This article is about the European country.
For other uses, see Norway (disambiguation).
|Kingdom of Norway|
and largest city
|Official languages||Regional language: Kven|
|Ethnic groups||Indigenous status:
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Prime Minister||Erna Solberg|
|President of the Storting||Tone W. Trøen|
|Chief Justice||Toril Marie Øie|
|Current coalition||Liberal conservative|
|State established prior unification||872|
|Old Kingdom of Norway (Peak extent)||1263|
|Re-established state||25 February 1814|
|Constitution||17 May 1814|
|Sweden-Norway||4 November 1814|
|Dissolution of Sweden-Norway||7 June 1905|
|Total||385,207 km (148,729 sq mi) (67th)|
|Water (%)||5.32 (as of 2015)|
|2020 estimate||5,367,580 (118th)|
|Density||14.2/km (36.8/sq mi) (213th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
|Total||$397 billion (46th)|
|Per capita||$79,638 (6th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2018 estimate|
|Total||$443 billion (22nd)|
|Per capita||$82,711 (3rd)|
very high · 1st
|Currency||Norwegian krone (NOK)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||NO|
Norway (Bokmål: Norge; Nynorsk: Noreg; Northern Sami: Norga; Lule Sami: Vuodna; Southern Sami: Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose mainland territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; Mainland Norway and the remote island of Jan Mayen as well as the archipelago of Svalbard form Metropolitan Norway.
Norway has a total area of 385,207 square kilometres (148,729 sq mi) and a population of 5,312,300 (as of August 2018).
Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.
The maritime influence also dominates Norway's climate with mild lowland temperatures on the sea coasts, whereas the interior, while colder, is also a lot milder than areas elsewhere in the world on such northerly latitudes.
Even during polar night in the north, temperatures above freezing are commonplace on the coastline.
The maritime influence brings high rainfall and snowfall to some areas of the country.
The kingdom was established in 872 as a merger of many petty kingdoms and has existed continuously for 1,148 years.
Norway was neutral during the First World War.
Norway is also a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the European Free Trade Association, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty, and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO, and the OECD; and a part of the Schengen Area.
The Norwegian state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, having extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, and fresh water.
The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
On the CIA's GDP (PPP) per capita list (2015 estimate) which includes autonomous territories and regions, Norway ranks as number eleven.
It has the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, with a value of US$1 trillion.
Norway has had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world since 2009, a position also held previously between 2001 and 2006; it also has the highest inequality-adjusted ranking per 2018.
Norway also has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
The English name Norway comes from the Old English word Norþweg mentioned in 880, meaning "northern way" or "way leading to the north", which is how the Anglo-Saxons referred to the coastline of Atlantic Norway similar to scientific consensus about the origin of the Norwegian language name.
The Anglo-Saxons of Britain also referred to the kingdom of Norway in 880 as Norðmanna land.
There is some disagreement about whether the native name of Norway originally had the same etymology as the English form.
According to the traditional dominant view, the first component was originally , a cognate of English north, so the full name was Norðr , "the way northwards", referring to the sailing route along the Norwegian coast, and contrasting with suðrvegar "southern way" (from Old Norse ) for (Germany), and austrvegr "eastern way" (from ) for the Baltic.
In the translation of Orosius for Alfred, the name is Norðweg, while in younger Old English sources the ð is gone.
In the 10th century many Norsemen settled in Northern France, according to the sagas, in the area that was later called Normandy from norðmann (Norseman or Scandinavian), although not a Norwegian possession.
In France normanni or northmanni referred to people of Norway, Sweden or Denmark.
According to another theory, the first component was a word nór, meaning "narrow" (Old English nearu) or "northern", referring to the inner-archipelago sailing route through the land ("narrow way").
The interpretation as "northern", as reflected in the English and Latin forms of the name, would then have been due to later folk etymology.
This latter view originated with philologist Niels Halvorsen Trønnes in 1847; since 2016 it as also advocated by language student and activist Klaus Johan Myrvoll and was adopted by philology professor Michael Schulte.
Among other arguments in favour of the theory, it is pointed out that the word has a long vowel in Skaldic poetry and is not attested with <ð> in any native Norse texts or inscriptions (the earliest runic attestations have the spellings nuruiak and nuriki).
This resurrected theory has received some pushback by other scholars on various grounds, e. g. the uncontroversial presence of the element norðr in the ethnonym norðrmaðr "Norseman, Norwegian person" (modern Norwegian nordmann), and the adjective norrǿnn "northern, Norse, Norwegian", as well as the very early attestations of the Latin and Anglo-Saxon forms with !
In a Latin manuscript of 849, the name Northuagia is mentioned, while a French chronicle of c. 900 uses the names Northwegia and Norwegia.
"Northway") and norðmanna land (lit.
According to Ohthere, Norðmanna lived along the Atlantic coast, the Danes around Skagerrak og Kattegat, while the Sámi people (the "Fins") had a nomadic lifestyle in the wide interior.
He also said that beyond the wide wilderness in Norway's southern part was the land of the Swedes, "Svealand".
The adjective Norwegian, recorded from c. 1600, is derived from the latinisation of the name as Norwegia; in the adjective Norwegian, the Old English spelling '-weg' has survived.
After Norway had become Christian, Noregr and Noregi had become the most common forms, but during the 15th century, the newer forms Noreg(h) and Norg(h)e, found in medieval Icelandic manuscripts, took over and have survived until the modern day.
Main article: Scandinavian prehistory
The first inhabitants were the Ahrensburg culture (11th to 10th millennia BC), which was a late Upper Paleolithic culture during the Younger Dryas, the last period of cold at the end of the Weichselian glaciation.
The earliest traces of human occupation in Norway are found along the coast, where the huge ice shelf of the last ice age first melted between 11,000 and 8,000 BC.
However, theories about two altogether different cultures (the Komsa culture north of the Arctic Circle being one and the Fosna culture from Trøndelag to Oslofjord being the other) were rendered obsolete in the 1970s.
More recent finds along the entire coast revealed to archaeologists that the difference between the two can simply be ascribed to different types of tools and not to different cultures.
Coastal fauna provided a means of livelihood for fishermen and hunters, who may have made their way along the southern coast about 10,000 BC when the interior was still covered with ice.
It is now thought that these so-called "Arctic" peoples came from the south and followed the coast northward considerably later.
In the southern part of the country are dwelling sites dating from about 5,000 BC.
Finds from these sites give a clearer idea of the life of the hunting and fishing peoples.
The implements vary in shape and mostly are made of different kinds of stone; those of later periods are more skilfully made.
Rock carvings (i.e. petroglyphs) have been found, usually near hunting and fishing grounds.
The rock carvings at Alta in Finnmark, the largest in Scandinavia, were made at sea level from 4,200 to 500 BC and mark the progression of the land as the sea rose after the last ice age ended.
Main article: Nordic Bronze Age
The hunting-fishing population of the west coast was also gradually replaced by farmers, though hunting and fishing remained useful secondary means of livelihood.
From about 1500 BC, bronze was gradually introduced, but the use of stone implements continued; Norway had few riches to barter for bronze goods, and the few finds consist mostly of elaborate weapons and brooches that only chieftains could afford.
Huge burial cairns built close to the sea as far north as Harstad and also inland in the south are characteristic of this period.
The motifs of the rock carvings differ slightly from those typical of the Stone Age.
Representations of the Sun, animals, trees, weapons, ships, and people are all strongly stylised.
The depicted ships most likely represent sewn plank built canoes used for warfare, fishing and trade.
These ship types may have their origin as far back as the neolithic period and they continue into the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as exemplified by the Hjortspring boat.
Main article: Iron Age Scandinavia
Little has been found dating from the early Iron Age (the last 500 years BC).
The dead were cremated, and their graves contain few burial goods.
During the first four centuries AD, the people of Norway were in contact with Roman-occupied Gaul.
About 70 Roman bronze cauldrons, often used as burial urns, have been found.
Contact with the civilised countries farther south brought a knowledge of runes; the oldest known Norwegian runic inscription dates from the 3rd century.
The oldest root names, such as nes, vik, and bø ("cape," "bay," and "farm"), are of great antiquity, dating perhaps from the Bronze Age, whereas the earliest of the groups of compound names with the suffixes vin ("meadow") or heim ("settlement"), as in Bjǫrgvin (Bergen) or Sǿheim (Seim), usually date from the 1st century AD.
Archaeologists first made the decision to divide the Iron Age of Northern Europe into distinct pre-Roman and Roman Iron Ages after Emil Vedel unearthed a number of Iron Age artefacts in 1866 on the island of Bornholm.
They did not exhibit the same permeating Roman influence seen in most other artefacts from the early centuries AD, indicating that parts of northern Europe had not yet come into contact with the Romans at the beginning of the Iron Age.
Main article: Migration period
See also: Petty kingdoms of Norway
Hill forts were built on precipitous rocks for defence.
