Stavanger is the 4th largest city in Norway, with a population of 120,798 (2008) and approximately 181,300 people in the conurbation, making the Stavanger-Sandnes city area the third largest in Norway. The city is commonly referred to as the Petroleum Capital of Norway.
The city is a combination of new and old influences. There is a significant foreign influence with the nearby Joint Warfare Center, a base where rotating NATO forces (but not permanently stationed foreign forces) are stationed, as well as foreign oil interests. Norway's oldest cathedral, Stavanger domkirke, is situated right in the city centre. Stavanger has several beautiful lakes, which are popular recreation areas. Breiavatnet is located in the heart of Stavanger, while and Stokkavatnet are situated right outside.
Stavanger fulfilled an important urban role even prior to its founding in the year 1125 around the time the Stavanger bishopric was established in the 1120s. A number of historians have argued convincingly that Nord-Jæren was an economic and military centre as far back as the 800-900s with the consolidation of the nation at Hafrsfjord. Stavanger grew into a centre of civic administration and an important south-west coast market town around 1100–1200. With the reformation in 1536, Stavanger's role as a religious centre declined, and the establishment of Kristiansand in the early 17th century led to the relocation of the bishopric. However, rich herring fisheries in the 19th century gave the city new life.
The city's history is a continuous alternation between upswings and recessions.
The city and its surroundings was deeply rooted in religion and Christian life, and for long periods of time its most important industries have been shipping, shipbuilding, the canning industry and associated subcontractors.
In 1969, a new upswing started as oil was first discovered in the North Sea. After much discussion, Stavanger was chosen to be the on-shore center for the oil industry on the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, and a period of hectic growth followed.
The Norse form of the name was Stafangr. Originally this was the name of an inlet (now called Vågen). The first element of the name is stafr m 'staff, stick'. This could refer to the form of the inlet, but also to the form of the mountain Valberget (Staven 'the staff' is a common name of high and steep mountains in Norway). The last element is angr m 'inlet, fjord'.
Stavanger is divided into 7 boroughs.
Stavanger is also partitioned into 22 parts and 218 smaller parts.
The Department of Adolescence and Quality of Life, in the municipality (Oppvekst og levekår i Stavanger kommune) has been split into 4 parts. These are independent of the borders of the boroughs. They are Eiganes and Tasta, Hinna and Hillevåg, Storhaug, Hundvåg and Madla. The Department of Labour and Wealth (Arbeids og velferdsetaten - NAV) which was opened 3 July. 2006, also uses this partitioning.
Starting in the 1880s, industry grew in Stavanger, primarily based on treatment and exports of fish and fish-products. The industry was however one-sided which left it vulnerable to changes in demand and was therefore particularly hard hit by the economical depressions between World War I and World War II.
After World War II, the canning-industry hit difficulties. Increased competition from abroad and old machinery led to decrease which was only partially compensated by an increase in shipping and boat-building.
In the 1960s, exploratory oil-drilling in the North Sea changed the situation for Stavanger. It is located close to the oil-fields, and Stavanger with its good harbour and plane-connections was well-positioned to take advantage of the increased activity.
After petroleum-exploration and production became the most important business sector in the Stavanger area during the mid 1970s, business and cultural climate has changed considerably.
The largest oil company in Stavanger is mainly state-owned oil company StatoilHydro who have their headquarters located in the suburban area of Forus, located between neighboring Sandnes and Stavanger.
The city of Stavanger is now running out of land for future development for housing and industry. To rectify this, the administration has approached the neighboring municipalities to propose a merger. This has not been welcomed by in particular Sandnes. Thus, it seems evident that the growth in the area will take place outside the boundaries of Stavanger.
The NATO Joint Warfare Centre is also located at Jåttå.
Access to Stavanger is provided through the Sørlandsbanen railway, and the road E39 from Kristiansand and E39 north on the west coast, Stavanger Airport, Sola with connection to domestic and international destinations, including Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, a port serving international ferries to Newcastle, UK (planned to close September 2008) and Hirtshals, Denmark. Local ferries goes to Tau and Kvitsøy, while fast passenger boats goes to many villages and islands between the main routes from Stavanger to Haugesund and Sauda.
The population of Stavanger has a high percentage of university educated with 31.3% of those above 16 years has higher education, compared to the national average of 24.2% (2006 figures)
Stavanger and its region, along with Liverpool, United Kingdom, has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2008. The Stavanger2008 vision is expressed through the concept "Open Port". This can be understood both in its English sense - "an open harbour", - and in its Norwegian meaning of "an open gate". Open Port – Openness towards the world. The region and its people is supposed to be even more open and inclusive towards art, ideas and opportunities.
Every May, Stavanger is host to MaiJazz, the Stavanger International Jazz Festival. The International Chamber Music Festival takes place every August. Stavanger was the host port of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race in 1997 and 2004.
Not too far from Stavanger, alpine centers are ready for skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter season.
Along the coast south of Stavanger there are a number of large, sandy beaches, including at Sola is within closest reach from the city.
Stavanger domkirke (St. Svithun's cathedral) was built between 1100 and 1125 by the English bishop Reinald in Anglo-Norman style, and in the late 13th century a new choir was added in Gothic style, with a vaulted roof. Among the old stone churches in Norway, the cathedral in Stavanger is among the best preserved.
The city centre itself is small and intimate, with narrow streets and open spaces protected from car traffic. The open-air vegetable market is one of the very few in Norway where you can buy produce directly from local farmers every working day through the year.
The museum of Archaelogy is one of five archaeological museums in Norway. According to the Museum itself it, follows a profile of environmental archaeology and interdisciplinary study, with a scientific staff that includes representatives from archaeology, the natural sciences and modern cultural history.
The Norwegian Petroleum Museum is located at the harbour. The museum reflects the fact that Stavanger has been Norway's oil capital since oil drilling activities started in the North Sea in 1966.
NORWAY'S PLEA FOR A SHARE OF CULTURE; ECHO Arts Editor JOE RILEY Reports from Stavanger in Norway, Liverpool's Official Capital of Culture Partner for 2008
Jun 14, 2004; Byline: JOE RILEY YES,just as rumour has it about Scandinavia,I was reading the newspaper in the street at midnight. But it was...