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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Norway Definition

Kingdom of Norway, westernmost country in Scandinavia (northernmost region in Europe) Several principalities were united into the kingdom of Norway in the 11th century. It was ruled by the king of Denmark from 1380 to 1814, until it was ceded to Sweden. The union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905. It remained neutral during World War I and declared neutrality in World War II but was occupied by invading German troops. Norway is a member of NATO. Its citizens rejected membership in the European Union in 1994. (Wikipedia) - Norway This article is about the European country. For other uses, see Norway (disambiguation). "Noruega" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Noriega. Kingdom of Norway
  • Kongeriket Norge  (Norwegian Bokmål)
  • Kongeriket Noreg  (Norwegian Nynorsk)
Official languages Demonym Government Legislature Formation Area Population Currency Time zone Date format Drives on the Calling code Patron saint ISO 3166 code Internet TLD
Flag Coat of arms
  • Ja, vi elsker dette landet  (de facto)
  • Yes, we love this country
  • Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player. You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.Royal anthem: Kongesangen The King''s Song
Location of  Norway  (dark green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  – 

Capital and largest city  Oslo 59°56′N 10°41′E / 59.933°N 10.683°E / 59.933; 10.683
Norwegian (Bokmål / Nynorsk)
Recognised regional languages
  • Northern Sami
  • Lule Sami
  • Kven
  • Southern Sami
Ethnic groups
  • 86% Norwegians
  • 1.3% Sami
  • 12% other:
  • Forest Finns
  • Kvens
  • Romani
  • Jews
  • modern immigrants
Norwegian In Norwegian: Nordmann
Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Harald V
 -  Prime Minister Erna Solberg
 -  President of the Storting Olaf Michael Thommessen
 -  Chief Justice Tore Schei
 -  Unification 872 
 -  Constitution 17 May 1814 
 -  Dissolution of union with Sweden 7 June 1905 
 -  Restoration from German occupation 8 May 1945 
 -  Total 385,178 km2 (61sta) 148,718 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 5.2b
 -  2013 census 5,136,700
 -  Density 15.5/km2 (213th) 35/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $282.174 billion (46th)
 -  Per capita $55,398 (4th)
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $515.832 billion (22nd)
 -  Per capita $101,271 (3rd)
Gini (2011) 22.3 low
HDI (2013)  0.944 very high · 1st
Norwegian krone (NOK)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
St Olaf II
a. Includes Svalbard and Jan Mayen. (Without these two areas, the area of Norway is 323,802 km2, placing it 67th in the world.)
b. This percentage is for the mainland, Svalbard, and Jan Mayen. This percentage counts glaciers as "land". It''s calculated as 19,940.14/(365,246.17+19,940.14).
c. Two more TLDs have been assigned, but are not used: .sj for Svalbard and Jan Mayen; .bv for Bouvet Island.

Norway (i/ˈnɔrweɪ/; Norwegian:  Norge (Bokmål) or  Noreg (Nynorsk)), officially the Kingdom of Norway (Kongeriket Norge in Bokmål and Kongeriket Noreg in Nynorsk), is a Scandinavian unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island. Peter I Island is a dependent territory and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. Norway has a total area of 385,252 square kilometres (148,747 sq mi) and a population of 5,109,059 people (2014). The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden (1,619 km or 1,006 mi long). Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.

King Harald V of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg is the current monarch of Norway. Erna Solberg became Prime Minister in 2013, replacing Jens Stoltenberg. A constitutional monarchy since 1814, state power is divided between the Parliament, the King and his Council, and the Supreme Court. Between 1661 and 1814, Norway was an absolute monarchy, and before 1661, the King shared power with the Norwegian nobility. Traditionally established in 872 and originating in one of the petty kingdoms, Norway is one of the oldest still existing kingdoms in Europe and world-wide. The Kingdom has existed continuously for over 1,100 years, and the list of Norwegian monarchs includes over sixty kings and earls.

Norway has both administrative and political subdivisions on two levels, known as counties (fylke) and municipalities (kommune). The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliament and the Finnmark Act. Norway maintains close ties with the European Union and its member countries (despite rejecting full EU membership in two referenda), as well as with the United States. Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD; and is also a part of the Schengen Area.

The country maintains a combination of market economy and a Nordic welfare model with universal health care and a comprehensive social security system. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water, and hydropower. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country''s gross domestic product. The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMF lists, as well as ninth-highest on a more comprehensive CIA list. On a per-capita basis, it is the world''s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East, From 2001 to 2006, and then again from 2009 to 2014, Norway had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world. Norway has also topped the Legatum Prosperity Index for the last five years. The OECD ranks Norway fourth in the 2013 equalised Better Life Index and third in intergenerational earnings elasticity. From 2010 to 2012, Norway was classified as the most democratic country by the Democracy Index.

Around 994 A.D., two centuries of Viking raids to southern and western areas of Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity. Norway then expanded its overseas territory to parts of Britain, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. Norwegian power peaked in 1265. Competition from the Hanseatic League, and the spread of the Black Death, weakened the country. In 1397, Norway became part of the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden. The Union lasted until Sweden left in 1523. The remaining union with Denmark lasted nearly three centuries. In 1814, Norwegians adopted a constitution before being forced into a personal union with Sweden. In 1905, Norway ended the union, subsequently confirmed in a referendum, ending over 500 years of monarchs residing outside the country. In the same year, the country confirmed the election of its own king. Despite its declaration of neutrality in World War II, Norway was occupied for 5 years by forces of Nazi Germany. In 1949 it abandoned neutrality, becoming a founding member of NATO. Discovery of oil in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway''s economic fortunes.

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Prehistory
    • 2.2 Bronze Age
    • 2.3 Iron Age
    • 2.4 Migration Age
    • 2.5 Viking Age
    • 2.6 Kalmar Union
    • 2.7 Union with Denmark
    • 2.8 Union with Sweden
    • 2.9 Independence
    • 2.10 World Wars I and II
    • 2.11 Post-World War II history
  • 3 Geography
  • 4 Politics and government
    • 4.1 Administrative divisions
    • 4.2 Judicial system and law enforcement
    • 4.3 Foreign relations
    • 4.4 Military
  • 5 Health
    • 5.1 History
      • 5.1.1 Infant mortality
      • 5.1.2 Population
      • 5.1.3 Communicable diseases
      • 5.1.4 Discovery of microbes
      • 5.1.5 Antibiotics and vaccines
      • 5.1.6 HIV/AIDS
      • 5.1.7 Cardiovascular diseases
    • 5.2 Today’s health status as of 2012
      • 5.2.1 New challenges
      • 5.2.2 Non-communicable diseases
      • 5.2.3 Social differences in health
      • 5.2.4 Mental health
        • Children and adolescents
        • Involuntary care
        • Financing
        • Burden of disease
  • 6 Economy
    • 6.1 Resources
      • 6.1.1 Oil fields
    • 6.2 Transport
  • 7 Demographics
    • 7.1 Migration
      • 7.1.1 Emigration
      • 7.1.2 Immigration
    • 7.2 Religion
    • 7.3 Largest cities of Norway
    • 7.4 Education
    • 7.5 Languages
  • 8 Culture
    • 8.1 Cinema
    • 8.2 Music
    • 8.3 Literature
    • 8.4 Research
    • 8.5 Architecture
    • 8.6 Art
    • 8.7 Cuisine
    • 8.8 Sport
  • 9 Gallery
  • 10 See also
  • 11 Notes
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links


Etymologists believe the country''s name means "the northward route" (the "way north" or the "north way"), which in Old Norse would have been nor veg or *norð vegr. The Old Norse name for Norway was Nóregr, the Anglo-Saxon Norþ weg and mediaeval Latin Northvegia. The official name of the Kingdom of Norway in Bokmål is "Kongeriket Norge", while in Nynorsk it is "Kongeriket Noreg", both only a couple of letters removed from the original "northern way": Nor(d)-(v)eg.

