A Flourishing City
With a population of 137,000, the region comprises the municipalities of Søgne, Songdalen, Iveland, Vennesla, Birkenes, Lillesand and Kristiansand. Surrounded by picturesque scenery - from tiny rocky islands in the fjords to snow-covered mountains inland – Kristiansand offers a rich variety of recreational activities.
Flourishing businesses around Kristiansand attract engineers and professionals from the University of Agder and other educational institutions within the city. Some of the largest companies are energybased, either as suppliers to the oil industry or as producers of or suppliers to the emerging renewable energy market. The Kristiansand region boasts a wide range of technological expertise with an international approach. When companies are looking for new businesses and projects to fund, it is just as natural to explore the financial markets in London or Paris, as it is to search locally or nationally.
Given its significant investments in culture, infrastructure and research, Kristiansand looks like an exciting place to be for years to come.
Historically, Kristiansand has been a busy international shipping port, a role that is still emphasised by the growing number of companies supplying personnel, equipment and services to the North Sea oil industry and the rest of the world. Kristiansand is well connected internationally.
A Green City
Kristiansand has been a green city for decades. The municipality is at the forefront when it comes to waste recycling, public transport and action on climate change. But the private sector is also stepping up to the immense challenges of creating sustainable development.
The City Council and the city’s industries have spent a significant amount of money cleaning the bay and the river. The seaside is going from strength to strength year by year, making Kristiansand’s city bay the cleanest when compared to other major cities. Today the river Otra is one of the most important salmon rivers in Norway.
Agder Energi (AE), Norway’s third largest energy group, is based in Kristiansand. Its activities include the production, distribution and sale of hydroelectric power, bio-energy and district heating. AE plans to become one of the largest producers of wind power in the increasing market for bio-friendly energy.
Elkem Solar produces silicon metal to the international solar cell industry. Shortages of high quality silicon metal currently represent the major obstacle in expanding this sector. This fresh effort has brought about an entirely new research environment.
The “Eco-Lighthouse” concept was born in 1996, when Kristiansand was chosen to participate in the programme. The goal is to help companies in Norway step up to environmental challenges. Companies are certified when they fulfil the environmental requirements set out by the Eco-Lighthouse Programme.
Currently consumers and businesses recycle more than 60 percent of the waste they produce. Returkraft AS, the new refuse disposal plant, deals with the remaining 40%, while producing enough power to supply 20,000 households annually.
Kristiansand is idyllically located on Norway’s southern coast and has long been a well-kept secret amongst Norwegians. The sea and surrounding fjords is perfect for recreational activities like fishing and sailing, and the nearby mountains are ideal for skiing and hiking. In the more urban areas, you will find a rich variety of cafés, restaurants, art galleries and museums.
Most Norwegians associate Kristiansand and the southern coast of Norway with mile upon mile of tiny rocky islands and picturesque white-painted houses in sheltered inlets — all set against a backdrop of lush green forests and lakes, and a mountainous, majestic inland.
Towns and villages in the region are relatively small and have easy access to nature. The region is known to be child-friendly, clean and safe. Scenic landscape and fresh air abounds.
Kristiansand boasts a rich variety of cafés, restaurants and cultural activities. Around the famous fish market, there are a number of restaurants offering fresh fish and other regional specialities. The old city of Kristiansand is home to Northern Europe’s largest collection of low, terraced, white, wooden houses dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
The river Otra, which runs practically through the city centre, is well known for its salmon fishing. Its water is very clean, as is the sea in and around Kristiansand. Thus the new beach, located in the heart of the city, is very popular.
You will also discover a whole range of inland activities like elk safari, salmon fishing, rafting and hunting. The beautiful countryside is also perfect for a long walk or a bike ride, or what about a swim in one of the many lakes?
Norway provides universal welfare services. All children are offered day care, child allowance and free dental care, while parents are offered an entire year of maternity or paternity leave and pensioners are given a minimum pension – to mention but a few of the broad range of services.
Kristiansand was named the Best City for Children and Teenagers in Norway a few years ago. The crime preventive program, the great diversity in cultural activities and the many youth centres were among the reasons given for the award.
Education and Research
The Kristiansand region is highly influenced by the broad research community and the educational institutions in the area. The University of Agder and the large processing industry are some of the major contributors to the innovation that characterise the southern part of Norway.
The University of Agder is the largest educational institution in the region with more than 12,000 students and 1,180 employees. It is funded by the government and offers almost 160 different programmes. The numbers of researchers and research fellows are growing rapidly.
