This is an attempt to collect and categorize nodes about Norway and Norwegians in general. It's not quite finished yet (nor will it ever be, as nodes keep being added). Therefore I'm just storing it here to keep it handy, and for other interested to peek at, while I wade relentlessly through the nodegel gathering more information.

If you come across any relevant information, feel free to /msg me! :-)

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(Norwegian: Norge)

A country in north-west Europe, on the Scandinavian Peninsula, bounded to the east by Sweden, to the north-east by Finland and the Russian Federation, to the south by the North Sea, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north by the Atlantic Ocean.

Norway was originally inhabited by the Saami (Lapps) and other nomads and was gradually invaded by the Goths. It was ruled by local chieftains until unified by Harald Fairhair (r. 872-933), as a feudal country. Norway's Vikings raided and settled in many parts of Europe in the 8th-11th Centuries. Christianity was introduced by Olaf II in the 11th Century; he was defeated in 1030 by rebel chieftains backed by Canute (Knut), but his son Magnus I regained the throne in 1035. Haakon IV (1217-1263) established the authority of the crown over the nobles and the church and made the monarchy hereditary.

Denmark and Norway were united by marriage in 1380, and in 1397 Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, became united under one sovereign, the so-called Kalmar Union. Sweden broke away in 1523, but Norway remained under Danish rule until January 1814, when it was ceded to Sweden by the Treaty of Kiel. Tired of forced Unions, Norway rebelled on 17 May 1814, adopting her own constitution. Sweden, however, invaded, yet a compromise was reached whereby Norway kept its own parliament but was united with Sweden under a common monarch.

With rising conflict between the Norwegian Parliament and the Swedish Crown, the country declared itself independent in 1905, and confirmed this by a national plebiscite.

Norway declared her neutrality in World War II, but the country fell to German forces, after a two-month struggle in the spring of 1940. The country is a member of EFTA, and the Nordic Council, but is not a member of the European Union, its citizens having rejected membership several time in national referenda.

Norway was united to one kingdom by Harald Hårfagre (at least, he has been credited for it) after the Battle of Hafrsfjord. The name is mentioned for the first time by Ottar from Hålogaland (~800) in his meeting with King Alfred of England. He talked about "Nordvegr", meaning "North way" or "The way to the North". The name thus comes from the trade routes along the Norwegian coast.

(Small digression to conclude: Ottar also has the first account of Sami populations in North of Norway)

(This is the political facts about Norway, most of the info is gathered from Statistics Norway.)

1. GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION

List of registered political parties in Norway December 1999

Det norske Arbeiderparti Labour Party A 1897
Det Liberale Folkepartiet New Liberal Party DLF 1989
Det Politiske Part The Political Party 2001
Fedrelandspartiet Fatherland Party 1991
Generasjonspartiet Generation Party 1993
Fremskrittspartiet Progress Party Frp 1973
Tverrpolitisk kyst- og distriktspartiet Nonpartisan Coastal and Rural District Party 1973
Fylkeslistene for Miljø og Solidaritet County Lists for the Environment and Solidarity FMS 1989
Hvit valgallianse (Stopp Innvandringen/Hjelp fremmede hjem) White Electoral Alliance (Stop Immigration/Repatriate Aliens) 1973
Høyre Conservative Party H 1897
Kristelig Folkeparti Christian Democratic Party KrF 1933
Kristent Konservativt Parti Christian Conservative Party KKP 1965
Miljøpartiet De Grønne The Green Party 1989
Naturlovpartiet Natural Law Party 1993
Norges Kommunistiske Parti Communist Party NKP 1924
Pensjonistpartiet Pensioners' Party 1985
Rød Valgallianse Red Electoral Alliance RV 1973
Samfunnspartiet Society Party 1985
Samlingspartiet (Ny Fremtid) New Future Coalition Party 1993 Senterpartiet Centre Party Sp 1924
Sosialistisk Venstreparti Socialist Left Party SV 1975
Venstre Liberal Party V 1897

Source: The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

Presidents and Secretaries of the Storting

The Storting
President: Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl (A)
Vice President: Hans J. Røsjorde (Frp)

The Lagting
President: Odd Holten (KrF)
Vice President: Svein Ludvigsen (H)

The Odelsting
President: Gunnar Skaug (A)
Vice President: Jorunn Ringstad (Sp)

The Constitutional Office, Karl Johans gate 22, 0026 Oslo Storting: Tel. 23 31 30 50. Fax 23 31 38 50

Source: The Constitutional Office, Storting.

The Supreme Court

P.O.Box 8016 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 03 59 00, fax 22 33 23 55

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: Smith, Carsten
Director (Head of the Office of the Supreme Court): Bergby, Gunnar

Justices of the Supreme Court

Broch, Lars Oftedal
Lund, Ketil
Bruzelius, Karin M.
Matningsdal, Magnus
Bugge, Jens (until 01.05.2000)
Rieber-Mohn, Georg Fr.
Coward, Kirsti
Schei, Tore
Dolva, Trond
Skoghøy, Jens Edvin A.
Flock, Hans
Stang Lund, Eilert
Frisak, Nina (from 01.05.2000)
Tjomsland, Steinar
Gjølstad, Liv
Utgård, Karl Arne
Gussgard, Karenanne
Aarbakke, Magnus
Holmøy, Vera
Aasland, Gunnar

Source: The Supreme Court.

The Government and the Ministries

Office of the Prime Minister,
Akersgaten 42, P.O.Box 8001 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
7. juni plass 1, P.O.Box 8114 Dep, 0032 Oslo, tel. 22 24 36 00/22 24 90 90
Minister of Foreign Affairs Thorbjørn Jagland (Labour Party)
Minister of International Development and Human Rights Anne Kristin Sydnes (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Finance and Customs,
Akersgaten 40, P.O.Box 8008 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Fisheries,
Grubbegaten 1, P.O.Box 8118 Dep, 0032 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Otto Gregussen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Children and Family Affairs,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8036 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90 Minister Karita Bekkemellem Orheim (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Defence,
Myntgaten 1, PO.Box 8126 Dep, 0032 Oslo, tel. 23 09 20 00
Minister Bjørn Tore Godal (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Justice and the Police,
Akersgaten 42, P.O.Box 8005 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Hanne Harlem (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs,
Akersgaten 44, P.O.Box 8119 Dep, 0032 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Trond Giske (Labour Party) (Cont.)

The Royal Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8112 Dep, 0032 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Sylvia Brustad (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Cultural Affairs,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8030 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Ellen Horn (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Agriculture,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8007 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Environment,
Myntgaten 2, P.O.Box 8013 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Siri Bjerke (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Trade and Industry,
Einar Gerhardsens plass 1, P.O.Box 8014 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Grete Knudsen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy,
Einar Gerhardsens plass 1, P.O.Box 8148 Dep, 0033 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Olav Akselsen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Transport and Communications,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8010 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Terje Moe Gustavsen (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
Einar Gerhardsens plass 3, P.O.Box 8011 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Guri Ingebrigtsen (Labour Party)
Minister Tore Tønne (Labour Party)

The Royal Ministry of Labour and Government Administration,
Akersgaten 59, P.O.Box 8004 Dep, 0030 Oslo, tel. 22 24 90 90
Minister Jørgen Kosmo (Labour Party)

Source: Office of the Prime Minister.

2. OFFICIAL FLAG DAYS AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN NORWAY

Saturday, 1st of January, New Year's Day (Official flag flying day)
Monday, 21st of February, King Harald's birthday (Official flag flying day)
Sunday, April, Palm Sunday] (Movable holiday)
Thursday, April, Maundy Thursday (Movable holiday)
Friday, April, Good Friday (Movable holiday)
Sunday, April, Easter Sunday (Movable holiday, Official flag flying day)
Monday, April, Easter Monday (Movable holiday)
1st of May, Public Holiday (Official flag flying day)
8th of May, Liberation Day 1945 (Official flag flying day)
17th of May, Constitution Day (Official flag flying day)
Thursday, June, Ascension Day (Movable holiday)
7th of June, Dissolution of Union with Sweden 1905 (Official flag flying day)
Sunday, June, Whitsun (Movable holiday, Official flag flying day)
Monday, June, Whitmonday (Movable holiday)
4th of July, HM Queen Sonja's birthday (Official flag flying day)
20th of July, HRH Crown Prince Haakon Magnus' birthday (Official flag flying day)
29th of July St. Olav's Day (Olsok) (Official flag flying day)
22th of September, HRH Princess Märtha Louise's birthday (Official flag flying day)
25th of December, Christmas Day (Official flag flying day)
26th of December, Boxing Day

3. NORWAY ABROAD

The Foreign Service

Visiting address: 7. juni plass 1/Victoria Terrasse 7, 11
Postal address: P.O.Box 8114 Dep, N-0032 Oslo
Tel.: +47 - 22 24 36 00
Fax: +47 - 22 24 95 80/22 24 95 81
Telex: 71004
E-mail: postmottak@ud.dep.telemax.no

Foreign service missions

99 diplomatic and consular missions

  • 75 embassies
  • 13 consulates general
  • 2 consulates
  • 8 delegations
  • 3 other
406 honorary consulates

Personnel

650 positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
At the foreign service missions:
480 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
103 from NORAD
Around 500 local employees

Norwegian Trade Council

As a national resource centre, the Norwegian Trade Council shall be the natural first choice of the business sector and the authorities in the field of export and internationalization.

The Norwegian Trade Council shall help to increase the competitive strength of Norwegian enterprises and their profitability in international markets by assisting them throughout the export and internationalization process and playing the role of strategic advisor, door-opener and problem-solver.

Visiting address: Drammensveien 40
Postal address: N-0243 Oslo
Tel.: +47 - 22 92 63 00
Fax: +47 - 22 92 64 00
E-mail: oslo@ntc.no
Representation abroad: 40 offices

The Norwegian Mission to Seaman/Norwegian Church Abroad

The Norwegian Mission to Seaman/the Norwegian church abroad is a voluntary organisation, but it has been given the task of serving the religious needs of Norwegians abroad on behalf of the Church of Norway. However, the Norwegian churches abroad are also important social and cultural meeting places and have considerable value in a general stand-by and advisory context.

In addition to twenty-nine churches and church centres around the world, the Norwegian Mission to Seaman has the responsibility for the student priest service and the "travelling priest service" that visits scattered Norwegian settlements.

Visiting address: Strandgt. 198
Postal address: P.O.Box 2007 Nordnes, N-5817 Bergen
Tel.: +47 - 55 55 22 55
Fax: +47 - 55 55 22 50
Representation abroad: 44 stations

4. DEFENCE

The Norwegian Defence Forces - personnel. 2000

Defence Forces Personnel
Defence Forces in peacetime, incl. officers, civilians and conscripts 35 800
Conscripts, initial term of service, total approx. 18 100 Army approx. 10 300
Navy approx. 4 100
Air Force approx. 3 700
Defence Forces fully mobilized 227 000
Army 89 000
Navy 22 000
Air Force 33 000
Home Guard 83 000
Civil Defence strength mobilized 50 000
+ industrial Civil Defence 33 000

Initial period of service (months)
Army 6-12
Navy 9-12
Air Force 12

Source: Ministry of Defence.

Defence Budget - main figures. 2000

In million NOK Change from 1999. (Per cent change)
Total: 25 349.2 (3.6)

  • Ministry of Defence 137.5 (5.2)
  • Common institutions and state enterprises under the Ministry of Defence 594.7 (-0.3)
  • Common expenses under the Ministry of Defence 182.1 (10.5)
  • Common leadership and command structure 1 049.1 (-8.4)
  • Common institutions and expenses under the Headquarter's Command 1 310.2 (15.7)
  • Army 4 719.9 (-0.3)
  • Navy 2 869.9 (3.0)
  • Air Force 3 737.1 (3.5)
  • Home Guard 715.3 (0.8)
  • Defence intelligence 535.5 (-2.6)
  • Procurement of material, buildings and construction 7 744.7 (1.5)
  • Coast Guard 534.5 (-6.3)
  • Search and Rescue Services 188.3 (-0.5)
  • Norwegian Forces Abroad 860.0 (--)
  • Cultural activities and measures for the public good 170.4 (-18.2)

Source: Ministry of Defence. Innst. S. nr. 7 (1999-2000).

Norway and its history

Also a small attempt to make light on how we live our lives...

Norway's history is an interesting one, both riddled with conflicts and savagery, and with peace and civilization. Though no one incident can truly show a major influence on any one country, I believe that anyone will find that many, many years and various incidents teach the peoples of a nation many valuable lessons, and to this, Norway is no exception.

Norway is believed to have first been settled around 1200 BC. The country grew for many years, until around 770 AD, when The Viking Age began. During this time period, the Scandinavians were found frequently voyaging to the Baltic and Irish seas, and even as far into the Mediterranean as Sicily, where they continued to employ superior ships, weapons, and military organization/strategies. Finally the Norse discovered Iceland and settled there in 870 AD.

Much violence over ownership followed until a leader, King Harald Fairhair taught the Norwegians the strength in unity, and led them to a united Norway in 900 AD.

Woe be to the man who tries to force his beliefs upon another. Religion was one thing that did not sit well with the Norse. King Olav I Tryggvasson introduced Christianity first in 995, but then King Olav II Haraldsson tried to complete the conversion in 1016, and started a bloody war that lasted until 1028 when he was slain at the Battle of Stiklestad and became Patron Saint of Norway.

Other leaders saw the power in peace and free beliefs. Håkon IV became King of Norway in 1217 and showed the people that religion was not all that they had to know. He began Norway's "Golden Age" wherein he reformed and modernized the Administration. Under Håkon Norway's empire reached its greatest size, as Greenland and Iceland formed unions with Norway in 1261. It was also during this time period that Håkon had The Sagas written.

Håkon's ideas lasted long after his death. Between 1319 and 1335, Norway and Scandinavia formed a union and grew to be one of the most powerful nations of the era. This did not stop the Norwegians from learning a harsh lesson concerning health and medical care, when the Black Death struck in 1349, killing two thirds of the population. The Germans saw opportunity in this and gave the Norwegians aid, in exchange for the Treaty of Stralsun which gave the North German free passage through Danish waters, and thus Norway. (Norway was at this time a Danish Province. When they became one is unclear.) As a result, the Germans gained a great deal of power throughout Scandinavia.

War, both open and of political intrigue followed until the Peace of Copenhagen was established in 1660, which set the modern boundaries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Finally the wars ended when Sweden attacked Denmark and forced the Danish to surrender Norway, after Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig. As a result, Norway was forced to accept Act of Union with Sweden.

This was not all bad, however. Sweden's Act of Union showed the Norse the value of political reform, which they had previously refused, and the Norwegians established a Parliamentary system. Then, in 1905, Norway decided to go one step further by declaring independence from Sweden and dissolving the union.

Perhaps the Norwegians would have done better if the had waited until after World War I to do this, because without Sweden’s backing, when Norway declared it's neutrality in the war, Germany blockaded their seas which caused the Merchant Fleet and thus Norway's economy to take heavy losses in 1914. As a result the leaders of Norway decided that they needed two things:

  • They needed the support of women and gave them the right to vote in 1918, and
  • they decided that they had to take a stand and joined the League of Nations in 1920.

This was such a popular topic for writing that three writers, Bjørnsterjun Bjørnson, Knut Hamsen, and Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature between 1903 and 1928. Their writings inspired a large workforce to employ a Labor Government that lasted from 1929 to 1937.

Then again in 1939, Norway has to re-learn it's lesson on taking sides when it again declares neutrality in World War II and is again occupied by the Germans, on April 9, 1940. This time Norway got the hint and joined the United Nations, but it took them until 1945 to do this. They followed by joining NATO in 1949 and forming the Nordic Council which promoted cooperation among the Nordic Parliaments, in 1952.

Since then Norway has learned that it can always stand for what is right, without being told that it is wrong. It has also stood by the economic reformations, and learned to accept opportunity. The perfect example being the discovery of oil in the North Sea, in 1968. By 1971 the North Sea Oil production had already began transforming Norwegian Economy. Norway has also applied three times for membership in the European Economic Community, and I believe that they got membership the third time.

Norway has, through the years, shown that they know how to learn from their mistakes. It may be a quick reform and then long refinement, as in the Vikings gathering military knowledge, sailing abilities, and weapons, or it may be a slowly re-learned lesson that is taken to the core the second or third time, such as their positions in WWI and WWII. This just goes to show that Norway and her people are, as much as any of us, human, and that they do make mistakes some times, but they learn from them. You might notice that Norway has some of the best sailors and ships, and most efficient shipping lines in the world. They aren't afraid to speak their minds. And most of all, they are willing to do what it takes to help their country secure it's place, and power itself on to whatever comes tomorrow. They also have learned one thing, which is best illustrated in a quote from The Thirteenth Warrior.

"The great father wove the skane of your life many years ago. You can go and hide in a hole if you wish; you won't live a moment longer. The thread has been spun. The weave is set. Fear profits a man nothing."

It is what we all strive to live. It is what they, ancestors and modern people, have learned.


Sources:

  • http://www.cyberclip.com/Katrine/NorwayInfo/Articles/HistOutline...
  • http://members.tdn.com/dagwood/N_WWII.html

I co-wrote this with LerrisofRecluse. Myself and others felt that this should be mentioned. : )

Facts and Figures

If you lived in Norway, you would call it Kongeriket Norge, or just Norge. Your eastern border would be Russia and Finland in the extreme north and, to the south, Sweden. Your northern, western, and southern coasts would be the frigid waters of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the North Sea, respectively. The north of the country lies above the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets on the summer solstice. Hence, the famous name: "Land of the Midnight Sun".

The country is so long that the distance from the northernmost point to Oslo, the capital, is longer than the distance from Oslo to Rome. With 21,930 km (about 13,620 mi) of coastline (counting the inlets from the fjords) and a land area of 385,639 sq km (148,896 sq mi), the country is large and thin. Water plays an important role in its life. A chain of islands locally called the "skerry guard" or "reef guard" (Norwegian: skjærgården) protect the coast.

Norway also has some possessions outside of its traditional territory. There is Svalbard, an archipelago, and Jan Mayen, a volcanic island northeast of Iceland, in the Arctic Ocean. Bouvet Island is an uninhabited island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, southwest of the Cape of Good Hope. Finally, appropriately, Norway also claims Peter I Island, off Antarctica, and a portion of the Antarctic continent, lying between longitude 20° west and 45° east, known as Queen Maud Land.

The lay of the land

In ancient times, Norway had four main regions: Vestlandet (West Country), Østlandet (East Country), Trøndelag (Trondheim region), and Nord Norge (North Norway). Now, they also have a fifth region, Sørlandet (South Country).

Nearly 1/4 of Norway is covered with forest. Along the southern coasts, there are oak, ash, hazel, elm, maple, and linden trees; rarer are birch, yew, and holly. Along the central coasts, there are coniferous forests with Scotch Pine and Norway Spruce trees. The far north has a tundra climate, of course.

There is a lot of water in Norway, but about 1/3 of the lakes and rivers are polluted because of the industry in the United Kingdom. The Glåma River is the longest in Norway, draining about 1/8 of the country. The largest lake is Lake Mjøsa in the southeast, which was formed by glacial runoff. Several mountain ranges bisect the country, rising the highest in the south.

An extension of the Gulf Stream, called the North Atlantic Drift, keeps the Atlantic side of Norway from being bitterly cold. Even in the far north, most ports are ice-free throughout the winter. Norway also has large oil reserves, extracted from the vast reserves located along the continental shelf of the North Sea.

West Country

The land here is a steep descent from the mountains into the ocean. Glaciers carved steep fjords into the coast, the biggest of which (Sognafjorden (Norwegian: sognefjorden))extends 127 miles inland, with cliff walls sometimes rising to 1,500 m (5,000 ft). The west country also includes the coastal islands-- "skerry guard", remember?-- which are formed by the strandflate, a rock shelf lying in some places just above-- in others, just below-- the level of the sea. The wealth in this country comes from the ocean-- fishing is their main business.

One of the notable towns in the area is Ålesund. After a fire in 1904, they quickly rebuilt the town in a unique style of medieval turrets and spires. Another is Bergen, once the seat of the Hanseatic League in Norway, and Stavanger, the medieval city that is now the oil capital of the country.

East Country

The east country lies along the gradual eastern slopes of the many mountain ranges that bisect the country. Full of valleys and gently rolling hills, it has some of Norway's best agricultural land, especially around the Oslofjord. It is connected to the West Country by many valleys, the most important of these being Hallingdal. Lillehammer, site of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, is in this area, along with Skien, birthplace of Henrik Ibsen. Other notable places include Drobak, which is not only an arts center but also the home of Santa Claus-- who has his own house and post office there, and Tønsberg, Norway's oldest city, founded in 871 CE. It had the country's largest fortress during the Middle Ages, one of the king's royal residences, and a Franciscan cloister. Finally, the capital, Oslo (once known as Christiania, and also known as "tigerstaden" or "the city of tigers"), lies on the edge of a fjord in the east country. The city has only about 500,000 inhabitants, but it is very large, because it has so many forested areas. It was (and is) the home of many famous Norwegians, like Roald Amundsen, and Edvard Munch. The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony takes place in its City Hall every year.

Trondheim

This region is located to the north of the highest part of the mountains. Here, the main agricultural area surrounds the Trondheimsfjord, which is sheltered from the sea by the islands. The only main city is Trondheim itself, which was once called Nidaros. St. Olav was buried in Nidaros, and Nidaros Cathedral was erected over his grave, and during the Middle Ages it was a pilgrim site equal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain in importance. For four centuries, pilgrims came seeking consolation, help and miracle cures. This national shrine is also where Norwegian monarchs have been crowned.

North Norway

Most of the people who live in this region live on the islands along its southern coast. Other than that, the region is mostly a barren plateau containing some of the biggest glaciers in Europe. This is the land where you can see the aurora borealis in the perpetual twilight of winter and stand in the sunlight at midnight in summer. One of the towns here is Hammerfest, the farthest north town in the world. Also, the oldest archaeological evidence of civilization in Norway comes from here-- 8000 years ago, the Sami people lived in this area.

South Country

This area has the highest mountains in Norway. The ranges include the Dovrefjell in the north, and the Jotunheimen ("home of the giants" or "home of the trolls") in the central region, which contains Galdhøpiggen, at 2,469 m (8,100 ft) the highest peak in Scandinavia. In the south is the Hardangervidda, a vast mountain plateau averaging about 1,000 m (about 3,300 ft) in elevation. Further south, along the coast, is the sunniest spot in Norway. These beaches, also sheltered by islands, are the vacation spot for Norwegians. The main city is Kristiansand.

Wildlife

Reindeer, polar foxes, polar hare, wolverines (Norwegian: jerv), lynxes (Norwegian: gaupe), and lemmings live in the north and in the higher mountain areas. Elk, bears (Norwegian: bjørn, deer, foxes, otters, and marten are in the south and southeast. Fish include salmon, trout, grayling, perch, and pike are common in the streams and lakes. Herring, cod, halibut, mackerel, and other species inhabit coastal waters.

The wolves (Norwegian: ulv) in Norway are severely endangered-- at last count, there was only one pack living inside the country and three living on the border between Norway and Sweden. Efforts to save them are hampered by ranchers who think that any wolf population will result in dead sheep. Sharq points out that while the wolves do kill the sheep, the farmers are well compensated by the government-- leading to some mysterious deaths.

Environmental Concerns

Norway has recently come under fire from environmentalists for allowing the clubbing of baby seals for their fur. These harp seals live in the Arctic regions along the coasts. Also angering environmentalists, in 1993 commercial hunting of minke whales was resumed (after being banned in 1980), and the government sets a yearly number of whales that can be killed, based on estimates of the whale population. The quota in 2001 was 549 whales (thanks again Sharq).

Government

Norway is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution was ratified on May 17, 1814, and was based on the United States' (however, Norway was not released from Swedish rule until 1905). The king has the executive power, although it is very limited. He makes all the government appointments on the advice of the ruling party. The legislature is the Storting, with 165 members popularly elected every four years by all citizens age 18 and older. The Storting elects one-quarter of its members to an upper house, the Lagting; the remainder constitute the lower house, the Odelsting. The king cannot dissolve parliament. Finally, there is the judicial branch, with a Supreme Court called the Høyesterett, with a president and seventeen judges. There are locally elected courts beneath this one.

The dominant political party in Norway is the Labor Party, which has been in power since 1935. They are socialist, wanting government control of industry and a planned economy. There are many other small parties in the country, including the Conservative Party, which wants free enterprise, the populist, anti-immigration Progress Party, and the Christian People's Party, a centrist Christian democratic party. The king is commander of the armed forces, and Norway is a member of NATO.

Norway is one of the most socialist countries in the world, with universal free health care and a compulsory National Pension Scheme. Starting in 1967, it provides money for the aged, those with disabilities, those rehabilitating, widows, widowers, and other benefits, including one-year paid maternity leave and universal child support.

History

Norway has been inhabited ever since at least 14000 years ago. These first people were hunter gatherers who came from Western Europe, followed by Germanic farmers from Sweden and Denmark who settled along the coasts. By the time written records begin, around 800 CE, the country was divided up into 29 little kingdoms. Given the long coast line, they naturally began to turn to the sea for trading and conquest.

800 CE is the traditional starting point for the age of the Vikings. After building war ships, they set out, and withing seventy-five years, had established settlements in Ireland, Britain, and Iceland and in the Orkney, Faroe, and Shetland islands. Their methods of raiding were brutal, and led to many bloody fights, especially in the British Isles. In 985, Eric the Red reached Greenland and set up a colony there; his son, Leif Eriksson reached North America only a few years later. Vikings also spread to Russia and northern France, where their descendants became the Normans.

Right before 900, Harald I, the heir to a kingdom in the south of the country, attempted to unify Norway. Throughout his reign, he contended with domestic strife and external threats from Sweden and Denmark. When he died in 940, his sons divided up the kingdom, squabbling, and destroyed the unity.

Olaf I, the great grandson of Harald I, came to the throne in 995. He had been educated in England and converted to Christianity, and he wanted to convert Norway from its pagan ways. He began this task, but died in a battle with Denmark. Olaf II succeeded him and took up the work of conversion, killing anyone who wouldn't be baptized. After annoying nearly everyone, and being forced to flee to Russia for a time, he returned and died as a martyr, becoming Norway's patron saint. In 1035, another king, Magnus I, united Denmark and Norway; in 1389, Margaret I would bring Sweden into the alliance. In the intervening years, internal strife among the smaller kingdoms continued, with the landlords rising against the kings constantly. Norway became part of the trading empire of the Hanseatic League. The Little Ice Age, beginning in the early 14th century, froze the seas around Greenland and Iceland. The colony on Greenland disappeared; a hundred years later travelers found only the remains of the settlement and the cows roaming free. Historians still debate why this happened. (Can someone please tell me the name of the node about this so I can link it?) The Black Death in 1350 wiped out anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of the population of Norway.

Over the next four centuries, Norway was dwarfed in importance by Sweden and Denmark, and ruled by minor Danish officials. It stagnated, and the population remained very low. Finally, in 1814, the Napoleonic Wars changed its situation. After Waterloo, Denmark, as an ally of France, had to sign the Treaty of Kiel, giving Norway to Sweden. Norway rebelled, but eventually agreed, in exchange for its own navy, army, customs and legislature under the Act of Union of 1815. However, the seeds of nationalism were planted. As revolution rocked Europe in 1848, Norway began to demand independence. In 1860, Sweden proposed revisions to the Act of Union, but Norway demanded more. After a protracted struggle, Norway proclaimed its independence in an overwhelming vote in August, 1905.

During World War I, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway joined together to form a neutral league, strengthening their ties. The Great Depression hurt the economy severely. Once World War II began, in 1939, Norway maintained its neutrality. Unfortunately, German maritime warfare along the Norwegian coast made neutrality increasingly difficult. On April 8, 1940, the United Kingdom and France announced that they had mined Norwegian territorial waters to prevent their use by German supply ships. The next day German forces invaded Norway. The National Union party helped the Germans so they could proclaim themselves the rulers of the country, and King Håkon and his cabinet were forced to flee to London, which became the seat of Norwegian government for the next five years. A Resistance sprang up within Norway, but it was not until May 8, 1945, that the German forces surrendered. King Håkon returned to Norway in June. To punish traitors, the death penalty, abolished in 1876, was restored. The leader of the National Union Party, along with some 25 other Norwegians, was executed for treason.

Since World War II, Norway has joined the United Nations and NATO. To help rebuild their economy after the war, Norway became one of the founding members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1959.

Miscellaneous

The Sami are the aboriginal population of Norway, living in the extreme North. Their culture still exists today, although some of the old forms of their language have died out; now, in the northern schools, the main Sami dialect is being taught.

The national currency is the krone, which is printed by the Bank of Norway, established in 1816.

The scenes of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back were filmed in Norway.

For some Norwegian culture, read Henrik Ibsen or Sigrid Undset, two authors I greatly enjoy. Or, listen to Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King".

Sources

Since I go to school in Washington D.C. right on Embassy Row, when I decided to write a node about Norway, I hopped on my bicycle and rode about a mile and a half down Massachusetts Avenue to 34th St NW, where the Norwegian Embassy is located. As a university student, its easy to get into any of the embassies (on Halloween, you can go right down the Row, getting ethnic food from many of the embassies). The embassy is a square, imposing three-story stone building, with the requisite security. Inside, I received many goodies, including a super-cool tourism poster with a picture of a stark rock fjord towering over icy blue water, and nice brochures telling me all about the country. So... if you're wondering where I got some of my information... there you have it. The Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Norway was also a big help.

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