Instead Oslo has two smaller rivers: Akerselva (draining Maridalsvannet) and Alna (Oslo's longest river). Akerselva traditionally separates Oslo's East and West end, and flows into the fjord in Bjørvika. River Alna flows through Groruddalen, Oslo's major suburb and industrial area. The highest point is Kirkeberget, at 629 metres (2,060 ft). Although the city's population is not among the highest of the 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.

Oslo has a humid continental climate (Dfb according to the Köppen climate classification system). Because of the city's northern latitude, daylight varies greatly from more than 18 hours in midsummer to around 6 hours in midwinter. Despite its northernly location, the climate is relatively mild throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream.

Oslo has pleasantly mild to warm summers with average high temperatures of 20-22°C (68-71°F) and lows of around 12 °C (54 °F). Temperatures exceed 25 °C (77 °F) quite often, and heatwaves are common during the summer. The highest temperature ever recorded was 35 °C (95 °F) on 21 July 1901. Due to the fjord's being a relatively enclosed body of water, the water temperatures can get quite high during long warm periods. During the summer of 2008, the water reached a temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Spring and autumn are generally chilly. Winters are cold and snowy with temperatures between −7 °C (19 °F) up to −1 °C (30 °F). The coldest temperature recorded is −27.1 °C (−16.8 °F) in January 1942. Temperatures have tended to be higher in recent years.

Annual precipitation is 763 millimetres (30.0 in) with moderate rainfall throughout the year. Snowfall can occur from November to April, but snow accumulation occurs mainly from January through March. Almost every winter, ice develops in the innermost parts of the Oslofjord, and some winters the whole inner fjord freezes. As it is far from the mild Atlantic water of the west coast, this large fjord can freeze over, although this has become rare.
Weather averages for Oslo:

Parks and recreation areas
Vigeland Park is one of the many parks in Oslo.

Oslo has a large number of parks and green areas within the city core, as well as outside it. The large park Vigeland Park is located a few minutes walk away from the city centre. This is the biggest and most reputed park in Norway.

* St. Hanshaugen Park is an old public park on a high hill in central Oslo. The park has a small tower at the top and a stage used for outdoor concerts. 'St.Hanshaugen' is also the name of the surrounding rich neighborhood as well as the larger administrative district (borough) that includes major parts of central Oslo.

* Tøyen Park stretches out behind the Munch Museum, and is a vast, grassy expanse. In the north there is also the natural viewing point known as Ola Narr. The Tøyen area also includes the Botanical garden and Museum belonging to the University of Oslo.

Oslo (with neighboring Sandvika-Asker) is basically built in a horseshoe shape on the shores of the Oslofjord and limited in most directions by hills and forests. This means that any point within the city is relatively close to the forest. There are two major forests with immediate access: Østmarka (literally ‘Eastern Forest’, on the eastern perimeter of the city), and the very large Nordmarka (literally ‘Northern Forest’, stretching from the northern perimeter of the city deep into the hinterland).

Swimming pools
The city of Oslo runs eight public swimming pools. Tøyenbadet is the largest indoor swimming facility in Oslo and one of the few pools in Norway offering a 50-meter main pool. The outdoor pool Frognerbadet also has the 50-meter range.

Main sights
Karl Johan Statue
The Karl Johan Gate is the most important street in Oslo with at its western end the Royal Palace (Slottet).
* Akershus Castle and Fortress
* Norsk Folkemuseum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History at Bygdøy, with a large open air museum
* The Armed Forces Museum
* The City Hall, where the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held
* The Nobel Peace Center, Aker brygge
* The New National Opera House, Bjørvika
* The Historical Museum
* The Museum of Modern Art
* The Holmenkollen ski jump, arena of the 1952 Winter Olympics and the Holmenkollen ski festival, Holmenkollen
* The Holmenkollen Ski Museum, Holmenkollen
* The Kon-Tiki Museum, Bygdøy
* The Munch Museum, Tøyen
* The river Akerselva
* The National Gallery
* The Norwegian Maritime Museum, including Gjøa, Bygdøy
* The Fram Museum, exhibiting the ship Fram, Bygdøy
* The Oslo City Museum, at Frogner Manor
* The Royal Palace
* The Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden in Bærum
* Oslo Cathedral
* Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology
* The Zoological Museum, Tøyen
* The Botanical garden, Tøyen
* The Storting, parliament building
* The Vigeland Park in the Frogner park (Frognerparken)
* The Viking Ship Museum, displaying ships from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune at Bygdøy
* Tryvannstårnet
* Hovedøya
* Ullevål Hageby
* The islands of the Oslofjord
* Oslo Opera House
* Ullevaal Football Stadium
* Ekeberg Restaurant

Politics and government
Oslo is the capital of Norway, and as such is the seat of Norway's national government. Most government offices, including that of the Prime Minister, are gathered at Regjeringskvartalet, a cluster of buildings close to the national Parliament, the Storting.

Constituting both as a municipality and a county of Norway, the city of Oslo is represented in the Storting by seventeen Members of Parliament. Six MPs are from the Labour Party; the Conservative Party and the Progress Party have three each; the Socialist Left Party and the Liberals have two each; and one is from the Christian Democrats.

The combined municipality and county of Oslo has had a parliamentary system of government since 1986. The supreme authority of the city is the City Council (Bystyret), which currently has 59 seats. Representatives are popularly elected every four years. The City Council has five standing committees, each having its own areas of responsibility. These are: Health and Social Welfare; Education and Cultural Affairs; Urban Development; Transport and Environmental Affairs; and Finance. The council's executive branch (Byrådet) consists of a head of government (byrådsleder) and six commissioners (byråder, sing. byråd) holding ministerial positions. Each of the commissioners needs the confidence of the City Council and each of them can be voted out of office.

Since the local elections of 2003, the city government has been a coalition of the Conservative Party and the Progress Party. Based mostly on support from the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, the coalition maintains a majority in the City Council. After the 2007 local elections on 10 September, the conservative coalition remained in majority. The largest parties in the City Council are the Labour Party and the Conservatives, with 18 and 16 representatives respectively.

The Mayor of Oslo is the head of the City Council and the highest ranking representative of the city. This used to be the most powerful political position in Oslo, but following the implementation of parliamentarism, the Mayor has had more of a ceremonial role, similar to that of the President of the Storting at the national level. The current Mayor of Oslo is Fabian Stang.

Administrative divisions

Following the latest reform of 1 January 2004, the city is divided into fifteen boroughs (bydeler) that are to a considerable extent self governed. Each borough is responsible for local services not overseen by the City Council, such as social services, basic healthcare, and kindergartens.

1. Gamle Oslo
2. Grünerløkka
3. Sagene
4. St. Hanshaugen
5. Frogner
6. Ullern
7. Vestre Aker
8. Nordre Aker
9. Bjerke
10. Grorud
11. Stovner
12. Alna
13. Østensjø
14. Nordstrand
15. Søndre Nordstrand
16. Sentrum
17. Marka

Sentrum (the city centre) and Marka (the rural/recreational areas surrounding the city) are separate geographical entities, but do not have an administration of their own. Sentrum is governed by the borough of St. Hanshaugen. The administration of Marka is shared between neighbouring boroughs.

Oslo is an important centre of maritime knowledge in Europe and is home to approximately 980 companies and 8,500 employees within the maritime sector, among which are some of the world's largest shipping companies, shipbrokers, and insurance brokers. Det Norske Veritas, headquartered at Høvik outside Oslo, is one of the three major maritime classification societies in the world, with
The Oslo Stock Exchange serves as the main market for trading in the shares of Norwegian companies.

16.5% of the world fleet to class in its register. The city's port is the largest general cargo port in the country and its leading passenger gateway. Close to 6,000 ships dock at the Port of Oslo annually with a total of 6 million tonnes of cargo and over five million passengers. The gross domestic product of Oslo totaled NOK268.047 billion (€33.876 billion) in 2003, which amounted to 17% of the national GDP. This compares with NOK165.915 billion (€20.968 billion) in 1995. The metropolitan area, bar Moss and Drammen, contributed 25% of the national GDP in 2003 and was also responsible for more than one quarter of tax revenues. In comparison, total tax revenues from the oil and gas industry on the Norwegian Continental Shelf amounted to about 16%. The region has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Europe, at NOK391,399 (€49,465) in 2003. If Norway were a member of the European Union, the capital region would have the fourth strongest GDP per capita, behind Inner London, Brussels-Capital and Luxembourg.
The Barcode Project is a project of building 12 highrise apartments and offices in a row.

Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. As of 2006, it is ranked tenth according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey provided by Mercer Human Resource Consulting and first according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. The reason for this discrepancy is that the EIU omits certain factors from its final index calculation, most notably housing. Although Oslo does have the most expensive housing market in Norway, it is comparably cheaper than other cities on the list in that regard. Meanwhile, prices on goods and services remain some of the highest of any city. According to a report compiled by Swiss bank UBS in the month of August 2006, Oslo and London were the world's most expensive cities. Total pay packets were the biggest in Oslo along with Copenhagen and Zurich.

An estimated 25 percent of Oslo's population consists of immigrants and their immediate descendants. (about 140,000 inhabitants). Norwegians of Pakistani descent make up 20,036 of the city's inhabitants, followed by: Somalians (9,708), Swedes (7,462), and Sri Lankan Tamils (7,128) - these being the four largest ethnic minority groups. Other large immigrant groups are people from Poland, Vietnam, Morocco, Turkey, Iraq and Denmark.

The population of Oslo is currently increasing at a record rate of nearly 2 percent annually (17 percent over the last 15 years), making it the fastest-growing Scandinavian capital. The increase is due, in almost equal degree, to high birth-rates and immigration. In particular, immigration from Poland and the Baltic states has increased sharply since the accession of these countries to the EU in 2004.

Institutions of higher education
* University of Oslo (Universitetet i Oslo) - undergraduate, graduate and PhD programs in most fields.
* Oslo University College (Høgskolen i Oslo) - focuses on 3-4 year professional degree programs.
* Norwegian School of Management (Handelshøyskolen BI) - primarily economics and business administration.
* Norwegian School of Information Technology (Norges Informasjonsteknologiske Høyskole)
* Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i Oslo)
* Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education (Norges idrettshøgskole)
* Norwegian Academy of Music (Norges musikkhøgskole)
* MF Norwegian School of Theology (Det teologiske Menighetsfakultet — MF)
* Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo KHIO)
* Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Universitetet for Miljø og Biovitenskap-UMB) located right outside of Oslo
* Norwegian Military Academy (Krigsskolen)
* Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (Norges Veterinærhøgskole)
* Oslo Academy of Fine Arts (Statens kunstakademi)
* Oslo School of Management. (Markedshøyskolen)

Oslo now has over 50 schools, colleges and universities in itself alone.


* Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (in Akershus county) - Norway's main international airport, served by high-speed train (Flytoget)
* Sandefjord Airport, Torp (in Vestfold county about one and a half hours, or 115 km/71 mi away)
* Moss Airport, Rygge (In Østfold county, 65 km/40 mi away)

There are daily ferry connections to Kiel (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Frederikshavn (Denmark) and Nesodden.

Public ferries run daily to and from the islands scattered in the Oslo harbour basin.

Oslo Sentralstasjon is the main railway station in Oslo. From there, there are connections to far away destinations Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Stockholm (Sweden), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark), as well as several local and regional destinations in southern Norway and Sweden. In 2004 Norwegian Trains were Europe's third most punctual national train company. For the first 4 months in 2005 the punctuality was 92.9%. During winter in particular, weather conditions such as snow and blizzards may cause delays and cancellations on the routes crossing the central mountains.

Public transport
The public transportation system in Oslo is managed by the municipal transport company Ruter. This includes metro, tram, bus and ferry, but not the local train lines, which are operated by the state railway company NSB. All public transport in Oslo, including local trains, operates on a common ticket system, allowing free transfer within a period of one hour with a regular ticket. Tickets also transfer to the local and inter-city trains, unless a traveler intends to cross the city border. In 2004, 160 million journeys were made using public transport, of which 85% was handled by Oslo Sporveier's own subsidiaries and 15% by private bus and ferry operators under cost-based contracts.

The tram system, Oslotrikken, is made up of six lines that criss-cross the inner parts of the city and extend outward toward the suburbs. Trams run partly on in the streets and partly on separate roads. The metro system -- known as the T-bane -- connects the eastern and western suburbs and comprises six lines which all converge in a tunnel beneath downtown Oslo. The metro lines are identified by numbers from 1 to 6, with two lines running into the municipality of Bærum in the west. The tramway lines are numbered 11 to 13 and 17 to 19.

