Norway


Norway
/nawr"way/, n.
Norwegian, Norge. a kingdom in N Europe, in the W part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. 4,404,456; 124,555 sq. mi. (322,597 sq. km). Cap.: Oslo.

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Norway

Introduction Norway -
Background: Despite its neutrality, Norway was not able to avoid occupation by Germany in World War II. In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU. Geography Norway
Location: Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden
Geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 10 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 324,220 sq km land: 307,860 sq km water: 16,360 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 2,544 km border countries: Finland 729 km, Sweden 1,619 km, Russia 196 km
Coastline: 21,925 km (includes mainland 3,419 km, large islands 2,413 km, long fjords, numerous small islands, and minor indentations 16,093 km)
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 10 NM territorial sea: 4 NM continental shelf: 200 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: temperate along coast, modified by North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; rainy year-round on west coast
Terrain: glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m highest point: Galdhopiggen 2,469 m
Natural resources: petroleum, copper, natural gas, pyrites, nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead, fish, timber, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 2.94% permanent crops: 0% other: 97.06% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,270 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: rockslides, avalanches Environment - current issues: water pollution; acid rain damaging forests and adversely affecting lakes, threatening fish stocks; air pollution from vehicle emissions Environment - international party to: Air Pollution, Air
agreements: Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: about two-thirds mountains; some 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline; strategic location adjacent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic; one of most rugged and longest coastlines in world People Norway -
Population: 4,525,116 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20% (male 464,789; female 439,117) 15-64 years: 65% (male 1,491,720; female 1,451,450) 65 years and over: 15% (male 281,551; female 396,489) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.47% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 12.39 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9.78 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 3.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.94 years female: 82.07 years (2002 est.) male: 76.01 years
Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 1,600 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 8 (1999)
Nationality: noun: Norwegian(s) adjective: Norwegian
Ethnic groups: Norwegian, Sami 20,000
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 86% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, other 1%, none and unknown 10% (1997)
Languages: Norwegian (official) note: small Sami- and Finnish- speaking minorities
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 100% male: NA% female: NA% Government Norway -
Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Norway conventional short form: Norway local short form: Norge local long form: Kongeriket Norge
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: Oslo Administrative divisions: 19 provinces (fylker, singular - fylke); Akershus, Aust-Agder, Buskerud, Finnmark, Hedmark, Hordaland, More og Romsdal, Nordland, Nord-Trondelag, Oppland, Oslo, Ostfold, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Sor-Trondelag, Telemark, Troms, Vest-Agder, Vestfold
Dependent areas: Bouvet Island, Jan Mayen, Svalbard
Independence: 7 June 1905 Norway declared the union with Sweden dissolved; 26 October 1905 Sweden agreed to the repeal of the union
National holiday: Constitution Day, 17 May (1814); note - on 14 January 1814 Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden; resisting Swedish domination, Norwegians adopted a new constitution four months later; on 14 August 1814 Norway was proclaimed independent but in union with Sweden; on 7 June 1905 Norway declared the union with Sweden dissolved
Constitution: 17 May 1814, modified in 1884
Legal system: mixture of customary law, civil law system, and common law traditions; Supreme Court renders advisory opinions to legislature when asked; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: King HARALD V (since 17 January 1991); Heir Apparent Crown Prince HAAKON MAGNUS, son of the monarch (born 20 July 1973) head of government: Prime Minister Kjell Magne BONDEVIK (since 19 October 2001) cabinet: State Council appointed by the monarch with the approval of Parliament elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; following parliamentary elections, the leader of the largest party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch with the approval of the Parliament
Legislative branch: modified unicameral Parliament or Storting (165 seats; members are elected by popular vote by proportional representation to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 10 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2005) note: for certain purposes, the Parliament divides itself into two chambers and elects one-fourth of its membership to an upper house or Lagting election results: percent of vote by party - Labor Party 24.3%, Conservative Party 21.2%, Progress Party 14.6%, Socialist Left Party 12.5%, Christian People's Party 12.4%, Center Party 5.6%, Liberal Party 3.9%, Coastal Party 1.7%, other 3.8%; seats by party - Labor Party 43, Conservative Party 38, Progress Party 26, Socialist Left Party 23, Christian People's Party 22, Center Party 10, Liberal Party 2, Coastal Party 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Hoyesterett (justices appointed by the monarch) Political parties and leaders: Center Party [Odd Roger ENOKSEN]; Christian People's Party [Valgerd Svarstad HAUGLAND]; Coastal Party [Steinar BASTESEN]; Conservative Party [Jan PETERSEN]; Labor Party [Thorbjorn JAGLAND]; Liberal Party [Lars SPONHEIM]; Progress Party [Carl I. HAGEN]; Socialist Left Party [Kristin HALVORSEN] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS,
participation: CBSS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, ESA, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNTAET, UNTSO, UPU, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Knut VOLLEBAEK chancery: 2720 34th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 consulate(s) general: Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, and San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 337-0870 telephone: [1] (202) 333-6000 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador John D.
US: ONG embassy: Drammensveien 18, 0244 Oslo mailing address: PSC 69, Box 1000, APO AE 09707 telephone: [47] (22) 44 85 50 FAX: [47] (22) 43 07 77
Flag description: red with a blue cross outlined in white that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag) Economy Norway
Economy - overview: The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the vital petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises). The country is richly endowed with natural resources - petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals - and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices; in 1999, oil and gas accounted for 35% of exports. Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway. Oslo opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. Growth picked up in 2000 to 2.7%, compared with the meager 0.8% of 1999, but fell back to 1.3% in 2001. The government moved ahead with privatization in 2000, even proposing the sale of up to one-third of the 100% state-owned oil company Statoil. With arguably the highest quality of life worldwide, Norwegians still worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas begin to run out. Accordingly, Norway has been saving its oil-boosted budget surpluses in a Government Petroleum Fund, which is invested abroad and now is valued at more than $43 billion.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $138.7 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $30,800 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2% industry: 31% services: 67% (2000) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 4.1%
percentage share: highest 10%: 21.8% (1995) Distribution of family income - Gini 25.8 (1995)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.1% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.4 million (2000 est.) Labor force - by occupation: services 74%, industry 22%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 4% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 3.6% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $71.7 billion expenditures: $57.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries: petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles, fishing Industrial production growth rate: -1% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 141.162 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 0.49% hydro: 99.31% other: 0.2% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 112.495 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 20.259 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.474 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: barley, wheat, potatoes; pork, beef, veal, milk; fish
Exports: $58 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish
Exports - partners: EU 76.8% (Netherlands 11.4%, Germany 10.3%, France 10.0%, Sweden 8.4%), US 7.6% (2000)
Imports: $33.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: EU 62.5% (Sweden 14.7%, Germany 11.9%, UK 8.1%, Denmark 6.4%), US 8.2%, Japan 5.2% (2000)
Debt - external: $0 (Norway is a net external creditor)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $1.4 billion (1998)
Currency: Norwegian krone (NOK)
Currency code: NOK
Exchange rates: Norwegian kroner per US dollar - 8.9684 (January 2002), 8.9917 (2001), 8.8018 (2000), 7.7992 (1999), 7.5451 (1998), 7.0734 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Norway - Telephones - main lines in use: 2.735 million (1998) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,080,408 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern in all respects; one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in Europe domestic: Norway has a domestic satellite system; moreover, the prevalence of rural areas encourages the wide use of cellular mobile systems instead of fixed wire systems international: 2 buried coaxial cable systems; 4 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - NA Eutelsat, NA Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), and 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions); note - Norway shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden) (1999) Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM at least 650, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 4.03 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 360 (plus 2,729 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 2.03 million (1997)
Internet country code: .no Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 13 (2000)
Internet users: 2.45 million (2001) Transportation Norway -
Railways: total: 4,006 km standard gauge: 4,006 km 1.435- m gauge (2,471 km electrified) (2001)
Highways: total: 91,180 km paved: 67,838 km (including 109 km of expressways) unpaved: 23,342 km (1999)
Waterways: 1,577 km (along west coast) note: navigable by 2.4 m maximum draft vessels
Pipelines: refined petroleum products 53 km
Ports and harbors: Bergen, Drammen, Floro, Hammerfest, Harstad, Haugesund, Kristiansand, Larvik, Narvik, Oslo, Porsgrunn, Stavanger, Tromso, Trondheim
Merchant marine: total: 746 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 20,691,266 GRT/32,126,513 DWT ships by type: bulk 84, cargo 130, chemical tanker 119, combination bulk 9, combination ore/oil 38, container 18, liquefied gas 91, passenger 6, petroleum tanker 143, refrigerated cargo 9, roll on/roll off 41, short-sea passenger 21, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 35 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 1, Denmark 14, Germany 11, Greece 10, Hong Kong 7, Iceland 2, Japan 11, Lithuania 1, Monaco 42, Poland 1, Saudi Arabia 3, Singapore 10, Sweden 42, Switzerland 2, United Kingdom 4, United States 5 (2002 est.)
Airports: 102 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 67 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 13 1,524 to 2,437 m: 13 914 to 1,523 m: 15 under 914 m: 26 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 35 914 to 1,523 m: 6 under 914 m: 29 (2001) Military Norway -
Military branches: Norwegian Army, Royal Norwegian Navy (including Coast Artillery and Coast Guard), Royal Norwegian Air Force, Home Guard Military manpower - military age: 20 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,099,966 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 911,632 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 27,341 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $3.113 billion (FY98/99)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 2.13% (2002)
GDP: Transnational Issues Norway - Disputes - international: Norway asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Queen Maud Land and its continental shelf); despite recent discussions, Russia and Norway continue to dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone

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I
officially Kingdom of Norway

Country, northwestern Europe.

Area: 125,004 sq mi (323,758 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 4,537,000. Capital: Oslo. Most of the people are of Germanic origin; the largest minority group is the Sami (Lapps). Language: Norwegian (official). Religion: Evangelical Lutheranism (official). Currency: Norwegian krone. Located in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway is Europe's fifth largest country. It is a mountainous land with extensive plateau regions in its southwestern and central parts. Traditionally a fishing and lumbering country, it has greatly increased its mining and manufacturing activities since World War II. It has a developed economy largely based on services, petroleum and natural gas production, and light and heavy industries. Literacy is virtually 100%. Norway is a constitutional monarchy with one legislative house; its chief of state is the king, and the head of government is the prime minister. Several principalities were united into the kingdom of Norway in the 11th century. It had the same king as Denmark from 1380 to 1814, when it was ceded to Sweden. The union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, and Norway's economy grew rapidly. It remained neutral during World War I, although its shipping industry played a vital role in the conflict. It declared its neutrality in World War II but was invaded and occupied by German troops. Norway maintains a comprehensive welfare system and is a member of NATO. Its citizens rejected membership in the European Union in 1994.
II
(as used in expressions)
Kingdom of Norway
Norway lobster
Nevil Shute Norway

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▪ 2009

Area:
385,199 sq km (148,726 sq mi), including the overseas Arctic territories of Svalbard (61,020 sq km [23,560 sq mi]) and Jan Mayen (377 sq km [145 sq mi])
Population
(2008 est.): 4,762,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

      Norway's economy remained strong in 2008, despite turbulence in the global financial market and slower economic growth in most of Europe. Oil prices reached new heights in the summer before retreating in the autumn, and exports of fish and industrial products continued to expand. Meanwhile, inflation reached 3.5%, and a tight labour market induced the central bank to raise the key policy rate to 5.7% in the spring. Housing loans also became more expensive, at around 7%, and during the summer the heated housing market slowed down. During the global financial crisis that began in September, the Government Pension Fund experienced big losses in its investments in international financial instruments. Economists, seeking to bring calm, proclaimed that such a large fund with long-term investments could handle short-term losses, and the public seemed to trust these reassurances. Norwegians had experienced high growth in personal income during the previous years, and economists from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development anticipated that Norwegian consumers would have 2.6% higher purchasing power for the year.

      Although analysts predicted a soft landing for the economy, eight municipalities suffered in the financial crisis. During 2001–06 they were advised by the company Terra Securities to invest their future hydropower-related income in high-risk American hedge funds. In November 2007 it became clear that both the investments and the future incomes were lost. Prolonged trials against Terra and the bank consortium Acta filled newspaper headlines in 2008 and triggered debates about community investments and financial advisers.

      The red-green coalition government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg presented several important initiatives during the year. On Svalbard, in the far north, a Global Seed Vault was opened in the spring, with some 268,000 distinct samples of seeds from all over the world placed into secure cold storage. Even under the worst scenario of global warming, the seeds would remain frozen for 200 years. (See Environment: Sidebar (Seed Banks-Preserving Crop Diversity ).) Norway also invested $1 billion in Brazil's Amazonas Fund to prevent deforestation and global warming. In the autumn the Storting (parliament) ruled that in the future Norway's hydroelectric plants would be publicly held enterprises. The government was the target of harsh criticism for its low investments in railroads and for planning offshore oil drilling in the vulnerable fisheries off Lofoten islands in the North Sea.

      A gala performance on April 12 opened Norway's first opera house, the newly constructed Norwegian Opera and Ballet overlooking Oslo Fjord. The architecture firm Snøhetta designed the sparkling white marble and glass building, for which groundwork had begun in 2003. The gala, which was broadcast to a national television audience, included the opera building workers singing Giuseppe Verdi's “Slave Chorus” among many other highlights. Walks on the building's sloping roof quickly became a popular activity. Among the numerous festivals held, both inside and on the roof, was a commemoration on June 17 of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the national poet Henrik Wergeland.

