Oslo is the capital of Norway. It is one of the largest cities in Northern Europe, which develops dynamically. The annual population growth of Oslo proves the fact that the city is constantly progressing and is attractive for people who arrive to the capital of Norway and settle there.
In this respect, it should be said that the share of the immigrant population increases fast that is another evidence of the attractiveness of the city not only for the local population but also for foreigners. At the same time, this trend may seem to be a bit unexpected, taking into consideration the fact that Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world along with London. Nevertheless. The steady development and economic stability allow Oslo remain a desirable destination for thousands of people.
On the other hand, the current prosperity and dynamic development of the city is a result of a long-lasting development of the city, which originate from the 8-10th cc AD. Historically, Oslo one of the main urban centers of Northern Europe and, today, its position and socioeconomic development are still very important not only for the population of Norway but for Northern Europe since Norway and Oslo is closely integrated into political and economic relations as well as cultural ones with neighboring Scandinavian countries. In such a situation, it is important to analyze the current situation in the city and its development in order to assess its prospects in the future since the steady development creates favorable conditions for the ongoing social and economic progress of the city for years ahead. In this respect, it is particularly noteworthy to focus on the local middle-class since it lays the foundation oat the local community and its representatives has the largest share in the overall population of the city that means that it is the middle-class that is likely to be the accelerator or driving force of the further social and economic development of the city, though the role of immigration, especially from non-western countries may be also very significant and should not be underestimated.
Oslo is one of the oldest urban settlements in Norway. At the same time, the city was an important political and economic center, which traditionally attracted people from nearby areas as well as from different part of Norway. The origin of the city dates back to the 8th century when the settlement was built just on the top of the Oslo Fjord, which actually became a predecessor of the large urban area, which is now known as Oslo. The settlement soon became one of the central urban settlements of Vikings. Due to its favorable physical position, Oslo became a prosperous city which attracted merchants from all over Scandinavia. The city became a trade center. At the same time, being located on the sea shore, Oslo naturally developed shipbuilding which was the traditional branch of Vikings’ economic activities. They needed ships to travel all over the continent and even cross the ocean to reach Greenland and North America. In such a situation, Oslo became an important trade and economic center of Scandinavia (Derry, 1972, 198). The fact that Oslo was also called the Capital of Vikings proves the great importance of the city at the epoch of Vikings.
In the course of time, Oslo grew larger and, it is worth mentioning the fact that it became a city only in the 10th century, when the first settlement transformed into a city. Throughout the Middle Ages kept growing, though in 1348 the city suffered from the Black Death which killed about a half of the population of Oslo (Haverkamp, et al., 2008, 131). Nevertheless, the city recovered and kept progressing since it could still benefit from its favorable physical location which stimulated the fast development of trade, crafts and industries. However, the epidemic of the Black Death has undermined political and social significance of the city and it was reduced to the province of Denmark. Since that time the decline of political significance of the city has started. In 1624 the city was completely ruined by the fire (Charbonneau, 1992, 167). In such a way, Oslo had practically disappeared as a city.
Nevertheless, the king could not ignore huge benefits which the country could have got from Oslo and the King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway decided to move the city from what is now called Old Town and rebuilt Oslo near the Akershus Fortress, which laid the foundation to the modern urban area which gradually expanded from this site. The “re-birth”ť of Oslo was quite natural since the city was not only an important economic center but it was also an important strategic center of the country (Hubbard et al., 1995, 271). In the 19th century, Oslo became a part of SwedenÂ and it got independence and became the capital of Norway in 1905 and in 1925 the city got its original name, Oslo, while when the city was under the Swedish rule it was called Kristiania (Nelsen, 1992, 235).
The 20th century was marked by the development of the city as a capital of Norway. After World War II Oslo grew particularly fast and it keeps developing dynamically at the present epoch. In actuality, the city is the largest city of Norway, its political and economic center.
Thus, throughout the history of Oslo, the city was the main political and economic center of Norway.
The fast development and huge political and economic significance of Oslo is, to a significant extent, determined by its physical conditions.
