Norway is a highly developed, industrial country with an open, export-oriented economy. Listed as one of the richest countries in the world, it has also achieved top-rankings with regard to standard of living, life expectancy, overall health and housing standards.
The high level of material wealth is partly due to an abundance of natural resources, and partly due to Norway’s inclusion in the industrialization of Western Europe, as a result of its close proximity to the major markets. Norway has actively implemented the restructuring measures needed to achieve economic growth. Extensive trade and contacts with other countries have given Norwegian industry a foundation on which to develop an advanced economy. High investments in production equipment, improved and extended education as well as technical and organizational expertise in industry and public administration have also helped to promote growth.
The Twentieth Century represented a period of continuous vigorous economic growth in Norway. Since the 1970s, the offshore oil industry has played a dominant role in the Norwegian economy. Only 21% of Norway is productive land (3% cultivated land and 18% productive forest). Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), but participates in the EU common market as a signatory to the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement between the countries of the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).