      King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with an Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise in 2008. The royal pair also visited Portugal in May and attended the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

Hilde Sandvik

▪ 2008

Area:
385,199 sq km (148,726 sq mi), including the overseas Arctic territories of Svalbard (61,020 sq km [23,560 sq mi]) and Jan Mayen (377 sq km [145 sq mi])
Population
(2007 est.): 4,702,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

      Norway's economy continued to be strong in 2007. Only 2.7% of the workforce was unemployed, and since many firms were looking to expand their employment rolls, several sectors reported labour shortages. Workers from Eastern European countries were generally welcomed, and Polish immigrants especially were settling in Norway. Exports of oil, natural gas, fish, and industrial products—combined with the importation of cheap industrial products from China and other low-cost countries—gave Norway a positive trade balance. House prices also continued to increase, unlike housing in some other northern countries.

      The Norwegian Government Pension Fund (the former Petroleum Fund) reached 1.94 trillion kroner (about $357 billion), even though the fund operated within the government's strict ethical framework for the investments in a global economy. Despite the fund's high returns, plans for a new pension system from 2010 were approved by the parliament in the spring. The reforms would encourage more people to work full time until age 67. Both the shortage of workers and the need to cut costs were strong arguments for a new scheme. Unions, however, were worried that the reforms would make it difficult for people in demanding or hazardous jobs to be eligible for early retirement.

      After a warm summer in northern Norway, disturbing news from the Arctic area arrived: the ice around Svalbard and Greenland was melting faster than the UN's climate panel had predicted. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's government promised to make Norway carbon neutral by 2050, partly by buying carbon quotas from less-developed countries and partly through domestic efforts, including investment in new offshore technology that could pump carbon gas back into former reservoirs of oil and gas. Environmentalist organizations urged more immediate actions.

      Compared with the national election in 2005, the local elections held in the autumn showed that support for most political parties tended to remain stable. The Labour Party was still the strongest, with 29.6% of the vote, followed by the Conservative Party (19.3%) and the liberal Progress Party (17.5%). The Socialist Left Party, which since 2005 had been part of the Stoltenberg government in a coalition with Labour and the Centre Party, fell from 12.6% of the vote in the 2003 local elections to 6.2% in 2007. The election turnout was only 60%, which was low but not abnormal in local elections; in the national election the turnout was usually higher. The balloting produced no significant changes in local government in Norway's five major towns. In the northern towns of Trondheim and Tromsø, red-green coalitions survived, and in the three southern cities (Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger), coalitions between the Conservative and Progress parties remained in power with minor changes.

      King Harald V and Queen Sonja both celebrated their 70th birthdays in 2007—in February and July, respectively. The royal couple had an active year, with official visits to Finland (in June) and Germany (in October).

Hilde Sandvik

▪ 2007

Area:
385,199 sq km (148,726 sq mi), including the overseas Arctic territories of Svalbard (61,020 sq km [23,560 sq mi]) and Jan Mayen (377 sq km [145 sq mi])
Population
(2006 est.): 4,659,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

 The Norwegian economy remained strong in 2006, although Norway, like other Western European countries, faced workforce problems resulting from an aging population. With average unemployment in Norway of 3.6%, workers from Sweden and Eastern European countries were welcomed in many sectors. The Norwegian fertility rate (1.8 children per woman) was among the highest in Europe, while fully paid 44-week maternity leave (six weeks for fathers) and decent kindergartens allowed young parents to both work and raise children. The availability of adequate and affordable kindergartens was a high-priority issue for the new red-green government led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and the government had wide support in this. Kindergartens were also seen as a good way to teach immigrant children the Norwegian language before they reached school age.

      Other government initiatives were less popular. A proposal was put forward to reduce the welfare state's costs by cutting the state's contribution to the generous health benefits scheme and letting employers pay more. After weeks of strong protests from both employers organizations and trade unions, the government was forced to make a partial retreat and to initiate talks with major parties of the labour market.

      One of the most serious problems facing the Stoltenberg government was the question of pollution in the gas and oil industries. The world's longest undersea pipeline, Langaled, from the Ormen Lange field off the western coast of Norway to the British coast, was scheduled to begin carrying gas from that field in 2007 and was expected to supply 20% of British consumers' natural-gas demands. The cost of developing the Ormen Lange field was estimated at about $10 billion, and the investment in new technology was expected to be beneficial for undersea oil and gas production in the future. This project and other huge energy projects, however, required considerable amounts of power. Previously, cheap electricity from hydropower had been very important for households and industry, but provisions for future energy needs showed a serious shortage. One short-term solution was to build highly polluting natural-gas plants. This suggestion was met with sharp criticism from the Socialist Left Party, one of the three parties in the Stoltenberg government. Critics claimed that the problem of cleaning high carbon-dioxide levels should be solved before use of such natural-gas plants increased. The prospects of a coming energy crisis during the winter of 2006–07, however, seemed to move the government in the direction of pragmatic solutions—for instance, starting up gas production before the development of cleaning technology had been concluded.

      On August 31 the Oslo police reported that the stolen Edvard Munch paintings The Scream and Madonna had been recovered, fortunately with only modest damage. The paintings were taken from the Munch Museum in an armed robbery in August 2004 and had reportedly been in the hands of the thieves ever since. Because of enormous public interest, the unrestored paintings were displayed in the museum. It probably would take several months of conservation before the paintings were permanently hung on the walls of the museum again.

Hilde Sandvik

▪ 2006

Area:
385,199 sq km (148,726 sq mi), including the overseas Arctic territories of Svalbard (61,020 sq km [23,560 sq mi]) and Jan Mayen (377 sq km [145 sq mi])
Population
(2005 est.): 4,617,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Kjell Magne Bondevik and, from October 17, Jens Stoltenberg

      The Norwegian economy remained strong in 2005, thanks to income from the export of oil, natural gas, and fish. Oil and gas prices were high, and spokesmen advised increasing production, especially since new methods had been developed to pump carbon dioxide (a serious pollutant) back into the ground or to clean it from the smoke generated. The new techniques were expensive, but in a wider perspective the government, environmental activists, and oil companies agreed that it would be more expensive to continue polluting the environment. Oil production was about to start in the Russian part of the Barents Sea, and many observers feared that the increased offshore oil production and transport could affect some of the most vulnerable Arctic fishing areas. Meanwhile, Norwegians debated whether to boost domestic oil production in the Barents region. Drilling would attract more jobs to the north, but increased production could threaten the fisheries that traditionally had provided livelihoods for families in the region.

      Despite the healthy economy and the fact that the UN Development Programme again ranked Norway as having the world's highest standard of living, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's centre-right coalition lost the general election on September 12. The so-called Red-Green alliance, led by former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg's Labour Party, had promised to take on more social responsibility and was rewarded with 48% of the vote and 87 of the 169 seats (up from 165 in the 2001 election) in the Storting (parliament). Turnout was high, with about 77% of the electorate voting. Labour received 32.7% of the vote and 61 seats, followed by the Socialist Left Party with 8.8% (15 seats), and the Centre (Agrarian) Party with 6.5% (11 seats). The right-wing anti-immigration Progress Party, which had previously allied itself with the outgoing coalition, gained new power in the opposition as the second largest party, with 38 seats. Stoltenberg was sworn in as prime minister on October 17. The new government announced that Norway would continue to participate in UN and NATO-led military operations while reducing Norwegian forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to near nil, but the country would not pursue European Union membership.

 During the year Norway and Sweden commemorated the 100th anniversary of the peaceful end of the Swedish-Norwegian union. King Harald recovered from heart surgery in time to take part in the celebration on June 7 (the date in 1905 when Norwegian Prime Minister Christian Michelsen declared that King Oscar II had not fulfilled his duty as Norwegian king and the union was thus ended). On December 3 Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave birth to a son. His name was Sverre Magnus, and he was the third in line to the throne, behind his father, Crown Prince Haakon, and his sister, Ingrid Alexandra. Leah Isadora Behn, the second daughter of Princess Märtha Louise and her husband, Ari Behn, was born on April 8.

Hilde Sandvik

▪ 2005

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 4,591,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

      Norway's favourable trade balance continued in 2004, thanks to strong oil and gas exports, and the Government Petroleum Fund continued to grow because of high oil prices. Despite these positive trends, Norwegians worried about the decrease in industrial employment. In 2004 this declining trend halted for a while as new investments in oil-related, metallurgical, and consumer-based industries had an effect, but many companies continued to move their production abroad to countries where costs were lower. (See Economic Affairs: Special Report (Offshoring ).) Norwegian communities were often vulnerable because they were based on one factory, and many industrial workers had lost their jobs or had been handed early-retirement arrangements. The national average unemployment, however, remained stable at 4.5%.

      Meanwhile, some Norwegian companies had hired cheaper employees from other countries for jobs in Norway. In response, the unions claimed minimum wages, something that had been approved in sectors such as transport and construction. The globalization of the economy was also reflected in discussions about the retirement-pension and sickness-allowance schemes. The centre-right government's policies, which emphasized reducing government budgets, seemed to some to be in conflict with the traditional welfare-state policies of previous decades.

      From the outside these problems might seem rather small. On the index of human development issued by the UN Development Programme, Norway was ranked as having the highest standard of living in the world. The annual ranking was based largely on average levels of education and income combined with expected length of lifetime (78.9 years in Norway). The political left, however, pointed to the growing number of poor Norwegians. On the basis of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development standard, Norway had 90,000 poor people, while according to the EU criteria, the number was approximately 400,000.

      Since the election in 2001, the minority government of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik had received case-by-case support from the Storting (parliament). A Gallup Poll in October showed that two of the three parties in the ruling coalition had very low support. The Christian People's Party had about 7%, and the Liberal Party had 3%, while the Conservative Party remained the strongest of the governing parties, with about 18% support. Parties were already lining up for the general election in September 2005. For the first time the Norwegian Labour Party announced that it would negotiate with the Socialist Left and Centre parties to form a coalition after the 2005 election. According to the results of the October poll, this prospective red-green alliance would have more than 50% of the vote.

      In the middle of December, the Storting accepted the government's budget proposal. A deficit of nearly 69 billion kroner (1 krone = about $0.16) was covered by taking the money from the steadily growing Government Petroleum Fund, which totaled nearly 1 trillion kroner at year's end.

      On January 21 Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave birth to a daughter. The new princess, who was baptized Ingrid Alexandra on April 17, was the second in line to the throne behind her father, Crown Prince Haakon. The crown prince filled in as regent during King Harald's four-month recuperation after a December 2003 cancer operation. The king resumed his duties on April 13. Princess Märtha Louise and her husband, Ari Behn, announced that they were expecting their second child in April 2005.

Hilde Sandvik

▪ 2004

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 4,569,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

      During 2003 the Bank of Norway, in an effort to strengthen the labour market and favour exports, reduced its interest rate, designed to prevent inflation, from 6.5% to 2.25%. The effect was slow to be seen. Exports declined continuously, but the feared inflation did not appear. Norwegians, who had enjoyed higher wages since 2000 and were taking advantage of low interest rates, continued to furnish and improve their residences and summer homes, and rising numbers crossed the border to buy high-quality Swedish wares and inexpensive spirits. The Norwegian krone remained strong, from 20% “above” the Swedish krona in January to 10% in July, or—in a wider view—about 8 kroner to the euro and 7 kroner to a weakening U.S. dollar.

      A strong currency, however, resulted in a weak market for expensive Norwegian exports. In recent years Norwegian companies had moved their production to cheap labour markets in Eastern Europe and East Asia. This led to declining industrial production in Norway, the loss of skilled labour, and unemployment (hitherto unknown) even among scientists and highly educated engineers. In the autumn the unemployment rate stood at about 4.3%.

      Norway's prosperity was attributed to its rich offshore oil and gas deposits. The Norwegian companies Hydro, Statoil, and Norske Shell showed declining or no mainland investments and rising offshore investments (15% since 2002), even north of the Arctic Circle, notably off the coast of Lofoten Islands, and the town of Hammerfest, the future “liquefied natural gas centre” of northern Norway. In December the government stated that the Barents Sea would be opened for oil exploration, despite opposition from environmentalists.

      The centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, which had been weak from its formation in October 2001, lost support in 2003 in the press, among employer federations, in the Confederation of Trade Unions, and in professional organizations. In an October Gallup poll the Labour Party, the Socialist Left, and the populist Progress Party scored almost 25% approval each, but the latter had never been considered trustworthy by any other party. The standing problem was the conflicting attitudes toward membership in the European Union. Though the Christian Democrats did not openly decide on the question, the agrarian Centre Party saw the EU as a devastating threat to agriculture in Norway. The general population was divided almost evenly. Having lost two referenda (1972 and 1994) on the issue of EU membership, the government would not apply for membership unless it was certain that the measure would pass a referendum.

      At the end of November, the Storting (parliament) accepted the government's draft budget of 580 billion kroner, an increase of 2% over 2002; a deficit was covered by taking 70 billion kroner from the Government Petroleum Fund, which totaled about 700 billion kroner near year's end.

