Norwegian Language Blog

Tromsø Posted by on Jul 2, 2010 in Culture

Tromsø, a city lying over 200 north of polarsirkelen (the Arctic Circle) is the largest city and urban area in northern Norway. Even though it lies at a very high latitude, Tromsø is considerably warmer than other places at the same latitude.  This is due to the presence of the Gulf Stream.  The city of Tromsø lies on the island Tromsøya, which is separated by water in the east from mainland Norway and in the west from Kvaløya (an island named after whales).  The city itself boasts a nice sized population of about 53,000 people, while the municipality (which includes the city of Tromsø as well as outlying suburbs) is about 63,500 people. Tromsø is home to the largest fotball (soccer) team in the country, Tromsø I.L.

If you go to Tromsø or see pictures of Tromsø, you will immediately see what makes the city unique.  There are many things….Tromsø is home to the northernmost university (the University of Tromsø), botanical garden, planetarium, mosqueand brewery (the Mack brewery).

As you might imagine, Tromsø´s high latitude means it experiences intense light situations.  By that I mean it is VERY mørkt (dark) om vinteren (in the winter): pretty much no sunlight from mid-November to mid-January and VERY lyst (light) om sommeren (during the summer): late May to late July consist of pure sunlight 24 hours a day.  The presence of fjellene (the mountains) means when the sun is just above the horizon, it won´t creep over the top of fjellene, so there are times of the year that fjellene really dictate if the people on the other side will see the sun or not!

I am actually moving to Tromsø in a few weeks and the lack of sunlight om vinteren was definitely a concern of mine.  However, having talked with natives who live there and others who have spent time there, mørketid (dark time, as it is called) is actually quite koselig (cozy).  People focus on being with friends and family, making nice dinners, and enjoying outdoor winter activities.

Demographics in Tromsø are interesting to me.  While there isn´t as much ethnic diversity as there is in Oslo, for example, the most prominent minorities are the Sami, Russians, Finns, and Kvens (descendants of Finnish peasants and fisherman from several centuries ago).  There is even a Sami kindergarten now and Sami language classes in school.

You might think that because it is so far up north, on a small island, that Tromsø wouldn´t have much going on.  Not true!  Besides all of the outdoor activities, there is a vibrant night life with pubs and clubs, as well as a great music scene.  I have been told you can find live music somewhere every night.  There are also several annual music and film festivals.

Tromsø is one of the best places to see nordlys (Northern Lights).  Who wants to go to Tromsø now?  Me!!!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Jacek:

    I also want to go to Tromso 🙂 some day i will make my dream come true and see this beautiful city.
    How long are you planning to stay in Tromso?
    Hilsen fra Polen

  2. Catalina:

    Og meg … Mitt ønske er å komme å se Norge. Jeg vil bo der for alltid, hvis jeg fikk sjansen. Jeg elsker Norge, med fjell, med hav, himmel og skyer som ser ut til å falle over deg. Og selvfølgelig nordlyset… 🙂
    Catalina fra Romania

  3. Nanct Kelly:

    We spent several says inTromso following a cruise through the firords from Bergern with Norwegian family. It was wonderful. The 24 hour light was disconcerting to begin with but we became used to it. We attended a wonderful concert in the artic church inTromso at midnight.