A new, partially underground loop line was opened in August 2006, connecting Ullevål in the northwest and Carl Berners plass in the east. Two new stations, Nydalen and Storo, have been operational for a couple of years already; the third station, Sinsen, opened 20 August 2006, completing the loop. In conjunction with the opening of the circle line, there will be a major upgrade of the rolling stock, with delivery taking place between 2007 and 2010. An RFID ticketing system with automatic turnstile barriers has been under introduction for several years, but has been greatly delayed and is not yet in service.

A public bicycle rental programme has been in operation beginning in April every year since 2002. With an electronic subscription card, users can access bikes from over 90 stations across the city.

As Oslo is Norway's capital and biggest city, several national motorways meet or passes through it. European route E6 runs through Oslo in the eastern suburbs on its way from Southern Sweden to Northern Norway. European route E18 runs through Oslo city centre (including a tunnel under Akershus fortress) on its way from Stavanger and Kristiansand to Stockholm. European route E16 from Bergen doesn't go into Oslo proper, but ends on E18 at Sandvika a few kilometres west of Oslo. Oslo also has a system of ring roads connecting east and west. Ring 3, the outer one, runs from the E6 junction in the east via Ullevål to E18 on the border to Bærum municipality in the west. Ring 2 runs from Gamlebyen in the east to E18 at Skøyen in the west. Ring 1 is the city centre through road. The ring roads were designed to navigation easier and improve trafic flow. E18, E6, Ring 2 and Ring 3 are connected by an elaborate system of tunnels and bridges in the Økern-Ekeberg area. At present (2008) a new underwater tunnel for E18 is under construction in Bjørvika to divert traffic from the street level.

Access into the city centre requires the payment of a toll at one of 19 entry points around the ring road. It costs 25 NOK to enter the cordoned zone at all times of day, seven days a week. A 20% price reduction is available to car owners using the AutoPASS system. As of 2 February 2008, coins are no longer accepted at the toll booths and all cars must pass through the automatic lanes without stopping. Drivers fitted with the electronic AutoPASS system will be debited as they pass; all other drivers will receive an invoice in the mail.

Initially revenues from the road tolls funded the public road network, but since 2002 theses revenues finance mainly new developments for the public transport system in Oslo. There has been discussion whether to continue to use the cordon after 2007, based on the funding decisions, extensions, accommodation of time-differentiated pricing or replaced by another form of pricing altogether, perhaps to make congestion-pricing possible.

The newspapers Aftenposten, Verdens Gang, Dagbladet, Dagsavisen, Morgenbladet, Vårt Land, Nationen and Klassekampen are published in Oslo. Many of these are located in Akersgata, what appears to be the ‘national media district’ of Norway. The main office of the national broadcasting company NRK is located at Marienlyst in Oslo, near Majorstuen. TVNorge (TVNorway) is also located in Oslo, while TV2 (based in Bergen) and TV3 (based in the United Kingdom) operate branch offices in central Oslo. There is also a variety of specialty publications and smaller media companies.

Several Norwegian authors from Oslo City have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, namely Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1903, Knut Hamsun in 1920 and Sigrid Undset in 1928 for Kristin Lavransdatter. Though he was not awarded a Nobel Prize for his plays, as the first of these were awarded after he published his last play in 1899, playwright Henrik Ibsen is probably the most famous figure in Norwegian literature. Ibsen wrote plays such as Peer Gynt, A Doll's House and The Lady from the Sea.

Also of importance to the Norwegian literary culture is the Norse literature, and in particular the works of Snorre Sturlason, as well as the more recent folk tales, collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe in the 19th century.

Norwegian literature attained international acclaim in the 1990s with Jostein Gaarder's novel Sophie's world (Sofies verden) which was translated into 40 languages. Other noteworthy writers with an international profile include Erik Fosnes Hansen (Psalm at Journey's End) and Åsne Seierstad whose controversial work, The Bookseller of Kabul, was particularly successful in 2003.

Oslo, or Norway generally has always had a tradition of modern building. Indeed, many of today's most interesting new buildings are made of wood, reflecting the strong appeal that this material continues to hold for Norwegian designers and builders.