      Princess Märtha Louise gave birth in April to a girl, Maud Angelica Behn; it was the country's first royal birth in nearly 30 years. Crown Prince Haakon and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, were expecting a baby in January 2004; regardless of its sex, the child would be second in line to the throne behind its father.

Gudmund Sandvik

▪ 2003

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 4,537,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

      In 2002 the coalition government of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik met with considerable resistance in its attempt to persuade Norwegians to accept tighter economic policies despite the fact that, as a major oil and gas producer, Norway ranked among the most prosperous countries of the world. The government cited the risk of economic overheating in the near future and the long-term need to secure pensions for the country's growing elder population in its call to limit spending of Norway's huge oil income and to reduce the number of state-owned enterprises. The Progress Party, whose support in opinion polls jumped to nearly 30% during the year, wanted to spend more generously on social programs—an attitude strongly opposed by the Conservatives, who held the majority in the government. In order to secure passage of its budget for 2003, the government was forced to negotiate, first with the Progress Party, then with the formerly dominant Labour Party and the Socialist Left. An agreement was finally obtained toward the end of November. The new budget included some tax reductions as well as allocations for such popular measures as better old-age pensions for married couples and cheaper spirits.

      The Storting (parliament) had decided in 2001 that Norway should join the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, sending soldiers trained in mine clearing and high-mountain winter warfare. As one of the rotating members of the United Nations Security Council for 2001–02, Norway insisted that the UN have a say in any decision regarding Iraq. In September 2002 Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen called a British intelligence report on Iraq's weapons program “disturbing” and voiced support for a new UN resolution outlining demands on Saddam Hussein's regime.

      The Bank of Norway, having maintained since December 2001 the reduction of its interest rate to 6.5%, in July 2002 raised this rate to 7%, the highest in Western Europe. The raise was intended to help keep the inflation rate at around 2.5% per year. The high interest rate also meant a strong Norwegian currency. In fact, since the beginning of 2002, the value of the krone had grown by 10%, which made imports easier to afford but resulted in considerable market difficulties for Norwegian export industries. In any case, unemployment remained low, at 3.8%.

      In May, less than a year after Crown Prince Haakon married commoner Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, Princess Märtha Louise, older sister to the crown prince and the second heiress to the throne, followed his lead, marrying writer Ari Behn in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Behn, the author of a 1999 short-story collection titled Trist som faen, was pilloried in some media outlets, though the princess herself remained immensely popular. In a break with tradition, she decided to keep her maiden name and would still be known as Princess Märtha Louise.

Gudmund Sandvik

▪ 2002

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 4,516,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Jens Stoltenberg and, from October 19, Kjell Magne Bondevik

      Norway's long-dominant Labour Party lost much of its grip on power after a miserable showing in the general election held on Sept. 10, 2001. In its worst showing since 1924, the party won only 24.4% of the popular vote and managed to secure just 43 seats in the 165-member Storting (parliament), down from the 65 seats the party had won four years earlier. The big winners were the Conservatives and the Socialist Left Party. The Conservatives obtained 38 seats—a gain of 15 from 1997—while the Socialist Left Party increased its number of seats from 9 to 23. The Labour government chose to resign as a result of the elections. On October 17 a minority government was formed that included the Conservatives, the Christian People's Party (22 seats), and the Liberal Party (2 seats). Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian People's Party became prime minister for the second time in his career, and Conservative leader Jan Petersen was named foreign minister. The populist right-wing Progress Party (26 seats) pledged its support for the new government.

      The marriage of Crown Prince Haakon to the beautiful, courageous, but controversial Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby on August 25 in Oslo captured the nation's attention. (See Biographies (Haakon, Crown Prince, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit ).) The prince's choice of bride had raised eyebrows not only because she was a commoner but because she had a four-year-old son by a convicted drug dealer. Public opinion, however, began to swing in her favour after Mette-Marit held a news conference only days before the wedding to publicly apologize for aspects of her past and to condemn drug use. The hour-long wedding in Oslo Cathedral was relayed via a giant screen to thousands of people who had gathered outside the building. On December 13 the second heiress to the throne, Princess Märtha Louise, and author Ari Behn declared their engagement. At the end of the year support for the monarchy was strongly expressed in most of the press.

      Prices in the global oil market continued to influence the Norwegian economy. Average daily oil production was an estimated three million barrels. Until October the average oil spot price per barrel of Brent Blend was $26. It then dropped to around $20. The negative effect from the oil price reductions that followed was counterbalanced by Norway's long-term contracts of gas deliveries by pipelines to the European market.

      Surplus state income from the oil industry went into a Petroleum Fund that was set up in part to ensure pensions for the elderly. In March the government declared that future interest income from the fund should be used to cover state budget deficits.

      Unemployment remained relatively low at about 3.6% during the year. The consumer price index rose by 4.3% in May but declined to 2.5% in July owing to tax cuts. In June the Bank of Norway decided to maintain the interest rate at 7% (the highest level in Western Europe) and even declared that it would raise the rate should inflation once more approach 4%. By the end of November the bank had reduced the rate by 0.25%.

Gudmund Sandvik

▪ 2001

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 4,487,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Kjell Magne Bondevik and, from March 17, Jens Stoltenberg

      On March 10, 2000, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik officially resigned from office, one day after his government lost a vote of confidence in Parliament. Bondevik and his supporters wanted to delay the construction of Norway's first natural gas-fired power plants until new technology could be developed that would reduce air pollution. The opposition, however, favoured immediate construction and won the vote 81–71. One week later Jens Stoltenberg of the Norwegian Labour Party was named the new prime minister.

      After some months of weaker performance in 1999, Norway resumed its economic growth in 2000. Gross national product increased about 3%; the unemployment rate stabilized at about 3.2%; and prices of consumer goods rose by 3%. Wage negotiations resulted in an average rise of 3.5%. In two public sectors (teachers, nurses) the result was a 5% increase, after government intervention.

      Prices in the global oil market influenced the Norwegian economy and political life in a dramatic way. The spot price per barrel of Brent Blend rose from approximately $25 before midsummer to well above $30 in the autumn, and it remained there. Even if oil production was not increased, government income from the booming oil market climbed much higher than had been predicted in the national budget. In June the nation's offshore oil workers went on strike, demanding the right to retire at 57 rather than 63. After two weeks of lost production, the government ordered the strikers to return to work; they did so but continued to campaign for the lower retirement age.

      During the summer and the early autumn, a growing popular discontent expressed itself in polls. The winner was the populist right-wing Progress Party, which obtained up to 35% support. The other political parties lost adherents. The governing Norwegian Labour Party won only about 25% of those polled.

      The new Labour government presented its draft budget for the coming year on October 4. Prime Minister Stoltenberg opposed the opinions of the Progress Party, declaring his intention to continue previous policies by demanding higher taxes from industry in order to strengthen the public sector in regard to its support in the areas of health, education, and housing. As predicted by political analysts, the government obtained a majority in Parliament with the support of the Socialist Left Party and the centrist coalition.

      In other developments the General Assembly of the United Nations in October chose Norway to be a member of the Security Council for the following two years. In August the government opened the nation's royal palace in Oslo to the public for guided tours.

Gudmund Sandvik

▪ 2000

Area:
323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 4,452,000
Capital:
Oslo
Chief of state:
King Harald V
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

      Outbursts of pessimism for the near future marked the first months of the year 1999 in Norway, but after midsummer a more optimistic mood prevailed. The moods were keyed to the price of oil; during the spring months the market price for Brent crude more than doubled over the new year's level of about $10 a barrel. Consequently, the transfer of a surplus of NKr 56 billion (about $7.3 billion) to the Government Petroleum Fund, which had been planned in the draft budget and approved by the Storting (parliament), went through as planned. No serious implications for growth ensued, because oil prices above $15 a barrel were sufficient to maintain oil and gas production in the North Sea.

      In any event, compared with 1998, gross domestic product in Norway grew by only 1.5%, the consumer price index maintained a 2.5% growth rate, and private and public consumption grew markedly less than in 1998. Wages grew by 5% in the private as well as in the public sectors; one consequence was a reduction of 1999 investments, both domestic and offshore, by as much as 10%. Projections for offshore investments in 2000 were accordingly lower as well, by as much as 25%. Prospects for profits in the North Sea seemed low, and no serious search for new big oil and gas deposits was undertaken. In September the Bank of Norway declared that a period of weaker growth had replaced the continuous economic boom that Norway had been enjoying since 1992.

      Local elections took place in September. Voter participation was about 60%, significantly lower than usual, perhaps as a result of the steady, continuing rise in living standards. Calculated on a national scale, the Norwegian Labour Party won only about 29% of the votes in the local elections, their worst showing since the 1920s. In October Labour entered into negotiations with the minority centre coalition government in order to have a say in the draft budget and to show a spirit of cooperation with the government during the run-up to the general elections in 2001. Labour's decision was of historic importance, as it signified that the party had given up its traditional objective of a majority government for a more pragmatic policy. By negotiating with the left, the minority centre government showed that it commanded the perfect bargaining position in the Storting.

      Norwegian membership in the European Union was not an issue in 1999, either in Norway or in the EU itself. In fact, however, Norway followed the economic and political guidelines issued in Brussels and thereby gained a reputation for cooperation and loyalty that put the country in good stead within the EU system. Elsewhere in Europe, as a NATO member Norway took part in the military actions against Yugoslavia, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Knut Vollebæk had a very busy year as the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Gudmund Sandvik

▪ 1999

      Area: 323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 4,429,000

      Capital: Oslo

      Chief of state: King Harald V

      Head of government: Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

      Norway's economy in 1998 experienced another year of growth, though it was not as strong as the preceding five years. Compared with 1997 gross domestic product grew by 2.4%, public consumption by 2.4%, private consumption by 3.8%, the consumer price index by 2.3%, and wages by as much as 5.9%. Wage growth was especially high in the public sector. An increase of 2.5% in the number of jobs until midsummer indicated an unemployment rate for 1998 of 3.2%. Consequently, the employment rate of the population's total labour force reached 73.7%, a level never before attained. The major reason for this was the steady growth in the number of women who worked (68.3%).

      Even with such comfortable percentages, Norwegians experienced a growing mistrust in the country's near future. A representative symptom was the falling value of the Norwegian krone as measured against the U.S. dollar ($1 = about NKr 7.5) and the British pound sterling (£1 = about NKr 13). Two international situations accounted for part of the decline; low prices for Norway's oil ($12-$13 per barrel, crude Brent) caused an immediate cut in public incomes, and the Asian financial crisis, expanding to Russia and Asia, reduced Norwegian exports to those markets. Consequently, with a view to foreign investors, the Bank of Norway from March to August raised the interest rate by as much as 4.5% but apparently with no immediate effect. A domestic reason for the decline was the instability in Parliament that was produced by the general elections in October 1997. Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's coalition government controlled only 42 seats of the 165 in the legislature. This government, therefore, was constantly required to compromise with one or another of the groups in the opposition, which resulted in declining confidence in the strength of the government and in the international value of the krone. With the support of two rightist parties the government managed to get its 1999 budget approved.

      The fluctuations in the krone were, however, only surface troubles in the Norwegian economy in 1998. The government's draft budget, presented to the legislature on October 5, included a surplus of NKr 56 billion intended for transfer to the Government Petroleum Fund for investments abroad. Without help from the petroleum sector, the budget of NKr 480 billion would have presented a deficit of NKr 5.5 billion. When oil prices fell below $10 a barrel (crude Brent) late in the year, the surplus intended for the Petroleum Fund was nullified with serious implications for growth. The major challenge in the Norwegian economy in 1998, however, was to maintain an almost full employment without overheating the economy, and that task was fulfilled.

GUDMUND SANDVIK

▪ 1998

      Area: 323,758 sq km (125,004 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 4,405,000

      Capital: Oslo

      Chief of state: King Harald V

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Thorbjørn Jagland and, from October 17, Kjell Magne Bondevik

      Norway's economy in 1997 experienced its fifth year of continuous solid growth. Compared with 1996, gross domestic product grew by 3.9%, wages by about 4%, private consumption by 3%, public consumption by 2.4%, and the consumer price index by 2.5%. An increase of 3% in the number of jobs brought the unemployment rate down to about 4%.

      According to the International Energy Agency, Norway was expected to be the world's fifth largest producer of oil in 1997. Investments in the oil and gas sectors reached the record sum of 66 billion kroner, of which 36 billion kroner were spent on developing existing fields on the continental shelf and 10 billion kroner on searching for new fields in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, and Arctic Ocean. Oil companies based their optimism on the growing demand for energy, especially in Asia, and planned investments on the same scale in 1998. A contract signed in 1997 for 25 years of annual delivery of 6 billion cu m (212 cu ft) of natural gas to Italy revealed the growing importance of the rich gas fields on the continental shelf and indicated the necessity of continuing to build pipelines to southern Europe and of constructing facilities in Norway to produce and store liquefied natural gas. The oil and gas sectors contributed 23% of Norway's total income of some 480 billion kroner.

      On September 15, 75% of the nation's eligible voters went to the polls to elect the 165 members of the Storting, the single-chamber national legislature. Before the elections Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland declared that his Labour Party government would resign should the result be weaker than in 1993 (36.9% of the votes, 67 seats). The outcome was 35% and 65 seats. A coalition of the three parties in the political centre (Christian People's Party, Centre Party, and Liberal Party) obtained 42 seats, the Socialist Left Party 9, and the Conservative Party 23; unexpectedly, the populist right-wing Progress Party won 25 seats to become the new Storting's second largest party. The Labour government had time to present its draft budget for 1998 to the Storting before it resigned in mid-October in favour of the new centre coalition government, headed by theologian Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian People's Party. During the budget debates late in the year, the new government found that constant compromise was required in order for it to remain in power. All the political parties agreed at the end of November that, as in 1997, the surplus of the 1998 state budget should be transferred to the Government Petroleum Fund for investments abroad.