Excavation has revealed stone foundations of farmhouses 18 to 27 metres (59 to 89 ft) long—one even 46 metres (151 feet) long—the roofs of which were supported on wooden posts.
These houses were family homesteads where several generations lived together, with people and cattle under one roof.
By the 9th century, each of these small states had things (local or regional assemblies) for negotiating and settling disputes.
The thing meeting places, each eventually with a hörgr (open-air sanctuary) or a heathen hof (temple; literally "hill"), were usually situated on the oldest and best farms, which belonged to the chieftains and wealthiest farmers.
The regional things united to form even larger units: assemblies of deputy yeomen from several regions.
In this way, the lagting (assemblies for negotiations and lawmaking) developed.
The Gulating had its meeting place by Sognefjord and may have been the centre of an aristocratic confederation along the western fjords and islands called the Gulatingslag.
The Frostating was the assembly for the leaders in the Trondheimsfjord area; the Earls of Lade, near Trondheim, seem to have enlarged the Frostatingslag by adding the coastland from Romsdalsfjord to Lofoten.
Main article: Viking Age
From the 8th to the 10th century, the wider Scandinavian region was the source of Vikings.
This age was characterised by expansion and emigration by Viking seafarers.
They colonised, raided, and traded in all parts of Europe.
The Vikings from Norway were most active in the northern and western British Isles and eastern North America isles.
Harald's realm was mainly a South Norwegian coastal state.
One of the most important sources for the history of the 11th century Vikings is the treaty between the Icelanders and Olaf Haraldsson, king of Norway circa 1015 to 1028.
Haakon the Good was Norway's first Christian king, in the mid-10th century, though his attempt to introduce the religion was rejected.
Born sometime in between 963 and 969, Olav Tryggvasson set off raiding in England with 390 ships.
He attacked London during this raiding.
Arriving back in Norway in 995, Olav landed in Moster.
There he built a church which became the first Christian church ever built in Norway.
From Moster, Olav sailed north to Trondheim where he was proclaimed King of Norway by the Eyrathing in 995.
Feudalism never really developed in Norway or Sweden, as it did in the rest of Europe.
However, the administration of government took on a very conservative feudal character.
The Hanseatic League forced the royalty to cede to them greater and greater concessions over foreign trade and the economy.
The League had this hold over the royalty because of the loans the Hansa had made to the royalty and the large debt the kings were carrying.
The League's monopolistic control over the economy of Norway put pressure on all classes, especially the peasantry, to the degree that no real burgher class existed in Norway.
Civil war and peak of power
Main article: Kingdom of Norway (872–1397)
From the 1040s to 1130, the country was at peace.
For periods there could be peace, before a lesser son allied himself with a chieftain and started a new conflict.
The Archdiocese of Nidaros was created in 1152 and attempted to control the appointment of kings.
The church inevitably had to take sides in the conflicts, with the civil wars also becoming an issue regarding the church's influence of the king.
The wars ended in 1217 with the appointment of Håkon Håkonsson, who introduced clear law of succession.
From 1000 to 1300, the population increased from 150,000 to 400,000, resulting both in more land being cleared and the subdivision of farms.
While in the Viking Age all farmers owned their own land, by 1300, seventy percent of the land was owned by the king, the church, or the aristocracy.
This was a gradual process which took place because of farmers borrowing money in poor times and not being able to repay.
However, tenants always remained free men and the large distances and often scattered ownership meant that they enjoyed much more freedom than continental serfs.
In the 13th century, about twenty percent of a farmer's yield went to the king, church and landowners.
The 14th century is described as Norway's Golden Age, with peace and increase in trade, especially with the British Islands, although Germany became increasingly important towards the end of the century.
Throughout the High Middle Ages, the king established Norway as a sovereign state with a central administration and local representatives.
In 1349, the Black Death spread to Norway and had within a year killed a third of the population.
Later plagues reduced the population to half the starting point by 1400.
Many communities were entirely wiped out, resulting in an abundance of land, allowing farmers to switch to more animal husbandry.
The reduction in taxes weakened the king's position, and many aristocrats lost the basis for their surplus, reducing some to mere farmers.
In 1380, Olaf Haakonsson inherited both the Norwegian and Danish thrones, creating a union between the two countries.
She waged war against the Germans, resulting in a trade blockade and higher taxation on Norwegian goods, which resulted in a rebellion.
However, the Norwegian Council of State was too weak to pull out of the union.
Margaret pursued a centralising policy which inevitably favoured Denmark, because it had a greater population than Norway and Sweden combined.
Margaret also granted trade privileges to the Hanseatic merchants of Lübeck in Bergen in return for recognition of her right to rule, and these hurt the Norwegian economy.
The Hanseatic merchants formed a state within a state in Bergen for generations.
Even worse were the pirates, the "Victual Brothers", who launched three devastating raids on the port (the last in 1427).
Norway slipped ever more to the background under the Oldenburg dynasty (established 1448).
There was one revolt under Knut Alvsson in 1502.
Norwegians had some affection for King Christian II, who resided in the country for several years.
Norway took no part in the events which led to Swedish independence from Denmark in the 1520s.
Main article: Kalmar Union
At the same time, a movement to make Magnus King of Sweden proved successful, and both the kings of Sweden and of Denmark were elected to the throne by their respective nobles, Thus, with his election to the throne of Sweden, both Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus VII.
In 1349, the Black Death radically altered Norway, killing between 50% and 60% of its population and leaving it in a period of social and economic decline.
The plague left Norway very poor.
Although the death rate was comparable with the rest of Europe, economic recovery took much longer because of the small, scattered population.
Even before the plague, the population was only about 500,000.
After the plague, many farms lay idle while the population slowly increased.
However, the few surviving farms' tenants found their bargaining positions with their landlords greatly strengthened.
King Magnus VII ruled Norway until 1350, when his son, Haakon, was placed on the throne as Haakon VI.
Upon the death of Haakon VI, in 1379, his son, Olaf IV, was only 10 years old.
Olaf had already been elected to the throne of Denmark on 3 May 1376.
Thus, upon Olaf's accession to the throne of Norway, Denmark and Norway entered personal union.
Olaf's mother and Haakon's widow, Queen Margaret, managed the foreign affairs of Denmark and Norway during the minority of Olaf IV.
Margaret was working toward a union of Sweden with Denmark and Norway by having Olaf elected to the Swedish throne.
She was on the verge of achieving this goal when Olaf IV suddenly died.
However, Denmark made Margaret temporary ruler upon the death of Olaf.
On 2 February 1388, Norway followed suit and crowned Margaret.
Queen Margaret knew that her power would be more secure if she were able to find a king to rule in her place.
She settled on Eric of Pomerania, grandson of her sister.
Thus at an all-Scandinavian meeting held at Kalmar, Erik of Pomerania was crowned king of all three Scandinavian countries.
Thus, royal politics resulted in personal unions between the Nordic countries, eventually bringing the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden under the control of Queen Margaret when the country entered into the Kalmar Union.
Union with Denmark
Main article: Denmark–Norway
After Sweden broke out of the Kalmar Union in 1521, Norway tried to follow suit, but the subsequent rebellion was defeated, and Norway remained in a union with Denmark until 1814, a total of 434 years.
During the national romanticism of the 19th century, this period was by some referred to as the "400-Year Night", since all of the kingdom's royal, intellectual, and administrative power was centred in Copenhagen in Denmark.
In fact, it was a period of great prosperity and progress for Norway, especially in terms of shipping and foreign trade, and it also secured the country's revival from the demographic catastrophe it suffered in the Black Death.
Based on the respective natural resources, Denmark–Norway was in fact a very good match since Denmark supported Norway's needs for grain and food supplies, and Norway supplied Denmark with timber, metal, and fish.
With the introduction of Protestantism in 1536, the archbishopric in Trondheim was dissolved, and Norway lost its independence, and effectually became a colony of Denmark.
The Church's incomes and possessions were instead redirected to the court in Copenhagen.
Norway lost the steady stream of pilgrims to the relics of St.
Eventually restored as a kingdom (albeit in legislative union with Denmark) in 1661, Norway saw its land area decrease in the 17th century with the loss of the provinces Båhuslen, Jemtland, and Herjedalen to Sweden, as the result of a number of disastrous wars with Sweden.
The famine of 1695–1696 killed roughly 10% of Norway's population.
The harvest failed in Scandinavia at least nine times between 1740 and 1800, with great loss of life.
Union with Sweden
Main article: United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
After Denmark–Norway was attacked by the United Kingdom at the 1807 Battle of Copenhagen, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon, with the war leading to dire conditions and mass starvation in 1812.
As the Danish kingdom found itself on the losing side in 1814, it was forced, under terms of the Treaty of Kiel, to cede Norway to the king of Sweden, while the old Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands remained with the Danish crown.
Norway took this opportunity to declare independence, adopted a constitution based on American and French models, and elected the Crown Prince of Denmark and Norway, Christian Frederick, as king on 17 May 1814.