Around 890 AD, Ohthere of Hålogaland distinguished "Norwegians" ("nordmenn", the people of Norvegr) from Sami people and Danes. While he identified the Sami people by their nomadic way of life, Danes he identified geographically or politically. According to Ohthere, "Danes" dominated Skagerrak and Kattegat, the bodies of water separating present day Denmark from the Scandinavian peninsula. "Norwegians" on the other hand lived on the North Sea and Atlantic coasts, and were connected to the islands of the North Atlantic. Ohthere''s Norway covered a much smaller area than present day Norway.

HistoryNordic Bronze Age rock carvings at Steinkjer, Central NorwayMain articles: History of Norway and History of Scandinavia Prehistory 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 spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation. The culture is named after the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (15.53 mi) north-east of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where wooden arrow shafts and clubs have been excavated. 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. The oldest finds are stone tools dating from 9,500 to 6,000 BC, discovered in Finnmark (Komsa culture) in the north and Rogaland (Fosna culture) in the south-west. However, theories about two altogether different cultures (the Komsa culture north of the Arctic Circle being one and the Fosna culture from Trøndelag to Oslo Fjord being the other) were rendered obsolete in the 1970s.

Approximate extent of the Corded Ware culture

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. Some may have come along the ice-free coast of the Kola Peninsula, but the evidence of this is still poor.

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. They represent game such as deer, reindeer, elk, bears, birds, seals, whales, and fish (especially salmon and halibut), all of which were vital to the way of life of the coastal peoples. The carvings at Alta in Finnmark, the largest in Scandinavia, were made at sea level continuously from 4,200 to 500 BC and mark the progression of the land as it rose from the sea after the last ice age (Rock carvings at Alta).

Bronze Age Main article: Nordic Bronze AgeLocations of the Germanic tribes described by Jordanes in NorwaySæbø sword from Sæbø, Hordaland (800 AD)

Between 3000 and 2500 BC new settlers (Corded Ware culture) arrived in eastern Norway. They were Indo-European farmers who grew grain and kept cows and sheep. 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 from those typical of the Stone Age. Representations of the Sun, animals, trees, weapons, ships, and people are all strongly stylised.

Iron Age Main article: Pre-Roman Iron Age

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. At this time the amount of settled area in the country increased, a development that can be traced by coordinated studies of topography, archaeology, and place-names. 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 Bjorgvin (Bergen) or Saeheim (Seim), usually date from the 1st century AD.

Migration Age Main article: Migration Age

The destruction of the Western Roman Empire by the Germanic tribes (5th century) is characterised by rich finds, including chieftains'' graves containing magnificent weapons and gold objects. 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. From this period and later (600–800), nascent communities can be traced. Defense works require co-operation and leadership, so petty states of some kind with a defence and administrative organisation must have existed.

These states were based on either clans or tribes (e.g., the Horder of Hordaland in western Norway). By the 9th century each of these small states had things, or tings (local or regional assemblies), for negotiating and settling disputes. The thing meeting places, each eventually with a horg (open-air sanctuary) or a hov (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 Jarls of Lade, near Trondheim, seem to have enlarged the Frostatingslag by adding the coastland from Romsdalsfjord to the Lofoten Islands. A lagting developed in the area of Lake Mjøsa in the east and eventually established its meeting place at Eidsvoll, becoming known as the Eidsivating. The area around Oslofjord, although at times closely tied to Denmark, developed a lagting—with its meeting place at Sarpsborg called the Borgarting.

Viking Age Main article: Viking AgeThe helmet found at Gjermundbu near Haugsbygd, Buskerud, is the only Viking Age helmet that has been found.The Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway

The Viking Age was characterised by expansion and emigration by Viking seafarers. According to tradition, Harald Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre) unified them into one in 872 after the Battle of Hafrsfjord in Stavanger, thus becoming the first king of a united Norway. (The date of 872 may be somewhat arbitrary. In fact, the actual date may be just prior to 900). Harald''s realm was mainly a South Norwegian coastal state. Harald Fairhair ruled with a strong hand and according to the sagas, many Norwegians left the country to live in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and parts of Britain and Ireland. The modern-day Irish cities of Dublin, Limerick and Waterford were founded by Norwegian settlers. Norse traditions were slowly replaced by Christian ones in the 10th and 11th centuries. This is largely attributed to the missionary kings Olav Tryggvasson and St. Olav. 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 963–969, 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 acclaimed King of Norway by the Eyrathing in 995.

Feudalism never really developed in Norway and 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.

Kalmar UnionThe Norwegian Kingdom at its greatest extent, c. 1265Main article: Kalmar Union

Upon the death of Haakon V, King of Norway, in 1319, Magnus Erikson, at just three years old, inherited the throne as King Magnus VII of Norway. At the same time a movement to make Magnus King of Sweden proved successful. (At this time 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. Before the plague, the population was only about 500,000 people. After the plague, many farms lay idle while the population slowly increased.

Kalmar Union c. 1500 AD

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. In 1363, Haakon VI married Margaret, the daughter of King Valdemar IV of Denmark. 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–NorwayThe Battle of the Sound between an allied Dano-Norwegian–Dutch fleet and the Swedish navy, 29 October 1658.

After Sweden broke out of the Kalmar Union in 1521, Norway tried to follow suit, but the ensuing rebellion was defeated, and Norway remained in a union with Denmark until 1814, a total of 436 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 tributary to 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. Olav at the Nidaros shrine, and with them, much of the contact with cultural and economic life in the rest of Europe.

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. In the north, however, its territory was increased by the acquisition of the northern provinces of Troms and Finnmark, at the expense of Sweden and Russia.

The famine of 1695–96 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: Union between Sweden and NorwayThe 1814 constitutional assembly, painted by Oscar Wergeland

After Denmark–Norway was attacked by the United Kingdom at the 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. On 4 November 1814 the Parliament (Storting) elected Charles XIII of Sweden as king of Norway, thereby establishing the union with Sweden. Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and its own independent institutions, except for the foreign service. Following the recession caused by the Napoleonic Wars, economic development of Norway remained slow until economic growth began around 1830.

Harvesting of oats in Jølster, c. 1890. (Photo: Axel Lindahl/Norwegian Museum of Cultural History)

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 , Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson , Peter Christen Asbjørnsen , Jørgen Moe ), painting (Hans Gude , Adolph Tidemand ), music (Edvard Grieg ), 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. However, by mid-century, Norway was still far from a "democracy". Voting was limited to officials, property owners, leaseholders, and burghers of incorporated towns. There was some dissatisfaction with this system.

A Sami (Lapp) family in Norway around 1900

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. Indeed, the Thrane movement was the only "revolt" that broke out in Norway in 1848.

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 the society 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 the town and country. For the first time these two groups felt they had common cause with each other. In the end, the revolt was easily crushed; Thrane was captured and sentenced to three years in jail for crimes against the safety of the state. Upon his release from jail, after serving his sentence, Marcus Thrane migrated to the United States.

In 1898, all men were granted universal suffrage, followed by all women in 1913.