Norway's conversion to Christianity some 1,000 years ago led to the introduction of stonework architecture, beginning with the construction of Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

In the early Middle Ages, stave churches were constructed throughout Norway. Many of them remain to this day and represent Norway’s most important contribution to architectural history. A fine example is The Stave Church at Urnes which is now on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Another notable example of wooden architecture is the Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, consisting of a row of narrow wooden structures along the quayside.

In the 17th century, under the Danish monarchy, cities such as Kongsberg with its Baroque church and Røros with its wooden buildings were established.

After Norway’s union with Denmark was dissolved in 1814, Oslo became the capital. Architect Christian H. Grosch designed the oldest parts of the University of Oslo, the Oslo Stock Exchange, and many other buildings and churches.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Ålesund was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style. The 1930s, when functionalism dominated, became a strong period for Norwegian architecture, but it is only in recent decades that Norwegian architects have truly achieved international renown. One of the most striking modern buildings in Norway is the Sami Parliament in Kárášjohka designed by Stein Halvorson and Christian Sundby. Its debating chamber is an abstract timber version of a Lavvo, the traditional tent used by the nomadic Sami people.

Oslo was the host city for the 1952 Winter Olympics. Except for the downhill skiing at Norefjell, all events took place within the city limits. The opening and closing ceremonies were held at Bislett stadion, which was also used for the speed skating events. In recent years, the stadium has been better known for hosting the annual Bislett Games track and field event in the IAAF Golden League. The stadium was rebuilt in 2004/2005 and was formally opened for the Bislett Games on 29 July 2005.

Holmenkollen nordic skiing arena, with its centrepiece the ski jump, was an important venue during the 1952 Olympics. The arena has hosted numerous Nordic skiing and biathlon world championships since 1930, and its ski-jump competition is the second oldest in the world, having been contested since 1892. Holmenkollen has been selected once again to host the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2011. Thursday October 16, 2008, the work began on the dismantling of the ski jump, as a new ski jump is going to be built and is expected to be finished by the end of 2009. During the summer months, the harbour becomes a venue for various maritime events, including the start of a large sailing regatta that attracts around 1,000 competing boats each year, and one race of the international Class 1 offshore powerboat racing circuit.
Bislett Stadium.

Two football clubs from Oslo, Vålerenga and Lyn, play in the Norwegian Premier League. In the 2005 season, the teams placed 1st and 3rd respectively. In addition, two teams from the conurbations are represented - Stabæk Fotball and Lillestrøm Sportsklubb. Oslo had two ice hockey teams in the highest division in the previous season, Vålerenga Ishockey and Furuset I.F., the former winning the cup and league double in 2007. Speed skating is also held at the Valle Hovin venue, which in the summer is host to large popular music concerts.

Ullevaal stadion, located in the borough of Nordre Aker, is the home of the Norwegian national football team. Built in 1926, it is the largest football stadium in Norway, and has served as the venue for the Norwegian Cup final since 1948. Both Lyn and Vålerenga use the stadium as their home ground.

Historical population
Year     Population
1801     9,500
1825     15,400
1855     31,700
1875     76,900
1900     227,900
1925     255,700
1951     434,365
1960     471,511
1970     487,363
1980     454,872
1990     458,364
2000     507,467
2002     529,407
2006     538,411
2008     560,484
2009     575,475
Source: SSB1, SSB2

Conurbation population
Year      Population
1999     763,957
2005     811,688
2006     825,105
2007     839,423
2008     856,915

International relations

Cooperation agreements have been signed with the following cities/regions:

* Gothenburg, Västra Götaland County, Sweden
* Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
* Shanghai, China
* Saint Petersburg, Russia
* Vilnius, Vilnius County, Lithuania
* Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland (since 2005)
* Reykjavík, Iceland
* Washington, D.C., U.S.A
* New York, U.S.A
* Rotterdam, Holland
* Antwerp, Belgium

Oslo has a longstanding tradition of sending a Christmas tree every year to the cities of Washington, D.C., New York, London, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Reykjavík. Since 1947, Oslo sends a 65-80 foot (20-25 m) high spruce, which may be 50 to 100 years old (according to the sources), as an expression of gratitude for Britain's support to Norway during World War II which is usually placed in Trafalgar Square. For the 61st time, this spruce will have been lit by the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang and The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councilor Carolyn Keen, between 6 December 2007 and 4 January 2008, and it has received yet more special attention than before, expressing environmental concern.

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