Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/40

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By Professor JAS. LEWIS HOWE


THE kingdom of Norway occupies about one third of the Scandinavian peninsula, and covers approximately 100,000 square miles of territory. From Vardö, its most northern point, to Lindesnäs on the extreme southern coast is 1,100 miles, 400 miles of this line being north of the Arctic circle. The northern portion of Norway is very narrow. A strip of Russian Finland extends westward to within sixty miles of the Atlantic coast, and to within twenty miles of tidewater on Bals-fjord. Mo, at the head of the Ranen-fjord near the Arctic circle, is but twenty miles from the Swedish frontier. At Trondhjem Norway has a width of eighty miles, but from here southward it rapidly widens, till north of Bergen it reaches its extreme breadth of about 250 miles.

The surface of Norway is for the most part barren highland, except in the south largely covered with great snow-fields till late summer, and much of it uninhabitable. The whole coast line is deeply indented by fjords, each with its many branches, all of deep water, and except in the extreme north rarely covered with ice. Into these fjords descend valleys, generally short and narrow, with precipitous sides. A few important valleys, generally in the south, are longer and broader, with gentler slopes. Each valley has its stream, fed from the upland snow, and often widening into a long, narrow lake. Along the coast are countless rocky islands, known as the Skjaergaard, which so fringe the shore that it is possible for a steamer to pass from Vardö to Kristiania with but few occasions to traverse the open sea. Norway thus resembles a chain of mountains with deeply dissected valleys, which has been sunk many hundred feet into the ocean. Such indeed may be considered the bare outline of a part of its geological history. In the north, Sweden is the more gradual eastern slope of this mountain chain.

The history of Norway has been largely determined by its physiography in the past, and we can not doubt that the same will be true in the future. The only habitable portions of the country being the narrow shores of the fjords and the restricted valleys, the pasture land being greatly limited and the arable land yet more so, the population was sparse and scattered, and few cities of any considerable size arose. To-day Norway has less than two and a half million inhabitants; of these about 230,000 are in Kristiania, 80,000 in Bergen, while Trondhjem