GUDMUND SANDVIK

      See also Dependent States, above.

▪ 1997

      A constitutional monarchy of northern Europe, Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Skagerrak, the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Area: 323,878 sq km (125,050 sq mi), excluding the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen Island. Pop. (1996 est.): 4,382,000. Cap.: Oslo. Monetary unit: Norwegian krone, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 6.51 kroner to U.S. $1 (10.25 kroner = £1 sterling). King, Harald V; prime ministers in 1996, Gro Harlem Brundtland and, from October 25, Thorbjørn Jagland.

      Norway's oil-dependent economy continued to surge ahead in 1996, buoyed by an increase in petroleum output, higher oil prices, and a 2.6% strengthening of the dollar against the krone. The robust economy, however, prompted fears by the government of overheating, and fiscal tightening measures in the 1997 draft budget proposal were therefore introduced to combat this prospect.

      Oil production from the Norwegian continental shelf was expected to rise by about 100,000 bbl a day in 1997 from the current 3.2 million bbl per day. Norway used just 150,000 bbl per day to meet domestic demand. The government forecast that annual sales of natural gas would expand to 41 billion cu m in 1997 from 35 billion cu m.

      Because of the robust economy, there was no real challenger to the ruling Labour Party for the 1997 general election. Talks broke down between the Conservative Party and the right-wing Progress Party to form a coalition aimed to unseat Labour. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the dominant political figure in Norway since 1981, unexpectedly resigned as prime minister on October 23. She was succeeded by Thorbjørn Jagland, chairman of the Labour Party since 1992.

      In foreign relations Norway continued its efforts to mediate between Israel and the Palestine National Authority in order to prevent the international peace agreement from derailing.

      Norway mounted an aggressive campaign to import physicians and nurses from other Scandinavian countries to meet a massive domestic shortage. Paradoxically, the energy-rich country was also forced to import electricity from Denmark and Sweden, as unusually low rainfall left hydropower facilities with a deficit of water.

      Europe remained a profitable market for Norwegian petroleum, pulp and paper, and fish. European Union members accounted for 80% of Norway's exports, which had risen 30% since 1991. The government forecast a balance of payments surplus of 48.3 billion kroner for 1996, an increase of about 4.1% over 1995.

      The draft budget proposal for 1997 envisioned a 40.9 billion kroner surplus, or 5.1% of gross domestic product—including oil and gas—with the economy in a period of strong growth in terms of employment, production, and revenue. If projected petroleum revenues were excluded, however, the 1997 budget would have a deficit of 24.2 billion kroner. The government also upgraded its forecast 1996 budget surplus to 37.9 billion kroner. The budget surpluses were to be set aside in the Government Petroleum Fund for investment abroad in an effort to reduce Norway's dependence on oil and to provide a fund to meet the future social welfare obligations of an aging population. (KAREN L. FOSSLI)

      See also Dependent States .

▪ 1996

      A constitutional monarchy of northern Europe, Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Skagerrak, the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Area: 323,878 sq km (125,050 sq mi), excluding the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen Island. Pop. (1995 est.): 4,360,000. Cap.: Oslo. Monetary unit: Norwegian krone, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 6.31 kroner to U.S. $1 (9.97 kroner = £1 sterling). King, Harald V; prime minister in 1995, Gro Harlem Brundtland.

      The economy was the main highlight of 1995 in Norway, bounding from strength to strength and buoyed by exports of bulk commodities—crude oil, light metals, and pulp and paper—and a 30% increase in investment in industries other than petroleum. The robust economy also proved wrong skeptics' doomsday forecasts of the disastrous effects of remaining outside the European Union (EU), a decision made by Norwegians in an advisory referendum on Nov. 28, 1994, in sharp contrast to Nordic neighbours Finland and Sweden. Economic growth accelerated to a 20-year high of 5% in 1994 and was forecast to expand by more than 4% in 1995 and 1996. Excluding petroleum, the annual growth rate was 3%.

      The government budget deficit and net foreign debt were expected to be eliminated in 1996 as unemployment was forecast to decline from 4.8% of the workforce in 1995 to 3.5% by the end of the decade. Norway's petroleum bonanza disguised the continued relative decline of the non-oil economy, however, with the manufacturing sector accounting for less than 15% of gross domestic product (GDP), well below levels in other industrialized countries.

      New petroleum production capacity boosted Norway's GDP in 1995, with crude-oil output surging by more than 12% to well over three million barrels a day as investments hit a peak of 56 billion kroner, 7% of GDP. Western Europe's largest crude-oil producer, Norway in 1995 became the world's second largest net oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia. The government pledged to establish a petroleum fund to be managed by the Bank of Norway and into which budget surpluses would flow for foreign investments and as a buffer for the oil-dependent economy during cycles of depressed oil prices.

      Norway's 500 largest companies paid 1994 dividends of 1 billion kroner, a 40% increase over the previous year. The top 212 companies boosted 1994 profits by 26%, and higher full-year profits were forecast for 1995. Reprivatization of the country's largest banks began with Fokus Bank, in which the government sold its 97.8% share to foreign and domestic investors.

      Politically the year was insignificant, as no party harnessed the energy or backing to threaten to unseat the ruling minority Labour Party government, led by Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. In local elections held in September, however, the right-wing Progress Party, led by Carl Hagen, was surprisingly propelled to the rank of second largest party as Norwegians lodged a protest vote against the country's liberal immigration policy.

      Relations between Norway and Iran broke down over a diplomatic dispute centring on the fatwa (death edict) imposed in 1989 by Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the author Salman Rushdie. Rushdie's Norwegian publisher was seriously wounded in a 1993 shooting, but Iran denied any involvement in the incident. Both countries recalled their respective ambassadors and downgraded diplomatic relations in 1995.

      Norway continued whaling and resumed the killing of baby seals for "scientific research" despite international bans on these activities. Errors were discovered in the software Norway used to provide estimates of the North Atlantic minke whale population, however, which weakened its arguments justifying whaling. (KAREN L. FOSSLI)

      See also Dependent States .

▪ 1995

      A constitutional monarchy of northern Europe, Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Skagerrak, the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Area: 323,878 sq km (125,050 sq mi), excluding the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen Island. Pop. (1994 est.): 4,332,000. Cap.: Oslo. Monetary unit: Norwegian krone, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 6.70 kroner to U.S. $1 (10.65 kroner = £1 sterling). King, Harald V; prime minister in 1994, Gro Harlem Brundtland.

      Norwegians rejected membership in the European Union (EU) in an advisory referendum on Nov. 28, 1994. It was the second time in 22 years that Norway had voted against membership. The final outcome of the vote was 52.4% against and 47.6% in favour of joining. The percentage of Norwegians who opposed EU membership was the same as that of those in Sweden who had favoured it in a referendum about two weeks earlier. Nevertheless, one week after the referendum, Norway voted to support the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the establishment of its successor, the World Trade Organization.

      The referendum was an embarrassing defeat for Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who had made winning over the country's skeptical electorate her central political goal of the 1990s. On the other hand, it was a major victory for Anne Enger Lahnstein, leader of the main opposition Centre Party, who announced that she would challenge Brundtland for the prime minister's office in the 1997 election.

      The referendum was lost because of the failure by those favouring membership to win over the voters in the north and other outlying districts, who derived their livelihood from fishing and farming; these enterprises were supported by lavish subsidies that were among the highest in Europe. In many regions an even bigger majority than in 1972 voted "no." The EU advocates also failed to win support from women, who feared membership would undermine Norway's cradle-to-grave welfare system. In addition, many Norwegians feared the loss of sovereignty over the country's rich natural resources—fish, oil, gas, and light metals.

      The Labour Party government said that because of the outcome of the referendum, the economy, among the strongest in Europe, faced new and demanding challenges, and it pledged to continue its stable course in economic policy to strengthen international confidence. The government said that it would unveil a package of measures worth between 10 billion kroner and 15 billion kroner to shore up business and industry against potential damaging effects of the vote against the EU and that it would continue to reduce the fiscal budget deficit.

      In November Norway's average daily oil production reached a record-high 2.7 million bbl. Norway was Western Europe's biggest oil producer, but output was expected to decline sharply after 1996.

      In 1994 the economy was strong, with an expected growth of 4.5%. The increase was forecast to weaken to 3% in 1995, and in the longer term a weak industrial base for employment was expected to lead to further problems. Unemployment fell to about 5% from 8% in 1993 and was expected to decline further in 1995 if Norwegian companies did not follow through on threats to relocate to EU countries. Norway's banks emerged from a persistent six-year banking crisis, the sector's worse since World War II. The business community suffered a jolt on December 13 when Erik Jarve, the well-respected president of the Oslo Stock Exchange, was found dead one day after he was dismissed for accepting bribes.

      Norwegians continued to bask in the praise of the successful Olympic Winter Games held in February in Lillehammer, north of Oslo. Not only was the arrangement of this major winter event a huge success, but the Norwegians also walked off with a pocketful of medals: 10 gold, 11 silver, and 5 bronze. (KAREN L. FOSSLI)

      See also Dependent States .

▪ 1994

      A constitutional monarchy of northern Europe, Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Skagerrak, the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Area: 323,878 sq km (125,050 sq mi), excluding the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen Island. Pop. (1993 est.): 4,308,000. Cap.: Oslo. Monetary unit: Norwegian krone, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 7.10 kroner to U.S. $1 (10.76 kroner = £1 sterling). King, Harald V; prime minister in 1993, Gro Harlem Brundtland.

      The minority Labour government, headed by Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, captured 67 seats in the Sept. 13, 1993, parliamentary election to retain power for a new four-year term. By propelling the anti-EC agrarian Centre Party to the status of main opposition party, the election, more than anything else, demonstrated the strong resistance of Norwegians to membership in the European Community (EC). Led by Anne Enger Lahnstein, the Centre Party overtook the pro-EC Conservatives, led by Kaci Kullman-Five, who suffered their worst-ever election. (For tabulated results, see Political Parties, above.)

      In March the European Commission approved Norway's application to join the EC, and accession negotiations began in earnest in September. Norway had rejected membership in a divisive referendum in 1972, and some opinion polls consistently showed that a large majority of Norwegians still opposed membership. Other polls, however, showed that a majority supported the application, illustrating just how confused and divided over membership the electorate was. Brundtland's government planned a new membership referendum by 1996 if negotiations with the EC over the highly sensitive issues of fisheries, agriculture, and petroleum were satisfactory. Many Norwegians feared that EC membership would cause them to lose their hard-won sovereignty, limit control over local natural resources, and force massive cuts in lavish agriculture subsidies. International Monetary Fund figures showed that subsidies made up 77% of the value of agricultural output, compared with the EC average of 49%. Both neighbouring Sweden and Finland were negotiating on EC membership alongside Norway, and there was a widely held view that if their referenda were held successfully before Norway's vote, they could have a positive influence on Norwegian public opinion.

      Labour's hold on power was in part due to a belief in government stability with Brundtland at the helm. It was also helped by clear signs of economic recovery. In 1992 gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.3%. Even excluding petroleum and shipping revenues, the economy grew by 2%, and much the same performance was expected in 1993. Inflation looked set to rise slightly to 2.75% for the year as a whole, but at its mid-1993 level of 2.3% it was the lowest in Norway for three decades, and the lowest in Europe. The Bank of Norway cut its key overnight lending rate no fewer than 12 times between January and September, lowering it from 11 to 5.5%. The real jobless rate grew steadily throughout the year to slightly above 8% of the workforce, compared with 7.6% in 1992.

      The persistent six-year banking crisis showed signs of abating, with the country's two biggest commercial banks, Christiania Bank and Den norske Bank (DnB), forecasting a return to profit in 1993. Since 1987 the government had injected an estimated 30 billion kroner to prop up the banking sector. Meanwhile, UNI Storebrand, the country's biggest insurer, was freed from public administration in August and relisted on the Oslo Stock Exchange after having collapsed in 1992 under the weight of 3.8 billion kroner in debt used to finance a failed raid on Skandia Forsakrings, Sweden's biggest insurer.

      In April, Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg handed over his Cabinet seat to Johan Jörgen Holst, the defense minister, so that he could replace Cyrus Vance as joint mediator with Lord Owen of negotiations between the warring factions in the former Yugoslavia.

      In August, Norway disclosed that it had played the role of a "back channel" mediator between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. A declaration of principles shaped and initialed in Oslo in August led to the signing of the historic Middle East peace agreement in Washington in September.

      All of Norway was in the final throes of gearing up to host the Winter Olympics, to be held in Lillehammer, north of Oslo, in February 1994. (KAREN L. FOSSLI)

      See also Dependent States, below.

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Introduction
Norway, flag of   country of northern Europe that occupies the western half of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Nearly half of the inhabitants of the country live in the far south, in the region around Oslo, the capital. About two-thirds of Norway is mountainous, and off its much-indented coastline lie, carved by deep glacial fjords, some 50,000 islands.

      Indo-European peoples settled Norway's coast in antiquity, establishing a permanent settlement near the present capital of Oslo some 6,000 years ago. The interior was more sparsely settled, owing to extremes of climate and difficult terrain, and even today the country's population is concentrated in coastal cities such as Bergen and Trondheim. Dependent on fishing and farming, early Norwegians developed a seafaring tradition that would reach its apex in the Viking era, when Norse warriors regularly raided the British Isles, the coasts of western Europe, and even the interior of Russia; the Vikings also established colonies in Iceland and Greenland and explored the coast of North America (which Leif Eriksson (Leif Eriksson the Lucky) called Vinland) more than a thousand years ago. This great tradition of exploration by such explorers as Leif Erikkson and his father, Erik the Red, continued into modern times, exemplified by such men as Fridtjof Nansen (Nansen, Fridtjof), Roald Amundsen (Amundsen, Roald), and Thor Heyerdahl (Heyerdahl, Thor). Weakened by plague and economic deterioration in the late Middle Ages and dominated by neighbouring Denmark and Sweden, Norwegians turned to trading in fish and lumber, and modern Norway, which gained its independence in 1905, emerged as a major maritime transporter of the world's goods as well as a world leader in specialized shipbuilding. In the 1970s the exploitation of offshore oil and natural gas became the major maritime industry, with Norway emerging in the 1990s as one of the world's leading petroleum exporters.

      Lying on the northern outskirts of the European continent and thus avoiding the characteristics of a geographic crossroads, Norway (the “northern way”) has maintained a great homogeneity among its peoples and their way of life. Small enclaves of immigrants, mostly from southeastern Europe and South Asia, established themselves in the Oslo region in the late 20th century, but the overwhelming majority of the country's inhabitants are ethnically Nordic. The northern part of the country, particularly the rugged Finnmark Plateau, is home to the Sami (also called Lapps or Laplanders), a Uralic people whose origins are obscure. Life expectancy rates in Norway are among the highest in the world. The main political division reflects differing views on the importance of free-market forces; but the socialists long ago stopped insisting on nationalization of the country's industry, and the nonsocialists have accepted extensive governmental control of the country's economy. Such evident national consensus—along with abundant waterpower, offshore oil, and peaceful labour relations—was a major factor in the rapid growth of Norway as an industrial nation during the 20th century and in the creation of one of the highest standards of living in the world, reinforced by a comprehensive social welfare system.

 Norway's austere natural beauty has attracted visitors from all over the world. The country has also produced many important artists, among them composer Edvard Grieg (Grieg, Edvard), painter Edvard Munch (Munch, Edvard), novelists Knut Hamsun (Hamsun, Knut) and Sigrid Undset (Undset, Sigrid), and playwright Henrik Ibsen (Ibsen, Henrik). Of his country and its ruminative people, Ibsen observed, “The magnificent, but severe, natural environment surrounding people up there in the north, the lonely, secluded life—the farms are miles apart—forces them to…become introspective and serious.…At home every other person is a philosopher!”

Land (Norway)
      With the Barents Sea to the north, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea to the west, and Skagerrak (Skager Strait) to the south, Norway has land borders only to the east—with Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

 Norway occupies part of northern Europe's Fennoscandian Shield. The extremely hard bedrock, which consists mostly of granite and other heat- and pressure-formed materials, ranges from one to two billion years in age.

Relief
      Glaciation and other forces wore down the surface and created thick sandstone, conglomerate, and limestone deposits known as sparagmite. Numerous extensive areas called peneplains (peneplain), whose relief has been largely eroded away, also were formed. Remains of these include the Hardanger Plateau—3,000 feet (900 metres) above sea level—Europe's largest mountain plateau, covering about 4,600 square miles (11,900 square km) in southern Norway; and the Finnmark Plateau (1,000 feet [300 metres] above sea level), occupying most of Finnmark, the northernmost and largest county of Norway.

      From the Cambrian (Cambrian Period) through the Silurian (Silurian Period) geologic periods (i.e., from about 540 to 408 million years ago), most of the area was below sea level and acquired a layer of limestone, shale, slate, and conglomerate from 330 to 525 feet (100 to 160 metres) thick. Folding processes in the Earth then gave rise to a mountain system that is a continuation of the Caledonian orogenic belt. Norway has an average elevation of 1,600 feet (500 metres), compared with 1,000 feet (300 metres) for Europe as a whole.

 Rivers running westward acquired tremendous erosive power. Following fracture lines marking weaknesses in the Earth's crust, they dug out gorges and canyons that knifed deep into the jagged coast. To the east the land sloped more gently, and broader valleys were formed. During repeated periods of glaciation in the Great ice age of the Quaternary Period (about two million years ago), the scouring action of glaciers tonguing down the V-shaped valleys that were then part of the landscape created the magnificent U-shaped drowned fjords that now grace the western coast of Norway. Enormous masses of soil, gravel, and stone were also carried by glacial action as far south as present-day Denmark and northern Germany. The bedrock, exposed in about 40 percent of the area, was scoured and polished by the movements of these materials.

      There are four traditional regions of Norway, three in the south and one in the Arctic north. The three main regions of the south are defined by wide mountain barriers. From the southernmost point a swelling complex of ranges, collectively called Lang Mountains, runs northward to divide eastern Norway, or Østlandet, from western Norway, or Vestlandet. The narrow coastal zone of Vestlandet has many islands, and steep-walled, narrow fjords cut deep into the interior mountain region. The major exception is the wide Jæren Plain, south of Stavanger. An eastward sweep of the mountains separates northern Østlandet from the Trondheim region, or Trøndelag. Northern Norway, or Nord-Norge, begins almost exactly at the midpoint of the country. Most of the region is above the Arctic Circle, and much of it is filled with mountains with jagged peaks and ridges, even on the many islands.

Drainage
      The Glåma ( Glomma) River, running south almost the entire length of eastern Norway, is 372 miles (600 km) long—close to twice the length of the two other large drainage systems in southern Norway, which meet the sea at the cities of Drammen and Skien. The only other long river is the 224-mile- (360-km-) long Tana-Anarjåkka, which runs northeast along part of the border with Finland. Norway has about 65,000 lakes with surface areas of at least 4 acres (1.5 hectares). By far the largest is Mjøsa (Mjøsa, Lake), which is 50 miles (80 km) north of Oslo on the Lågen River (a tributary of the Glåma).

Soils
      In the melting periods between ice ages, large areas were flooded by the sea because the enormous weight of the ice had depressed the land. Thick layers of clay, silt, and sand were deposited along the present coast and in large areas in the Oslo and Trondheim regions, which rise as high as 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level today. Some very rich soils are found below these old marine coastal regions. In the large areas covered by forests, the main soil has been stripped of much of its mineral content, and this has created poor agricultural land.

      In the interior of the Østlandet region, farms are located along the sides of the broad valleys, the bottoms of which contain only washed-out deposits of soil. With rich glacier-formed soils, exceptionally mild winters, long growing seasons, and plentiful precipitation, the Jæren Plain boasts the highest yields of any agricultural area in Norway.

Climate
      Although it occupies almost the same degrees of latitude as Alaska, Norway owes its warmer climate to the Norwegian Current (the northeastern extension of the Gulf Stream), which carries four to five million tons of tropical water per second into the surrounding seas. This current usually keeps the fjords from freezing, even in the Arctic Finnmark region. Even more important are the southerly air currents brought in above these warm waters, especially during the winter.

      The mean annual temperature on the west coast is 45 °F (7 °C), or 54 °F (30 °C) above average for the latitude. In the Lofoten Islands, north of the Arctic Circle, the January mean is 43 °F (24 °C) above the world average for this latitude and one of the world's greatest thermal anomalies. Norway lies directly in the path of the North Atlantic cyclones, which bring frequent gales and changes in weather. Western Norway has a marine climate, with comparatively cool summers, mild winters, and nearly 90 inches (2,250 mm) of mean annual precipitation. Eastern Norway, sheltered by the mountains, has an inland climate with warm summers, cold winters, and less than 30 inches (760 mm) of mean annual precipitation.

Plant and animal life
      Norway has about 2,000 species of plants, but only a few, mainly mountain plants, are endemic to Norway. Thick forests of spruce and pine predominate in the broad glacial valleys up to 2,800 feet (850 metres) above sea level in eastern Norway and 2,300 feet (700 metres) in the Trondheim region. Even in the thickest spruce woods the ground is carpeted with leafy mosses and heather, and a rich variety of deciduous trees—notably birch, ash, rowan, and aspen—grow on even the steepest hillsides. The birch zone extends from 3,000 to 3,900 feet (900 to 1,200 metres) above sea level, above which there is a willow belt that includes dwarf birch.

      In western Norway conifers and broad-leaved trees abound in approximately equal numbers. The largest forests in Norway are found between the Swedish border and the Glåma River, east of Oslo. About half of the Østlandet region is forested. The region also has about half of Norway's total forest resources and an equivalent share of the country's total area of fully cultivated land. Nearly one-third of the area of Trøndelag is forested. North of the Arctic Circle there is little spruce, and pine grows mainly in the inland valleys amid their surprisingly rich vegetation. Wild berries grow abundantly in all regions; they include blueberries and cranberries of small size as well as yellow cloudberries, a fruit-bearing plant of the rose family that is little known outside Scandinavia and Britain.

      Reindeer, wolverines, lemmings, and other Arctic animals are found throughout Norway, although in the south they live only in the mountain areas. Elk are common in the large coniferous forests, and red deer are numerous on the west coast. Just 150 years ago large animals of prey were common in Norway, but now the bear, wolf, and lynx are found only in a few areas, mainly in the north. Foxes, otters, and several species of marten, however, are common, and in many areas badgers and beavers thrive.

      Most of the rivers and lakes have a variety of fish, notably trout and salmon. The latter are found in at least 160 rivers, often in an abundance that attracts anglers from throughout the world.

      Of the large variety of birds, many migrate as far as Southern Africa for the winter. In the north people collect eggs and down from millions of seabirds, and, as far south as Ålesund, small cliff islands often are nearly covered by several hundred thousand nesting birds. Partridges and several kinds of grouse are common in the mountains and forests and are popular game birds.

People (Norway)

Ethnic groups
 In most parts of Norway the nucleus of the population is Nordic in heritage and appearance. Between 60 and 70 percent have blue eyes. An influx of people from southern Europe has been strong in southwestern Norway. Nord-Norge has about nine-tenths of the estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Sami—the country's first inhabitants—living in Norway. Only a small number of them still practice traditional reindeer herding on the Finnmark Plateau. The Sami arrived in Norway at least 10,000 years ago, perhaps from Central Asia. Formerly subject to widespread, even official ethnic discrimination, the Sami are now legally recognized as a distinct culture and have been granted some measure of autonomy through the Sami Parliament.

Languages
      The Norwegian language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic language (Germanic languages) group. The Norwegian alphabet has three more letters than the Latin alphabet—æ, ø, and å, pronounced respectively as the vowels in bad, burn, and ball. Modern Norwegian has many dialects, but all of them, as well as the Swedish and Danish languages, are understood throughout all three of these Scandinavian countries. Until about 1850 there was only one written language, called Riksmål (Bokmål), or “Official Language,” which was strongly influenced by Danish during the 434-year union of the two countries. Landsmål, or “Country Language,” was then created out of the rural dialects. After a long feud, mostly urban-rural in makeup, the forms received equal status under the terms Bokmål (“Book Language”) and Nynorsk (New Norwegian), respectively. For more than four-fifths of schoolchildren, Bokmål is the main language in local schools, and it is the principal language of commerce and communications. In daily speech Bokmål is predominant in the area around Oslo and the eastern Norwegian lowland, while Nynorsk is widely spoken in the mountainous interior and along the west coast.

      More than 15,000 Norwegians, mostly in scattered pockets of northern Norway, speak North Sami as a first language. A Uralic language (Uralic languages), Sami (Sami language) has been granted semiofficial status even as it has rapidly lost ground to Norwegian (Norwegian language).

      Almost all educated Norwegians speak English as a second language. Indeed, so widespread is its use that some commentators have voiced concern that English may displace Norwegian in commerce and industry.

Religion
 About nine-tenths of all Norwegians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran national church, the Church of Norway (Norway, Church of), which is endowed by the government. The largest groups outside this establishment are Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Lutheran Free Church members, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, and Baptists. As a result of Asian immigration, there also are small groups of Muslims and Buddhists.

Settlement patterns
  Østlandet contains more than half of Norway's population, most of whom live in the metropolitan area of the national capital, Oslo, and in the many industrial cities and urban agglomerations on both sides of Oslo Fjord. With the lion's share of the national wealth in mining and manufacturing and the concentration of economic activity around Oslo Fjord, Østlandet has the highest average income per household of Norway's traditional regions.

 Norway has never had the agricultural villages that are common elsewhere in Europe. The more densely populated areas of the country have grown up around crossroads of transportation, from which people have moved to the cities and suburbs. Thus, there is actually little borderline between the rural and urban populations. For many years Oslo has attracted settlers from throughout the country, becoming a national melting pot surrounded by the most important agricultural and industrial districts of Norway. The coastline facing Denmark across the Skagerrak passage, stretching from Oslo Fjord to the southern tip of Norway, is densely populated and contains many small towns, coastal villages, and small farms. Centred on the city of Kristiansand, this area is sometimes set apart as a fifth region: southern Norway, or Sørlandet. In Vestlandet the industrial city of Stavanger has attracted large numbers of settlers and has continued to expand as Norway's oil capital. Bergen, the capital of Vestlandet and Norway's largest city from the Hanseatic period in the mid 19th century, is a centre for fish exports. Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway and for long periods the national capital, dominates Trøndelag. Tromsø is the capital of Nord-Norge and is a hub for various Arctic activities, including fishing, sealing, and petroleum exploration.

