Norway is known for many things: its stunning landscape, its delicious food, and its tall population. In fact, the average height of a Norwegian is taller than almost any other country!
But while Norwegians are tall, they’re not actually the tallest people in the world. In fact, in Norway, the average height puts them well below their neighbors.
So why are Norwegians so tall? And which countries have beaten them in the height stakes? Keep reading to find out!
Average height of someone in Norway
In Norway, the average height is 172.65cm (5 feet 7.97 inches) tall. The average height of Norwegian men is 179.74cm (just over five feet ten inches) tall, while Norwegian women are, on average, 165.56cm (just over five feet five inches) tall.
While this does make it sound like the average height of Norway’s people means that they’ll tower over you when you visit, these figures actually make them the shortest in Scandinavia, with Norway “only” being the 17th tallest country in the world.
If you look at Sweden, the average height is 172.71cm (5 feet 7.99 inches) tall, with Swedish men being 179.73cm (5 feet 10.76 inches) tall on average, while Swedish women are 165.6cm (5 feet 5.23 inches) tall. This makes Sweden the 16th tallest country in the world, just above Norway.
Next is Finland, where the average height is 172.74cm (5 feet 8 inches) tall. When broken down by gender, a male Finn is an average of 179.59cm (5 feet 10.70 inches) tall, while the average height for women in Finland is 165.89cm (5 feet 5.31 inches) tall. The Finns are the 15th tallest country in the world, just pipping Norway and Sweden at the post.
We jump a bit for Iceland, where the people have an average height of 173.21cm (5 feet 8.19 inches). The average male height in Iceland is 180.49cm (5 feet 11.05 inches) tall, while the average height for an Icelandic woman is 165.94cm (5 feet 5.15 inches) tall, making Iceland the 10th tallest country in the world.
But towering over the rest of the region are the Danes, with the tallest average height by country in Scandinavia. In Denmark, the average height is 174.29cm (5 feet 8.61 inches) tall, with the average male height in Denmark being 181.38cm (5 feet 11.40 inches) tall and, for women, 167.21cm (5 feet 5.83 inches) tall. This makes the Danes the fourth tallest country in the world.
Are Norwegians tall?
Yes, Norwegians are tall. In fact, they’re the 17th tallest people in the world based on country, with the tallest average height by country going to the Netherlands where the people have an average height of 175.62cm (5 feet 7.96 inches).
While I covered above that the other Scandinavian countries actually have taller average heights than Norway, this certainly doesn’t mean that the Norwegian stereotype of all of them being tall is wrong.
Instead, with around 180 countries being shorter than Norway per average height, you’ll definitely notice the Norwegians standing tall when you visit.
(And it’s not only the Norwegian people that are tall, with some Norwegian birds being the largest of their species, including several eagles. But…does the bald eagle live in Norway or do others take the cake when it comes to size?)
Why are Norwegians so tall?
There are a few reasons why Norwegians are so tall, ranging from a healthy diet to excellent medical care and public health services. In addition, Norwegians tend to have an active lifestyle, with the outdoors being a key part of Norwegian culture. Most importantly, they tend to have tall genes.
Scientists believe that the main factor that influences a person’s height is their genes, with DNA being responsible for about 80% of someone’s height. However, environmental factors can also affect one’s height during development.
These include diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly – which, as you’ll see, could be factors for why, in Norway, the average height is so much more than most other countries.
(And could it be related that the tallest country in the world, the Netherlands, also gets the most sleep according to this study?)
1. Good diet
Norwegians have a diet that is rich in proteins and omega-three fatty acids, both of which are essential for growth. Norwegians also have access to fresh, healthy food like fish, vegetables, and fruit.
In fact, the Norwegian government recommends that everyone, regardless of age, should consume fish two to three times a week, which eqautes to about 300-450 grams of fish. Of this, at least 200 grams of fish should be fatty fish, which includes salmon, mackerel, trout or herring.
Seafood is not the only thing that Norwegians eat that contributes to their height. They also consume a lot of dairy products, which are rich in calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, and it can also help to increase height, although the recommendation is that people should consume low-fat dairy products.
2. Healthy lifestyle
Norwegians generally live a very healthy lifestyle. They are active and often participate in sports. They also have ever decreasing rates of smoking although, like most of the western world, weight gain is an issue.
However, it helps that outdoor sports are extremely popular in Norway. Skiing, hiking, and biking are all common activities – after all, there’s a reason that some of the most famous Norwegians are world record holding skiers. This exposure to fresh air and exercise is a strong contributing factor to the average height of Norwegians.
3. Tall genes
It is also worth noting again that tallness is often genetic with, as mentioned above, scientists believing that this is the main contributing factor to why someone may be tall. Tallness tends to run in families, so if your parents are tall, you’re more likely to be tall too.
This is certainly the case in Norway. With a long history of tallness in the population (just take a look at this list of Norwegian actors with a few names on it you may recognize who play, some would say, giant characters), it is no wonder that the average height of Norwegians is so high.
Related to this is that Norway is relatively homogenous. While immigration has increased in recent years, this homogeneity has meant that the overall gene pool consists of quite tall genes on average. This, in turn, continues to contribute to the average height of Norwegians being more than most other countries.
4. Good healthcare
Healthcare in Norway is renowned as being excellent. This means that people are able to access the medical care they need in order to reach their full potential height.
Norway has a universal health care system that provides free or low-cost health care to all citizens. This includes regular check-ups, which can help to prevent illness and disease. In fact, their overall life expectancy is one of the highest in the world, being ranked at number 17 – the same as Norway’s average height, funnily enough!
All this means that people tend to be very healthy which, in turn, contributes to strong growth during the development years.
5. Low air pollution
It is worth mentioning that Norway has very low levels of air pollution. This is important because exposure to pollutants can stunt growth.
The clean air and water in Norway help to keep people healthy and allow them to reach their full height potential.
It is clear that the average height of Norwegians is not a fluke. There are many factors that contribute to how tall the Norwegian population is. From genes to diet, lifestyle, and healthcare, it is no wonder that Norwegians are some of the tallest people in the world.
And even if some of their fellow Scandinavians may have just a few fractions of an inch over them, wander down any street in Norway and the average height of those around you will seem far from petite.