This is the famous Syttende mai (Seventeenth of May) holiday celebrated by Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans alike.
Syttende mai is also called Norwegian Constitution Day.
Norwegian opposition to the great powers' decision to link Norway with Sweden caused the Norwegian–Swedish War to break out as Sweden tried to subdue Norway by military means.
As Sweden's military was not strong enough to defeat the Norwegian forces outright, and Norway's treasury was not large enough to support a protracted war, and as British and Russian navies blockaded the Norwegian coast, the belligerents were forced to negotiate the Convention of Moss.
According to the terms of the convention, Christian Frederik abdicated the Norwegian throne and authorised the Parliament of Norway to make the necessary constitutional amendments to allow for the personal union that Norway was forced to accept.
Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and its own independent institutions, though it shared a common monarch and common foreign policy with Sweden.
Following the recession caused by the Napoleonic Wars, economic development of Norway remained slow until economic growth began around 1830.
This period also saw the rise of the Norwegian romantic nationalism, as Norwegians sought to define and express a distinct national character.
The movement covered all branches of culture, including literature (Henrik Wergeland [1808–1845], Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson [1832–1910], Peter Christen Asbjørnsen [1812–1845], Jørgen Moe [1813–1882]), painting (Hans Gude [1825–1903], Adolph Tidemand [1814–1876]), music (Edvard Grieg [1843–1907]), and even language policy, where attempts to define a native written language for Norway led to today's two official written forms for Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk.
King Charles III John, who came to the throne of Norway and Sweden in 1818, was the second king following Norway's break from Denmark and the union with Sweden.
Charles John was a complex man whose long reign extended to 1844.
He protected the constitution and liberties of Norway and Sweden during the age of Metternich.
As such, he was regarded as a liberal monarch for that age.
However, he was ruthless in his use of paid informers, the secret police and restrictions on the freedom of the press to put down public movements for reform—especially the Norwegian national independence movement.
The Romantic Era that followed the reign of King Charles III John brought some significant social and political reforms.
In 1854, women won the right to inherit property in their own right, just like men.
In 1863, the last trace of keeping unmarried women in the status of minors was removed.
Furthermore, women were then eligible for different occupations, particularly the common school teacher.
By mid-century, Norway's democracy was limited by modern standards: Voting was limited to officials, property owners, leaseholders and burghers of incorporated towns.
Still, Norway remained a conservative society.
Life in Norway (especially economic life) was "dominated by the aristocracy of professional men who filled most of the important posts in the central government".
There was no strong bourgeosie class in Norway to demand a breakdown of this aristocratic control of the economy.
Thus, even while revolution swept over most of the countries of Europe in 1848, Norway was largely unaffected by revolts that year.
Marcus Thrane was a Utopian socialist.
He made his appeal to the labouring classes urging a change of social structure "from below upwards."
In 1848, he organised a labour society in Drammen.
In just a few months, this society had a membership of 500 and was publishing its own newspaper.
Within two years, 300 societies had been organised all over Norway, with a total membership of 20,000 persons.
The membership was drawn from the lower classes of both urban and rural areas; for the first time these two groups felt they had a common cause.
In the end, the revolt was easily crushed; Thrane was captured and in 1855, after four years in jail, was sentenced to three additional years for crimes against the safety of the state.
Upon his release, Marcus Thrane attempted unsuccessfully to revitalise his movement, but after the death of his wife, he migrated to the United States.
Dissolution of the union
Main articles: Union dissolution referendum and Dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden
Christian Michelsen, a shipping magnate and statesman, and Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907, played a central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on 7 June 1905.
A national referendum confirmed the people's preference for a monarchy over a republic.
However, no Norwegian could legitimately claim the throne, since none of Norway's noble families could claim descent from medieval royalty.
In European tradition, royal or "blue" blood is a precondition for laying claim to the throne.
The government then offered the throne of Norway to Prince Carl of Denmark, a prince of the Dano-German royal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and a distant relative of several of Norway's medieval kings.
After centuries of close ties between Norway and Denmark, a prince from the latter was the obvious choice for a European prince who could best relate to the Norwegian people.
In 1905, the country welcomed the prince from neighbouring Denmark, his wife Maud of Wales and their young son to re-establish Norway's royal house.
First and Second World Wars
Throughout the First World War, Norway was in principle a neutral country.
In reality, however, Norway had been pressured by the British to hand over increasingly large parts of its large merchant fleet to the British at low rates, as well as to join the trade blockade against Germany.
Norwegian merchant marine ships, often with Norwegian sailors still on board, were then sailing under the British flag and at risk of being sunk by German submarines.
Thus, many Norwegian sailors and ships were lost.
Thereafter, the world ranking of the Norwegian merchant navy fell from fourth place to sixth in the world.
Norwegian armed forces in the north launched an offensive against the German forces in the Battles of Narvik, until they were forced to surrender on 10 June after losing British support which had been diverted to France during the German invasion of France.
Throughout the war they sent inspirational radio speeches and supported clandestine military actions in Norway against the Germans.
Quisling, as minister president, later formed a collaborationist government under German control.
Up to 15,000 Norwegians volunteered to fight in German units, including the Waffen-SS.
The fraction of the Norwegian population that supported Germany was traditionally smaller than in Sweden, but greater than is generally appreciated today.
It included a number of prominent personalities such as the Nobel-prize winning novelist Knut Hamsun.
The concept of a "Germanic Union" of member states fit well into their thoroughly nationalist-patriotic ideology.
Many Norwegians and persons of Norwegian descent joined the Allied forces as well as the Free Norwegian Forces.
In June 1940, a small group had left Norway following their king to Britain.
This group included 13 ships, five aircraft, and 500 men from the Royal Norwegian Navy.
By the end of the war, the force had grown to 58 ships and 7,500 men in service in the Royal Norwegian Navy, 5 squadrons of aircraft (including Spitfires, Sunderland flying boats and Mosquitos) in the newly formed Norwegian Air Force, and land forces including the Norwegian Independent Company 1 and 5 Troop as well as No.
During the five years of German occupation, Norwegians built a resistance movement which fought the German occupation forces with both civil disobedience and armed resistance including the destruction of Norsk Hydro's heavy water plant and stockpile of heavy water at Vemork, which crippled the German nuclear programme (see: Norwegian heavy water sabotage).
At the time of the invasion, Norway had the fourth-largest merchant marine fleet in the world.
Every December Norway gives a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom as thanks for the British assistance during the Second World War.
A ceremony takes place to erect the tree in London's Trafalgar Square.
Svalbard was not occupied by German troops.
Germany secretly established a meteorological station in 1944.
The crew was stuck after the general capitulation in May 1945 and were rescued by a Norwegian seal hunter on 4 September.
They surrendered to the seal hunter as the last German soldiers to surrender in WW2.
Post-World War II history
From 1945 to 1962, the Labour Party held an absolute majority in the parliament.
The government, led by prime minister Einar Gerhardsen, embarked on a program inspired by Keynesian economics, emphasising state financed industrialisation and co-operation between trade unions and employers' organisations.
Many measures of state control of the economy imposed during the war were continued, although the rationing of dairy products was lifted in 1949, while price control and rationing of housing and cars continued until 1960.
The wartime alliance with the United Kingdom and the United States was continued in the post-war years.
Although pursuing the goal of a socialist economy, the Labour Party distanced itself from the Communists (especially after the Communists' seizure of power in Czechoslovakia in 1948), and strengthened its foreign policy and defence policy ties with the US.
Norway received Marshall Plan aid from the United States starting in 1947, joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) one year later, and became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.
The first oil was discovered at the small Balder field in 1967, production only began in 1999.
In 1973, the Norwegian government founded the State oil company, Statoil.
Oil production did not provide net income until the early 1980s because of the large capital investment that was required to establish the country's petroleum industry.
Around 1975, both the proportion and absolute number of workers in industry peaked.
Since then labour-intensive industries and services like factory mass production and shipping have largely been outsourced.
Norway was a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
In 1981, a Conservative government led by Kåre Willoch replaced the Labour Party with a policy of stimulating the stagflated economy with tax cuts, economic liberalisation, deregulation of markets, and measures to curb record-high inflation (13.6% in 1981).
Norway's first female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland of the Labour party, continued many of the reforms of her conservative predecessor, while backing traditional Labour concerns such as social security, high taxes, the industrialisation of nature, and feminism.
By the late 1990s, Norway had paid off its foreign debt and had started accumulating a sovereign wealth fund.
Since the 1990s, a divisive question in politics has been how much of the income from petroleum production the government should spend, and how much it should save.
In 2011, Norway suffered two terrorist attacks on the same day conducted by Anders Behring Breivik which struck the government quarter in Oslo and a summer camp of the Labour party's youth movement at Utøya island, resulting in 77 deaths and 319 wounded.
Norway's core territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway.