Demographic trends
      Largely as a result of a significant increase in the proportion of the population over age 80, the population of Norway continued to grow slowly but steadily at the end of the 20th century. The birth rate fell slightly during the 1990s—to about half the world's average—but so did the death rate, as life expectancy (about 75 years for men and about 81 years for women) was among the highest in Europe.

      Migration from rural to urban areas slowed in the 1980s, but movement away from Nord-Norge increased. At the beginning of the 21st century, about three-fourths of the population lived in towns and urban areas. Norway has a small but varied population of foreign nationals, the great majority of them living in urban areas. Of these, more than half are from other European countries—primarily Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, with small groups from Pakistan and North and South America (primarily the United States). Since the 1960s Norway has practiced a strict policy concerning immigrants and refugees. Emigration—of such great importance in Norway in the 19th and early 20th centuries—ceased to be of any significance, although in most years there is a small net out-migration of Norwegian nationals.

Economy
      The Norwegian economy is dependent largely on the fortunes of its important petroleum industry. Thus, it experienced a decline in the late 1980s as oil prices fell, but by the late 1990s it had rebounded strongly, benefiting from increased production and higher prices. Norway reversed its negative balance of payments, and the growth of its gross national product (GNP)—which had slowed during the 1980s—accelerated. By the late 1990s Norway's per capita GNP was the highest in Scandinavia and among the highest in the world. In an effort to reduce economic downturns caused by drops in oil prices, the government in 1990 established the Government Petroleum Fund, into which budget surpluses were deposited for investment overseas.

      Only about one-fifth of Norway's commodity imports are food and consumer goods; the rest consists of raw materials, fuels, and capital goods. The rate of reinvestment has been high in Norway for a number of years. This is reflected in the relatively steady employment in the building and construction industry. Rapid growth, however, has been registered in commercial and service occupations, as is the case in most countries with a high standard of living.

      Fewer than 5 percent of the industrial companies in Norway have more than 100 employees. Nonetheless, they account for half of the industrial labour force and for more than half of production. The smaller companies are usually family-owned, whereas most of the larger ones are joint-stock companies. Foreign interests control companies accounting for about 10 percent of total production. Only a few larger concerns are state-owned, and even these are usually run with almost complete independence. However, the government traditionally has had a significant ownership control over major economy sectors, such as oil, telecommunications, power, and transport, but from the end of the 1990s many such companies were partially or fully privatized.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      By the beginning of the 21st century, the number of farms of at least 1.25 acres (0.5 hectare) had decreased by more than half of its 1950 total of more than 200,000. Much of the abandoned acreage was absorbed into the remaining farms. Nevertheless, many farms remain small; about half have more than 25 acres (10 hectares) of farmland, while only about 1 percent have more than 125 acres (50 hectares). Labour for hire is scarce, and most of the work must be done by farmer-owners themselves. Extensive mechanization and fertilization, however, have kept total farm output on the increase. Livestock is the major agricultural product, and, although the country is more than self-sufficient in animal products, it remains dependent on imports for cereal crops.

      The agricultural core of the Østlandet region lies in the lowlands extending eastward and southward to the Swedish border. With suitable precipitation during the growing season, the highest July temperatures in Norway, a soil consisting of relatively rich marine deposits, and large nearby markets, the land is intensively cultivated. There are even a number of large, heavily mechanized farms producing cereal grains, which generally do not grow well in such latitudes. Most of the farms, however, are small. To supplement their income from domestic animals, vegetables, and fruits, a number of farmers pursue forestry as a secondary occupation; most of the forests are a part of farm acreages.

      In western Norway, Karm Island comprises a notably rich agricultural area. The inland fjord areas of Hardanger are more sheltered, with rich fruit districts specializing in apples and cherries. Trøndelag is Norway's most typical agricultural region, with flat, fertile land around the wide Trondheim Fjord (Trondheimsfjorden (Trondheims Fjord)) and the city of Trondheim.

      Although less than one-twentieth of Norway's total area is agricultural land, productive forests constitute more than one-third of the total area. Forestry forms the basis for the wood-processing industry, which accounts for a small but important part of Norway's total commodity exports, and it is of major importance for the half of all Norwegian farms that are so small that a second major source of income must be found.

 Along the coast fishing plays the same role that forestry does elsewhere. At the same time, it forms the basis of a large fish-processing industry and offers seasonal employment for many farmers. Of all fishermen only half fish as their sole occupation. Most vessels are owned by the fishermen themselves, the necessary crew members being paid by shares of gross income in a continuation of a centuries-old tradition of the sea. A critical problem is how to avoid depleting the fish resources while maintaining the volume. About half the catch goes into fish meal and oil, but some is processed for human consumption in freezing plants. Fish offal is used as feed at mink farms. In the northwest the city of Ålesund thrives on fishing.

      By the mid-1990s fish farming (aquaculture) had developed over a period of 25 years into the cornerstone of the coastal economy, having created some 15,000 jobs in Norway. The total number of fishermen decreased by about three-fourths from 1950 to the end of the 20th century, and the number of vessels decreased by more than three-fifths over the same period. Most of the remaining boats are small, but large vessels account for more than half the catch. Once a world leader in Antarctic whaling, Norway has since 1968 hunted only smaller species of toothed whales. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Norway complied with the International Whaling Commission's total ban on commercial whaling. By the mid 1990s, however, the Norwegian government gradually was allowing limited catches of some species, arguing that they were not endangered any longer and that they posed a serious threat to fish populations. The latter argument is also used in defense of sealing. However, both whaling and sealing have declined sharply as a result of low profitability and international criticism.

Resources and power
      With an area of more than 386,000 square miles (1,000,000 square km), Norway's continental shelf is about three times as large as the country's land area. The rich resources found there are largely responsible for an ongoing boundary dispute between Norway and Russia. Negotiations between the two countries began in the mid-1970s and involve competing approaches to the line separating their claims in the Barents Sea. The contested area is estimated to be about 60,000 square miles (155,000 square km). Norway insists on a midline partition, while Russia insists on a partition based on a sector principle that would make 32° E the dividing line.

Oil and gas
      By the mid-1990s Norway had become the world's second largest oil (petroleum) exporter (behind Saudi Arabia). The first commercially important discovery of petroleum on Norway's continental shelf was made at the Ekofisk field in the North Sea late in 1969, just as foreign oil companies were about to give up after four years of exploratory drilling. Intensified exploration increased reserves faster than production. Nevertheless, by the mid-1990s about half of export earnings and nearly one-tenth of government revenues came from offshore oil and gas, and these revenues continued to increase as the end of the century approached. It was estimated that the high rate of oil production could be sustained at least into the second decade of the 21st century, while that of natural gas was projected to increase dramatically and be sustained much longer.

      More than one-fourth of the huge investment made in Norwegian offshore operations by the mid-1990s went toward the development of the Troll field just west of Bergen, one of the largest offshore gas fields ever found. Its development ranked as one of the world's largest energy projects. With a water displacement of one million tons and a height of nearly 1,550 feet (475 metres), the Troll A production platform was the tallest concrete structure ever moved when it was towed into place in 1995. Gas deliveries from the Troll field made Norway a leading supplier of natural gas to continental Europe.

      About half of Norway's 65,000 largest lakes are situated at elevations of at least 1,650 feet (500 metres); about one-fifth of the country lies 2,950 feet (900 metres) or more above sea level; and predominantly westerly winds create abundant precipitation. As a result, Norway has tremendous hydroelectric potential. It is estimated that almost one-third of that potential is economically exploitable, of which more than three-fifths had been developed by the end of the 20th century. Hydropower stations meet virtually all Norway's electrical consumption needs. Norway's per capita production of electricity is the world's highest, twice that of the United States. Deep in the Vestlandet fjords lie many of Norway's largest smelting plants, constructed there to exploit the great hydroelectric resources of the region.

      About one-third of the country's production of electricity is utilized by the electrometallurgical industry, which is Europe's largest producer of aluminum and magnesium. In addition to being among the world's leading exporters of metals, Norway is a significant producer of iron-based alloys. Europe's largest deposit of ilmenite (titanium ore) is located in southwestern Norway. The country also is the world's principal producer of olivine and an important supplier of nepheline syenite and dimension stone (particularly larvikite). Pyrites and small amounts of copper and zinc also are mined, and coal is mined on Svalbard.

Manufacturing
      Mining and manufacturing (excluding petroleum activities) account for more than one-third of Norway's export earnings. Metals and engineering are the two main subgroups, each accounting for about one-fifth of nonpetroleum exports. Engineering industry exports doubled in the mid 1990s, the largest increase in 15 years. The level of petroleum-related investment is crucial for the engineering industry, which accounted for about one-third of the manufacturing workforce at the beginning of the 21st century. With the decline of traditional shipbuilding beginning in 1980, the importance of the production of equipment for the petroleum industry increased. Supply ships and semisubmersible drilling platforms are exported worldwide, and the Norwegian-designed Condeep production platforms (such as Troll A) are well suited to the rough seas off Norway's shores.

      In mining and manufacturing the Østlandet region has more than half of the country's production value and trade. Stavanger is a leading industrial area in western Norway. Ålesund contains many engineering firms, and the bulk of Norway's furniture industry is gathered on its rocky coast.

Finance
      The Bank of Norway has all the usual functions of a central bank, and it also advises the government on the practical implementation of credit policy. Publicly financed banks give favourable loans to housing, industry, agriculture, and other economic sectors but share the credit market with savings banks, commercial banks, and insurance companies. In 1984 foreign banks were allowed to establish branches in Norway. The country's financial system includes an active stock market. Norway's currency is the krone.

      As a result of the downturn in the Norwegian economy in the late 1980s, commercial banks experienced a crisis in 1991. Many of the largest became primarily government-owned as new capital was invested by the Government Bank Security Fund; the old shares were declared worthless. Critics argued that the crisis was worsened by new rules requiring that the depreciation of property be counted as a loss, even when the property was not sold. By the mid 1990s, however, the government-rescued banks had returned to profitability, and they were again privatized.

Trade
      Foreign trade, in the form of commodities exported chiefly to western Europe or shipping services throughout the world, accounts for nearly half of Norway's national income. Norway's booming petroleum industry has ensured a strong positive balance of payments for the national economy, despite some declines in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The great majority of Norway's petroleum exports go to the nations of the European Union. Other important exports are machinery and transport equipment, metals and metal products, and fish. Norway's principal trading partners are the United Kingdom (which receives the largest portion of Norwegian exports), Germany, and Sweden (which is the greatest contributor of imports to Norway). Principal imports include machinery, motor vehicles, ships, iron and steel, and food products, especially fruits and vegetables.

Services
      The service sector grew by more than 60 percent over the last two decades of the 20th century. Norway receives about three million visitors annually, and the tourism industry employs more than 5 percent of the workforce. In addition, public-sector employment is high in comparison with most industrialized countries, with about one-fourth of all workers employed in public-sector industries.

Labour and taxation
      At the beginning of the 21st century, about three-fourths of actively employed Norwegians worked in services, while about one-sixth worked in industry (including manufacturing, mining, and petroleum-related activities). Although the construction sector employed less than one-tenth of the active workforce, its total exceeded that of agriculture and fishing, which constituted a shrinking proportion.

      Agriculture and fishing are highly organized and are subsidized by the state. In remote districts private industry may receive special incentives in the form of loans and grants or tax relief. Direct taxes are high, with sharply progressive income taxes and wealth taxes on personal property. The country also levies a value-added (value-added tax) (or consumption) tax of some 20 percent—among the highest value-added taxes in the world—on all economic activity. Total tax revenues are equivalent to about half of the country's GNP, but much of this represents transfers of income (i.e., it is returned to the private sector in the form of price subsidies, social insurance benefits, and the like). All this has added to economic problems of inflation, but increases in productivity have made possible a high rate of growth in real income. Unemployment generally has been below that of much of western Europe.

      The strongly centralized trade unions and employer associations respect one another as well as government guidelines and thus help to control the rapidly expanding economy. The largest and most influential labour union is the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge; LO), which was established in 1899 and has more than 800,000 members. Other important labour unions are the Confederation of Vocational Unions and the Confederation of Academics and Professional Union of Norway.

      From 1945 to 1970 individual income per capita tripled in real terms. Tax rates that progressed upward with income and the greatly increased social security benefits, allocated mainly according to need, contributed to a leveling of incomes. The perennial shortage of labour, especially of skilled workers, had a parallel effect.

Transportation and telecommunications
      The elongated shape of Norway and its many mountains, large areas of sparse population, and severe climate make special demands on transportation services. Only the Oslo region has sufficient traffic density to make public surface transportation profitable. A large fleet of vessels links the many fine ports along the sheltered coast. Norway's largest and busiest ports include those in Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger, Kristiansund, and Trondheim. Norwegian shipowners run one of the world's largest merchant fleets, carrying about one-tenth of the world's total tonnage. Of the nearly 1,400 ships that make up the fleet, about two-thirds sail under the Norwegian flag. Shipping accounts for more than half of Norway's foreign-currency earnings.

