The Population of Norway (Updated for 2024)

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As with most countries in Europe, the number of people living in Norway is bigger now than at any time in its history. Here are the facts and figures relating to Norway’s population.

Back in 2012, it was a pretty big deal, at least in the country, when Norway broke the 5 million mark on inhabitants. It raised the inevitable questions on whether immigration was ‘out of control’ and the impact on healthcare and pensions.

Crowd in Norway on 17 May, Norwegian Constitution Day. Photo: David Nikel.
Crowd in Norway on 17 May, Norwegian Constitution Day. Photo: David Nikel.

Fast-forward now to the present day, and Norway has smashed through the 5.5 million barrier for the first time. As of the beginning of 2024, the population of Norway is 5,550,203.

The annual increase of 61,219 reported by state statistics office SSB represented a slight decline in growth from the population growth reported the previous year.

Most people will assume that growth was driven by immigration. Yes, that certainly played its part, but it wasn’t the only factor. In 2023, Norway recorded 51,980 births and only 43,803 deaths.

Now, let’s look in detail at what’s going on. From the history of population growth and poulation decline in Norway, to the population of immigrants and where people actually live, this article is your thorough introduction to the Norwegian population.

Population Growth in Norway

In recent years, the population of Norway has risen fast, and steadily. But that’s not just a recent trend.

The consistent upward trend actually started back in the 1960s, around the time that oil was discovered in the Norwegian Sea. Norway desperately needed people with the skills to build a new industry from scratch.

The diverse population of Norway

In the last two decades, population growth has largely been fuelled by immigration. Initially this was due to Norway’s membership in EFTA, which means European residents are free to move to Norway under the terms of the EEA Agreement.

However, there have also been spikes due to a number of refugee crises. Most recently, high numbers of war refugees from Ukraine have driven the population numbers up.

Periods of Population Decline

Looking back further in time, we also see more of an inconsistency in population numbers. There have been several events throughout history that have led to major falls in the numbers

One of the more famous of these was the Black Death, which hit Norway extremely hard in the mid and late 1300’s.

It is estimated that around 50% of the population in Norway succumbed to the disease. Some estimates even report higher than that number.

Another historical change to population was the mass emigration to North America. Just about every European country (and many others across the globe) at one time or another had people flocking to the shores of America.

Though Norwegians were counted as some of the earliest settlers crossing the Atlantic, the organised exodus began en masse around the middle of the 19th century.

American Election in Norway
The U.S. once attracted many people from Scandinavia.

The reasons for Norwegians to leave their home vary as much as the people did. Some left for religious freedom, other for the promise of the New World, and even more because of the economic pressures, famines, and crop failures that were occurring throughout Scandinavia at the time.

By the 1900’s the number of immigrants from Norway began to decline: particularly after The Immigration Act of 1924 that restricted the number of immigrants from any given country.

But still, 87% of the permits issued after this were given to immigrants from the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. This still slowed the flow of Norwegian immigrants to a few thousand per year, a pattern that persists to the modern day.

Today more than 4.5 million Americans claim Norwegian ancestry. Many of them are our readers, so, hello to you!

Immigrant Population in Norway

Norway has taken in immigrants for some time, but the upward trend got started in the middle of the 20th century. People from all over the globe have found a new home in Norway, myself included.

At the beginning of 2024, immigrants in Norway made up approximately 16% of the population. That figure of 877,000 people includes everyone born outside of Norway, but also children who were born in Norway to immigrant parents.

By far the biggest group of foreign-born residents are originally from Poland, at over 100,000 people. Other significant groups come from Lithuania, Sweden, Somalia, and Germany.

Where do people live in Norway

Big cities like Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim make up a large bulk of the Norwegian population.

A view of Jernbanetorget in Oslo, Norway. Photo: David Nikel.
A view of Jernbanetorget in Oslo, Norway. Photo: David Nikel.

The entire Oslo region in itself counts to be approximately one-quarter of the entire population, although the population of Oslo itself numbers approximately 717,000 people.

From there, most people are clustered in the cities that stretch up Norway’s impressive west coast. The biggest cities in Norway? Bergen is home to almost 300,000 people, with Trondheim numbering just over 200,000, and Stavanger coming in at 150,000.

All the major cities have nearby cities contributing to a more significant population in the wider urban area.

Though the cities draw more and more people, rural life in Norway still attracts a number of people. Small villages and towns dot the country – from stunning coastal fishing villages, to breathtaking mountainous retreats.

Farming is also still relevant in Norway, and many farms have stayed within the same family for generations.

There is somewhere for everyone in Norway, whether that be the busy, bustling city of Oslo, the mellower town vibe of Lillehammer, the cosy hamlet of Aurland, or even an isolated cabin up in one of the many mountain areas in the country.

About Life in Norway

Sometimes, more than one person in the Life in Norway team works on a story. This was one of those times!

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13 thoughts on “The Population of Norway (Updated for 2024)”

  1. Today’s Post made my heart soft with love for Norway. I am one of the 4.5 million Americans with Norwegian ancestry. Luckily I know my relatives there as the farm is still in the family. I pray Norway will soon allow dual citizenship as I yearn to spend much more time there.

    It is interesting that my g-g-g-grandfather Thor did not like America. After 18 months or so he returned to Norway leaving behind his son Christian and Christian’s Norwegian wife. Yet my maiden name stemmed from Thor, not Christian.

  2. i am from new York i wish i live in Norway as i think its so clam and clean over there and not too much crowded and just new York population is 8.5 million

  3. I live in USA since I was a teenager, and I am citizen of the country, but I still call Norway Home and visit as often as I can! My love for Norway will live forever ❤️Elin

  4. Hi All This is my first trip to Norway . I’m from Australia and am visiting my son who lives near Oslo. I’m also meeting my six month old grandson. My beautiful daughter in law is Norwegian. So this visit and future visits will open up a whole new world of adventure for my wife and I. We are staying for a few days at a bnb on an island Hanko . It’s absolutely idyllic. Cheers Bernie

  5. Hi, i have traveled to a few countries in previous years. They were beautiful and interesting. But, this country Norway Norweign is Fantastic. I have just read of so much interesting features. The friendly people, the charming culture, the lovely dishes and most important of the standard of Education and quantity of oil and gas. I am overwhelmed. I do hope and trust that the people there would continue to work together in unity and peace and embrace every opportunity that exist and most of all continue to Trust God for Everlasting Blessings. In the future i hope me and family can visit there. My plan is to recommend friends and tourist to choose visiting there as one of their prime destination.

  6. As a kiwi who has lived here for 10 years I’ve seen the city change. Mostly for the better. Inflation is noticeable however with a beer in town sitting around 100kr. (was 58kr at the same bar 7 years ago). A letter I posted locally got rejected yesterday as I used a stamp from last year which was 16kr.. (now its 23kr) Seems like bus tickets go up 4kr every year. So with development and population growth come some negatives also :-/ I’m moving to Bali for 2 dollar Nasi Gorangs!!! Laterz!!

    • I would not say that Norwegian people are immediately warm and friendly. It May take some taming but that is why I appreciated them so much. They are real, reliable and profound. Spent six months there back in 1991. My son was born there. My lastname is from Norge. There is a very strong attraction to return there indeniably.


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