Being located on the sea shore, the city is an important port, which historically stimulated the development of trade and encouraged the development of ship-building industry. Today, the city has preserved its traditional industries, such as ship-building, but it has expanded substantially compared to past epoch. To put it more precisely, the total area of Oslo exceeds 110 sq.km. and about a half of the population of Norway are located in this area (Haverkamp, et al., 2008,, 32). The city develops dynamically,
At the same time, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the city tends to preserve its major historical monuments and the old part of the city, which is not re-built. Instead, the old part of the city is preserved and it is an important part of the city, which attracts tourists from Europe and all over the world. The development of city is accompanied by the creation of parks and numerous recreation zones. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Oslo was ranked as the number two in the list of greenest, most livable cities (Stewart, 2005).
The latter fact is particularly important, taking into consideration growing environmental concerns of the modern society. This means that the city has ample opportunities to grow further with the minimal negative impact on the environment.
The well-developed public transportation contributes to the decrease of traffic CO2 emissions, which pollute many large cities of the world (Kiel, 1993, 312). Even though the problem of pollution is not totally solved by the city, but the local authorities are extremely concerned with environmental problems and the city develops in accordance to the strategy of sustainable development. In other words, Oslo may be viewed as a city of the future in a way, due to its environmentally friendly strategies of the city development.
Historically, the favorable physical position of the city contributed to the fast economic development of Oslo. Today, Oslo is the economic center of Norway. However, it should be said that traditional industries, such as ship-building tend to lose their share in the city’s economy instead the tertiary industries prevail (see Appendices). In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that hospitality and leisure industry is developing particularly fast due to the development of tourism industry. obviously, the historical monuments as well as new places of interests, such as the Vigeland Park, attract a largeÂ number of tourists (Haverkamp, 2008, 216).
In fact, Oslo stimulates the development of its tourism industry and the planning and development of the city encourages the development of this industry and stimulates the faster progress of the hospitality and leisure industry. The abundance of parks within the city limit, which has actually made it one of the greenest cities in the world, are particularly important in this regard.
At the same time, the city has a low unemployment rate (see Appendices), which hardly exceeds 3%. Such a low level of unemployment is unusual for large cities like Oslo. Obviously, this fact proves that local economy develops dynamically. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the fact that the city’s boosting economy is also influenced consistently by a substantial flow of immigrants, which contribute to the ongoing development of the city and its economic growth.
Social development and demographics
In fact, demographics plays a very important role in the economic development of the city. Oslo needs labor force to keep progressing and maintaining its high standards of living. However, the local population is gradually aging and, in such a situation, the flow of immigrants becomes crucial for the steady economic development of the city. In this respect, it should be said that the growth of the city’s population occurs mainly due to the immigration, which remains high and the share of non-native population in Oslo steadily increases (see Appendices).
At the same time, the conditions of living and standards of living in Oslo are very high. The middle class comprises the foundation of the local society, while the gap between rich and poor is insignificant in Oslo, especially compared to other cities of the world, where such a gap may be enormous (Haverkamp, et al., 2008, 144). One of the markers of the prevalence of the middle class in Oslo’s economic and social life is the share of the population living in privately owned households and apartment blocks. The latter constitutes about 50% of the total population of Oslo (see Appendices), while the rest, i.e. about a half of the population lives in privately owned households, while the majority of households owns a car (see Appendices).
In such a way, it is obvious that the middle class is the socioeconomic basis of the local economy and society. No wonder, the city is concerned with the ongoing maintenance of the middle class. In this regard, the city stimulates the development of education, which is important basis for the further professional career and economic advances of the local population (see Appendices).
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Oslo is a socioeconomic center of Norway. The city is focused on the sustainable development and widely implements environmentally friendly strategies in its development. The city grows more and more diverse, but still remains tolerant in relation to immigrants. The tolerance of the local population can be traced in its council which is comprised of various political forces (see Appendices). At the same time, the sustainable development encourages the development of tourism, hospitality and leisure industry which become mainstream industries in the local economy. In addition, they contribute to the development of the local middle class which is the basis of the local society.