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(äz`lō, äs`–, Nor. o͝os`lo͝o), city (1995 pop. 482,555), capital of Norway, of Akershus co., and of Oslo co. (175 sq mi/453 sq km), SE Norway, at the head of the Oslofjord (a deep inlet of the Skagerrak). Oslo is Norway's largest city, its main port, and its chief commercial, industrial, communication, and transportation center. Manufactures include processed food, textiles, forest products, and machinery. It has significant electrotechnical, graphics, and printing industries.

Founded c.1050 by Harold IIIHarold III
or Harold Hardrada
, Norse Harald Harðráði [Harold stern council], d. 1066, king of Norway (1046–66), half-brother of Olaf II.
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, Oslo became (1299) the national capital. In the 14th cent. it came under the dominance of the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic League
, mercantile league of medieval German towns. It was amorphous in character; its origin cannot be dated exactly. Originally a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands.
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. After a great fire (1624), the city was rebuilt by Christian IVChristian IV,
1577–1648, king of Denmark and Norway (1588–1648), son and successor of Frederick II. After assuming (1596) personal rule from a regency, he concentrated on building the navy, industry, and commerce. He rebuilt Oslo and renamed it Christiania.
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 and was renamed Christiania (later Kristiania); in 1925 the name Oslo again became official. The city's modern growth dates from the late 19th cent., when it also replaced BergenBergen
, city (1995 pop. 221,645), capital of Hordaland co., SW Norway, situated on inlets of the North Sea. It is Norway's second largest city and a major shipping center.
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 as the main city in Norway. In World War II, Oslo fell (Apr. 9, 1940) to the Germans, and it was occupied until the surrender (May, 1945) of the German forces in Norway. The neighboring industrial commune of Aker was incorporated into Oslo in 1948.

Today, Oslo is a modern city in design and construction, and its government has fostered contemporary art in a number of impressive public projects. Among these are the 150 sculptural groups by Gustav VigelandVigeland, Gustav
, 1869–1943, Norwegian sculptor. Vigeland's sculpture owed much to Rodin in stylistic realism but was imbued with an unrestrained romanticism and emotionalism that far surpassed Rodin's.
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 in the famous Frogner Park. The city's chief public buildings include the royal palace (1848), the Storting (parliament), and the city hall (1950), which was decorated by many Norwegian artists. Surviving medieval structures include the Akerskirke (12th cent.) and the Akershus fortress (13th cent.), and there are ruins of the Cathedral of St. Hallvard, the first cathedral of Oslo. The Univ. of Oslo (founded 1811), the national theater (1899), the national gallery, the Oslo Opera House (2008), a Nobel Institute, and a college of architecture are among the city's cultural institutions. The Folk Museum has reconstructions of old Norwegian timber houses and of a 12th-century stave church, and the Kon-Tiki Museum has mementos of Thor Heyerdahl's trip (1947) across the Pacific Ocean. The Astrup Fearnley Museum (2012), a modern-art museum housed in a complex designed by Renzo PianoPiano, Renzo
, 1937–, Italian architect, b. Genoa. Piano attended architecture school at Milan Polytechnic, graduating in 1964. The prolific Piano has been lauded for responding to the needs of each building site rather than cleaving to a single architectural style and has
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, is located in Tjuvholmen, a redeveloped former industrial area characterized by striking contemporary architecture. The forested hills surrounding Oslo are popular excursion points; the annual Holmenkollen ski meet nearby attracts an international group of skiers. The 1952 Olympic winter games were held at Oslo. Drøbak, further south on the Oslofjord, is a winter port of Oslo and a summer resort.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the capital of Norway and the country’s economic and cultural center. It is situated on the northern coast of Oslofjord, which cuts deeply into the land, in a hilly area with maximum elevations of 300–400 m. The climate is temperate and maritime with mild winters. Temperatures average—5°C in January and 16°C in July, and the annual precipitation is 677 mm.

The city proper covers 453 sq km and has a population of 473,000 (1973). Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, such as Baerum, Asker, and Sandvika, it forms Greater Oslo, which has 700,000 inhabitants, or about 18 percent of the country’s population. Oslo is part of Akershus Fylke (county).

