Many Norwegian-Americans trace family histories through Stavanger. Land scarcity during the 19th century prompted over 800,000 Norwegians to leave their homeland for better farms in the New World, and Stavanger served as a primary port of departure. Its Norwegian Emigration Center recalls that heritage, and well serves genealogical researchers.
In the heart of the Rogaland region on Norway's southwest coast, Stavanger's youthful population is currently over 100,000 and growing. The city is quite cosmopolitan for its size and is currently enjoying the fastest economic growth of any Norwegian metropolitan area.
Over the last 150 years, Stavanger industry has boomed and busted. Herring fishing kept the city flush, but when the herring stopped running, enterprising Rogalanders became sardine canners for the world. Then as the canneries enjoyed the last of their hay days, a new cry could be heard around town. Oil! Today Stavanger is a major hub of the North Sea oil industry.
Yet, Rogaland retains its outstanding natural beauty. Beaches, archipelagos, mountains and fjords typify the local landscape, while popular Stavanger tourist attractions include the Iron Age Farm at Ullandhaug, and (for real genealogists) pre-historic rock carvings and burial mounds.