In 1860 the Russian TsarAlexander II granted permission for Norwegian settlements on the Kola. Around 1870, scores of families from Finnmark in northern Norway departed for the Kola coast, attracted by the prospects of fishing and trade. The Russian authorities granted them privileges to trade with Norway.
Most of them settled in Tsyp-Navolok (Russian: Цыпнаволок) on the easternmost tip of the Rybachiy Peninsula (Russian: Полуостров Рыбачий; Norwegian: Fiskerhalvøya - both terms meaning "Fishermen's Peninsula"). Others settled in Vaydaguba (Russian: Вайдагуба) at the northwestern tip (Russian: мыс Немецкий; Cape Nemetskiy, i.e. "Cape German") of the same peninsula. A vibrant society developed, retaining contact with Norway, especially with the town of Vardø. Some settlers returned to Norway shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, but most of them remained at Tsyp-Navolok. In 1917 perhaps about 1000 lived on the Kola.
On 23 June 1940 Lavrenty Beria of the NKVD ordered the Murmansk Oblast, encompassing the entire Kola Peninsula, to be cleaned of "foreign nationals". As a result, the entire Norwegian population was deported for resettlement in the Karelo-Finnish SSR. Soon they had to move from there too, because of pressures caused by the Finnish invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. In spring 1942, a large proportion died of starvation and malnutrition.
Despite many having served in the Red Army, they were not allowed to return home to the Kola after the end of the Second World War. Many children were raised without learning to speak Norwegian.
After 1992, some descendants of the original settlers began to emphasise their family backgrounds, although only a few had been able to maintain a rusty knowledge of the Vardø dialect of the Norwegian language. Some have now migrated to Norway. There are special provisions in Norwegian immigration law which ease this process, albeit generally being less permissive than those which pertain in other countries which operate a "right of return". In order to obtain a permit to move to Norway and work there, a foreign citizen must show an adequate connection to the country, such as having two or more grandparents who were born there. As for citizenship, it is awarded on the same basis as to anyone else - which basis includes the formal renunciation of the original citizenship. By 2004 approximately 200 Kola Norwegians had settled in Norway.
In 2007, the small village of Port-Vladimir, the last stronghold of the Kola Norwegians lost its official recognition due to depopulation. Only 98 individuals identified themselves as Norwegians in the 2010 Census of Russia, including 20 in St.Petersburg, 11 in Murmansk, and 4 in Karelia.