Administration. The city is administered by a municipal council elected by the inhabitants for a four-year term. A governing council, consisting of one-fourth of the representatives to the municipal council, elects from among its members a chairman and vice-chairman for one-year terms. The municipal council appoints municipal employees, manages municipal enterprises, and appoints radmenn (councillors) who are in charge of taxation, finances, communications, and other municipal functions. The central government is represented by a governor appointed by the king.

Historical survey. Founded around the year 1048 by King Harald III Haardraade, Oslo was the residence of Norwegian kings from the late 13th century to 1380. In 1572 it became the center of the Danish government in Norway. After a fire in 1624, it was rebuilt on a new site and named Christiania after the Danish king Christian IV. It retained the name until 1924. Declared the capital of Norway in 1814, Oslo developed rapidly as a center of industry and trade. From Apr. 9, 1940, to May 8, 1945, the city was occupied by fascist German troops and was a focal point of the resistance movement.

Economy. Oslo is Norway’s chief industrial and transportation center. Its port had a freight turnover of about 5 million tons in 1971, including 3.5 million tons of foreign-trade cargo. About 30 percent of the country’s imports and exports pass through the port. The city is also a railroad junction and has an international airport at Fornebu. Greater Oslo produces more than 20 percent of Norway’s industrial output. The industrial enterprises within the city limits employ 17 percent of Norway’s work force (64,000 persons in 1970) and produce 17 percent of the country’s industrial output. Oslo’s machine-building and metalworking industries account for more than 30 percent of Norway’s output of machinery and equipment. The leading industries are the production of machinery for the power and pulp-and-paper industries, shipbuilding and ship repair (the Aker Company), electrical engineering and electronics (the Tanberg Plant, manufacturing tape recorders and radio and television sets), and scrap metallurgy (an electric steel plant at Baerum). There are also clothing, printing, and food industries.


Architecture. Along the eastern shore of Pipervika Bay are the remains of the old city with Akershus Castle, built around 1300 and rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. North and northwest of the old city lie modern Oslo’s regularly laid out districts. The main thoroughfare, Karl Johans Gate, extends from the railroad station to the classical Royal Palace (1824–48, architect A. D. F. Linstow). Near the palace, on Karl Johans Gate, are the classical buildings of the university (1838–52, architect C. H. Grosh). The university’s auditorium, built in 1910–11 by the architect H. Sinding-Larsen, is decorated with murals by E. Munch. Also along Karl Johans Gate is the Storting (parliament), built in the eclectic style (1866, architect E. V. Langlet). The business section of the city lies between Karl Johans Gate and the port. Industrial enterprises are concentrated in the eastern part of the city, and luxurious residences are found in the western part.

Noteworthy architectural works include the baroque Cathedral (1690’s) and the the eclectic National Theater (1891–99, architect H. Bull). The Town Hall, built between 1933 and 1950 by the architects A. Arneberg and M. Poulsson, reflects the influence of the national romantic style. Its exterior is richly decorated with sculpture and its interior is adorned with murals by P. Krohg, E. Munch, and A. Revold. Also striking is the functionalist Government Building (1958, architect E. Viksj0). In accordance with the Greater Oslo development plan of 1948–50, new suburbs, such as Lambertseter, Tonsenhagen, and B0ler, are being built. Subways, most of them aboveground, connect the center of Oslo with the new residential districts and with the Holmenkollen ski jump. The hilly and wooded Nordmarka district to the north is a popular recreation area. Oslo has many parks, of which the most famous is Frogner Park, containing enormous sculptural groups by G. Vigeland (1900–43) and monuments by Vigeland and S. Sinding.


Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. The city’s leading educational and learned institutions are the University of Oslo, the Conservatory, the State Academy of Arts, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The largest libraries are the university library and the municipal library, and the most important museums are the University Museum of National Antiquities, the Norwegian Folk Museum (founded in 1894), the National Gallery (1837), and Museum of Applied Art (1876), and the Fram and Kon-Tiki museums on the Bygd0y Peninsula. The performing arts are represented by the National Theater (with two stages), the Norwegian Theater, the New Oslo Theater, and the Norwegian Opera.


Bull, E. Oslo historie Oslo, 1931.
Oslo: Planlegging og utvikling. Oslo, 1960.
Berg, A. Det gamle Christiania. Oslo, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital and chief port of Norway, in the southeast at the head of Oslo Fjord (an inlet of the Skagerrak): founded in about 1050; university (1811); a major commercial and industrial centre, producing about a quarter of Norway's total output. Pop.: 521 886 (2004 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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