Stavanger is a city and municipality in Norway. It is the third largest city and metropolitan area in Norway (through conurbation with neighbouring Sandnes) and the administrative centre of Rogaland county. The municipality is the fourth most populous in Norway. Located on the Stavanger Peninsula in Southwest Norway, Stavanger counts its official founding year as 1125, the year the Stavanger Cathedral was completed. Stavangers core is to a large degree 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses that are protected and considered part of the city's cultural heritage. This has caused the town centre and inner city to retain a small-town character with an unusually high ratio of detached houses, and has contributed significantly to spreading the city's population growth to outlying parts of Greater Stavanger.
The city's rapid population growth in the late 20th century was primarily a result of Norway's booming offshore oil industry. Today the oil industry is a key industry in the Stavanger region and the city is widely referred to as the Oil Capital of Norway.[not in citation given] The largest company in the Nordic region, Norwegian energy company Statoil is headquartered in Stavanger. Multiple educational institutions for higher education are located in Stavanger. The largest of these is the University of Stavanger.
Domestic and international military installations are located in Stavanger, among these is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Joint Warfare Center. Other international establishments, and especially local branches of foreign oil and gas companies, contribute further to a significant foreign population in the city. Immigrants make up 11.3% of Stavanger's population. Stavanger has since the early 2000s consistently had an unemployment rate significantly lower than the Norwegian and European average. In 2011, the unemployment rate was less than 2%. The city is also among those that frequent various lists of expensive cities in the world, and Stavanger has even been ranked as the world's most expensive city by certain indexes.
Stavanger is served by international airport Stavanger Airport, Sola, which offers flights to cities in most major European countries, as well as a limited number of intercontinental charter flights. The airport was named most punctual European regional airport by flightstats.com in 2010.
Every two years, Stavanger organizes the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS), which is the second largest exhibition and conference for the energy sector. Gladmat food festival is also held each year and is considered to be one of Scandinavia's leading food festivals. The city is also known for being one of the nation's premier culinary clusters. Stavanger 2008 European Capital of Culture. Stavanger was awarded the 2008 European Capital of Culture alongside Liverpool.