Bergen and the Bergen Region have a long history as an international trading and shipping hub. The Bryggen wharf and its Hanseactic merchants served as a vibrant centre from an early age. The Hanseatic merchants left their mark on the character and development of the city, its language and culture. During this period Bergen cemented its position as one of the most important trading centres in Northern Europe. Industry, trade, culture and the exchange of knowledge provided fertile ground for a wide range of international operators in the region.
This outward-looking tradition has strengthened the city as host to international cooperation and a diverse community development. Businesses in Bergen are wide ranging, the art and cultural scene is vivid and varied, the academic and research institutions are held in high regard on the world stage and are, in some areas, world leaders within their respective fields.
Bergen has become an multicultural city. Immigrants and their descendants have played and continue to play an important role in Bergen’s history, and have made important contributions to the political, economic and cultural development of the city. Immigrants come to Bergen because of work, love, studies, war or conflict, or for numerous other reasons. Immigration gives access to a significantly more varied experience and knowledge base than is available in more closed, homogeneous societies.
Diversity in the population and in the labour market has been, and still is, important to the development of the city and the region. Focusing on openness, generosity and building relations has been an important prerequisite for creating a sense of belonging in the city’s multicultural society. Diversity in terms of culture and life stance, qualifications and skills make the city better equipped to meet new challenges, both locally and internationally. To benefit fully from this diversity all inhabitants must be able to participate actively.