From the Middle Ages to 1814 Norway was part of the Danish kingdom.
Norway comprises the western and northernmost part of Scandinavia in Northern Europe.
Norway is the northernmost of the Nordic countries and if Svalbard is included also the easternmost.
Vardø at 31° 10' 07" east of Greenwich lies further east than St. Petersburg and Istanbul.
Norway includes the northernmost point on the European mainland.
The rugged coastline is broken by huge fjords and thousands of islands.
The coastal baseline is 2,532 kilometres (1,573 mi).
The coastline of the mainland including fjords stretches 28,953 kilometres (17,991 mi), when islands are included the coastline has been estimated to 100,915 kilometres (62,706 mi).
The Scandinavian Mountains form much of the border with Sweden.
At 385,207 square kilometres (148,729 sq mi) (including Svalbard and Jan Mayen) (and 323,808 square kilometres (125,023 sq mi) without), much of the country is dominated by mountainous or high terrain, with a great variety of natural features caused by prehistoric glaciers and varied topography.
The most noticeable of these are the fjords: deep grooves cut into the land flooded by the sea following the end of the Ice Age.
Sognefjorden is the world's second deepest fjord, and the world's longest at 204 kilometres (127 mi).
Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in all Europe.
Norway has about 400,000 lakes.
There are 239,057 registered islands.
Permafrost can be found all year in the higher mountain areas and in the interior of Finnmark county.
Numerous glaciers are found in Norway.
Because of the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerlies, Norway experiences higher temperatures and more precipitation than expected at such northern latitudes, especially along the coast.
The mainland experiences four distinct seasons, with colder winters and less precipitation inland.
Because of the large latitudinal range of the country and the varied topography and climate, Norway has a larger number of different habitats than almost any other European country.
There are approximately 60,000 species in Norway and adjacent waters (excluding bacteria and viruses).
The Norwegian Shelf large marine ecosystem is considered highly productive.
The southern and western parts of Norway, fully exposed to Atlantic storm fronts, experience more precipitation and have milder winters than the eastern and far northern parts.
Areas to the east of the coastal mountains are in a rain shadow, and have lower rain and snow totals than the west.
The lowlands around Oslo have the warmest and sunniest summers, but also cold weather and snow in wintertime.
Because of Norway's high latitude, there are large seasonal variations in daylight.
From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle (hence Norway's description as the "Land of the Midnight sun"), and the rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day.
Conversely, from late November to late January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country.
The coastal climate of Norway is exceptionally mild compared with areas on similar latitudes elsewhere in the world, with the Gulf Stream passing directly offshore the northern areas of the Atlantic coast, continuously warming the region in the winter.
The Gulf Stream has this effect only on the northern parts of Norway, not in the south, despite what is commonly believed.
The northern coast of Norway would thus be ice-covered if not for the Gulf Stream.
As a side-effect, the Scandinavian Mountains prevent continental winds from reaching the coastline, causing very cool summers throughout Atlantic Norway.
Oslo has more of a continental climate, similar to Sweden's.
The mountain ranges have subarctic and tundra climates.
There is also very high rainfall in areas exposed to the Atlantic, such as Bergen.
Oslo, in comparison, is dry, being in a rain shadow.
Skjåk in Oppland county is also in the rain shadow and is one of the driest places with 278 millimetres (10.9 inches) precipitation annually.
Longyearbyen is the driest place in Norway with 190 millimetres (7.5 inches).
Some of the inner valleys of Oppland get so little precipitation annually, thanks to the rain shadow effect, that they meet the requirements for dry-summer subarctic climates (Dsc).
In higher altitudes, close to the coasts of southern and western Norway, one can find the rare subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc).
This climate is also common in Northern Norway, usually in lower altitudes, all the way down to sea level.
A small part of the northernmost coast of Norway has the tundra/alpine/polar climate (ET).
Large parts of Norway are covered by mountains and high altitude plateaus, many of which also exhibit the tundra/alpine/polar climate (ET).
Main article: Wildlife of Norway
The total number of species include 16,000 species of insects (probably 4,000 more species yet to be described), 20,000 species of algae, 1,800 species of lichen, 1,050 species of mosses, 2,800 species of vascular plants, up to 7,000 species of fungi, 450 species of birds (250 species nesting in Norway), 90 species of mammals, 45 fresh-water species of fish, 150 salt-water species of fish, 1,000 species of fresh-water invertebrates, and 3,500 species of salt-water invertebrates.
About 40,000 of these species have been described by science.
The red list of 2010 encompasses 4,599 species.
Seventeen species are listed mainly because they are endangered on a global scale, such as the European beaver, even if the population in Norway is not seen as endangered.
The number of threatened and near-threatened species equals to 3,682; it includes 418 fungi species, many of which are closely associated with the small remaining areas of old-growth forests, 36 bird species, and 16 species of mammals.
In 2010, 2,398 species were listed as endangered or vulnerable; of these were 1250 listed as vulnerable (VU), 871 as endangered (EN), and 276 species as critically endangered (CR), among which were the grey wolf, the Arctic fox (healthy population on Svalbard) and the pool frog.
The largest land animal on the mainland is the elk (American English: moose).
The elk in Norway is known for its size and strength and is often called skogens konge, "king of the forest".
Attractive and dramatic scenery and landscape are found throughout Norway.
The west coast of southern Norway and the coast of northern Norway present some of the most visually impressive coastal sceneries in the world.
National Geographic has listed the Norwegian fjords as the world's top tourist attraction.
The country is also home to the natural phenomena of the Midnight sun (during summer), as well as the Aurora borealis known also as the Northern lights.
The index is based on environmental risks to human health, habitat loss, and changes in CO2 emissions.
Politics and government
See also: Norwegian parliamentary election, 2017
Norway is considered to be one of the most developed democracies and states of justice in the world.
From 1814, c. 45% of men (25 years and older) had the right to vote, whereas the United Kingdom had c. 20% (1832), Sweden c. 5% (1866), and Belgium c. 1.15% (1840).
Since 2010, Norway has been classified as the world's most democratic country by the Democracy Index.
According to the Constitution of Norway, which was adopted on 17 May 1814 and inspired by the United States Declaration of Independence and French Revolution of 1776 and 1789, respectively, Norway is a unitary constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government, wherein the King of Norway is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government.
Power is separated among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, as defined by the Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.
The monarch officially retains executive power.
But following the introduction of a parliamentary system of government, the duties of the monarch have since become strictly representative and ceremonial, such as the formal appointment and dismissal of the Prime Minister and other ministers in the executive government.
Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, is the legal and rightful heir to the throne and the Kingdom.
In practice, the Prime Minister exercises the executive powers.
Constitutionally, legislative power is vested with both the government and the Parliament of Norway, but the latter is the supreme legislature and a unicameral body.
Norway is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy.
The Parliament can pass a law by simple majority of the 169 representatives, who are elected on the basis of proportional representation from 19 constituencies for four-year terms.
150 are elected directly from the 19 constituencies, and an additional 19 seats ("levelling seats") are allocated on a nationwide basis to make the representation in parliament correspond better with the popular vote for the political parties.
A 4% election threshold is required for a party to gain levelling seats in Parliament.
There are a total of 169 members of parliament.
It can impeach members of the government if their acts are declared unconstitutional.
If an indicted suspect is impeached, Parliament has the power to remove the person from office.
The position of prime minister, Norway's head of government, is allocated to the member of Parliament who can obtain the confidence of a majority in Parliament, usually the current leader of the largest political party or, more effectively, through a coalition of parties.
A single party generally does not have sufficient political power in terms of the number of seats to form a government on its own.
Norway has often been ruled by minority governments.
The prime minister nominates the cabinet, traditionally drawn from members of the same political party or parties in the Storting, making up the government.
The PM organises the executive government and exercises its power as vested by the Constitution.
Norway has a state church, the Lutheran Church of Norway, which has in recent years gradually been granted more internal autonomy in day-to-day affairs, but which still has a special constitutional status.
Formerly, the PM had to have more than half the members of cabinet be members of the Church of Norway, meaning at least ten out of the 19 ministries.
This rule was however removed in 2012.
The issue of separation of church and state in Norway has been increasingly controversial, as many people believe it is time to change this, to reflect the growing diversity in the population.
A part of this is the evolution of the public school subject Christianity, a required subject since 1739.
As of 1 January 2017, the Church of Norway is a separate legal entity, and no longer a branch of the civil service.
All government bills need the formal approval by the monarch before and after introduction to Parliament.
The Council reviews and approves all of the monarch's actions as head of state.
Although all government and parliamentary acts are decided beforehand, the privy council is an example of symbolic gesture the king retains.
Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the Labour Party, continued to have the necessary majority through his multi-party alliance to continue as PM until 2013.
In national elections in September 2013, voters ended eight years of Labor rule.
Two political parties, Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet, elected on promises of tax cuts, more spending on infrastructure and education, better services and stricter rules on immigration, formed a government.
Coming at a time when Norway's economy is in good condition with low unemployment, the rise of the right appeared to be based on other issues.
Solberg said her win was "a historic election victory for the right-wing parties".
See also: Sápmi (area)
The counties are administered through directly elected county assemblies who elect the County Governor.
As such, the Government is directly represented at a local level through the County Governors' offices.
The counties are then sub-divided into 356 second-level municipalities (kommuner), which in turn are administered by directly elected municipal council, headed by a mayor and a small executive cabinet.
The capital of Oslo is considered both a county and a municipality.
On most maps, there had been an unclaimed area between Queen Maud Land and the South Pole until 12 June 2015 when Norway formally annexed that area.
96 settlements have city status in Norway.
In most cases, the city borders are coterminous with the borders of their respective municipalities.
Often, Norwegian city municipalities include large areas that are not developed; for example, Oslo municipality contains large forests, located north and south-east of the city, and over half of Bergen municipality consists of mountainous areas.
The counties of Norway are:
|Number||County (fylke)||Administrative centre||Most populous municipality||Geographical region||Total area||Population||Official language form|
|03||Oslo||City of Oslo||Oslo||Eastern Norway||454 km||673,469||Neutral|
|11||Rogaland||Stavanger||Stavanger||Western Norway||9,377 km||473,526||Neutral|
|15||Møre og Romsdal||Molde||Ålesund||Western Norway||14,355 km||266,856||Nynorsk|
|18||Nordland||Bodø||Bodø||Northern Norway||38,154 km||243,335||Neutral|
|30||Viken_(county) Viken||Oslo, Drammen, Sarpsborg and Moss||Bærum||Eastern Norway||24,592 km||1,234,374||Neutral|
|34||Innlandet||Hamar||Ringsaker||Eastern Norway||52,072 km||370,994||Neutral|
|38||Vestfold og Telemark||Skien||Sandefjord||Eastern Norway||17,465 km||415,777||Neutral|
|42||Agder||Kristiansand||Kristiansand||Southern Norway||16,434 km||303,754||Neutral|
|46||Vestland||Bergen||Bergen||Western Norway||33,870 km||631,594||Nynorsk|
|50||Trøndelag||Steinkjer||Trondheim||Central Norway||42,201 km||458,744||Neutral|
|54||Troms og Finnmark||Tromsø||Tromsø||Northern Norway||74,829 km||243,925||Neutral|
Largest populated areas
Main article: List of towns and cities in Norway
Judicial system and law enforcement
Main article: Judiciary of Norway
The judiciary is independent of executive and legislative branches.
While the Prime Minister nominates Supreme Court Justices for office, their nomination must be approved by Parliament and formally confirmed by the Monarch in the Council of State.
Usually, judges attached to regular courts are formally appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Courts' strict and formal mission is to regulate the Norwegian judicial system, interpret the Constitution, and as such implement the legislation adopted by Parliament.
In its judicial reviews, it monitors the legislative and executive branches to ensure that they comply with provisions of enacted legislation.
It is a Unified National Police Service made up of 27 Police Districts and several specialist agencies, such as Norwegian National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, known as Økokrim; and the National Criminal Investigation Service, known as Kripos, each headed by a chief of police.
The Police Service is headed by the National Police Directorate, which reports to the Ministry of Justice and the Police.
The Police Directorate is headed by a National Police Commissioner.
The only exception is the Norwegian Police Security Agency, whose head answers directly to the Ministry of Justice and the Police.
Norway abolished the death penalty for regular criminal acts in 1902.
The legislature abolished the death penalty for high treason in war and war-crimes in 1979.
Reporters Without Borders, in its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, ranked Norway at a shared first place (along with Iceland) out of 169 countries.
In general, the legal and institutional framework in Norway is characterised by a high degree of transparency, accountability and integrity, and the perception and the occurrence of corruption are very low.
Norway has ratified all relevant international anti-corruption conventions, and its standards of implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption legislation are considered very high by many international anti-corruption working groups such as the OECD Anti-Bribery Working Group.
However, there are some isolated cases showing that some municipalities have abused their position in public procurement processes.
Norwegian prisons are humane, rather than tough, with emphasis on rehabilitation.
At 20%, Norway's re-conviction rate is among the lowest in the world.
Main article: Foreign relations of Norway
Norway maintains embassies in 82 countries.
60 countries maintain an embassy in Norway, all of them in the capital, Oslo.
Norway issued applications for accession to the European Union (EU) and its predecessors in 1962, 1967 and 1992, respectively.
After the 1994 referendum, Norway maintained its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), an arrangement granting the country access to the internal market of the Union, on the condition that Norway implements the Union's pieces of legislation which are deemed relevant (of which there were approximately seven thousand by 2010) Successive Norwegian governments have, since 1994, requested participation in parts of the EU's co-operation that go beyond the provisions of the EEA agreement.
Non-voting participation by Norway has been granted in, for instance, the Union's Common Security and Defence Policy, the Schengen Agreement, and the European Defence Agency, as well as 19 separate programmes.
Main article: Norwegian Armed Forces
The Norwegian Armed Forces numbers about 25,000 personnel, including civilian employees.
According to 2009 mobilisation plans, full mobilisation produces approximately 83,000 combatant personnel.
Norway has conscription (including 6–12 months of training); in 2013, the country became the first in Europe and NATO to draft women as well as men.
However, due to less need for conscripts after the Cold War ended with the break-up of the Soviet Union, few people have to serve if they are not motivated.
The Armed Forces are subordinate to the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.
The Commander-in-Chief is King Harald V.
In response to its being overrun by Germany in 1940, the country was one of the founding nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 4 April 1949.
Additionally, Norway has contributed in several missions in contexts of the United Nations, NATO, and the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union.
Today, Norway ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Norway is a net external creditor of debt.
The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world.
The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy; a prosperous capitalist welfare state it features a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors, influenced by both liberal governments from the late 19th century and later by social democratic governments in the postwar era.
The state income derived from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production.
Norway has an unemployment rate of 4.8%, with 68% of the population aged 15–74 employed.
People in the labour force are either employed or looking for work.
9.5% of the population aged 18–66 receive a disability pension and 30% of the labour force are employed by the government, the highest in the OECD.
The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Norway, are among the highest in the world.
The egalitarian values of Norwegian society have kept the wage difference between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most companies as much less than in comparable western economies.
This is also evident in Norway's low Gini coefficient.
The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, such as the strategic petroleum sector (Statoil), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminium production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DNB), and telecommunication provider (Telenor).
Through these big companies, the government controls approximately 30% of the stock values at the Oslo Stock Exchange.
When non-listed companies are included, the state has even higher share in ownership (mainly from direct oil licence ownership).
Norway is a major shipping nation and has the world's 6th largest merchant fleet, with 1,412 Norwegian-owned merchant vessels.
The EEA Treaty between the European Union countries and the EFTA countries—transposed into Norwegian law via "EØS-loven"—describes the procedures for implementing European Union rules in Norway and the other EFTA countries.
Norway is a highly integrated member of most sectors of the EU internal market.
Some sectors, such as agriculture, oil and fish, are not wholly covered by the EEA Treaty.
Norway has also acceded to the Schengen Agreement and several other intergovernmental agreements among the EU member states.
Large reserves of petroleum and natural gas were discovered in the 1960s, which led to a boom in the economy.
Norway has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population.
In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry.
Norway is the first country which banned cutting of trees (deforestation), in order to prevent rain forests from vanishing.
The country declared its intention at the UN Climate Summit in 2014, alongside Great Britain and Germany.
Crops, that are typically linked to forests' destruction are timber, soy, palm oil and beef.
Now Norway has to find a new way to provide these essential products without exerting negative influence on its environment.
Export revenues from oil and gas have risen to over 40% of total exports and constitute almost 20% of the GDP.
Norway is the fifth-largest oil exporter and third-largest gas exporter in the world, but it is not a member of OPEC.
In 1995, the Norwegian government established the sovereign wealth fund ("Government Pension Fund – Global"), which would be funded with oil revenues, including taxes, dividends, sales revenues and licensing fees.
This was intended to reduce overheating in the economy from oil revenues, minimise uncertainty from volatility in oil price, and provide a cushion to compensate for expenses associated with the ageing of the population.
The government controls its petroleum resources through a combination of state ownership in major operators in the oil fields (with approximately 62% ownership in Statoil in 2007) and the fully state-owned Petoro, which has a market value of about twice Statoil, and SDFI.
Finally, the government controls licensing of exploration and production of fields.
The fund invests in developed financial markets outside Norway.
Spending from the fund is constrained by the budgetary rule (Handlingsregelen), which limits spending over time to no more than the real value yield of the fund, originally assumed to be 4% a year, but lowered in 2017 to 3% of the fund's total value.
Between 1966 and 2013, Norwegian companies drilled 5085 oil wells, mostly in the North Sea.
Of these 3672 are utviklingsbrønner (regular production); 1413 are letebrønner (exploration); and 1405 have been terminated (avsluttet).
Oil fields not yet in production phase include: Wisting Central—calculated size in 2013, 65–156 million barrels of oil and 10 to 40 billion cubic feet (0.28 to 1.13 billion cubic metres), (utvinnbar) of gas.
and the Castberg Oil Field (Castberg-feltet)—calculated size 540 million barrels of oil, and 2 to 7 billion cubic feet (57 to 198 million cubic metres) (utvinnbar) of gas.
Both oil fields are located in the Barents Sea.
Norway is also the world's second-largest exporter of fish (in value, after China).
Fish from fish farms and catch constitutes the second largest (behind oil/natural gas) export product measured in value.
Hydroelectric plants generate roughly 98–99% of Norway's electric power, more than any other country in the world.
Norway contains significant mineral resources, and in 2013, its mineral production was valued at US$1.5 billion (Norwegian Geological Survey data).
In 2017, the Government Pension Fund controlled assets surpassed a value of US$1 trillion (equal to US$190,000 per capita), about 250% of Norway's 2017 GDP.
It is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
The fund controls about 1.3% of all listed shares in Europe, and more than 1% of all the publicly traded shares in the world.
The Norwegian Central Bank operates investment offices in London, New York, and Shanghai.
Guidelines implemented in 2007 allow the fund to invest up to 60% of the capital in shares (maximum of 40% prior), while the rest may be placed in bonds and real-estate.
As the stock markets tumbled in September 2008, the fund was able to buy more shares at low prices.
In this way, the losses incurred by the market turmoil was recuperated by November 2009.
Other nations with economies based on natural resources, such as Russia, are trying to learn from Norway by establishing similar funds.
The investment choices of the Norwegian fund are directed by ethical guidelines; for example, the fund is not allowed to invest in companies that produce parts for nuclear weapons.
Norway's highly transparent investment scheme is lauded by the international community.
The future size of the fund is closely linked to the price of oil and to developments in international financial markets.
In 2000, the government sold one-third of the state-owned oil company Statoil in an IPO.
Since 2000, economic growth has been rapid, pushing unemployment down to levels not seen since the early 1980s (unemployment in 2007: 1.3%).
The international financial crisis has primarily affected the industrial sector, but unemployment has remained low, and was at 3.3% (86,000 people) in August 2011.
In contrast to Norway, Sweden had substantially higher actual and projected unemployment numbers as a result of the recession.
Thousands of mainly young Swedes migrated to Norway for work during these years, which is easy, as the labour market and social security systems overlap in the Nordic Countries.
In the first quarter of 2009, the GNP of Norway surpassed Sweden's for the first time in history, although its population is half the size.
Due to the low population density, narrow shape and long coastlines of Norway, its public transport is less developed than in many European countries, especially outside the major cities.
The country has long-standing water transport traditions, but the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications has in recent years implemented rail, road, and air transport through numerous subsidiaries to develop the country's infrastructure.
Under discussion is development of a new high-speed rail system between the nation's largest cities.
Norway's main railway network consists of 4,114 kilometres (2,556 mi) of standard gauge lines, of which 242 kilometres (150 mi) is double track and 64 kilometres (40 mi) high-speed rail (210 km/h) while 62% is electrified at 15 kV 16.7 Hz AC.
The entire network is owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration.
Several companies operate freight trains.
Investment in new infrastructure and maintenance is financed through the state budget, and subsidies are provided for passenger train operations.
Norway has approximately 92,946 kilometres (57,754 mi) of road network, of which 72,033 kilometres (44,759 mi) are paved and 664 kilometres (413 mi) are motorway.
The four tiers of road routes are national, county, municipal and private, with national and primary county roads numbered en route.
The most important national routes are part of the European route scheme.
National and county roads are managed by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.
Norway has the world's largest registered stock of plug-in electric vehicles per capita.
In March 2014, Norway became the first country where over 1 in every 100 passenger cars on the roads is a plug-in electric.
The plug-in electric segment market share of new car sales is also the highest in the world.
According to a report by Dagens Næringsliv in June 2016, the country would like to ban sales of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles as early as 2025.
In June 2017, 42% of new cars registered were electric.
Of the 98 airports in Norway, 52 are public, and 46 are operated by the state-owned Avinor.
Seven airports have more than one million passengers annually.
A total of 41,089,675 passengers passed through Norwegian airports in 2007, of whom 13,397,458 were international.
The central gateway to Norway by air is Oslo Airport, Gardermoen.
There are departures to most European countries and some intercontinental destinations.
A direct high-speed train connects to Oslo Central Station every 10 minutes for a 20 min ride.
Main article: Demographics of Norway
Norway's population was 5,384,576 people as of the third quarter of 2020.
Since the late 20th century, Norway has attracted immigrants from southern and central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and beyond.
The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2018 was estimated at 1.56 children born per woman, below the replacement rate of 2.1, it remains considerably below the high of 4.69 children born per woman in 1877.
In 2018 the median age of the Norwegian population was 39.3 years.
In 2012, an official study showed that 86% of the total population have at least one parent who was born in Norway.
As of 2020 approximately 980,000 individuals (18.2%) are immigrants and their descendants.
Among these approximately 189,000 are children of immigrants, born in Norway.
Of these 980,000 immigrants and their descendants:
- 485,500 (49.5%) have a Western background (Europe, USA, Canada and Oceania)
- 493,700 (50.5%) have a non-Western background (Asia, Africa, South and Central America).
In 2013, the Norwegian government said that 14% of the Norwegian population were immigrants or children of two immigrant parents.
About 6% of the immigrant population come from EU, North America and Australia, and about 8.1% come from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In 2012, of the total 660,000 with immigrant background, 407,262 had Norwegian citizenship (62.2%).
Immigrants have settled in all Norwegian municipalities.
The share in Stavanger was 16%.
According to Reuters, Oslo is the "fastest growing city in Europe because of increased immigration".
In recent years, immigration has accounted for most of Norway's population growth.
In 2011, 16% of newborn children were of immigrant background.
The Sámi people are indigenous to the Far North and have traditionally inhabited central and northern parts of Norway and Sweden, as well as areas in northern Finland and in Russia on the Kola Peninsula.
Another national minority are the Kven people, descendants of Finnish-speaking people who migrated to northern Norway from the 18th up to the 20th century.
From the 19th century up to the 1970s, the Norwegian government tried to assimilate both the Sámi and the Kven, encouraging them to adopt the majority language, culture and religion.
Because of this "Norwegianization process", many families of Sámi or Kven ancestry now identify as ethnic Norwegian.
Particularly in the 19th century, when economic conditions were difficult in Norway, tens of thousands of people migrated to the United States and Canada, where they could work and buy land in frontier areas.
Many went to the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.
In 2006, according to the US Census Bureau, almost 4.7 million persons identified as Norwegian Americans, which was larger than the population of ethnic Norwegians in Norway itself.
In the 2011 Canadian census, 452,705 Canadian citizens identified as having Norwegian ancestry.
Main article: Immigration to Norway
On 1 January 2013, the number of immigrants or children of two immigrants residing in Norway was 710,465, or 14.1% of the total population, up from 183,000 in 1992.
Yearly immigration has increased since 2005.
While yearly net immigration in 2001–2005 was on average 13,613, it increased to 37,541 between 2006 and 2010, and in 2011 net immigration reached 47,032.
This is mostly because of increased immigration by residents of the EU, in particular from Poland.
In 2012, the immigrant community (which includes immigrants and children born in Norway of immigrant parents) grew by 55,300, a record high.
Net immigration from abroad reached 47,300 (300 higher than in 2011), while immigration accounted for 72% of Norway's population growth.
17% of newborn children were born to immigrant parents.
Children of Pakistani, Somali and Vietnamese parents made up the largest groups of all Norwegians born to immigrant parents.
|Country of origin||Population|
|Iraq inc. Kurdistan region||33,924|
Pakistani Norwegians are the largest non-European minority group in Norway.
Most of their 32,700 members live in and around Oslo.
After the enlargement of the EU in 2004, a wave of immigrants arrived from Central and Northern Europe, particularly Poland, Sweden and Lithuania.
The fastest growing immigrant groups in 2011 in absolute numbers were from Poland, Lithuania and Sweden.
The policies of immigration and integration have been the subject of much debate in Norway.
Main article: Religion in Norway
Church of Norway
Separation of church and state happened significantly later in Norway than in most of Europe, and remains incomplete.
In 2012, the Norwegian parliament voted to grant the Church of Norway greater autonomy, a decision which was confirmed in a constitutional amendment on 21 May 2012.
Until 2012 parliamentary officials were required to be members of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Norway, and at least half of all government ministers had to be a member of the state church.
As state church, the Church of Norway's clergy were viewed as state employees, and the central and regional church administrations were part of the state administration.
Members of the Royal family are required to be members of the Lutheran church.
On 1 January 2017, Norway made the church independent of the state, but retained the Church's status as the "people's church".
In recent years the church has been granted increasing internal autonomy, but it retains its special constitutional status and other special ties to the state, and the constitution requires that the reigning monarch must be a member and states that the country's values are based on its Christian and humanist heritage.
About 70.6% of Norwegians were members of the Church of Norway in 2017.
In 2017, about 53.6% of all newborns were baptised and about 57.9% of all 15-year-old persons were confirmed in the church.
According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, 22% of Norwegian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", 44% responded that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 29% responded that "they don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".
Five percent gave no response.
In the early 1990s, studies estimated that between 4.7% and 5.3% of Norwegians attended church on a weekly basis.
This figure has dropped to about 2%.
In 2010, 10% of the population was religiously unaffiliated, while another 9% were members of religious communities outside the Church of Norway.
Other Christian denominations total about 4.9% of the population, the largest of which is the Roman Catholic Church, with 83,000 members, according to 2009 government statistics.
The Aftenposten (Norwegian, The Evening Post) in October 2012 reported there were about 115,234 registered Roman Catholics in Norway; the reporter estimated that the total number of people with a Roman Catholic background may be 170,000–200,000 or higher.
Others include Pentecostals (39,600), the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway (19,600), Methodists (11,000), Baptists (9,900), Eastern Orthodox (9,900), Brunstad Christian Church (6,800), Seventh-day Adventists (5,100), Assyrians and Chaldeans, and others.
The Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic Lutheran congregations in Norway have about 27,500 members in total.
Among non-Christian religions, Islam is the largest, with 166,861 registered members (2018), and probably fewer than 200,000 in total.
Other religions comprise less than 1% each, including 819 adherents of Judaism.
Indian immigrants introduced Hinduism to Norway, which in 2011 has slightly more than 5,900 adherents, or 1% of non-Lutheran Norwegians.
Sikhs first came to Norway in the early 1970s.
Drammen also has a sizeable population of Sikhs; the largest gurdwara in north Europe was built in Lier.
The Baháʼí Faith religion has slightly more than 1,000 adherents.
Around 1.7% (84,500) of Norwegians belong to the secular Norwegian Humanist Association.
From 2006 to 2011, the fastest-growing religious communities in Norway were Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, which grew in membership by 80%; however, their share of the total population remains small, at 0.2%.
By the end of the 11th century, when Norway had been Christianised, the indigenous Norse religion and practices were prohibited.
Remnants of the native religion and beliefs of Norway survive today in the form of names, referential names of cities and locations, the days of the week, and other parts of everyday language.
Modern interest in the old ways has led to a revival of pagan religious practices in the form of Åsatru.
The Norwegian Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost formed in 1996; in 2011, the fellowship had about 300 members.
Foreningen Forn Sed was formed in 1999 and has been recognised by the Norwegian government.
Although some insist that "indigenous Sámi religion had effectively been eradicated,' athropologist Gutorm Gjessing's Changing Lapps (1954) argues that the Sámi's "were outwardly and to all practical purposes converted to Christianity, but at the subconscious and unconscious level, the shamistic frenzy survived, more or less latent, only awaiting the necessary stimulus to break out into the open."
Today there is a renewed appreciation for the Sámi traditional way of life, which has led to a revival of Noaidevuohta.
Some Norwegian and Sámi celebrities are reported to visit shamans for guidance.
Main article: Health in Norway
Norway was awarded first place according to the UN's Human Development Index (HDI) for 2013.
From the 1900s, improvements in public health occurred as a result of development in several areas such as social and living conditions, changes in disease and medical outbreaks, establishment of the health care system, and emphasis on public health matters.
Vaccination and increased treatment opportunities with antibiotics resulted in great improvements within the Norwegian population.
Improved hygiene and better nutrition were factors that contributed to improved health.
The disease pattern in Norway changed from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases and chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease.
Inequalities and social differences are still present in public health in Norway today.
In 2013 the infant mortality rate was 2.5 per 1,000 live births among children under the age of one.
For girls it was 2.7 and for boys 2.3, which is the lowest infant mortality rate for boys ever recorded in Norway.
Main article: Education in Norway
Acceptance is offered after finishing upper secondary school with general study competence.
Public education is virtually free, regardless of nationality.
The academic year has two semesters, from August to December and from January to June.
The ultimate responsibility for the education lies with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.
Norwegian and Sámi are the two official languages of Norway.
Both are used in public administration, schools, churches, and media.
Bokmål is the written language used by a large majority of about 80–85%.
Around 95% of the population speak Norwegian as their first or native language, although many speak dialects that may differ significantly from the written languages.
All Norwegian dialects are mutually intelligible, although listeners with limited exposure to dialects other than their own may struggle to understand certain phrases and pronunciations in some other dialects.
Several Uralic Sámi languages are spoken and written throughout the country, especially in the north, by some members of the Sámi people.
(Estimates suggest that about one third of the Norwegian Sámi speak a Sámi language.)
Speakers have a right to be educated and to receive communication from the government in their own language in a special forvaltningsområde (administrative area) for Sámi languages.
Today the majority of ethnic Kven have little or no knowledge of the language.
According to the Kainun institutti, "The typical modern Kven is a Norwegian-speaking Norwegian who knows his genealogy."
As Norway has ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) the Kven language together with Romani and Scandoromani language has become officially recognised minority languages.
Some supporters have also advocated making Norwegian Sign Language an official language of the country.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Norwegian language was subject to strong political and cultural controversies.
This led to the development of Nynorsk in the 19th century and to the formation of alternative spelling standards in the 20th century.
All three languages are to a degree mutually intelligible and can be, and commonly are, employed in communication among inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries.
As a result of the co-operation within the Nordic Council, inhabitants of all Nordic countries, including Iceland and Finland, have the right to communicate with Norwegian authorities in their own language.
Students who are children of immigrant parents are encouraged to learn the Norwegian language.
The Norwegian government offers language instructional courses for immigrants wishing to obtain Norwegian citizenship.
With increasing concern about assimilating immigrants, since 1 September 2008, the government has required that an applicant for Norwegian citizenship give evidence of proficiency in either Norwegian or in one of the Sámi languages, or give proof of having attended classes in Norwegian for 300 hours, or meet the language requirements for university studies in Norway (that is, by being proficient in one of the Scandinavian languages).
The primary foreign language taught in Norwegian schools is English, considered an international language since the post-WWII era.
The majority of the population is fairly fluent in English, especially those born after World War II.
German, French and Spanish are also commonly taught as second or, more often, third languages.
Traditionally, English, German and French were considered the main foreign languages in Norway.
These languages, for instance, were used on Norwegian passports until the 1990s, and university students have a general right to use these languages when submitting their theses.
Main article: Culture of Norway
The Norwegian farm culture continues to play a role in contemporary Norwegian culture.
Norwegian culture blossomed with nationalist efforts to achieve an independent identity in the areas of literature, art and music.
This continues today in the performing arts and as a result of government support for exhibitions, cultural projects and artwork.
Main article: Human rights in Norway
Norway has been considered a progressive country, which has adopted legislation and policies to support women's rights, minority rights, and LGBT rights.
As early as 1884, 171 of the leading figures, among them five Prime Ministers for the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, co-founded the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights.
From the 1970s, gender equality also came high on the state agenda, with the establishment of a public body to promote gender equality, which evolved into the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud.
Civil society organisations also continue to play an important role, and the women's rights organisations are today organised in the Norwegian Women's Lobby umbrella organisation.
In 1990, the Norwegian constitution was amended to grant absolute primogeniture to the Norwegian throne, meaning that the eldest child, regardless of gender, takes precedence in the line of succession.
As it was not retroactive, the current successor to the throne is the eldest son of the King, rather than his eldest child.
The Norwegian constitution Article 6 states that "For those born before the year 1990 it shall...be the case that a male shall take precedence over a female."
The Sámi people have for centuries been the subject of discrimination and abuse by the dominant cultures in Scandinavia and Russia, those countries claiming possession of Sámi lands.
The Sámi people have never been a single community in a single region of Sápmi.
Norway has been greatly criticised by the international community for the politics of Norwegianization of and discrimination against the indigenous population of the country.
In regard to LGBT rights, Norway was the first country in the world to enact an anti-discrimination law protecting the rights of gays and lesbians.
In 1993, Norway became the second country to legalise civil union partnerships for same-sex couples, and on 1 January 2009 Norway became the sixth country to grant full marriage equality to same-sex couples.
As a promoter of human rights, Norway has held the annual Oslo Freedom Forum conference, a gathering described by The Economist as "on its way to becoming a human-rights equivalent of the Davos economic forum."
Main article: Cinema of Norway
The Norwegian cinema has received international recognition.
In 1959, Arne Skouen's Nine Lives was nominated, but failed to win.
The film was released in 1975 and is based on characters from Norwegian cartoonist Kjell Aukrust.
It is the most widely seen Norwegian film of all time.
Since the 1990s, the film industry has thrived, producing up to 20 feature films each year.
The country has also been used as filming location for several Hollywood and other international productions, including The Empire Strikes Back (1980), for which the producers used Hardangerjøkulen glacier as a filming location for scenes of the ice planet Hoth.
It included a memorable battle in the snow.
The attraction and the film ceased their operations on 5 October 2014.
Main article: Music of Norway
See also: Norwegian music industry
The jazz scene in Norway is thriving.
Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Mari Boine, Arild Andersen and Bugge Wesseltoft are internationally recognised while Paal Nilssen-Love, Supersilent, Jaga Jazzist and Wibutee are becoming world-class artists of the younger generation.
Norway has a strong folk music tradition which remains popular to this day.
A-ha initially rose to global fame during the mid-1980s.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the group maintained its popularity domestically, and has remained successful outside Norway, especially in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Brazil.
Some of the most memorable female solo artists from Norway are Susanne Sundfør, Sigrid, Astrid S, Adelén, Julie Bergan, Maria Mena, Tone Damli, Margaret Berger, Lene Marlin, Christel Alsos, Maria Arredondo, Marion Raven and Marit Larsen (both former members of the defunct pop-rock group M2M), Lene Nystrøm (vocalist of the Danish eurodance group Aqua) and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (vocalist of the Swedish pop group ABBA).
In recent years, various Norwegian songwriters and production teams have contributed to the music of other international artists.
Norway enjoys many music festivals throughout the year, all over the country.
Oslo used to have a summer parade similar to the German Love Parade.
In 1992, the city of Oslo wanted to adopt the French music festival Fête de la Musique.
Fredrik Carl Størmer established the festival.
Even in its first year, "Musikkens Dag" gathered thousands of people and artists in the streets of Oslo.
"Musikkens Dag" is now renamed Musikkfest Oslo.
Main article: Norwegian literature
See also: List of Norwegian writers
The arrival of Christianity around the year 1000 brought Norway into contact with European medieval learning, hagiography and history writing.
Merged with native oral tradition and Icelandic influence, this influenced the literature written in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
In his play Peer Gynt, Ibsen characterised this period as "Twice two hundred years of darkness/brooded o'er the race of monkeys."
The first line of this couplet is frequently quoted.
During the union with Denmark, the government imposed using only written Danish, which decreased the writing of Norwegian literature.
Two major events precipitated a major resurgence in Norwegian literature: in 1811 a Norwegian university was established in Christiania.
Bjørnson's "peasant novels", such as Ein glad gut (A Happy Boy) and Synnøve Solbakken, are typical of the Norwegian romantic nationalism of their day.
Kielland's novels and short stories are mostly naturalistic.
They caused an uproar because of his candid portrayals of the middle classes, complete with infidelity, unhappy marriages, and corrupt businessmen.
In the 20th century, three Norwegian novelists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1903, Knut Hamsun for the book Markens grøde ("Growth of the Soil") in 1920, and Sigrid Undset (known for Kristinlavransdatter) in 1928.
Writers such as the following also made important contributions: Dag Solstad, Jon Fosse, Cora Sandel, Olav Duun, Olav H. Hauge, Gunvor Hofmo, Stein Mehren, Kjell Askildsen, Hans Herbjørnsrud, Aksel Sandemose, Bergljot Hobæk Haff, Jostein Gaarder, Erik Fosnes Hansen, Jens Bjørneboe, Kjartan Fløgstad, Lars Saabye Christensen, Johan Borgen, Herbjørg Wassmo, Jan Erik Vold, Rolf Jacobsen, Olaf Bull, Jan Kjærstad, Georg Johannesen, Tarjei Vesaas, Sigurd Hoel, Arnulf Øverland, Karl Ove Knausgård and Johan Falkberget.
Internationally recognised Norwegian scientists include the mathematicians Niels Henrik Abel, Sophus Lie and Atle Selberg, physical chemist Lars Onsager, physicist Ivar Giaever, chemists Odd Hassel, Peter Waage, and Cato Maximilian Guldberg.
Prominent academics include Arne Næss, a philosopher and founder of deep ecology; Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies; Nils Christie and Thomas Mathiesen, criminologists; Fredrik Barth, a social anthropologist; Vilhelm Aubert, Harriet Holter and Erik Grønseth, sociologists; Tove Stang Dahl, a pioneer of women's law; Stein Rokkan, a political scientist; and economists Ragnar Frisch, Trygve Haavelmo, and Finn E. Kydland.
They won the prize for their groundbreaking work identifying the cells that make up a positioning system in the human brain, our "in-built GPS".
Main article: Architecture of Norway
With expansive forests, Norway has long had a tradition of building in wood.
Many of today's most interesting new buildings are made of wood, reflecting the strong appeal that this material continues to hold for Norwegian designers and builders.
With Norway's conversion to Christianity some 1,000 years ago, churches were built.
Some of them have survived; they represent Norway's most unusual contribution to architectural history.
Another notable example of wooden architecture is the buildings at Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, also on the list for World Cultural Heritage sites, consisting of a row of tall, narrow wooden structures along the quayside.
The city Kongsberg had a church built in the Baroque style.
Traditional wooden buildings that were constructed in Røros have survived.
After Norway's union with Denmark was dissolved in 1814, Oslo became the capital.
The 1930s, when functionalism dominated, became a strong period for Norwegian architecture.
It is only since the late 20th century that Norwegian architects have achieved international renown.
Its debating chamber, in timber, is an abstract version of a lavvo, the traditional tent used by the nomadic Sámi people.
Main article: Norwegian art
For an extended period, the Norwegian art scene was dominated by artwork from Germany and Holland as well as by the influence of Copenhagen.
It was in the 19th century that a truly Norwegian era began, first with portraits, later with impressive landscapes.
Johan Christian Dahl (1788–1857), originally from the Dresden school, eventually returned to paint the landscapes of western Norway, defining Norwegian painting for the first time."
Norway's newly found independence from Denmark encouraged painters to develop their Norwegian identity, especially with landscape painting by artists such as Kitty Kielland, a female painter who studied under Hans Gude, and Harriet Backer, another pioneer among female artists, influenced by impressionism.
Main article: Norwegian cuisine
Norway's culinary traditions show the influence of long seafaring and farming traditions, with salmon (fresh and cured), herring (pickled or marinated), trout, codfish, and other seafood, balanced by cheeses (such as brunost), dairy products, and breads (predominantly dark/darker).
Lefse is a Norwegian potato flatbread, usually topped with large amounts of butter and sugar, most common around Christmas.
Some quirky Norwegian speciality is rakefisk, which is a fermented trout, consumed with thin flatbread (flatbrød, not lefse) and sour cream.
And the most popular pastry among all population is vaffel.
It is different from Belgian in taste and consistency and is served with sour cream, brown cheese, butter and sugar, or strawberry or raspberry jam, which can all be mixed or eaten separately.
See also: Football in Norway
Sports are a central part of Norwegian culture, and popular sports include association football, handball, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, speed skating, and, to a lesser degree, ice hockey.
Association football is the most popular sport in Norway in terms of active membership.
Ice hockey is the biggest indoor sport.
The women's handball national team has won several titles, including two Summer Olympics championships (2008, 2012), three World Championships (1999, 2011, 2015), and six European Championship (1998, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014).
The highest FIFA ranking Norway has achieved is 2nd, a position it has held twice, in 1993 and in 1995.
Chess is also gaining popularity in Norway.
Magnus Carlsen is the current world champion.
In terms of licensed athletes, it is the second biggest winter sport in the world.
Norway first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, and has sent athletes to compete in every Games since then, except for the sparsely attended 1904 Games and the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow when they participated in the American-led boycott.
Famous Norwegian winter sport athletes includes biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, speed skaters Johan Olav Koss and Hjalmar Andersen, figure skater Sonja Henie and cross-country skiers Marit Bjørgen and Bjørn Dæhlie.
Norway has hosted the Games on two occasions:
It also hosted the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, making Norway the first country to host both Winter regular and Youth Olympics.
Main article: Tourism in Norway
See also: Tourist attractions in Norway
Tourism in Norway contributed to 4.2% of the gross domestic product as reported in 2016.
Every one in fifteen people throughout the country work in the tourism industry.
Tourism is seasonal in Norway, with more than half of total tourists visiting between the months of May and August.
The main attractions of Norway are the varied landscapes that extend across the Arctic Circle.
It is famous for its fjord-indented coastline and its mountains, ski resorts, lakes and woods.
Much of the nature of Norway remains unspoiled, and thus attracts numerous hikers and skiers.
- Aristocracy of Norway
- Historical capitals of Norway
- International rankings of Norway
- Outline of Norway
- Wildlife of Norway
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway.