Almost three quarters of Norway's land is unproductive; less than 4% is under cultivation and the country imports over 50% of its food. The vast mountain pastures are used for the grazing of cattle and sheep, and, in the north, for reindeer raising. Barley, wheat, and potatoes are grown. About one quarter of Norway is forested; timber is a chief natural resource and is the basis for one of the main industries. The beautiful Norwegian fjords and the midnight sun of the far north attract many tourists. Fishing (notably of cod, herring, and mackerel) is important, and fresh, canned, and salted fish are exported.
The country's chief industries are petroleum and natural gas production, shipping, and trading. Since the discovery of petroleum in the Ekofisk field in 1969, the petroleum and natural gas industries have become vital to Norway's economy, bringing increased employment, but also increased inflation and a vulnerability to fluctuations in the world petroleum market (most of the oil and gas is exported). Other mineral resources include iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, and nickel. Aluminum, ferroalloys, and semifinished steel are produced. Almost all of Norway's electricity is supplied by hydroelectric power, and the country exports hydroelectricity as well. Food processing, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, and textiles are important to the economy. The great Norwegian merchant fleet carries a large part of the world's trade. Petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, and fish are the main exports; imports include capital goods, chemicals, metals, and foodstuffs. The chief trading partners are Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, and France.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.