Independence Main article: 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. After a national referendum confirmed the people''s preference for a monarchy over a republic, the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to Prince Carl of Denmark, and Parliament unanimously elected him king, the first king of a fully independent Norway in 586 years. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the medieval kings of independent Norway.

World Wars I and II See also: Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany and Free Norwegian ForcesScenes from the Norwegian Campaign in 1940

During World War I, Norway was a neutral country. In reality, however, Norway had been pressured by the United Kingdom to hand over increasingly large parts of its massive merchant fleet to the UK at low rates, as well as to join the trade blockade against Germany. Norwegian merchant marine ships with Norwegian sailors were then required to sail under the British flag and risk being sunk by German submarines. Thus, many Norwegian sailors and ships were lost. Thereafter, the world ranking of the Norwegian merchant marine fell from fourth place in the world to sixth place in the world.

Norway also proclaimed its neutrality during World War II, but Norway was invaded by German forces on 9 April 1940. Norway was unprepared for the German surprise attack (see: Battle of Drøbak Sound, Norwegian Campaign, and Invasion of Norway), but military and naval resistance lasted for two months. The 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 help diverted to France during the German Invasion of France.

King Haakon and the Norwegian government escaped to Rotherhithe, in London, England, and they supported the fight through inspirational radio speeches from London and by supporting clandestine military actions in Norway against the Nazis. On the day of the invasion, the collaborative leader of the small National-Socialist party Nasjonal Samling, Vidkun Quisling, tried to seize power but was forced by the German occupiers to step aside. Real power was wielded by the leader of the German occupation authority, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. 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.

Norwegian air force men in the United Kingdom during World War II.

The population fraction supporting Germany was traditionally less than in Sweden but greater than generally appreciated today, including a number of prominent personalities like Knut Hamsun. The concept of a "Germanic Union" of member states fitted well into their thoroughy nationalist-patriotic ideology.

There were many Norwegians and persons of Norwegian descent, who joined the Allied forces as well as the Free Norwegian Forces. From the small group that had left Norway in June 1940 consisting of 13 ships, five aircraft and 500 men from the Royal Norwegian Navy who followed the King to the United Kingdom the force had grown by the end of the war to 58 ships and 7,500 men in service in the 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. 10 Commandos.

During the five years of Nazi 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). More important to the Allied war effort, however, was the role of the Norwegian Merchant Marine. At the time of the invasion, Norway had the 4th largest merchant marine fleet in the world. It was led by the Norwegian shipping company Nortraship under the Allies throughout the war and took part in every war operation from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the Normandy landings. Each December Norway gives a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom as thanks for the British assistance during World War II. A ceremony takes place to erect the tree in London''s Trafalgar Square.

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 programme 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 as long as until 1960.

Since the 1980s oil production has helped to expand the Norwegian economy and finance the Norwegian state.

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 OEEC one year later, and became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.

In 1969, the Phillips Petroleum Company discovered petroleum resources at the Ekofisk field west of Norway. 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). Two referendums on joining the European Union failed by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994.

Town Hall Square in Oslo filled with people with roses mourning the victims of the Utøya massacre, 25 July 2011

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 right-wing 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 a pair of terrorist attacks 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.

Geography Main articles: Geography of Norway and Geology of NorwayA satellite image of continental Norway in winter

Norway comprises the western part of Scandinavia in Northern Europe. The rugged coastline, broken by huge fjords and thousands of islands, stretches 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi) and 83,000 kilometres (52,000 mi) and include fjords and islands. Norway shares a 1,619-kilometre (1,006 mi) land border with Sweden, 727 kilometres (452 mi) with Finland, and 196 kilometres (122 mi) with Russia to the east. To the north, west and south, Norway is bordered by the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea, and Skagerrak.

Norwegian lowland landscape near the Gaulosen branch of TrondheimsfjordReine in Lofoten, Northern Norway

At 385,252 square kilometres (148,747 sq mi) (including Svalbard and Jan Mayen) (and 323,802 square kilometres (125,021 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. The longest is Sognefjorden at 204 kilometres (127 mi). Sognefjorden is the world''s second deepest fjord, and the world''s longest. Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in all Europe. Frozen ground can be found all year in the higher mountain areas and in the interior of Finnmark county. Numerous glaciers are found in Norway.

Norway lies between latitudes 57° and 81° N, and longitudes 4° and 32° E.

The land is mostly made of hard granite and gneiss rock, but slate, sandstone, and limestone are also common, and the lowest elevations contain marine deposits. 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. The northernmost part has a mostly maritime Subarctic climate, while Svalbard has an Arctic tundra climate.

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 virus). The Norwegian Shelf large marine ecosystem is considered highly productive.


The southern and western parts of Norway experience more precipitation and have milder winters than the south-eastern part. The lowlands around Oslo have the warmest and sunniest summers but also cold weather and snow in wintertime (especially inland).

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.

BiodiversityLake Bondhus

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 predator in Norwegian waters is the sperm whale, and the largest fish is the basking shark. The largest predator on land is the polar bear, while the brown bear is the largest predator on the Norwegian mainland, where the Elk (known in North America as the moose)is the largest animal.


Stunning and dramatic scenery and landscape is 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 2012 Environmental Performance Index put Norway in third place, based on the environmental performance of the country''s policies.

  • Rondeslottet in Rondane National Park, Eastern Norway

  • Feigefossen, Sogn og Fjordane

  • Muskox in the low alpine tundra at Dovrefjell

  • Some of the larger islands along the coastline of northern Norway

  • Norway is mountainous, but there are also some flat areas like Jæren, Toten, and Ørlandet

Geirangerfjord, an UNESCO World Heritage SiteLoen, a small village on the Western coast of Norway

Politics and government Main articles: Politics of Norway and Law of Norway See also: Norwegian parliamentary election, 2013Royal Palace of Norway in OsloHarald V, the King of Norway since 1991The Storting is the Parliament of Norway.Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway 2013-

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. However, 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. Accordingly, the Monarch is commander-in-chief of the Norwegian armed forces, and serves as chief diplomatic official abroad and as a symbol of unity. Harald V of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was crowned King of Norway in 1991, the first since the 14th century who has been born in the country. 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.

The Parliament of Norway, called the Stortinget (meaning Grand Assembly), ratifies national treaties developed by the executive branch. 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. Reflecting its monarchical past, Norway was established under the Lutheran Church of Norway, and it continues as the state church. To form a government, the PM must have more than half the members of Cabinet be members of the Church of Norway. Currently, this means at least ten out of the 19 ministries. 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.

Through the Council of State, a privy council presided over by the Monarch, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet meet at the Royal Palace and formally consult the Monarch. 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.

Members of the Storting are directly elected from party-lists proportional representation in nineteen plural-member constituencies in a national multi-party system. Historically, both the Norwegian Labour Party and Conservative Party have played leading political roles. In the early 21st century, the Labour Party has been in power since the 2005 election, in a Red-Green Coalition with the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party.

Since 2005, both the Conservative Party and the Progress Party have won numerous seats in the Parliament, but not sufficient in the 2009 general election to overthrow the coalition. Commentators have pointed to the poor co-operation between the opposition parties, including the Liberals and the Christian Democrats. Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the Labour Party, continues to have the necessary majority through his multi-party alliance to continue as PM.

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. Erna Solberg became prime minister, the second female prime minister after Brundtland and the first conservative prime minister since Syse. Solberg said her win was "a historic election victory for the right-wing parties".

Administrative divisions Main articles: Administrative divisions of Norway, Counties of Norway, Municipalities of Norway, List of towns and cities in Norway and Dependencies of Norway

Norway, a unitary state, is divided into nineteen first-level administrative counties (fylker). The counties are administrated through directly elected county assemblies who elect the County Governor. Additionally, the King and government are represented in every county by a fylkesmann, who effectively acts as a Governor. As such, the Government is directly represented at a local level through the County Governors'' offices. The counties are then sub-divided into 430 second-level municipalities (kommuner), which in turn are administrated 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. Norway has two integral overseas territories: Jan Mayen and Svalbard, the only developed island in the archipelago of the same name, located miles away to the north. There are three Antarctic and Subantarctic dependencies: Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land.

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.

A geopolitical map of Norway, showing the 19 fylker, the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) and Jan Mayen islands, which are part of the Norwegian kingdom

The counties of Norway are:

County (fylke) Administrative centre Most populous municipality Region
 Østfold Sarpsborg Fredrikstad Eastern Norway
 Akershus Oslo Bærum Eastern Norway
 Oslo City of Oslo Oslo Eastern Norway
 Hedmark Hamar Ringsaker Eastern Norway
 Oppland Lillehammer Gjøvik Eastern Norway
 Buskerud Drammen Drammen Eastern Norway
 Vestfold Tønsberg Sandefjord Eastern Norway
 Telemark Skien Skien Eastern Norway
 Aust-Agder Arendal Arendal Southern Norway
 Vest-Agder Kristiansand Kristiansand Southern Norway
 Rogaland Stavanger Stavanger Western Norway
 Hordaland Bergen Bergen Western Norway
 Sogn og Fjordane Leikanger Førde Western Norway
 Møre og Romsdal Molde Ålesund Western Norway
 Sør-Trøndelag Trondheim Trondheim Trøndelag
 Nord-Trøndelag Steinkjer Stjørdal Trøndelag
 Nordland Bodø Bodø Northern Norway
 Troms Tromsø Tromsø Northern Norway
 Finnmark Vadsø Alta Northern Norway
Judicial system and law enforcement Main article: Judiciary of Norway

Norway uses a civil law system where laws are created and amended in Parliament and the system regulated through the Courts of Justice of Norway. It consists of the Supreme Court of 19 permanent judges and a Chief Justice, appellate courts, city and district courts, and conciliation councils. 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.

The law is enforced in Norway by the Norwegian Police Service. 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, 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. Økokrim has proven to be an efficient, professional and independent unit with a strong capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption in Norway and abroad. However, there are some isolated cases showing that some municipalities have abused their position in public procurement processes.

Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Norway See also: Norway and the European Union and Whaling in NorwayRoyal Norwegian Navy Fridtjof Nansen class frigate

Norway maintains embassies in 86 countries. 60 countries maintain an embassy in Norway, all of them in the capital, Oslo.

Norway is a founding member of the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Council of Europe and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Norway issued applications for accession to the European Union (EU) and its predecessors in 1962, 1967 and 1992, respectively. While Denmark, Sweden and Finland obtained membership, the Norwegian electorate rejected the treaties of accession in referenda in 1972 and 1994.

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 those of 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.

Norway contributes to international development. In addition, it participated in the 1990s brokering of the Oslo Accords, an attempt to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. These were unsuccessful.

Military Main article: Norwegian Armed ForcesNorwegian Leopard tanks in the snow in Målselv

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 conscipts 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. The military of Norway is divided into the following branches: the Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Cyber Defence and the Home Guard.

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. At present, Norway contributes in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. 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.


Poverty and infectious diseases dominated in Norway together with famines, and epidemics in the 1800s. 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 was 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 the 1800s Norway faced major challenges as poverty, poor living conditions, nutritional status, and hygiene. The differences between rich and poor were large and conditions and class differences were worse in the cities than in the countryside. Infant mortality was high as was total fertility or children per woman. In the 1900s the situation improved in Norway and, as a result of decreased poverty, nutritional status improved. However, an economic downturn in the 1920s affected the nutritional situation. Nutrition therefore became an important part of social policies. High rates of unemployment and poverty affected society, especially women and children. Children had to contribute to their families'' incomes. In mining towns such as Røros children had to work in the mines. Many children worked as shepherds in the summertime. Within 100 years Norway became a wealthy nation. Even though Norway experienced a setback during World War II, the country achieved steady development. Improved hygiene led to fewer infectious diseases and scientific discoveries lead to breakthroughs in many fields including health.

Infant mortality

In Asker and Bærum infant mortality was 40 percent of all livebirths in 1809. In 1900, infant mortality was higher in Norway than in any other European country. However, development of the welfare state in the 1900s contributed to the decrease in infant mortality rates and it has kept them at low numbers since. This can be attributed to better nutrition and living conditions, better education and economy, and better treatment possibilities and preventive health care, especially immunization. The infant mortality rate increased again in the 1970s due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS was earlier unknown, and the increase was dramatic. The trend was reversed when Norwegian parents were encouraged to lay their children on their backs when sleeping.


At the beginning of the 18th century the total population was just under 1 million; it doubled within the next hundred years even though many had emigrated. Life expectancy in 1846 was about 50 years for women and 47 years for men. At the beginning of the 1900s the population was 2,2 million and it doubled again, increasing to about 4,5 million by the start of the new millennium when 15% of the country’s population lived in Oslo and Akershus. During industrialization many people migrated from the countryside to the cities for work. Norway changed from a peasant society to an industrial one; the workforce in agriculture, forestry and fishing declined while the percentage affiliated with industry increased.

Communicable diseases

The Norwegian government recognized that the population needed to improve its health if the country was to become a nation with strong economic development.

  • Cholera and typhoid fever were common communicable diseases in the 1800s. Norway experienced several epidemics; cholera was the worst. The last epidemic outbreaks were around the 1840s. Even though these were not as severe as the Black Death in the 1300s, mortality rates were high.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases also caused widespread problems. These were however not defined and divided into gonorrhea and syphilis until later on.
  • Smallpox was the most serious disease in the years around 1800; legislation for vaccination against smallpox was introduced in 1810. At first, the law was not strictly enforced but when people were commanded to show their vaccination cards at confirmations and weddings, there was an increase in the vaccinating of children and Norway finally gained some control over this disease.
  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen''s disease, ravaged the west coast of Norway. Patients were isolated in leprosy hospitals with room for up to 1000 patients. Gerhard Armauer Hansen (1841-1912), working in Bergen, discovered the leprosy bacillus. He revealed the association between hospitalization for infected patients and a decrease in the number of new cases.
  • Tuberculosis caused many deaths in the late 1800s while leprosy rates declined. Mortality of tuberculosis was high around 1900, but decreased steadily for the next fifty years. The greatest decrease in tuberculosis happened before vaccinations and medical treatments were available; the decrease was caused by improved living conditions, nutrition, and hygiene.
  • The Spanish flu of 1918 affected the country. This influenza pandemic took many lives, especially those of young people who lacked immunity to the new flu virus.
  • Diphtheria, a common childhood disease, raged during the early years of World War II, but with new vaccines available, the country experienced an immediate positive response.
  • Polio had its last major outbreak in 1951 when 2100 cases were registered. In 1956 immunization of polio started.
Discovery of microbes

In the late 1800s microbes were discovered and the prevention of diseases was now possible. Until this time, spreading of infections had only been debated. With new discoveries within the field and greater understanding on how bacteria and viruses transfer and spread among humans, it was possible to make significant changes in the treatment and care of patients. One example was to isolate people with leprosy and tuberculosis in order to stop these diseases from spreading to other people.

Antibiotics and vaccines

The first antibiotic, penicillin, was introduced in the 1940s. These antibiotics were very powerful tools in preventing and treating childhood diseases. In the 1800 and 1900s many vaccines were developed and the childhood vaccination program grew rapidly. Norway gained control over almost all of the feared childhood diseases. Vaccines against measles (rubella) were introduced to the childhood immunization program in 1978. Rubella is dangerous to the fetus if the mother is affected during pregnancy. Today, all children are offered free vaccines which are voluntary. The coverage for most vaccines is high.


In the early 1980s AIDS came as an unknown disease. Norway was early in preventing it, in high-risk groups, through information campaigns. The HIV virus was later discovered and HIV tests became available from 1985.

Cardiovascular diseases

Incidences of tuberculosis became fewer and an increase in cases and mortality of chronic diseases appeared, especially cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco is one of the most important causes of cardiovascular disease. During World War II, tobacco use in Norway was limited because of strict rationing. After the war, sale of tobacco bloomed and so did the implications from consuming it. In the late 1900s, chronic diseases dominated and because of increased life expectancy, people live longer with these chronic diseases. Around the turn of the millennium, new treatment and prevention for cardiovascular diseases ensured a decrease in mortality, however, these diseases are still one of the country''s greatest public challenges. Lifestyle diseases, a new concept from the second half of the 1900s is a public challenge in Norway. Tobacco use and increases in cholesterol levels show a strong correlation to higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Today’s health status as of 2012

Norway was awarded first place according to the UN''s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2013. Norway has a birth register, death register, cancer register, and population register. These enable authorities to have an overview of the health situation in Norway.

Statistics for Norway:

Total population (2012) 4,994,000
Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2012) 66,960
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2012) 80/84
Probability of dying before the age of five (per 1 000 live births, 2012) 3
Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2012) 73/44
Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2012) 5,970
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2012) 9.0

The total fertility rate per woman in 2012 was 1.9, the regional average was 1.7 and the global average was 2.5. The prevalence of tuberculosis was 10 per 100 000 in the population and the regional average was 56 while the global average was 169. Tuberculosis incidence in Norway has increased from about 200 cases in 1997 to 400 cases in 2013. Vaccination against tuberculosis, BCG, was part of the National vaccination program but has not been included since the school year 2008/2009. In Norway today, there are 5371 HIV positive people: 3618 men and 1753 women. In 2008 the incidence of HIV positive people peaked. Since then, there has been a decrease in new cases.

New challenges

A wealthy economy makes it possible to buy tobacco, fast food, sweet drinks, and sweets that few people had access to or could afford until after 1950. These days many people have desk jobs, cars, less demanding housework as well as indoor plumbing. Physical activity is decreasing; electronics, computers, social media, and the internet demand more of daily life. Drugs have also become more available in society. New living conditions such as these give rise to new challenges for public health. Only 30 percent of adults in Norway follow the common advice to be physically active for 150 minutes per week. Reduced physical activity increases the risk for overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. In Norway, as many as one in five adult are believed to be overweight or obese.

Non-communicable diseases

The most dominant diseases in Norway in the 21st century are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. Technological progress and development within medical treatment have since the 1970s have had a huge impact on survival, especially from cardiovascular diseases. Elders suffer from disabilities and chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, and pain disorders. The elderly often have multiple diseases simultaneously, which together affect functional capacity, quality of life, and mental health. Norway has an ageing population, which means that in some decades a higher percentage of the population will be older than it is today. However, elders today are living longer with better health and better functioning than before. In Norway today, the municipalities have greater health responsibilities than earlier. Health promotion and prevention from birth to elderly in the municipalities is important factors for improved public health.

Social differences in health

The living standard of the Norwegian population has increased, though there still are differences among educational groups. Those with higher education and economy generally have the best health status. New legislation on public health (Folkehelseloven) was passed in 2012 and the purpose of the act is to contribute to a society that promotes public health and evens out social inequalities in health.

Mental health

Mental health services are part of the Norwegian special health care services. In some cases this includes involuntary mental health treatment. The four regional health service institutions, owned by the state, receive fixed economic support from the state budget. They are responsible for special health services including mental health care in hospitals, institutions, district mental health centers, child and adolescent mental health services and nursing homes.

In addition to providing treatment, the mental health care services provide research, education for health personnel, and follow-up of patients and their relatives.

There are different sectors within the mental health services. District mental health centers are responsible for general mental health service. They have outpatient facilities, inpatient facilities and emergency teams. Patients can be referred to the district mental health center by a general practitioner for diagnosing, treatment or admission.

There are specialized centers, ideally at central hospitals, for children and adolescents, the elderly, and severe cases such as drug addiction, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders etc. Normally people who are discharged from treatment at central hospitals are referred to the district mental health centers for follow-up and treatment. Treatment can consist of psychotherapy with or without medications. Physical treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy, are used for specific disorders. Treatment usually starts at the hospital, with the aim of continuing treatment at home or at the district mental health center.

Children and adolescents

Child and adolescent mental health outpatient facilities offer mental health care for children and adolescents between 0-17 years of age. Central child and adolescent mental health service is aimed at challenges which cannot be handled in the regional state facilities, such as the general practitioner, school nurse, school, outreach services for youth and child services. The child and adolescent mental health services work closely with psychologists, child psychiatrists, family therapists, neurologists, social workers etc. Their aim is to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders, behavioral disorders and learning disorders in close collaboration with care givers. For patients below the age of 16, parents must consent to admission.

Involuntary care

Involuntary mental health care in Norway is divided into inpatient and outpatient facilities and observation. In involuntary inpatient facilities patients can be held against their will, and can be picked up by the police if needed. In involuntary outpatient services the patient lives at home or is voluntarily in an institution, but regularly has to report to the district mental health center. These patients cannot be held against their will, but can be picked up by the police in the case of missed appointments. For involuntary observation in hospital a person can be held for up to ten days, or in some cases for twenty days, in order for the hospital to decide whether the criteria for involuntary mental health care are met. The control committee has as their main task to ensure that every patient’s rights are secured and protected in a meeting with involuntary care.


Mental health services are financed through needs-based basic funding to the regional health services, outpatient clinic refunding, deductibles and ear-marked grants from the state budget. Rates for outpatient work are partly based on hours worked and partly based on procedures; there are rates for diagnosing, treatment and follow-up per telephone or in collaborative meetings. In addition patients pay a deductible for outpatient consultations.

Burden of disease

A survey done in 2011 showed that 10.2% of the population of Norway reported to have experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression within the last two weeks. The life time prevalence of severe depression is estimated to be 15.6%. Treatment and social services for the mentally ill cost society about 70 million Norwegian kroner (more than 10 million US dollars) yearly.

Economy Main articles: Economy of Norway, Energy in Norway and European Economic AreaGraphical depiction of Norway''s product exports in 28 colour-coded categories.GDP and GDP growth

Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita (after Luxembourg) and fourth-highest GDP (PPP) per-capita in the world. 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. Norway maintained first place in the world in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for six consecutive years (2001–2006), and then reclaimed this position in 2009, through 2013. The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine ranks Norway last in its Failed States Index for 2009, judging Norway to be the world''s most well-functioning and stable country. Based on continued oil and gas exports, coupled with a healthy economy and substantial accumulated wealth, Norway is expected to continue as among the richest countries in the world in the foreseeable future.

The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state and social democracy country featuring a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. Public health care is free (above a certain level), and parents have 46 weeks paid parental leave. The state income derived from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production. Norway has a very low unemployment rate, currently 2.6%. 69% of the population aged 15–74 are employed. Persons in the labour force are either employed or unemployed. The remaining group of persons is labelled not in the labour force. 9.5% of the population aged 18–66 is receiving 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 and Aker Solutions), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminium production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DnB NOR), 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 license ownership). Norway is a major shipping nation and has the world''s 6th largest merchant fleet, with 1,412 Norwegian-owned merchant vessels.

By referendums in 1972 and 1994, Norwegians rejected proposals to join the European Union (EU). However, Norway, together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, participates in the European Union''s single market through the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement. 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.

The country is richly endowed with natural resources including petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. 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.

ResourcesAgriculture is a significant sector, in spite of the mountainous landscape (Flakstad)Oil production has been central to the Norwegian economy since the 1970s, with a dominating state ownership (Statfjord oil field)Stockfish has been exported from Lofoten in Norway for at least 1,000 years

Export revenues from oil and gas have risen to almost 50% of total exports and constitute more than 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. The budgetary rule (Handlingsregelen) is to spend no more than 4% of the fund each year (assumed to be the normal yield from the fund).

In August 2014, the Government Pension Fund controlled assets were valued at approximately US$870 billion (equal to US$173,000 per capita) which is about 174% of Norway''s current GDP. It is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. Conservative estimates project that the fund may reach US$800–900 billion by 2017. Projections indicate that the Norwegian pension fund may become the largest capital 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. The Norwegian trade surplus for 2008 reached approximately US$80 billion. With an enormous amount of cash invested in international financial markets, Norway had the financial muscle to avert many of the worst effects of the financial crisis that hit most countries in the fall of 2008. As most western countries struggle with burgeoning foreign debt, Norway remains a nation of stowed-away wealth, financial stability, and economic power. In spite of the crisis, Norway in 2009 still had a 9% state budget surplus, and was the only western country to run a surplus as of July of that year.

In 2000, the government sold one-third of the state-owned oil company Statoil in an IPO. The next year, the main telecom supplier, Telenor, was listed on Oslo Stock Exchange. The state also owns significant shares of Norway''s largest bank, DnB NOR and the airline SAS. 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. In the 1st quarter of 2009, the GNP of Norway surpassed Sweden''s for the first time in history, although its population is half the size.

Norway is also the world''s 2nd-largest exporter of fish (in value, after China). It is the 6th-largest arms exporter in the world. Hydroelectric plants generate roughly 98–99% of Norway''s electric power, more than any other country in the world.

Oil fields

From 1966 to 2013, Norway companies have drilled 5085 oil wells, mostly in the North Sea. 3672 are utviklingsbrønner (regular production); 1413 are letebrønner (exploration); and 1405 of these 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 10-40 billion cubic feet, (utvinnbar) of gas. and the Castberg Oil Field (Castberg-feltet)—calculated size 540 million barrels of oil, and 2-7 billion cubic meters (utvinnbar) of gas. Both oil fields are located in the Barents Sea.

Transport Main articles: Transport in Norway, Rail transport in Norway and List of airports in Norway

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 longstanding 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.

E18 highway in Kristiansand

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 2⁄3 Hz AC. The railways transported 56,827,000 passengers 2,956 million passenger kilometres and 24,783,000 tonnes of cargo 3,414 million tonne kilometres. The entire network is owned by the Norwegian National Rail Administration. All domestic passenger trains except the Airport Express Train are operated by Norges Statsbaner (NSB). 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. NSB operates long-haul trains, including night trains, regional services and four commuter train systems, around Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger.

Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scandinavian Airlines aircraft at Trondheim Airport, Værnes

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 only the national roads numbered en route. The most important national routes are part of the European route scheme. The two most prominent are the E6 going north-south through the entire country, and the E39, which follows the West Coast. National and county roads are managed by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

Of the 97 airports in Norway, 52 are public, and 46 are operated by the state-owned Avinor. Seven airports have more than one million passengers annually. 41,089,675 passengers passed through Norwegian airports in 2007, of which 13,397,458 were international.

The central gateway to Norway by air is Oslo Airport, Gardermoen. Located about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast of Oslo, it is hub for the two major Norwegian airlines: Scandinavian Airlines System and Norwegian Air Shuttle, and for regional aircraft from Western Norway. There are departures to most European countries and some intercontinental destinations.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of NorwayDemographics in Norway Historical population Year Pop. ±% 1500 1665 1735 1801 1855 1900 1950 2000 2010 2013 2060?
140,000 —    
440,000 +214.3%
616,109 +40.0%
883,603 +43.4%
1,490,047 +68.6%
2,240,032 +50.3%
3,278,546 +46.4%
4,478,497 +36.6%
4,858,199 +8.5%
5,096,300 +4.9%
7,032,687 +38.0%
Source: Statistics Norway.

Norway''s population was 5,096,300 people in October 2013. Norwegians are an ethnic North Germanic people. Since the late 20th century, Norway has attracted numerous immigrants from southern and central Europe, the Mideast, Africa and Asia to work in its strong economy. All of these groups speak many different languages and come from different cultures and religions.

As of 2013, an official study shows that 86% of the total population have at least one parent who was born in Norway. More than 710,000 individuals (14%) are immigrants and their descendants; there are 117,000 children of immigrants, born in Norway.

Of these 710,000 immigrants and their descendants:

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 percent).

Immigrants have settled in all Norwegian municipalities. The cities or municipalities with the highest share of immigrants in 2012 were Oslo (31 percent) and Drammen (20 percent). 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 Sami 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 Sami and the Kven, encouraging them to adopt the majority language, culture and religion. Because of this "Norwegianization process", many families of Sami or Kven ancestry now identify as ethnic Norwegian.

MigrationMinneapolis–Saint Paul has the largest concentration of ethnic Norwegians outside Norway, at 470,000.Emigration Main article: Norwegian American

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 U.S. 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.

Immigration 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 rapidly since 2005. While yearly net immigration in 2001–5 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 Norwegian-born children 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.

Pakistani Norwegians are the largest non-European minority group in Norway. Most of their 32,700 members live in and around Oslo. The Iraqi and Somali immigrant populations have increased significantly in recent years. After the enlargement of the EU in 2004, a wave of immigrants has arrived from Central, particularly Poland, and Northern Europe (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, as the nation has tried to deal with people of many languages and cultures, without giving up its own values.

Largest immigrant groups (1st and 2nd generation):

National background Population
Poland 91,179
Sweden 38,414
Somalia 35,912
Lithuania 35,546
Pakistan 34,447
Iraq 30,144
Religion Main article: Religion in NorwayNidaros Cathedral in TrondheimHeddal stave church, Notodden, the largest stave church in NorwayBait-un-Nasr mosque on the outskirts of Oslo, the largest mosque in Scandinavia

Most Norwegians are registered at baptism as members of the Church of Norway. Many remain in the state church to participate in the community and practices such as baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial, rites which have strong cultural standing in Norway. About 77% of Norwegians were members of the Church of Norway on 1 January 2012. In 2011, about 66% of all newborns were baptised and about 65% of all 15-year-old persons were confirmed in the church. But, only 20% of Norwegians say that religion occupies an important place in their life (according to a Gallup poll in 2009), the fourth-lowest such percentage in the world (only those of Estonia, Sweden and Denmark are lower).

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% – the lowest such percentage in Europe – according to data from 2009 and 2010.

In 2010, 10% of the population was religiously unaffiliated, while another 9% (431 000 people), 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 Catholic Church, with 83,000 members, according to 2009 government statistics. An article in the newspaper Aftenposten in October 2012, noted there were about 115,234 registered Catholics in Norway. The reporter estimated that the total number of people with 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), Orthodox (9,900), Brunstad Christian Church (6,800), Adventists (5,100), Assyrians and Chaldeans, and others. The Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic Lutheran congregations in Norway have about 27,500 members in total. Other religions comprise less than 1% each, including 4,000 members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and 12,000 Jehovah''s Witnesses.

Among non-Christian religions, Islam is the largest, with a population of 106,735. It is practised mainly by Somali, Arab, Bosniak, Albanian and Turkish immigrants, as well as Norwegians of Pakistani descent.

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. Sikhism has approximately 3,000 adherents, with most living in Oslo, which has two gurdwaras. Sikhs first came to Norway in the early 1970s. The troubles in Punjab after Operation Blue Star and riots committed against Sikhs in India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi led to an increase in Sikh refugees moving to Norway. Drammen also has a sizeable population of Sikhs; the largest gurdwara in north Europe was built in Lier. There are eleven Buddhist organisations, grouped under the Buddhistforbundet organisation, with slightly over 14,000 members, which make up 0.2% of the population. The Baha''i 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 faith in Norway was Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which grew in membership by 80%; however, its share of the total population remains small, at 0.2%. It is associated with the huge immigration from Eritrea and Ethiopia and to a lesser extent from Central and Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. Other fast-growing religions were the Roman Catholic Church (78.7%), Hinduism (59.6%), Islam (48.1%), and Buddhism (46.7%).

As in other Scandinavian countries, the ancient Norse followed a form of native Germanic paganism known as Norse paganism. By the end of the 11th century, when Norway had been Christianized, 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 Asatru. 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 as a religious organisation.

The Sami minority retained their shamanistic religion well into the 18th century, when most converted to Christianity under the influence of Dano-Norwegian missionaries. Some retained their ancient religion. Today there is a renewed appreciation for the Sami traditional way of life, which has led to a revival of Noaidevuohta (Sami Shamanism). Some Norwegian and Sami celebrities are reported to visit shamans for guidance.

According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 32% of Norwegian citizens responded that "they believe there is a god". A study conducted three years previously by Gustafsson and Pettersson (2002), similarly found that 72% of Norwegians did not believe in a ''personal God.''

Largest cities of Norway  
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Largest cities or towns of Norway According to Statistics NorwayRank Name County Pop. Rank Name County Pop.
OsloBergen 1 Oslo ] 925,242 11 Ålesund Møre og Romsdal 48,460 Stavanger/SandnesTrondheim
2 Bergen Hordaland 238,098 12 Haugesund Rogaland 44,524
3 Stavanger/Sandnes Rogaland 201,353 13 Moss Østfold 43,553
4 Trondheim Sør-Trøndelag 167,598 14 Sandefjord Vestfold 42,212
5 Fredrikstad/Sarpsborg Østfold 105,545 15 Bodø Nordland 38,326
6 Drammen Buskerud 101,995 16 Arendal Aust-Agder 33,778
7 Porsgrunn/Skien Telemark 88,860 17 Hamar Hedmark 30,921
8 Kristiansand Vest-Agder 70,204 18 Larvik Vestfold 24,422
9 Tromsø Troms 57,015 19 Halden Østfold 23,897
10 Tønsberg Vestfold 49,093 20 Lillehammer Oppland 20,857
Education[edit] Main article: Education in NorwayThe main building of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim

Higher education in Norway is offered by a range of seven universities, five specialised colleges, 25 university colleges as well as a range of private colleges. Education follows the Bologna Process involving Bachelor (3 years), Master (2 years) and PhD (3 years) degrees.[178] Acceptance is offered after finishing upper secondary school with general study competence.

Public education is virtually free, regardless of nationality.[179] 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.

Languages[edit] Main article: Languages of Norway See also: Norwegian language and Sami languagesDistribution of Norwegian dialect groups: North Norwegian (yellow), Trøndelag Norwegian (navy blue), West Norwegian (orange) and East Norwegian (pale blue).

The North Germanic Norwegian language has two official written forms, Bokmål and Nynorsk. Both of them are recognised as official languages, and both are used in public administration, schools, churches, and media. Bokmål is the written language used by a large majority of about 80–85%. An alternative to Bokmål, Riksmål, is more similar to Danish. 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 Sami languages are spoken and written throughout the country, especially in the north, by some members of the Sami people. (Estimates suggest that about one third of the Norwegian Sami speak a Sami language.[180]) Speakers have a right to be educated in a Sami language no matter where in the country they live and to receive communication from the government in the various Sami languages. The Kven minority historically spoke the Uralic Kven language (considered a separate language in Norway, but generally perceived as a Finnish dialect in Finland). 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."[181] Some supporters have advocated making Norwegian Sign Language an official language of the country.[citation needed]

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.

Norwegian is similar to the other languages in Scandinavia: Swedish and Danish. 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.[citation needed]

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 Sami 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. Russian, Japanese, Italian, Latin, and rarely Chinese (Mandarin) are offered in some schools, mostly in the cities. 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.

Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of NorwayBryggen in Bergen is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Norwegian farm culture continues to play a role in contemporary Norwegian culture. In the 18th century, it inspired a strong romantic nationalistic movement, which is still visible in the Norwegian language and media. In the 19th century, 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.[182]

Traditional Norwegian farmer''s costumes, known as folkedrakt, and modern costumes inspired by those costumes, known as bunad, are widely used on special occasions.

Norway has been 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.[183] They successfully campaigned for women''s right to education, women''s suffrage, the right to work and other gender equality policies. 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 Norway was the first country to recognise the ILO-convention 169 on indigenous people recommended by the UN. 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.

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 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 the case that a male shall take precedence over a female."[184]

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."[185]

Separation of church and state happened significantly later in Norway than in most of Europe and is not yet complete. In 2012, the Norwegian parliament voted to grant the Church of Norway greater autonomy,[186] a decision which was confirmed in a constitutional amendment on 21 May 2012. Until 2012 parliamentary officials were required to be members of the Lutheran Church and at least half of all ministers had to be a member of the Christian State Church. As the Church of Norway is the state church, its clergy are state employees, and the central and regional church administrations are part of the state administration. The members of the Royal family are required to be members of the Lutheran church.

Cinema[edit] Main article: Cinema of Norway

The Norwegian cinema has received more international recognition since the late 20th century. The documentary film Kon-Tiki (1950) of the expedition won an American Oscar Academy Award. In 1959, Arne Skouen''s Nine Lives was nominated, but failed to win. Another notable film is Flåklypa Grand Prix (English: Pinchcliffe Grand Prix), an animated feature film directed by Ivo Caprino. 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.

Nils Gaup''s Pathfinder (1987), the story of the Sami, was nominated for an Oscar. Berit Nesheim''s The Other Side of Sunday was nominated for an Oscar in 1997.

Since the 1990s, the film industry has thrived with up to 20 feature films each year. Particular successes were Kristin Lavransdatter, based on a novel by a Nobel Prize winner; The Telegraphist and Gurin with the Foxtail. Knut Erik Jensen was among the more successful new directors, together with Erik Skjoldbjærg, who is remembered for Insomnia.[187]

In late 2008, the film Max Manus opened at Norwegian theatres. The film was a World War II drama, telling the story of Max Manus, a Norwegian resistance hero who led many successful sabotage operations against the German occupation. The film became the highest-grossing Norwegian film ever. Other notable successful Norwegian films include Orion''s Belt, Cold Prey and The Troll Hunter.

The country has also been used as filming location for several Hollywood and other international productions, including Star Wars Episode V: 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 films Die Another Day, The Golden Compass, Spies Like Us and Heroes of Telemark, as well as the TV series Lilyhammer and Vikings also had scenes set in Norway.[188]

Music[edit] Main article: Music of NorwayEdvard Grieg, composer and pianist

The classical music of the romantic composers Edvard Grieg, Rikard Nordraak and Johan Svendsen is internationally known as is the modern music of Arne Nordheim. Norwegian black metal has been an influence in world music since the late 20th century.

Norway''s classical performers include Leif Ove Andsnes, one of the world''s more famous pianists; Truls Mørk, an outstanding cellist; and the great Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad.

Since the 1990s, Norway''s biggest cultural export has been black metal. This lo-fi, dark and raw form of heavy metal exploded in Norway during the 1990s, developed by such bands as Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, Gorgoroth and Immortal, as well as later bands such as Dimmu Borgir. This development has since become an important part of extreme metal.

Hardingfele, the "Hardanger fiddle", a Norwegian instrument

Controversial events associated with the black metal movement in the early 1990s included several church burnings and two prominent murder cases.

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.[189]

Norway has a strong folk music tradition which remains popular to this day.[190] Among the most prominent folk musicians are Hardanger fiddlers Andrea Een, Olav Jørgen Hegge and Annbjørg Lien, and the vocalists Agnes Buen Garnås, Kirsten Bråten Berg and Odd Nordstoga.[191]

Other internationally recognised bands are A-ha and Röyksopp. A-ha initially rose to global fame during the mid-1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s the group maintained its popularity domestically, and had some success outside Norway, mainly in Germany and Switzerland.

In recent years, various Norwegian songwriters and production teams have contributed to the music of other international artists. Most notably the Norwegian production team Stargate (production team) has produced songs for Rihanna, Beyoncé Knowles, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Lionel Richie among others. Espen Lind has written and produced songs for Beyoncé Knowles, Lionel Richie, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Jessica Simpson and Leona Lewis. Lene Marlin has written songs for Rihanna and Lovebugs

Norway enjoys many music festivals throughout the year, all over the country. Norway is the host of one of the world''s biggest extreme sport festivals with music, Ekstremsportveko – a festival held annually in Voss. Oslo is the host of many festivals, such as Øyafestivalen and by:Larm. 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.

Literature[edit] Main article: Norwegian literature See also: List of Norwegian writersKnut Hamsun, author

The history of Norwegian literature starts with the pagan Eddaic poems and skaldic verse of the 9th and 10th centuries, with poets such as Bragi Boddason and Eyvindr skáldaspillir. The arrival of Christianity around the year 1000 brought Norway into contact with European mediaeval 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. Major works of that period include Historia Norwegiæ, Þiðrekssaga and Konungs skuggsjá.

Little Norwegian literature came out of the period of the Scandinavian Union and the subsequent Dano-Norwegian union (1387–1814), with some notable exceptions such as Petter Dass and Ludvig Holberg. 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.

Henrik Ibsen

Two major events precipitated a major resurgence in Norwegian literature: in 1811 a Norwegian university was established in Christiania. Secondly, seized by the spirit of revolution following the American and French revolutions, the Norwegians created their first Constitution in 1814. Strong authors were inspired who became recognised first in Scandinavia, and then worldwide; among them were Henrik Wergeland, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe and Camilla Collett.

By the late 19th century, in the Golden Age of Norwegian literature, the so-called "Great Four" emerged: Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Alexander Kielland, and Jonas Lie. Bjørnson''s "peasant novels", such as En glad gutt (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. Although an important contributor to early romantic nationalism, (especially Peer Gynt), Henrik Ibsen is better known for his pioneering realistic dramas such as The Wild Duck and A Doll''s House. 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 and Johan Falkberget.

Research[edit]Norman Borlaug, "father of the Green Revolution", Norwegian American scientist.

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.

In the 20th century, Norwegian academics have been pioneering in many social sciences, including criminology, sociology and peace and conflict studies. 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.

Architecture[edit] Main article: Architecture of NorwayUrnes Stave Church has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site

With expansive forests, Norway has 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.[192]

With Norway''s conversion to Christianity some 1,000 years ago churches were constructed. Stonework architecture was introduced from Europe for the most important structures, beginning with the construction of Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. In the early Middle Ages, wooden stave churches were constructed throughout Norway. Many of them have survived and represent Norway''s most unique contribution to architectural history. A fine example is Urnes Stave Church, which is now on UNESCO''s World Heritage List. Another notable example of wooden architecture are buildings at the Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, consisting of a row of narrow wooden structures along the quayside.

The 17th-century town of Røros has narrow streets and wooden houses of the period.

In the 17th century, under the Danish monarchy, cities and villages such as Kongsberg and Røros were established. The city had a church built in the Baroque style. Traditional wooden buildings were constructed in Røros which have survived changes since then.

After Norway''s union with Denmark was dissolved in 1814, Oslo became the capital. The architect Christian H. Grosch designed the earliest parts of the University of Oslo, the Oslo Stock Exchange, and many other buildings and churches constructed in that early national period.

At the beginning of the 20th century the city of Ålesund was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style, influenced by styles of France. 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. One of the most striking modern buildings in Norway is the Sami Parliament in Kárášjohka, designed by Stein Halvorson and Christian Sundby. Its debating chamber is an abstract timber version of a lavvo, the traditional tent used by the nomadic Sami people.[193]

Art[edit] Main article: Norwegian artBrudeferd i Hardanger by Adolph Tidemand og Hans Gude, 1848

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 even more 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."[194]

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; Harriet Backer, 1845–1932, another pioneer among female artists, influenced by impressionism. Frits Thaulow, an impressionist, was influenced by the art scene in Paris as was Christian Krohg, a realist painter, famous for his paintings of prostitutes.[195]

Of particular note is Edvard Munch, a symbolist/expressionist painter who became world famous for The Scream which is said to represent the anxiety of modern man.

Other artists of note include Harald Sohlberg, a neo-romantic painter remembered for his paintings of Røros, and Odd Nerdrum, a figurative painter who maintains that his work is not art but kitsch.

Cuisine[edit] 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, 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 traditional Norwegian dishes include lutefisk, smalahove, pinnekjøtt, raspeball and fårikål.[196]

Sport[edit] See also: Football in NorwayBiathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen is the most successful Winter Olympian of all time, with 13 medals

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.

Norway has hosted the Games on two occasions:

  • 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo
  • 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer

Football is the most popular sport in Norway in terms of active membership (by television viewership football comes third, behind biathlon and cross-country skiing[197]).

  • Nature and enviroment
  • The preacher''s stone, Preikestolen or Preacher''s Pulpit

  • Geirangerfjord, The Seven sisters waterfall

  • Borgund Stave Church

  • Briksdalsbreen glacier

  • Ulvikfjords Mountains in Ulvik

  • Djupfjorden on Moskenesøya, toward the northwest in autumn, Lofoten, Nordland

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