A trading settlement was established in Bergen during the 1020s or 1030s. Towards the end of the 13th century, Bergen became one of the Hanseatic League's most important bureau cities.
The main reason for Bergen's importance was the trade with dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around 1100. By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the centre of the trade in Norway. The Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, where Middle Saxon was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen that each summer sailed to Bergen.
Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggen is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.
The Black Death
In 1349, the Black Death was inadvertently brought to Norway by the crew of an English ship arriving in Bergen.
Surrounded by mountains
Bergen is surrounded by mountains. The funicular Fløibanen runs up the mountain of Fløyen, and is one of Bergen's major tourist attractions and one of Norway's most visited attractions. Over 1 million passengers a year have used it over the past few years.
Mild winters and cool summers
Bergen features a temperate oceanic climate with relatively mild winters and cool summers. Despite being so far north, Bergen's weather is relatively mild. In the winter, Bergen is one of the warmest cities in Norway, thanks to the Gulf Stream.
89.4% of Bergen's residents are ethnic Norwegians. 2.1% were first or second generation immigrants with Western backgrounds and 6.6% were first or second generation immigrants with non-Western backgrounds. The population growth with 4,305 persons in 2008, who is a growth rate of 1,7%. 96% of the population live in urban areas.
Bergen has one university, the University of Bergen, and one university college, Bergen University College (Norwegian: Høgskolen i Bergen), with a total of 22,000 students and 3,600 staff. The University of Bergen is the third largest university in Norway, after the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.