Norway is longer than you think

The ocean waves at Herøy in Nordland. Official length of the Norwegian coastline is 103,000 kilometers (64,000 miles).

The ocean waves at Herøy in Nordland. Official length of the Norwegian coastline is 103,000 kilometers (64,000 miles).

New research shows Norwegian coastline is 18,000 kilometers longer than previously measured.

In a new report released by the Norwegian Mapping Authority (Statens kartverk), the Norwegian coastline is 18,000 kilometers (approximately 11,185 miles) longer than previously calculated. Norway’s total coastline is 103,000 kilometers, compared to the former official figure of 85,000 kilometers.

“Norway has not actually grown, but we have more detailed information available about the coastline. It’s true that one can calculate the coastline to be as almost as long as you want it to be, depending on the level of detail you are working with,” said national director Nils Karbø of the Norwegian Mapping Authority.

Over the past two years, the Norwegian Mapping Authority has combined map data from charts and local maps, studied aerial photographs and compared these with the existing official map.

“Among other things, we recorded all the 240,000 islands that have not previously been included in the official cartography, and that alone makes the coastline much longer,” added Karbø. “If you look at old maps, for example, the 1500s, so these are very rough and approximate. If one were to be based on these maps, the coastline is much shorter.”

Improved measurement technology, fjords and islands contributes to the fact that Norway has a very long coastline. For comparison, Norway has a longer coastline than Russia (39,000 kilometers) or Australia (59,000 kilometers). In addition, the Equator, which runs around the globe, is 40,000 kilometers. This means that the Norwegian coastline, two and a half times around the earth.

There is only one country that has a longer coastline than Norway, and it is Canada with its 244,000-kilometer-long coastline.

For more information, visit the Norwegian Mapping Authority at

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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