Norway is a country located in Northern Europe on the western and northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, bordering the North Sea in southwest and the Skagerrak inlet to the south, the North Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea) in the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. Norway has a long land border with Sweden to the east, a shorter one with Finland in the northeast and a still shorter border with Russia in the far northeast.
Norway has a very elongated shape, one of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world, and some 50,000 islands off the much indented coastline. The mainland covers 13° latitude, from 58°N to more than 71°N, (Svalbard north to 81°N), and covers the longitude from 5°E in Solund to 31°E in Vardø (Jan Mayen to 9°W, Kvitøya to 33°E).
Norway is one of the world's most northerly countries, and one of Europe's most mountainous countries with large areas dominated by the Scandinavian Mountains; average elevation is 460 m and 32% of the mainland is located above the tree line.
The country-length chain of peaks is geologically continuous with the mountains of Scotland, Ireland and, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Appalachian Mountains of North America. Geologists hold that all these formed a single range prior to the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea.
Virtually the entire country was covered with a thick ice sheet during the last ice age, as well as in many earlier ice ages. The movement of the ice carved out deep valleys, and when the ice melted, the sea filled many of these valleys, creating Norway's famous fjords.
The land is still rebounding from the enormous weight of the ice (isostatic rebound), "growing out of the sea" with several mm a year, especially the eastern part of the country and the inner part of the long fjords, where the ice cover was thickest. This is a slow process, and for thousands of years following the end of the ice age, the sea covered substantial areas of what is today dry land. The sea reached what is today an elevation of 221 m in Oslo (Aker), 25 m in Stavanger, 5 m near Stad, 180 m in Trondheim, 50 m in Tromsø and 75 m in Kirkenes. This old seabed is now among the best agricultural land in the country.
The glaciers in the higher mountain areas today are not remnants of the large ice sheet of the ice age, their origins are more recent. The regional climate was up to 1-3 °C warmer in 7000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. in the Holocene climatic optimum, (relative to the 1961-90 period), melting the remaining glaciers in the mountains almost completely during that period.
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