Geographical Area

The NORA Region includes the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and coastal Norway (the 9 coastal counties of Norway, from Finnmark in the north to Rogaland in the south). Although the region covers an area of land and sea that is larger than the continent of Europe, it is sparsely populated. The distances between the four territories are vast and so is the distance between the NORA countries and the rest of the world. Despite the vast distances, shared characteristics, common challenges, and historical, institutional and cultural links bind the NORA countries together. Furthermore, the NORA Region is situated between Europe and North America as an entryway to the Arctic. This gives the region a strategically important position.

The NORA territories are coastal societies that, to a large extent, depend on the sea, are rich in natural resources and possess unique landscapes. Sharing these characteristics, the countries face many common challenges, the four most significant being, according to the OECD (OECD Territorial Review of the NORA Region 2011), 1) ensuring sustainable development in the fisheries sector, 2) enhancing economic diversification and innovation, 3) improving accessibility to the otherwise peripheral region, and 4) meeting climate change challenges.

As in all other transnational regions, the NORA countries have their own unique characteristics. Iceland and coastal Norway are much less dependent on fisheries and have more diversified economies than the Faroe Islands and Greenland. The Faroe Islands and Greenland are self-governing territories under Danish sovereignty, coastal Norway consists of ten regions belonging to a national state, and Iceland is an independent country.

The NORA Region’s Neighbours
The NORA region and the region’s neighbours, especially Canada and Scotland, have many characteristics in common, including high dependence on the sea, a resource-based economy, fragile marine environments, long distances, sparsely populated areas, out-migration, relocation from rural to urban areas, high cost for the provision of services, poor regional accessibility, a narrow export range and limited regional trade.

According to the OECD, all North Atlantic communities face similar demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges; therefore, an increased exchange between the NORA region and neighbouring countries may benefit all parties.

NORA considers cooperation with the neighbouring countries to be of great importance for development in the NORA region. Consequently, NORA, in the past few years, has sought to strengthen the relationship with Canada and Scotland and will continue to do so in the future.