Greater Oslo hits the million mark

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More than a million people now live in the greater Oslo metropolitan area, marking the first time Norway can lay claim to an urban center over the million-mark. New statistics released Monday also show that 82 percent of Norway’s population now lives in cities and towns.

Major construction projects are underway all over Oslo, like here on the city’s eastern waterfront at Bjørvika, which is the site of numerous new residential and commercial developments. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“Stockholm and Copenhagen can stop boasting,” claimed the leader of Oslo’s city government, Raymond Johansen of the Labour Party. “Now Oslo is in the same company.”

State statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) reported that Norway had a total of 994 so-called tettsteder, literally “tight places” and defined as a group of homes located less than 50 meters apart and where at least 200 people live.

The number of people living in such communities rose by 44,800 in 2017, according to SSB, while the number of people living outside such communities declined by 5,850.

Large area
The Oslo tettsted consists of 12 municipalities in the counties of Oslo, Akershus and Buskerud, covering 270 square kilometers and extending from Lier in the west to Sørum in the east. The City of Oslo itself has seen its population grow to around 600,000 in the past year, while the surrounding metropolitan area keeps growing as well, with new housing developments considered within commuting distance of the Norwegian capital.

Oslo’s tettsted gained 11,600 new residents in 2017 and could claim a total population of 1,000,500 at the beginning of this year. Fully 99 percent of all those living in the County of Oslo itself live in an area defined as a tettsted, in contrast to Hedmark County to the east. Its population centers like Hamar are growing as well, but only 58 percent of all county residents in Hedmark live in a “tettsted,” reflecting the county’s vast forests and agricultural land.

In Oslo, population growth was among the highest in all of Europe during the years from 2010 to 2012. The number of residents grew by 64,000, or 7 percent, between 2013 and 2017. The pace of population growth has since slowed but continues, with SSB predicting that 1.13 million will live in greater Oslo by 2030 and 1.2 million by 2040.

Still small in global terms
Johansen noted that Oslo remains a small city in global terms, “but in national terms we really are a big city now, and no longer a place where you see the same folks on the street all the time.” Astrid Syse, a senior researcher at SSB, told newspaper Aftenposten that much of Oslo’s growth is attributed to both international and domestic migration, with many Norwegians moving to Oslo to study and then staying or moving just outside the city when they establish families.

“There has been centralization during the past 100 years, and it doesn’t look like that trend is abating,” Syse told Aftenposten. Norway continues to practice “district politics,” however, aimed at keeping the country’s outlying areas populated through everything from subsidy for farmers, infrastructure development and tax breaks.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund