Oslo (between 1624 and 1925 - Christiania, from 1877/1897 also written Kristiania) is Norway's capital, smallest county in area and most populous city. The county and the city municipality are located in the central eastern region, in the innermost part of the Oslo Fjord. With its 1,019,513 inhabitants, the urban area consists wholly or partly of the buildings in Oslo and eleven nearby municipalities. Oslo Municipality is the center of the contiguous urban area and had 693,491 inhabitants (as of the first quarter of 2020). The entire Greater Oslo region had 1,546,706 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2020). The neighboring municipalities are Bærum and Ringerike in the west, Lunner in the north, Nittedal, Lillestrøm, Lørenskog and Enebakk in the east, and Nordre Follo and Nesodden in the south. Oslo is, as the only Norwegian municipality, also a county, and is thus in a special position with regard to local government. Modern Oslo comprises two historic municipalities, the historic market town of Oslo / Christiania, and the former rural municipality of Aker, which before the merger in 1948 was 27 times larger than the then Oslo and which thus constitutes most of the modern city's territory. Oslo / Christiania was the capital of the Akershus castle and the Akershus diocese, which included most of Eastern Norway, until it was separated as a separate sub-district in 1842, and continues to be the administrative center for the sub-district / county Akershus to which the city previously belonged. The modern municipality was named after the medieval city of Oslo in 1925; before 1925, Oslo designated a much smaller area, now known as the Old Town, which until the end of the 19th century was a rural area in Aker outside the city.


Oslo is characterized by proximity to forests and fields and by a rich flora and fauna. About 2⁄3 of the municipality's area consists of forests, green areas and water outside the urban development itself, which gives a population density of around 5,000 inhabitants per km² in the built-up part of the municipality. The densest part of the city is located in a cauldron surrounded by green hills. Rivers such as Alnaelva, Akerselva and Lysakerelva flow from the hills through Oslogryta and out into the fjord. One kilometer east of Oslo Central Station is the Ekeberg slope with a nature reserve and with Stone Age monuments from up to 10,400 years back in time. Marka is a short subway ride away from the city center.

East of Bjørvika, below Ekeberg, is the Old Town, in archeological circles referred to as the Nordic Pompeii due to thick cultural layers underground. According to archaeologists, Oslo was established with an urban structure around the year 1000. The old town's core area is Northern Europe's largest medieval urban area after Visby, and in its entirety protected. In King Håkon Magnusson's time, the medieval town was at its largest. Håkon expanded the city to the east with, among other things, the Oslo Franciscan monastery. On the opposite side of Bjørvika, he built Akershus Castle and Fortress as his residence, and in 1314 power was concentrated in Oslo. After Norway got a common king with Denmark, Copenhagen became a city of residence and a seat for the state administration. Oslo retained some capital functions throughout the Danish era, and was referred to as the Capital.

Oslo was the area in Norway that was hardest hit by the Black Death. Then followed the 1400s and 1500s with a further decline, demographically and economically. The Reformation meant that Oslo also lost the church as a significant workplace. After the three-day city fire in 1624, King Christian IV decided, against the will of the citizens, that the city should be rebuilt on the opposite side of Bjørvika by Akershus Fortress. The city was to be built with fireproof houses in masonry for the nobility and the rich, while ordinary citizens could build in brickwork. The city was given a city plan with straight streets and rectangular quarters according to the ideals of the Renaissance, and it was named Christiania after the king. The oldest Christiania is today known as Kvadraturen.

At the dissolution of the Danish-Norwegian union in 1814, the city was obvious as the capital of the independent state of Norway. Oslo was a smaller city by European standards until the 19th century, but after industrialization, growth accelerated. Around 1900, the city was a well-established industrial center with almost 250,000 inhabitants. In 1925, the capital was named Oslo after the old town under Ekebergåsen. In 1948, Aker municipality was incorporated, and several of Akergårdene were expanded into suburbs. After a period of relatively stable population, Oslo is again in strong growth and growing faster than other Nordic capitals. The rising population is mainly due to immigration from abroad. As of 1 January 2012, 23 per cent of Oslo's population are immigrants, with Norwegian-Swedes and Norwegian-Pakistanis as the largest minority groups.

Name and etymology
The name "Oslo" was originally used for the built-up area on the site which from 1925 is called the Old Town. In the Middle Ages, the name was written in Norse, including Anslo, Ásló and Ósló (first known in 1225). Anslo was also written in Low German, probably to reproduce a nasal pronunciation. Peder Claussøn Friis wrote the name as Opslo.

The name has been explained in various ways through the ages and the age of the name is uncertain. Peder Claussøn Friis wrote in Norway's description, published in 1613, that "Oslo" comes from "Loens os". The explanation has been school literature for a long time. Two factors cast doubt on the more than four hundred-year-old theory: First, the earliest written evidence for the river name "Loen" can be found in his own Norway description from 1613; in the medieval sources the river is called «Oln» or «Eln», later «Alna» or «Elna». Secondly, according to the linguists, the juxtaposition of the joints is incorrect. If Oslo had come from "Loens os", the city would have had the name Loaros, cf. Nidaros and Røros.


The last part of the name is usually interpreted in light of the Norse lo in the sense plain, meadow plain or river plain. What is today Greenland was a shallow swampy area. The first part is apparently related to the Norse ace in the sense of ridge, or in the sense of god. The interpretations are thus "åslletta" (plain below the hill) or "gudesletta" (plain of the gods). The latter interpretation is also justified by the fact that in the sense god had the Old Norse form «* ​​ansuR», and Oslo was written «Anslo» in Old Low German and Dutch, and in Latin «Ansloa» or «Ansloia». According to Frode Korslund, "Ósló" is a younger religion of "Ásló" which is interpreted as "plain under the hill", Korslund believes that comparison with similar place names and topography supports this interpretation. In the Middle Ages, the vowels ó and á were pronounced quite similarly, and the transition from Ásló to Ósló, according to Korslund, took place through vocal assimilation. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the usual spelling was Opslo or Opsloe.

Barent Langenes' map from 1602 writes Anslou, Janssonius' map from 1658 indicates Obslo (in addition to Christiania), Baleus' map (1662) has Opslo and Sanson's map (1668) has Obslo and Anslo.

After 1624
After the great fire in 1624 and the reconstruction on the west side of Bjørvika, the town was named Christiania after King Christian IV. From the end of the 19th century, the spelling Kristiania was also used, first in state contexts from 1877, and in municipal ones from 1897. No formal decision was ever made to move to K, and private individuals could write the name of the city as they wanted. The name was abbreviated Chr., Chra, Chria and Xania, in line with the fact that the letter X was widely used as an abbreviation for «christ (i) -» / «krist (i) -», also in personal names in church books. Oslo remained the name of the former urban area east of the Akerselva, outside Christiania itself.

From the 1860s, some prominent women and men began to use Oslo instead of Christiania, including the painter and women's rights activist Aasta Hansteen. After the dissolution of the union in 1905, the idea of ​​a name change became more relevant. Kristiania's trade stand was negative to the idea of ​​a name change, and had the majority in the city council on its side. On 11 July 1924, the Storting ruled by law that Norway's capital would be called Oslo from 1 January 1925. Since Oslo at that time, the name of the district included the medieval city and the roof fields - an area that was previously located in Aker and which ended up within the city limits at the city expansions in 1859 and 1878 respectively - this parish had to be renamed. They then chose the unofficially incorporated name of the old Oslo, the Old Town.

In 2009, the majority in the city council's Culture and Education Committee agreed to call Oslo the center of Kristiania, following a proposal from the Liberal Party and with support from the city council party Conservatives and mayor Fabian Stang. This aroused opposition from the Conservative Party's coalition partner the Progress Party and from parts of the opposition (Red and Labor Party), before it came up for consideration in the city council. The proposal was thus never adopted.

Oslo is also called Tigerstaden. The starting point for the nickname is apparently Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's poem "Siste sang" from Digte og Sange (1870). In the poem, "tiger" is used symbolically for a ruthless metropolitan society (implicitly Christiania) that attacks a "horse of the country" (implicitly Bjørnson) during ovations from the "people". The poem declares no winner, but states that «the battle has no end». Oslo municipality used tiger as a logo when the city celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 2000, which received a mixed reception in Oslo.

In the 2010s, Oslove was proposed as an official name in Southern Sami. The name has been used among southern Sami since the late 20th century, but is also inspired by the meaning it gets as a telescopic word in English ("Oslo love"); Oslo is not even located in the South Sami language area, which has its center of gravity in Trøndelag and Helgeland. Among Kvens in Troms and Finnmark, Uslu has been used about the city.

The area that makes up Oslo is part of the 800s-900s in Viken, the northernmost Danish province; control later alternates between Danish and Norwegian kings, and Denmark claims the area until 1241
The episcopate of Oslo was founded in 1070.
The town was set on fire by Erik Emune (Danish king) in 1137.
Inge Krokrygg dies in battle against Håkon Herdebrei on the ice under Ekeberg in 1161.
Bagels and birch trees fight in 1197.
Birkebeiner fights against farmers from Viken, on the ice in Bjørvika in 1200.
The battle in Oslo between Duke Skule and King Håkon Håkonsson in 1240.
Akershus Fortress resists Duke Erik of Sweden's attack in 1308.
The royal power in Norway is centralized in Oslo from 1314.
Akershus Fortress is attacked by Karl Knutsson in 1449.
King James VI of Scotland and Princess Anna of Denmark married in Oslo in 1589.
Oslo was rebuilt west of the Akerselva by order of King Christian IV in 1624. Before the city fire this year, the city was east of the river.
After reforming the civil administration under the autocracy, Christiania was part of the Akershus diocese.
Charles XII conquered the city in 1716.

The census is held for the first time in 1769, and it counts 7,469 inhabitants in the city.
Christiania was separated from Akershus as a separate county (county) in 1842.
Aker herred was incorporated into Oslo municipality in 1948.

Oldest registered settlement
The oldest registered traces of settlement in the Oslo area are located by Elgsrudtjernet in Sørmarka, and are approximately 11,000 years old. The Ekeberg area has also been densely populated already in the Stone Age. The oldest traces on Ekeberg are dated by the National Heritage Board to be approximately 10,400 years old. Here are also rich deposits of Bronze Age and Iron Age monuments.

The Viking Age and the High Middle Ages
In Viking times, the area that makes up modern Oslo was part of Viken, which then constituted the northernmost Danish province. The later Oslo was, for example. within Harald Blåtann's Danish kingdom. The first Norwegian king to take control of Viken may have been Olav Tryggvason (Norwegian king ca. 995–1000), but Danish kings continued to claim Viken until King Valdemar Seier, who died in 1241.

Old Oslo
According to Snorri's royal saga, Kaupstaden Oslo was founded around the year 1048 by King Harald Hardråde. Archaeological excavations in the 1970s have shown that Oslo had an early urban structure as early as around the year 1000. In 1070, Oslo became the episcopal see. The city's cathedral, Sankt Hallvardskatedralen, was built on the hill by Oslo square at the beginning of the 12th century. Oslo School, also known as Oslo Cathedral School, was founded in 1153.

The battle of Oslo in 1240, was fought by the forces of Duke Skule against King Håkon Håkonssons.

During the High Middle Ages, the population doubled, estimated at 3,500. In the decades around the year 1300, the medieval city of Oslo was at its largest. Håkon Magnussons, Duke of Eastern Norway towards the end of the 13th century, started a number of construction activities, including the expansion of St. Mary's Church and the start of Akershus Castle and Fortress. When Håkon was to take over the royal crown in 1299 after the death of his brother Eirik II, he chose Oslo as the coronation city. In 1314, power was centralized to Oslo, among other things by the rector of St. Mary's Church being appointed chancellor of the kingdom forever. The newly appointed chancellor was given the task of keeping the king's seal and being the leader of a national council.

Old Oslo was hit by repeated fires. Among other things, the city was looted and burned by Duke Erik of Södermanland in 1308. The still unfinished fortress withstood the siege, and the city was rebuilt on the old plots. During the Black Death, the population was reduced by about a third. During the union period with Denmark, the city lost its status and stagnated financially. The Reformation reduced the church's importance as an economic power factor, and the loss of jobs contributed to the city's decline. The Reformation made most of the city's many churches and monasteries redundant, and they were therefore left to decay and plunder after the city fires.

During the Swedish siege in 1567, the citizens themselves set the city on fire, and then rebuilt it. Oslo also had a well-educated academic environment associated with the cathedral and the school. The so-called Oslo Humanists were a scholarly circle with a significant literary production. Through their work, they made Oslo the country's cultural center between 1580 and 1610.

Christiania from 1624
The three-day city fire of August 1624 was fatal. Of the city's monumental buildings, only two survived the fire: Hallvard Cathedral and Oslo's then diocese. (In the wake of the Reformation, the Bishop of Oslo had moved to the east wing of the former Olav Monastery, which in 1623 was added to a more modern bishop's courtyard). The devastating fire led to the town being newly built on the opposite side of Bjørvika at the request of King Christian IV. At the same time, the city was named Christiania after the king.

On Stortorget in Oslo is a statue of Christian IV, made by Carl Ludvig Jacobsen.

Christiania was built as a fortified city surrounded by ramparts with bastions and with Akershus as a citadel. The zoning plan according to the ideals of the Renaissance, with straight and wide streets around right-angled quarters, was to prevent future fires. The orthogonal street network was the origin of the special Norwegian word kvartal, which is not known with this meaning in other Nordic languages. The original Christiania within the ramparts with its four districts or neighborhoods was therefore called the quarters, until in the 20th century the term Kvadraturen was used for this area.


Christian IV also introduced coercion as a fire prevention measure. He ordered that noble and wealthy citizens should build in masonry, while ordinary citizens could build in masonry. Half-timbering became the most common method of construction; at the first fire assessment in 1766 was approx. 50% of the front houses built in half-timbering. But many defied the brick wall and built houses of half-timber. It was reluctantly accepted by the authorities, and from 1657 it was allowed to build log houses in the new quarters on fulfilled beach land in Bjørvika. After a large city fire that in 1686 destroyed the quarters west of Christiania peat, most of the houses were rebuilt in half-timber, and only after the next major fire in 1708 was the brick wall completed. In 1766, the log houses amounted to approx. 30% of the buildings and brick houses only 20%.

Around the town west of Akerselva, the inhabitants were given a 4.5 square kilometer area as urban land, common land for use as pasture and for cultivation, and where each property in the city could have a piece of fence as its own loop. Both on the urban land and east of the Akerselva, more self-grown suburbs arose, where many workers settled in cheaper wooden houses, but without the right to run their own business. After the fire in 1686, the ramparts around the city were closed and the city's new cathedral built outside. In 1736, the market trade was moved after the Cathedral, to the current Stortorget. The suburbs now began to expand northwards. The 18th century was an economic upswing with significant growth in shipping and timber exports, and the population increased towards the end of the union era.

In 1661, the medieval city council, which consisted of mayors and councilors, was transformed into an autocratic city governing body, the magistrate, a college of the king's officials. The civic influence took place through a weak exchange and from 1730 "the twelve elected men", an elected body with a certain influence on the city government.

During the time of autocracy, the perception of Christiania as the capital of Norway existed, although the city gradually lost its special position. In 1686, the town clerk Kastberg from Trondheim described Christiania as the country's capital in terms of politics and the judiciary, while Bergen was the country's capital in terms of trade. Bergen was also a much larger city. Between 1625 and 1644, eleven lords' days were held in Norway, half of these in Akershus, four in Bergen and one in Trondheim. The pillar assemblies held at Akershus were abolished during the dictatorship. Cases concerning mineral extraction were decided at the mining area at Kongsberg.

The capital Christiania
When Norway was separated from Denmark in 1814, Christiania became the capital of the independent state of Norway. Before the national assembly at Eidsvoll, there was talk of several capitals in Norway, the diocesan capitals Christiania, Kristiansand, Bergen and Trondheim, which were the main cities in each region and each diocese. According to historian Jacob Maliks, the constitution meant a centralized unitary state where power was concentrated in Christiania. Before 1814, there was partly different legislation for the diocesan offices, the military was organized around the diocesan capitals, and there was also the management of public finances that was supervised directly from Copenhagen. From the diocesan court, it could be appealed directly to the Supreme Court in Copenhagen. With the exception of Zahlkassen, no central institutions in Norway were established before 1814. When a request was made for a separate university in Norway, Kristiansand, Kongsberg (where the Berg seminar was already), Kristiania and Hamar were relevant. The office of governor was abolished in 1771. According to Knut Mykland, Norway did not have its own central administration at the beginning of the 19th century. The diocesan offices were the most important administrative function and these regions were relatively separate from each other.

