The significance of coastal resources

In addition to the rich stands of fish, herring, and sea mammals and the ice-free and varied landscape, there were also a number of relatively nearby forests that belonged to the historic primary resource base of coastal Norway. Norwegian timber export began along the country’s southern and southwestern coasts. Here were the areas of the great European belt of coniferous forest that lay closest to the most important overseas markets: the Netherlands, the British Isles, and France.

Moreover, nearly all of these forest resources were near to navigable fjords and coastal waters. Even the much larger forests in Eastern Norway had the advantage of being relatively close to the coast and open, ice-free sea, when compared with the still more extensive forests of Sweden and Finland, not to mention Russia. The significance of proximity to the sea for transport economics is best illustrated by the fact that, before the opening of the first railway connection in 1852, it was cheaper to transport a barrel of salt from Spain to Kristiania (over 3,000 km) than from Eidsvoll to Kristiania (about 60 km).
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