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Northern Lights on the night sky

Credit: Anne Olsen Ryum | nordnorge.com

Danai Christopoulou

Danai Christopoulous

Author
4 mins read

6 ice-cold facts about the Arctic Circle in Norway

66° 34’. That’s the latitude that marks the beginning of the Earth’s northernmost point: the Arctic Circle.

66° 34’ is also the latitude above which you can explore the many wonders of Arctic Circle Norway, from the colorful sky ballet of the northern lights to the relentless golden rays of the midnight sun. Are you ready to learn more about this unique part of the country?

 We’ve gathered 6 ice cold facts about the Arctic Circle in Norway to get you started as you plan your travels!

The Arctic Circle splits Norway almost in two

If you look at what percentage of Norway is above the Arctic Circle, you’ll be in for a surprise: almost half of the country lies north of the Arctic. 

In fact, the total area of mainland Norway above the Arctic circle is around 96,225 km2. The reason for that is that Norway is one of the most stretched-out countries in the world; it reaches from 58°N at its southernmost point to 81°N at its northernmost point. 

So with the Arctic Circle at a 66° 34’ latitude, there’s a lot of Arctic Norway to explore!

The exact border of Arctic Circle Norway slowly changes over time

Perhaps you will be surprised to know that the Arctic Circle is not set in stone — not literally at least. Because the Earth’s axis is slowly changing (very slowly: every 40,000 years or so!), so does the exact position of the Arctic Circle in Norway. Practically, this means that every year, the boundary line retreats by 14-15 meters northward.

The Midnight Sun lasts all day long in the summer

One of the natural phenomena that have put Arctic Norway in so many people’s bucket list as a travel destination (and rightly so) is the Midnight Sun. Above the Arctic Circle, and because our planet tilts on its axis, the sun during the summer stays above the horizon —  facing the regions of Arctic Norway all day long. This results in the 24-hour, warm, golden daylight we call Midnight Sun, usually from late April-early May to the end of July-early August. 

Fancy going fishing or swimming at one in the morning? In Arctic Norway, you totally can thanks to the Midnight Sun!

The Northern Lights make Arctic winter magical

Winter in Arctic Norway may be dark, as the sun only rises for a few hours and in many areas not at all — but the Northern Lights more than make up for it. Also known as Aurora Borealis (which loosely translates to “the rosy colors of dawn in the North”), this breathtaking phenomenon is owed to electrically charged particles from the sun entering the Earth’s atmosphere. 

These particles are drawn to the stronger magnetic field around the North Pole, where they interact with the ozone and oxygen layers of the upper parts of the atmosphere. That’s how we get the mesmerising swirls and waves of pinks, blues and greens in the sky! 

The Northern Lights are visible at night in Arctic Circle Norway, especially when the weather is cold and dry, between late September-early October and late February-mid March.

Arctic Norway is the most populated arctic region in the world

As many as 400,000-500,000 people are living above the Arctic boundary — which makes sense when you look at what percentage of Norway is above the Arctic Circle. It’s not just about the country’s shape though: it’s also about the climate. 

Thanks to the Gulf Stream along the Norwegian coast, the climate here is actually milder than other regions of the Arctic Circle. This is why, for thousands of years, people have populated these coasts and islands in Arctic Norway: milder winters means that the waters are not freezing entirely and so fishing can be easily done all year long. Nowadays, some of Norway’s prettiest cities, like Tromsø, can be found above the Arctic circle.

You’ll know when you cross the Arctic Circle

The actual boundary of the Arctic Circle might be changing slightly over the years, as we’ve seen, but there are still landmarks to let you know when you’re entering Arctic Norway. There is the Arctic Circle Monument (a steel globe) at Saltfjellet, in Rana municipality, just north of Mo i Rana, where you can also find an Arctic Circle Centre with exhibitions and memorabilia from the region. 

If you want to cross the Arctic Circle by sea, look past the Vikingen island in Rødøy, where another similar globe juts out from the promontory almost like a lighthouse.