      In most of Norway regular overland transportation services are so expensive that the government must provide or subsidize both establishment and operation. Bus transport plays a key role in public transportation, aided by some 215 scheduled ferry routes. The number of private automobiles in the country has increased rapidly, creating parking problems and traffic jams in the major cities. About two-thirds of the public roads are hard-surfaced. Demand is growing for additional roads and for the comprehensive reconstruction of the many narrow, winding roads. In 2000 the Lærdal-Aurland tunnel (15.2 miles [24.5 km]) was opened along the route linking Oslo and Bergen. The world's longest road tunnel, it provides a reliable connection between the two cities, replacing mountain highways that were impassable during the winter months.

      The extensive railway system, more than half of which has been electrified, is operated by the Norwegian State Railways (Norges Statsbaner), which sustains large annual operating deficits. Vestlandet has never had north-south railway connections, only routes running east from Stavanger and Bergen to Oslo and from Åndalsnes to Dombås on the line linking Oslo and Trondheim. The connection from Bodø to Trondheim was completed in 1962. Farther north the only railway is the extension of the Swedish railway system to Narvik, which is used mainly to carry iron ore for export. Of the three other links with Swedish railways, one runs from Trondheim and two from Oslo, the southernmost connecting Norway to the Continent via the Swedish and Danish railways.

      Norway is a partner in the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), which pioneered commercial flights across the Arctic. Several private airline companies add to the increasing domestic service between Norway's more than 50 airfields with scheduled civilian traffic. The major airports for international flights are located near Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen.

      The telecommunications sector in Norway has been dominated by Telenor, which was government-owned until its privatization in the late 1990s. Although fairly well developed, this sector lags behind that of other Scandinavian countries. Nonetheless, Norway's mobile-telephone market is among the most saturated in the world. During the 1990s Internet use grew rapidly, and by the beginning of the 21st century about half the population had Internet access.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      Norway is a constitutional hereditary monarchy. The government, comprising the prime minister and the Statsråd (State Council), is nominally chosen by the monarch with the approval of the Storting, the country's legislature. The Storting settles most matters in unicameral plenary sessions. Only when voting on laws is the Storting divided into two houses. One-fourth of the members are chosen to constitute the Lagting, or upper house, while the remaining members constitute the Odelsting, or lower house. Bills must be passed by both houses in succession.

      The constitution of Norway, drafted in 1814 when Norway left the 434-year union with Denmark, was influenced by British political traditions, the Constitution of the United States (Constitution of the United States of America), and French revolutionary ideas. Amendments can be made by a two-thirds majority in the Storting. Unlike many parliamentary forms of legislature, the Storting cannot be dissolved during its four-year term of office (amendments to overturn this restriction have been defeated frequently since 1990). If a majority of the Storting votes against an action advocated by the Statsråd, the minister responsible or the whole Statsråd resigns. In legislative matters the monarch has a suspending right of veto, but, since the 91-year union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, this veto has never been exercised.

      In 1989 the Sami voted to elect members of the Sami People's Congress. The body, which replaced the Norwegian Sami Council, is charged with protecting Sami traditions and has autonomy in limited areas (e.g., land use in Sami-populated areas).

Local government
      The city of Oslo constitutes one of the country's 19 fylker (counties). The other counties are divided into rural and urban municipalities, with councils elected every fourth year (two years after the Storting elections). For the country as a whole, the municipal elections tend to mirror the party division of the Storting. The municipal councils elect a board of aldermen and a mayor. Many municipalities also employ councillors for such governmental affairs as finance, schools, social affairs, and housing. Norwegians pay direct taxes to both federal and municipal governments.

      The counties can levy taxes on the municipalities for purposes such as roads, secondary schools, and other joint projects. The county councils comprise delegates from the municipalities, while the county governors are appointed by the Statsråd.

Political process
 Elections to the 165-member Storting are held every four years. All citizens at least 18 years of age are eligible to participate, and seats are filled by proportional representation. Norway's political life functions through a multiparty system. Before national elections political parties nominate their candidates at membership meetings in each of Norway's fylker. Each fylke elects a number (determined by the size of its population) of representatives to the Storting, with party representation allotted on the basis of the percentage of the vote received.

      The Norwegian Labour Party (Det Norske Arbeiderparti; DNA), the ruling party from before World War II until the mid-1960s, advocates a moderate form of socialism. In its many years of governing Norway, however, it nationalized only a few large industrial companies. The Conservative Party (Høyre), which traditionally has been the major alternative to the DNA, accepts the welfare state and approves of the extensive transfers of income and of government control of the economy. Between 1945 and 1965 the government was formed by the DNA, which won clear majorities in the Storting. After 1965, however, no single party was able to obtain a majority in the legislature, and Norway was governed by a succession of coalitions and minority governments. Other political parties that played important roles during this period include the Christian People's (Democratic) Party, the Centre Party (called the Agrarian Party until 1958), the Socialist Left Party, the Progress Party, and the Liberal (Venstre) Party.

      In the 1990s more than one-third of the representatives to the Storting were women, the highest proportion of women in a national legislature in the world. Gro Harlem Brundtland (Brundtland, Gro Harlem) became Norway's first woman prime minister in 1981 and was in and out of office for the next 15 years.

Justice
      Before civil cases ordinarily can be taken to court, they first must be submitted to conciliation councils, which settle many issues without recourse to more formal legal action. Decisions of the conciliation councils can be appealed to the courts, and Norway also has a formal system of courts of appeal. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of legal decisions. The rights of the citizens also are guarded by an ombudsman, who acts on their behalf as an intermediary in matters with public administrators.

Security
      Military service of 6 to 12 months, plus refresher training, is compulsory for all fit Norwegian men between 19 and 44 years of age. Nonetheless, Norway's defense force is far too small to protect all of its territory against a major aggressor. Its strategy was designed to defend key areas, especially in the north, until forces from other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could arrive. The Norwegian units have great mobility, and, because of its important strategic location as NATO's northern flank and its myriad of fjords to serve as naval bases for fleets in the North Atlantic, Norway has sophisticated early-warning systems.

      The NATO headquarters for northern Europe was located at Kolsås, near Oslo, until the alliance command structure was reorganized in 1994. A subcommand was then established in Stavanger as a partial replacement. The stationing of foreign troops and the deployment of nuclear weapons are prohibited by Norwegian law except in cases of war or the immediate threat of war. In 1995 Norway lifted restrictions that had prevented NATO forces from participating in training exercises in and off Finnmark.

      The Norwegian air force includes fighter planes and antiaircraft rocket systems; the Norwegian navy comprises heavy coastal artillery and light vessels such as gunboats, torpedo boats, submarines, and corvettes. In peacetime the total active military personnel number about 35,000, of which about two-thirds are conscripts. Some 200,000 additional first-line reserves can be quickly mobilized in emergencies. After the Soviet threat faded away in the 1990s, Norway's military and defense spending was reduced substantially. Now the Norwegian military stresses specialized units suited for UN and NATO assignments.

Health and welfare
      Compulsory membership in a national health-insurance system guarantees all Norwegians free medical care in hospitals, compensation for doctors' fees, and free medicine, as well as an allowance to compensate for lost wages. Membership fees securing cash benefits during illness or pregnancy, covered by another insurance fund, are compulsory for salaried employees and optional for the self-employed. Most Norwegian doctors work in hospitals, the majority of which are owned by the state, counties, and municipalities. Extensive programs of preventive medicine have conquered Norway's ancient nemesis, tuberculosis. There is also a well-developed system of maternal and child health care, as well as compulsory school health services and free family counseling by professionals. A public dental service provides care for about nine-tenths of children between 7 and 15 years of age. In some municipalities dental care has been extended downward to 3 years of age and upward to 20 years.

      A “people's pension” was established in Norway in 1967 to ensure all citizens a standard of living reasonably close to the level that an individual had achieved during his or her working life. The pension covers old age and cases of disability or loss of support. The premiums are paid by the individual members, employers, municipalities, and the state. The basic pension is adjusted every year, regardless of the plan's income. Supplementary pensions vary according to income and pension-earning time. The state pays a family allowance for all children up to 16 years of age.

      Norway ranks among the top 10 countries of the world in GNP per capita and has one of the world's highest standards of living. Since the 1950s Norwegians have spent a smaller share of their income than formerly on food, beverages, and tobacco. Travel and leisure activities have increased their share rapidly, however, as have such household goods as electrical appliances. During the 1960s the number of automobiles per inhabitant increased dramatically, from 1 in 21 to 1 in 3; it now is about 1 in 2. A four-week vacation every year with somewhat more than full wages was established by law in 1964. Working hours may not exceed 9 hours a day or 40 hours per week. A five-day workweek had become the rule by the late 1960s.

      Norway has pursued progressive social policies. In 1993 it became only the second country to legally recognize unions between homosexual partners. Indeed, in 2002 the conservative finance minister officially registered his partnership and met little public opposition.

Housing
      Until the 1970s Norway felt the housing shortage created by World War II. The shortage was aggravated further by high costs in the densely populated urban areas. But housing standards have improved tremendously, and most families live in houses built since the war—a majority of them financed by state loans on favourable terms. In densely populated areas, particularly in and around Oslo, housing prices soared beginning in the early 1990s.

Education
      School attendance is mandatory for 10 years, from age 6 to 16, with an optional 11th year. Mandatory subjects include Norwegian, religion, mathematics, music, physical education, science, and English. Optional courses in the arts and in other foreign languages, as well as vocational training in such areas as office skills, agriculture, and seamanship, are available in the upper grades. With three years of additional high school, students may take the examinations leading to university study. A small percentage of college and university students study abroad. Institutions of higher education in Norway have been expanded to accommodate the doubling of the student population that occurred between the early 1980s and the mid 1990s. The country's four universities are located in Oslo (established 1811), Bergen (1946), Trondheim (1968), and Tromsø (1968).

      As many students attend vocational schools as attend colleges and universities, and a few thousand students attend folk high schools—boarding schools offering a one-year course designed for 17-year-old students from rural areas. Only a few of Norway's schools charge tuition, and all students are eligible for government loans.

      Science and research have limited means in a small country. Nevertheless, the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (SINTEF) was created in 1950 as an independent organization at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to stimulate research and develop cooperation with other public and private research institutions and with private industry. SINTEF is financed by the state and by payments for its services. In the natural sciences, reflecting the country's intimacy with an overpowering physical environment, individual efforts of Norwegians have won particular acclaim.

Cultural life
      Located on the outskirts of Europe and with much of its inland population almost completely isolated until the 20th century, Norway has been able to preserve much of its old folk culture, including a large body of legends concerning haugfolket (pixies), underjordiske (subterraneans), and vetter (supernatural beings). On the other hand, as seafarers and traders, the Norwegians have always received fresh cultural stimuli from abroad. A number of Norwegians have made important contributions in return, notably the playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) and the composer Edvard Grieg (Grieg, Edvard) (1843–1907). The Norwegian recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature are Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne Martinius) (1903), Knut Hamsun (Hamsun, Knut) (1920), and Sigrid Undset (Undset, Sigrid) (1928).

Daily life and social customs
      Although Norway is in most ways very modern, it has maintained many of its traditions. Storytelling and folklore, in which trolls play a prominent role, are still common. On festive occasions folk costumes are worn and folk singing is performed—especially on Grunnlovsdagen (Constitution Day), commonly called Syttende Mai (May 17), the date of its celebration. Other popular festivals include Sankhansaften (Midsummer's Eve), Olsok (St. Olaf's Day), and Jul (Christmas), the last of which is marked by family feasts whose fare varies from region to region but that are traditionally marked by the presence of seven kinds of cake.

      The national costume, the bunad, is characterized by double-shuttle woven wool skirts or dresses for women, accompanied by jackets with scarves. Colourful accessories (e.g., purses and shoes) complete the outfit. The bunad for men generally consists of a three-piece suit that also is very colourful and heavily embroidered. Traditionally Norwegians had two bunader, one for special occasions and one for everyday wear.

      The country's natural landscape—its Arctic environment and vast coasts—has shaped Norway's customs and history, as outdoor activities are central to the life of most Norwegians. In particular, the country's cuisine reflects its environment. Fish dishes such as laks (salmon) and torsk (cod) are popular. Lutefisk, cod soaked in lye, is common during the Christmas holidays. Sour-cream porridge, pinnekjøtt (dried mutton ribs), reker (boiled shrimp), meatcakes, lefse (griddlecakes), geitost (a sweet semihard cheese made from cow's or goat's milk), and reindeer, moose, elk, and other wildlife also are popular traditional delicacies. The strong liquor called aquavit (also spelled akevitt), made of fermented grain or potatoes, is also widely used.

      In northern Norway the Sami maintain a distinct culture. Long known as reindeer herders, they maintain their own national dress. While many Sami have modernized and few continue to practice traditional nomadic life, a variation of that lifestyle continues. Where once the whole family followed the herd, now only the men do, with women and children remaining behind in towns and villages. Sami Easter festivals include reindeer races and chanting (joik).

