This article is about the present capital of Norway. For the former capitals, see List of historical capitals of Norway. For other uses, see Oslo (disambiguation).
This article is about the city formerly named Christiania or Kristiania (1624–1924). For other uses, see Christiania (disambiguation).
Downtown Oslo Norway skyline.png
Oslo - Parliament (14131199086).jpg NO-oslo-akershus-blick-von-schiff.jpg
Oslo Royal Palace 01.JPG
KirstenFlagstadsPlass 20080413-1.jpg Astrup Fearnley Oslo 2013.jpg
From upper left: Barcode at Bjørvika, Stortinget, Akershus Castle, Royal Palace, The Oslo Opera House, Astrup Fearnley Museum at Tjuvholmen
Flag of Oslo
Flag Official logo of Oslo
Seal of Oslo
Motto(s): Unanimiter et constanter (Latin)
"United and constant"
Coordinates: 59°55′N 10°44′ECoordinates: 59°55′N 10°44′E
• Mayor Marianne Borgen (SV)
• Governing mayor Raymond Johansen (AP)
• City 480.76 km2 (185.62 sq mi)
• Land 454.08 km2 (175.32 sq mi)
• Water 26.68 km2 (10.30 sq mi)
Elevation 23 m (75 ft)
Population (1 January 2018)
• City 673,469
• Density 1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)
• Urban 975,744
• Metro 1,588,457
Largest immigrant groups[note 1]
• Pakistani 3.5%
• Polish 2.5%
• Somali 2.3%
• Swedish 2.0%
• Iraqi 1.2%
• Sri Lankan 1.1%
• Moroccan 1.0%
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 0001 – 1299 
Area code(s) (+47) 00
Coat of arms of Oslo kommune
Coat of arms Official logo of Oslo kommune
Oslo surrounded by Akershus county
Oslo surrounded by Akershus county
Time zone CET (UTC+01:00)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+02:00)
ISO 3166 code NO-0301
Official language form Neutral
Data from Statistics Norway
Oslo (English: /ˈɒzloʊ/, OZ-loh, Norwegian pronunciation: [²uʂlu] (About this sound listen) or, rarer [²uslu] or [ˈuʂlu]) is the capital and the most populous city in Norway. It constitutes both a county and a municipality. Founded in the year 1040, and established as a kaupstad or trading place in 1048 by Harald Hardrada, the city was elevated to a bishopric in 1070 and a capital under Haakon V of Norway around 1300. Personal unions with Denmark from 1397 to 1523 and again from 1536 to 1814 and with Sweden from 1814 to 1905 reduced its influence. After being destroyed by a fire in 1624, during the reign of King Christian IV, the city was moved closer to Akershus Fortress and renamed Christiania in the king's honour. It was established as a municipality (formannskapsdistrikt) on 1 January 1838. Following a spelling reform, it was known as Kristiania from 1877 until 1925, in which year its original Norwegian name of Oslo was restored.
Oslo is the economic and governmental centre of Norway. The city is also a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping. It is an important centre for maritime industries and maritime trade in Europe. The city is home to many companies within the maritime sector, some of which are among the world's largest shipping companies, shipbrokers and maritime insurance brokers. Oslo is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commission intercultural cities programme.
Oslo is considered a global city and was ranked "Beta World City" in studies carried out by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network in 2008. It was ranked number one in terms of quality of life among European large cities in the European Cities of the Future 2012 report by fDi magazine. A survey conducted by ECA International in 2011 placed Oslo as the second most expensive city in the world for living expenses after Tokyo. In 2013 Oslo tied with the Australian city of Melbourne as the fourth most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)'s Worldwide Cost of Living study.
As of 1 July 2017, the municipality of Oslo had a population of 672 061, while the population of the city's urban area was 942,084. The metropolitan area had an estimated population of 1.71 million. The population was increasing at record rates during the early 2000s, making it the fastest growing major city in Europe at the time. This growth stems for the most part from international immigration and related high birth rates, but also from intra-national migration. The immigrant population in the city is growing somewhat faster than the Norwegian population, and in the city proper this is now more than 25% of the total.
1 Urban region
2 General information
2.2 City seal
3.2 17th century
3.3 18th century
3.4 19th century
5 Parks and recreation areas
7 Politics and government
7.1 2015 elections
10.1 Institutions of higher education
11.2 Museums, galleries
11.3 Music and events
11.4 Performing arts
15 Notable residents
16 International relations
16.1 Twin towns – partner cities – and regions
16.2 Christmas trees as gifts
17 See also
19 Further reading
20 External links
As of 1 January 2016, the municipality of Oslo had a population of 658,390. The urban area extends beyond the boundaries of the municipality into the surrounding county of Akershus (municipalities of Asker, Bærum, Røyken, Rælingen, Lørenskog, Nittedal, Skedsmo, Ski, Sørum, Gjerdrum, Oppegård); the total population of this agglomeration is 942,084. The city centre is situated at the end of the Oslofjord, from which point the city sprawls out in three distinct "corridors"—inland north-eastwards, and southwards along both sides of the fjord—which gives the urbanized area a shape reminiscent of an upside-down reclining "Y" (on maps, satellite pictures, or from high above the city).
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] of Oslo are two parts of the same entity, making Oslo the only city in Norway where two administrative levels are integrated. Of Oslo's total area, 130 km2 (50 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.
Main article: List of boroughs of Oslo
As defined in January 2004 by the city council[note]
Boroughs Inhabitants (2015) Area in km² number
Alna 48,770 13.7 12
Bjerke 30,502 7.7 9
Frogner 55,965 8.3 5
Gamle Oslo 49,854 7.5 1
Grorud 27,283 8.2 10
Grünerløkka 54,701 4.8 2
Nordre Aker 49,337 13.6 8
Nordstrand 49,428 16.9 14
Sagene 39,918 3.1 3
St. Hanshaugen 36,218 3.6 4
Stovner 31,669 8.2 11
Søndre Nordstrand 37,913 18.4 15
Ullern 32,124 9 6
Vestre Aker 47,024 16.6 7
Østensjø 49,133 12.2 13
Overall 647,676 151.8
^ The definition has since been revised in the 2015 census.
For full article, see History of Oslo's name
The Royal Palace is the home of the Royal Family
The origin of the name Oslo has been the subject of much debate. It is certainly derived from Old Norse and was—in all probability—originally the name of a large farm at Bjørvika, but the meaning of that name is disputed. Modern linguists generally interpret the original Óslo or Áslo as either "Meadow at the Foot of a Hill" or "Meadow Consecrated to the Gods", with both considered equally likely.
Erroneously, it was once assumed that "Oslo" meant "the mouth of the Lo river", a supposed previous name for the river Alna. However, not only has no evidence been found of a river "Lo" predating the work where Peder Claussøn Friis first proposed this etymology, but the very name is ungrammatical in Norwegian: the correct form would have been Loaros (cf. Nidaros). The name Lo is now believed to be a back-formation arrived at by Friis in support of his [idea about] etymology for Oslo.
Main article: Seal of Oslo
Oslo is one of very few cities in Norway, besides Bergen and Tønsberg, that does not have a formal coat of arms, but which uses a city seal instead. The seal of Oslo shows the city's patron saint, St. Hallvard, with his attributes, the millstone and arrows, with a naked woman at his feet. He is seated on a throne with lion decorations, which at the time was also commonly used by the Norwegian kings.
Oslo timeline (major events)
See also expanded timeline
CA. 1000 AD First traces of buildings. The St. Clement's Church is built.
CA. 1050 AD Oslo marked as a city. Mariakirken is built.
1152/53 AD The Cathedral school is established
1299 AD Oslo becomes the capital of Norway
CA. 1300 Construction of Akershus Fortress starts.
1350 AD Around 3/4 of the population dies under the Black Death.
1352 AD St. Hallvard's Cathedral and the other Sogne Churches are burned to the ground in a major fire
1624 AD Another major fire, the city is rebuilt and renamed Christiania by Christian IV.
1686 AD Fire ruins 1/4 of the city.
1697 AD Domkirken is finished and opened
1716 AD The city and the fortress conquered by Karl XII.
1813 The University is opened.
1825 The foundations of Slottet are finished.
1836 The National Gallery is finished.
1837 Christiania Theatre is opened. Christiania and Aker get a Mayor and kommunestyre.
1854 Oslo gets its first railway, which leads to Eidsvoll.
1866 Stortinget is completed.
1878 City expanded. Frogner, Majorstuen, Torshov, Kampen and Vålerengen are populated and rebuilt. 113 000 citizens.
1892 The first Holmenkollbakken is finished.
1894 The city gets its first electrical track.
1899 Nationaltheateret is finished.
1925 City renamed as Oslo.
1927 The Monolith is raised.
1928 Oslo first Metro line, Majorstuen-Besserud is opened.
1950 Oslo City Hall opened.
1963 The Munch Museum is opened.
1980 Metro line under the city, Oslo Central Station and Nationaltheatret Station opened.
1997 Population over 500 000.
1998 Rikshospitalet opened. New railway line to Gardermoen.
2000 The city celebrates thousand-years jubilee.
2008 Oslo Opera House is opened.
2011 Several buildings in the Regjeringskvartalet are heavily damaged during a terrorist attack, resulting in 8 deaths. 69 people are massacred on the nearby Utøya island.
According to the Norse sagas, Oslo was founded around 1049 by Harald Hardrada. Recent archaeological research however has uncovered Christian burials which can be dated to prior to AD 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 Haakon V of Norway (1299–1319), the first king to reside permanently in the city. He also started the construction of the Akershus Fortress and the Oslo Kongsgård. 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.
Oslo was destroyed several times by fire, and after the fourteenth calamity, in 1624, Christian IV of Denmark and Norway ordered it rebuilt at a new site across the bay, near Akershus Castle and given the name Christiania. 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 starting in 1624 is now often called Kvadraturen because of its orthogonal layout in regular, square blocks. The last Black Death outbreak in Oslo occurred 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), Storting building (the Parliament) (1861–1866), the University, National Theatre 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 1877 the city was renamed Kristiania. The original name of Oslo was restored in 1925.
Main article: Old Town, Oslo
Under the reign of Olaf III of Norway, Oslo became a cultural centre for Eastern Norway. Hallvard Vebjørnsson became the city's patron saint and is depicted on the city's seal.
In 1174, Hovedøya Abbey was built. The churches and abbeys became major owners of large tracts of land, which proved important for the city's economic development, especially before the Black Death.
On 25 July 1197, Sverre of Norway and his soldiers attacked Oslo from Hovedøya.
During the Middle Ages, Oslo reached its heights in the reign of Haakon V of Norway. He started building Akershus Fortress and was also the first king to reside permanently in the city, which helped to make Oslo the capital of Norway.
In the end of the 12th century, Hanseatic League traders from Rostock moved into the city and gained major influence in the city. The Black Death came to Norway in 1349 and, like other cities in Europe, the city suffered greatly. The churches' earnings from their land also dropped so much that the Hanseatic traders dominated the city's foreign trade in the 15th century.
Over the years, fire destroyed major parts of the city many times, as many of the city's buildings were built entirely of wood. After the last fire in 1624, which lasted for three days, Christian IV of Denmark decided that the old city should not be rebuilt again. His men built a network of roads in Akershagen near Akershus Castle. He demanded that all citizens should move their shops and workplaces to the newly built city of Christiania.
The transformation of the city went slowly for the first hundred years. Outside the city, near Vaterland and Grønland near Old Town, Oslo, a new, unmanaged part of the city grew up filled with citizens of low class status.
