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Geography: Norway on the world map; and why it looks far bigger than it is.

Don't get me wrong; Norway is still colossal. But when you glance at Norway on a world map, the Mercator projection throws a spanner in the works. Anything closer to the poles appears disproportionately large, while anything nearer the equator seems disproportionately small. In a nutshell, Greenland seems colossal, while the entire continent of Africa appears minuscule. For those momentarily fuzzy on the Mercator projection, here's a brief refresher:

The Mercator projection is a cartographic method widely used to represent the Earth's surface on flat maps, particularly for navigation and sea charts. It's named after the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, who presented it in 1569.

Norway shares its western and northern borders with the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea. To the east, it borders Sweden, while in the northeast, it shares borders with Finland and Russia, and to the south, it neighbors Denmark. It boasts an extensive coastline along the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, featuring deep fjords cutting through the interior.

However, determining the length of this coastline is a matter of debate due to the vast number of deep fjords, islands, and inlets that characterize Norway's coast. Consequently, the coastline varies depending on the methodology. If we consider the mainland coastline, excluding fjords and inlets, it's estimated to be around 2,650 kilometers (approximately 1,650 miles). Yet, if we include the fjords and inlets, the total coastline becomes much longer, estimated at around 25,000 kilometers (about 15,500 miles). Now, you're starting to grasp the geographical complexity of the country.

In fact, should you decide to drive from the southernmost point of Norway, Lindesnes, to the extreme northeastern corner of Vardø (on which I wrote an extensive piece), it would take you approximately 29 hours of continuous driving, depending on weather conditions. And this route primarily goes through Sweden and Finland. That's roughly the same distance as driving from Denver to Washington D.C. If you were to stick to Norway for the entire journey, I'd venture to guess it might take three to four times as long. So if you're planning a trip to Norway soon, it's wise to make a careful selection of what you want to see for this land is still massive, yet not as big as it seems on the map.


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