Municipality in the Norwegian county of Nordland. Norway's 4th largest municipality (4463 km2). The Arctic Circle cuts through Rana about 80 kms north of the municipal center, Mo i Rana. Population: Approx. 25 000.
Although considered by many Norwegians (notably those living down south) to be "way up north"), Rana is actually 1500 kilometres from Kirkenes, the northernmost point of Norway, and 1430 kilometres from Lindesnes, which is the southernmost point.
Enough geographical facts, already. (Mo i) Rana was first and foremost known in Norway for its humongous iron works, which was built after World War II and experienced a significant boom in the decades to come. In 1946, Rana had 9000 inhabitants, in 1976, there were 23 000 people living in Rana. This is why most of the homes and other buildings in the district date from this era. An architectural delight, Rana ain't, although the odd picturesque building can be found.
For a long time, it seemed a given fact that anyone who wanted, would get employment at the iron works or the related industries. However, during the 1980s, the local industry experienced enourmous downsizing - 1200 people lost their jobs between 1983 and 1987, and several of the factories were shut down entirely from 1988.
Industry still plays a significant part in local employment, and the municipal center in particular is still in many respects an industrial community. In later years, however, the Norwegian state has become one of the major employers in Rana. The biggest branch of the Norwegian National Library is placed there, so is the State Agency for the recovery of fines, damages and costs ("Statens innkrevingssentral"), the agency in charge of the national broadcasting license and a section of the Norwegian customs and excise. Except, perhaps, for the National library, those may not be terribly popular institutions among most Norwegians, but they have probably played a significant part in saving Rana after the industry bust. On state employee payday (12th of every month), a large proportion of local restaurant tables seem to be reserved...
In later years, Rana has taken to using Antony Gormley's statue Havmannen ("the man from the sea") as something of a municipal symbol. The gigantic statue, which is placed in the basin near the Mo i Rana harbour, raised a lot of controversy at its arrival as part of the much-debated international art project Artscape Nordland in 1995, is now a popular feature and has given its name to various happenings and the local cultural award. (See http://www.skulpturlandskap.no/Skulpturlandskap/Kunst/hav.html for photograph and video of the sculpture).
Official homepage of the municipality: http://www.rana.kommune.no/