In the 18th century, after the Great Northern War, the city's economy boomed with shipbuilding and trade. The strong economy transformed Christiania into a trading port.
In 1814 the former provincial town of Christiania became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Norway, in a personal union with Sweden. Several state institutions were established and the city's role as a capital initiated a period of rapidly increasing population. The government of this new state needed buildings for its expanding administration and institutions. Several important buildings were erected – The Bank of Norway (1828), the Royal Palace (1848), and the Storting (1866).Large areas were incorporated in 1839, 1859 an 1878. The population increased from approximately 10 000 in 1814 to 230 000 in 1900. Christiania expanded its industry from 1840, most importantly around Akerselva. There was a spectacular building boom during the last decades of the 19th century, with many new apartment buildings and renewal of the city center, but the boom collapsed in 1899.
The municipality developed new areas such as Ullevål garden city (1918–1926) and Torshov (1917–1925). City Hall was constructed in the former slum area of Vika, from 1931–1950. The municipality of Aker was incorporated into Oslo in 1948, and suburbs were developed, such as Lambertseter (from 1951). Aker Brygge was constructed on the site of the former shipyard Akers Mekaniske Verksted, from 1982–1998.
In the 2011 Norway terror attacks, Oslo was hit by a bomb blast that ripped through the Government quarter, damaging several buildings including the building that houses the Office of the Prime Minister. Eight people were killed in the bomb attack.
Map of medieval Oslo
by Amund Helland
Port of Christiania c. 1800
by John William Edy
Christiania in 1814, by M. K. Tholstrup
Tallship Christiania in Oslo
The Barcode skyline in the harbour district
Railway between Christiania and Bergen, 1916.
See also: Oslo Graben
A map of the urban areas of Oslo in 2005. The grey area in the middle indicates Oslo's city centre.
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 or 0.22 sq mi), and scores more around the Oslofjord. Oslo has 343 lakes, the largest being Maridalsvannet (3.91 km2 or 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 rivers, none of these flow into the ocean at Oslo. Instead Oslo has two smaller rivers: Akerselva (draining Maridalsvannet, which flows into the fjord in Bjørvika), and Alna. The waterfalls in Akerselva gave power to some of the first modern industry of Norway in the 1840s. Later in the century, the river became the symbol of the stable and consistent economic and social divide of the city into an East End and a West End; the labourers' neighbourhoods lie on both sides of the river, and the divide in reality follows Uelands street a bit further west. River Alna flows through Groruddalen, Oslo's major suburb and industrial area. The highest point is Kirkeberget, at 629 metres (2,064 ft). 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 green appearance.
Oslo has a humid continental climate (Dfb). Because of the city's northern latitude, daylight varies greatly, from more than 18 hours in midsummer, when it never gets completely dark at night (no darker than nautical twilight), to around 6 hours in midwinter.
Oslo has fairly warm summers with two out of three days in July that have high temperatures above 20 °C and on average one out of four days reach a maximum above 25 °C. The highest ever recorded at Blindern was 34.2 °C (94 °F) on 3 August 1982. At the "Observatory" downtown Oslo 35 °C (95 °F) was recorded on 21 July 1901. In January, three out of four days are below freezing (0 °C), on average one out of four days is colder than −10 °C. The coldest temperature recorded is −29.6 °C (−21.3 °F), on 21 January 1841, while the coldest ever recorded at Blindern is −26 °C (−14.8 °F) in January 1941.
July 1901 was the warmest month ever recorded with 24-hr monthly mean temperature at 22.7 °C (72.9 °F). The climate table below is for 1981–2010, while extremes (except average annual maximum and minimum temperatures) also includes earlier stations such as the Observatory downtown. Recent decades have seen warming, and 8 of the 12 monthly record lows are from before 1900, while the most recent is the November record low from 1965.
Parks and recreation areas
Main article: Parks and open spaces in Oslo
Oslo has a large number of parks and green areas within the city core, as well as outside it.
Frogner Park is a large park located a few minutes walk away from the city centre. This is the biggest and best-known park in Norway, with a large collection of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland
Bygdøy is a large green area, commonly called the Museum Peninsula of Oslo. The area is surrounded by the sea and is one of the most expensive districts in Norway.
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park is a sculpture park and a national heritage park with a panoramic view of the city at Ekeberg in the southeast of the city.
St. Hanshaugen Park is an old public park on a high hill in central Oslo. 'St. Hanshaugen' is also the name of the surrounding 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 a viewing point known as Ola Narr. The Tøyen area also includes the Botanical Garden and Museum belonging to the University of Oslo.
Oslo (with neighbouring Sandvika-Asker) is built in a horseshoe shape on the shores of the Oslofjord and limited in most directions by hills and forests. As a result, any point within the city is relatively close to the forest. There are two major forests bordering the city: 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).
The municipality operates eight public swimming pools. Tøyenbadet is the largest indoor swimming facility in Oslo and one of the few pools in Norway offering a 50-metre main pool. The outdoor pool Frognerbadet also has the 50-metre range.
Holmenkollen ski jump
Oslo's cityscape is being redeveloped as a modern city with various access-points, an extensive metro-system with a new financial district and a cultural city. In 2008, an exhibition was held in London presenting the award-winning Oslo Opera House, the urban regeneration scheme of Oslo's seafront, Munch/Stenersen and the new Deichman Library. Most of the buildings in the city and in neighbouring communities are low in height with only the Plaza, Postgirobygget and the highrises at Bjørvika considerably taller.
See also: Architecture of Norway
Fjordbyen is a large construction project in the seaside of central Oslo, stretching from Bygdøy in the west to Ormøya in the east. Some areas include: Bjørvika, Aker brygge, Tjuvholmen, the cental station area
Oslo's architecture is very diverse. The architect Carl Frederik Stanley (1769–1805), who was educated in Copenhagen, spent some years in Norway around the turn of the 19th century. He did minor works for wealthy patrons in and around Oslo, but his major achievement was the renovation of the Oslo Katedralskole, completed in 1800. He added a classical portico to the front of an older structure, and a semicircular auditorium that was sequestered by Parliament in 1814 as a temporary place to assemble, now preserved at Norsk Folkemuseum as a national monument.
When Christiania was made capital of Norway in 1814, there were practically no buildings suitable for the many new government institutions. An ambitious building program was initiated, but realised very slowly because of economic constraints. The first major undertaking was the Royal Palace, designed by Hans Linstow and built between 1824 and 1848. Linstow also planned Karl Johans gate, the avenue connecting the Palace and the city, with a monumental square halfway to be surrounded by buildings for University, the Parliament (Storting) and other institutions. Only the university buildings were realised according to this plan. Christian Heinrich Grosch, one of the first architects educated completely within Norway, designed the original building for the Oslo Stock Exchange (1826–1828), the local branch of the Bank of Norway (1828), Christiania Theatre (1836–1837), and the first campus for the University of Oslo (1841–1856). For the university buildings, he sought the assistance of the renowned German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. German architectural influence persisted in Norway, and many wooden buildings followed the principles of Neoclassicism. In Oslo, the German architect Alexis de Chateauneuf designed Trefoldighetskirken, the first neo-gothic church, completed by von Hanno in 1858.
A number of landmark buildings, particularly in Oslo, were built in the Functionalist style (better known in the US and Britain as Modernist), the first being Skansen restaurant (1925–1927) by Lars Backer, demolished in 1970. Backer also designed the restaurant at Ekeberg, which opened in 1929. Kunstnernes Hus art gallery by Gudolf Blakstad and Herman Munthe-Kaas (1930) still shows the influence of the preceding classicist trend of the 1920s. The redevelopment of Oslo Airport (by the Aviaplan consortium) at Gardermoen, which opened in 1998, was Norway's largest construction project to date.