In 1800, Copenhagen was the capital of Norway, but Christiania and Bergen were larger than some Danish provincial cities. Including the suburbs, Christiania had just over 12,000 inhabitants in 1814, while Bergen had 17,000, and Copenhagen by comparison more than 100,000 inhabitants. The next cities in Denmark itself were Helsingør, Odense, Ålborg, Randers and Århus with 5,000–6,000 inhabitants each, and in the duchies of Flensburg with 13,000, Altona with 23,000, Kiel and Rendsborg with 7,000 each and Glückstadt with 5,000 .

During the Napoleonic Wars of 1807, the sea route between Norway and Denmark became unsafe. To take care of the government of Norway in the king's place, a government commission and a number of other public bodies were set up in Christiania under the leadership of Prince Christian August. Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg and Enevold Falsen also joined the commission. The National Assembly decided that the Storting should meet in the kingdom's capital, without specifying the name of the city. Nicolai Wergeland proposed "Christiania Bye" instead of the Capital of the Kingdom in § 68.


The state administration and the national institutions that were established created the conditions for new growth. Public servants with good purchasing power and the building of national institutions with their buildings stimulated demand. An even stronger growth factor was industrialization, which really gained momentum after 1840. The 19th century was a time of strong expansion for the city, and many public buildings were erected - the Palace, the University buildings, the Storting building, the National Theater and many more. The public buildings west of Kvadraturen were built on plots in the new district which was planned by the Castle's architect Linstow in 1838, with Karl Johans gate as the main axis. The quarters here attracted better-off sections of the population who settled in tenements and later also in residential areas such as Homansbyen. The bulk of the industrial development took place at the same time along the Akerselva on the east side of the city, and the workers settled as close to the factories as possible. This led to the social divide between the eastern edge and the western edge which has since characterized the city. At the end of the 1830s, Christiania passed Bergen as the country's largest city. In the 1840s, about half of Christiania's population was associated with the function as capital, including the many construction works that the capital function entailed.

In the second half of the 19th century, new districts emerged to provide housing for the immigrants who were to staff the new factories. On 1 January 1859, Bymarken and part of Aker municipality with 9,551 inhabitants were incorporated into Christiania. On 1 January 1878, further parts of Aker (with 18,970 inhabitants) were transferred to the capital. The background for these urban expansions was that they wanted to regulate the social and building conditions in the suburbs and introduce wall constraints to reduce the risk of fire. In the 1880s and 1890s, there was a boom with an increasingly hectic construction activity, where much of what is today called the brick town with tenements was built. After the crash in 1899, construction activity fell sharply, and from 1905 there was almost a standstill until 1910/1911, when the municipality began to get involved in housing construction.

The city of Oslo
Growth continued at a somewhat slower pace throughout the 20th century. A large-scale zoning plan from the 1930s for Etterstad was partially realized, but the work was stopped by the war. The area was transferred from Aker to Oslo in 1946 in connection with development according to a new plan. In 1948, the area and population increased significantly when the remaining parts of Aker municipality in Akershus were incorporated into the capital. Aker municipality was then 27 times larger than Oslo in geographical extent and had around 133,000 inhabitants. The city's new town hall was completed in 1950 after being under construction since 1931.

In the 1950s, a large-scale development of slums in the former Østre Aker was carried out to solve the housing shortage in Oslo. Grefsen and Kjelsås were also expanded, mainly with villas and semi-detached houses. The Drabant towns around the Baltic Sea had had a city tram connection with the city since the interwar period, but this was significantly upgraded when the metro was opened in 1966 and also connected Groruddalen to the city center. The western and eastern tracks were connected in 1993 with the Fellestunnelen.

The city's 1000th anniversary was celebrated in 2000, just 50 years after the city's 900th anniversary. This was justified by the fact that recent archaeological excavations showed that Oslo had an urban structure already around the year 1000; The Cultural History Museum stated in 2011 that «the oldest urban settlement that has so far been excavated in the Old Town dates back to approx. 1025 ».

The previous 900th anniversary was justified by the fact that Snorre in Heimskringla says that Oslo was founded around the year 1048 by King Harald Hardråde.