There are several private educational institutions in Kristiansand. NLA Mediehøgskolen Gimlekollen School of Communication trains the journalists of tomorrow and Ansgar College offers studies in subjects such as religion, music and psychology.
Besides the University, there are many research activities in a variety of subject areas. In the non-profit sector, Agder Research employs more than 30 specialised researchers, Sørlandet Hospital approximately 50-100 (2016) and Elkem approximately 100. Many companies, like Glencore Nikkelverk, invest heavily in extensive research, development and innovation.
The different research and educational institutions work closely together. In most projects, they look to each other for other research subjects. Private companies fund public research, whereas different governmental funds finance private research. The common goal is sustainable development based on environmentally friendly innovation.
Agder Research is working on projects for Norwegian Ministries, local governments, regional partners, companies and the European Commission in the fields of business development, regional development and the public sector. The Competence Development Fund aims to contribute towards raising the general level of competence in the county of Vest-Agder to secure jobs and good living conditions.
A Multinational City
The region is becoming increasingly multinational, with more than 160 nationalities represented in the city of Kristiansand alone. Due to an increasing demand for professionals, there is a need for many more people from abroad.
NHO, Norway’s largest employer’s organisation, and the Municipality of Kristiansand are running the Global Future project. Its aim is to help people with a non-Norwegian background become eligible for new positions or to be board members in the Kristiansand region. Many foreigners have low-income jobs, but are highly qualified in their native countries. Global Future is seeking to change this to make the best possible use of these resources.
The Kristiansand Chamber of Commerce offers a comprehensive programme tailored to serve the needs of both the working expatriate and the companies that employ them. Amongst the services provided, you will find social events, monthly newsletters, a 24-hour emergency helpline, access to consultation, public lobbying and relocation services. The spouse career centre offers accompanying spouses advice with regard to working or studying in Kristiansand.
International education is available from 1st to 10th grade through the Kristiansand International School. Pupils with parents from abroad are given priority when they are here for a limited period of time. The school has the authorisation for both the IB Primary and IB Middle Years Programmes.
For many foreigners, Kristiansand is the city where their stay in Norway starts and ends. The city is well connected due to its proximity to the European continent. The airport and seaport serve more than 2 million people annually.
Trade and Travel
Historically, the demand for timber to build European fleets of sailing ships has provided an excellent basis for trade. Kristiansand was often the first port of call for sailing ships arriving from the Netherlands, Denmark, England and the Baltic countries. At the beginning of the 19th century, the town of Kristiansand boasted one of the world’s largest fleets of sailing ships.
The Airport is connected with the three major Norwegian cities and the international hubs in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. You will also find direct flights to various European destinations. The airport has a growing number of destinations and plans to expand to meet the increasing demand for new travel locations.
The port of Kristiansand has historically been important to the region’s development. It is still one of Norway’s busiest, and there are a substantial number of shipping agencies based here. Siem Offshore, with more than 600 employees, has a fleet of 56 ships, 9 of them are under construction. Ferries offer the fastest way to travel to Denmark by car. Unlike other cities, traffic is not a big problem in Kristiansand. The construction of new roads and highways in and around the region is shortening driving times and bus services are also available throughout the city and surrounding municipalities. Moreover, you will find an impressive offer of national express buses. By rail you can take the train to Stavanger or Oslo.
A Cultural City
Southern Norway is the region for festivals. During the summer music-festivals are held on several outdoor stages. The Quart Festival used to be one of the largest rock and pop festivals in Scandinavia, with previous performers including artists like Slash, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, The Who and Alicia Keys. Other festivals include the Protest Festival, which aims to fight indifference, the Children’s Film Festival, Palmesus Festival and the highly acclaimed Punkt Festival for live remix concerts.
Kristiansand was recently named the Best Cultural City in Norway, due to its strategic efforts to develop effort a broad range of cultural activities. The Kristiansand City Council established the Cultiva Foundation in 2002. With an investment of EUR 200 million, the Foundation aims to promote a more dynamic city through innovation, development and competence building within the creative environment of the city.
The new concert and theatre house, Kilden, opened its doors in 2012. With 2,200 seats, this is the most significant endeavour for decades in the cultural arena. Kilden houses all types of culture, including pop, rock and stand-up comedy, while housing the Agder Theatre, the Opera South and the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra.
Kristiansand Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway. The Zoo attracts 900,000 visitors each year. In addition to lions, tigers and other spectacular animals, you will find a water theme park, a theatre and other attractions.
Sør Arena is the region’s football stadium, the home arena of Start FC and a site for large concerts with top international artists. Sports in general are quite popular, as a third of the population is member of a sports club. Millions of euro are put into new facilities around Kristiansand each year.