The arts
 In Viking days storytellers (skalds) of skaldic poetry wove tales of giants, trolls, and warlike gods. Drawing on this tradition, centuries of Norwegian authors have created a rich literary history, in both spoken and written form. Yet it was not until the 19th century, following Norway's separation from Denmark, that Norwegian literature firmly established its identity. Especially important were the poetry of Henrik Wergeland (Wergeland, Henrik Arnold) and the plays of Ibsen, whose realistic dramas introduced a new, politically charged moral analysis to European theatre. The works of novelists Hamsun and Undset remain influential, though modern Norwegians are more likely to read contemporaries such as Bjørg Vik, Kim Småge, and Tor Åge Bringsværd, who write fantasy, existential detective novels, and philosophical treatises, respectively.

      Although Norway comprises one of the world's smaller language communities, the country is among the leaders in books published per capita. Several thousand new titles appear annually, of which some three-fifths are of Norwegian origin. Literature is subsidized through a variety of means, including tax exemption, grants to writers, and government purchasing for libraries. In all, there are about 5,000 public or school libraries.

 Norwegian painters of the 20th century have excelled in murals to such an extent that they are rivaled only by the Mexican tradition in this sense. Other artists are world-renowned for their multimedia assemblages, pictorial weaving, and nonfigurative art in sculpture as well as painting. The works of Gustav Vigeland (Vigeland, Gustav) have been assembled in Oslo's Vigeland sculpture park (Frogner Park) in a spectacular display centred around a granite monolith nearly 60 feet (18 metres) high containing 121 struggling figures.

      Medieval stave churches of upright logs and houses of horizontal logs notched at the corners have inspired much Norwegian architecture. Private houses, almost all of wood, are made to fit snugly into the terrain. For larger buildings steel and glass are supplemented by concrete that often is shaped and textured with considerable imagination.

      Arts and crafts and industrial design flourish side by side, often inspired by archaeological finds from the Viking Age, the culture of the northern Sami, and advanced schools of design. Norway has markedly increased its exports of furniture, enamelware, textiles, tableware, and jewelry, much of which incorporates design motifs reflecting these cultural heritages as well as avant-garde styles. A distinctive Scandinavian decorative art form called rosemaling, widely practiced in Norway, involves painting objects such as furniture with floral designs; special schools called folkehøgskoler offer classes in this and other crafts.

      Norwegian composers Grieg and, to a lesser extent, Johan Svendsen and Geirr Tveitt have earned acclaim. Contemporary composers such as Åse Hedstrøm, Nils Henrik Asheim, and Cecilie Ore frequently employ themes drawn from ancient folklore, developing work performed by such ensembles as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Musical festivals in Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, and other cities honour genres ranging from jazz to heavy metal, hip-hop, and even Norway's version of country music.

      Whereas its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden have long-established filmmaking traditions, the film industry in Norway did not achieve international success until the 1970s. The production of Norwegian-made feature films is subsidized, but they usually number about 10 each year. Many of those films are derived from Norwegian literature, including an adaptation of Undset's novel Kristin Lavransdatter (1995), directed by internationally renowned Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann (Ullmann, Liv), and a film version of Jostein Gaarder's best-selling novel Sofies Verden (1991; Sofie's World), directed by Egil Gustavsen. Based on an ancient legend, Nils Gaup's Ofelas (1987; Pathfinder)—most of the dialogue of which is in the Sami language—was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1988. Films in Norway are subject to censorship, primarily on grounds of violence and, to a lesser extent, erotic content.

Cultural institutions
      Permanent theatres have been established in several cities, and the state traveling theatre, the Riksteatret, organizes tours throughout the country, giving as many as 1,200 performances annually. The Norwegian Opera, opened in 1959, receives state subsidies (as do most other theatres).

      In addition to its National Art Gallery, Oslo opened a special museum in 1963 to honour Edvard Munch (Munch, Edvard), credited as one of the founders of Expressionism and as Norway's most famous painter. The Sonja Henie–Niels Onstad Art Centre, opened in 1968 near Oslo, contains modern art from throughout the world. Oslo is host to many other museums, including the Ibsen Centre, which honours the famed playwright, and the Resistance Museum, which documents Norway's struggle against Nazi occupation during World War II. Outside Oslo, the Tromsø Museum's collection records Sami heritage.

Sports and recreation
 Norwegians have the special advantages of abundant space and traditionally close contact with nature. Cross-country skiing and all forms of skating are national pastimes in the long winter season. Figure skater Sonja Henie (Henie, Sonja) is one of Norway's most famous athletes, having captured gold medals in the 1928, 1932, and 1936 Winter Games and subsequently becoming a major international film star. Norway has hosted the Winter Games (Olympic Games) twice: at Oslo in 1952 and at Lillehammer in 1994. Norwegians have won more medals at the Winter Games than athletes from any other country. Norwegian sporting prowess is not, however, limited to winter competition. Norway also has an excellent record in track and field, notably in long-distance running events.

      But above all, skiing is central to the country's identity. Norway introduced ski competitions in the 18th century for its soldiers, and the first nonmilitary ski event occurred in 1843 at Tromsø. The annual Holmenkollen Ski Festival is the world's oldest (1892), attracting tens of thousands of people.

      Second homes, mainly located along the sheltered coastline and in the mountains, are highly popular with Norwegians; there is roughly 1 vacation home for every 10 inhabitants. Even from downtown Oslo it is only a 20-minute drive to reach the deep forest, and on a pleasant Sunday in the winter the hills surrounding the city abound with skiers.

Media and publishing
      Norway's constitution protects the freedom of the press. Press ethics are on a high level, and editorial independence is universally recognized. Previously, most newspapers had affiliations with political parties, but in the 1980s this relationship faded away.

      Some 150 newspapers are published in Norway, about half of them daily—except for Sundays and holidays, when only a limited number are issued. Although most newspapers are small, average circulations generally have increased, and there are some mass-circulation newspapers (e.g., Verdens Gang and Aftenposten) published in Oslo. Many Norwegian newspapers are available on the Internet, which is used extensively throughout the country. A few weekly family magazines and Motor, a monthly magazine focusing on cars and travel, also enjoy wide circulation.

      From 1933 the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (Norsk Rikskringkasting; NRK) had an official broadcasting monopoly similar to that of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was noncommercial and funded by an annual fee paid by every household with radio and television receivers. But from the early 1980s private local radio stations were allowed, followed by cable television channels and later satellite television. In 1992 a new nationwide television station went on the air, financed by advertisements. TV2 soon became a commercial success, acquiring the bulk of television advertising. In 1993 the first national private radio station commenced broadcasts as the avenues for Norwegian cultural expression continued to multiply at the end of the 20th century.

Jan Christensen

History
      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 8000 BC. The oldest finds are stone tools dating from 9500 to 6000 BC, discovered in Finnmark in the north and Rogaland in the southwest. Theories of a “Komsa” type of stone-tool culture north of the Arctic Circle and a “Fosna” type from Trøndelag to Oslo Fjord were rendered obsolete in the 1970s. More recent finds along the entire coast revealed to archaeologists that the difference between the two can simply be ascribed to different types of tools and not to different cultures. Coastal fauna provided a means of livelihood for fishermen and hunters, who may have made their way along the southern coast about 10,000 BC when the interior was still covered with ice. It is now thought that these so-called “Arctic” peoples came from the south and followed the coast northward considerably later. 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 5000 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 skillfully made. Rock carvings 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 6200 to 2500 BC and mark the progression of the land as it rose from the sea after the last ice age.

Earliest peoples
      Between 3000 and 2500 BC new immigrants settled in eastern Norway. They were 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 stylized, probably as fertility symbols connected with the religious ideas of the period.

      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 civilized 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 (“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 first centuries AD.

      The period of the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west (5th century AD) is characterized by rich finds, including chieftains' graves containing magnificent weapons and gold objects. Hill forts were built on precipitous rocks for defense. Excavation has revealed stone foundations of farmhouses 60 to 90 feet (18 to 27 metres) long—one even 150 feet (46 metres) 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 cooperation and leadership, so petty states of some kind with a defense and administrative organization 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 Sogne Fjord 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 Trondheim Fjord (Trondheims Fjord) area; the earls (jarls) of Lade, near Trondheim, seem to have enlarged the Frostatingslag by adding the coastland from Romsdals Fjord to the Lofoten Islands (Lofoten). A lagting developed in the area of Lake Mjøsa (Mjøsa, Lake) in the east and eventually established its meeting place at Eidsvoll, becoming known as the Eidsivating. The area around Oslo Fjord, although at times closely tied to Denmark, developed a lagting—with its meeting place at Sarpsborg—called the Borgarting.

The Vikings (Viking)
 The name Viking at first (c. 800) meant a man from the Vik, the huge bay that lies between Cape Lindesnes in Norway and the mouth of the Göta River in Sweden and that has been called Skagerrak since 1500. The term Viking Age has come to denote those years from about 800 to 1050 when Scandinavians set out on innumerable plundering expeditions abroad. Surplus population, superior ships and weapons, well-developed military organization, and a spirit of adventure seem to have combined to cause this great movement. The Norwegians mostly sailed westward, raiding and settling in Ireland, Scotland, England, France, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, the unpopulated Faroe (Faeroe) Islands, and Iceland. People of Norwegian descent settled in Greenland and undertook expeditions to Vinland (somewhere on the northeast coast of North America). Many Vikings returned home, and this meeting with western Europe was decisive for the unification and Christianization of Norway.

Charles Joys Gudmund Sandvik
      In the second half of the 9th century the Viking chief Harald I Fairhair, of the Oslo Fjord area, managed—in alliance with chiefs of the Frostatingslag and parts of the Gulatingslag—to pacify the western coast. The final battle took place in Hafrsfjord, near Stavanger, sometime between 872 and 900, whereafter Harald proclaimed himself king of the Norwegians. His son and successor, Erik I Bloodax (so called because he murdered seven of his eight brothers), ruled about 930–935. He was replaced by his only surviving brother, Haakon I (Haakon I Adalsteinsfostre), who had been reared in England. Haakon was Norway's first missionary king, but his efforts failed; he died in battle in 960.

      The Viking chiefs established relations with Christian monarchies and the church, especially in Normandy and England. Thus Olaf I Tryggvason, a descendant of Harald Fairhair, led a Viking expedition to England in 991. He was baptized and returned to Norway in 995, claiming to be king and recognized as such along the coast, where Christianity was already known. These areas were Christianized by Olaf, by peaceful means if possible and by force if necessary; he also sent missionaries to Iceland, where the new religion was adopted by the parliament (Althing) in 999–1000. In the same year, Olaf was killed in the Battle of Svolder. Fifteen years later another descendant of Harald Fairhair, Olaf II Haraldsson—who had returned from England—was acknowledged as king throughout Norway, including the inland areas. Olaf worked to increase royal power and to complete the Christianization of the country. In so doing, he alienated the former chieftains, who called on Canute (Canute (I)) of Denmark (now ruler of England) for help. Olaf was killed in battle with the Danes and peasant leaders at Stiklestad in 1030.

      Canute's rule in Norway soon proved unpopular with the chieftains, and, with support from the bishops, the deceased king Olaf became St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. With the death of Canute in 1035, Olaf's young son, Magnus (Magnus I Olafsson), was elected king. He was succeeded in 1047 by his uncle Harald III Sigurdsson (Harald Hardraade), a former commander of the Vikings in the imperial guard in Constantinople. Harald was killed during a vain attempt to conquer England in 1066.

      The Olaf (Fairhair) kings firmly established the Norwegian monarchy with the help of English bishops. In return, sees and abbeys received the larger part of the estates that the Fairhair dynasty had confiscated from the Viking chieftains during the unification of Norway.

The 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries
      At the end of the Viking Age all royal sons, legitimate or illegitimate, were considered to have equal claims to the crown if they were accepted by a lagting. During the 11th and early 12th centuries it was not unusual for Norway to have two or more joint kings ruling without conflict. Thus, Harald III's son Olaf III (Olaf III Haraldsson) reigned together with his brother Magnus II (Magnus II Haraldsson) until the latter died in 1069. Olaf ruled from 1066 to 1093 without being involved in a war; by giving the dioceses (Nidaros [Trondheim], Bergen, and Oslo) permanent areas, he inspired the first Norwegian towns. Olaf's son, Magnus III, ruled for 10 years, during which he undertook three expeditions to Scotland to establish Norwegian sovereignty over the Orkneys and the Hebrides. He was succeeded by his three sons, Olaf IV (Olaf (IV)) (1103–15), Eystein I (Eystein I Magnusson) (1103–22), and Sigurd I Magnusson (1103–30), who ruled jointly and imposed tithes, founded the first Norwegian monasteries, built cathedrals, established the bishopric at Stavanger, and incorporated the clergy of the Scottish isles into the church of Norway.

Conflict of church and state
      Following the rule of Magnus III's sons, the increasing power of the church and the monarch contributed to a century of civil war. During the early 12th century the kings expanded their direct rule over the various provinces, and the family aristocracy in Norway grew discontented. With the accession of Harald IV (ruled 1130–36), interest groups within Norwegian society began supporting pretenders to the throne, and the church was successful in exploiting civil unrest to win independence.

      Even though Norway first was Christianized from England, the Norwegian bishops—together with the other Nordic bishops—fell under the archbishop of Bremen (Germany) in the 11th century. A Nordic archbishopric was established in 1104 in Lund (now in Sweden), probably to remove any influence from the Holy Roman emperor on the Nordic churches. In 1152–53 the English cardinal Nicholas Breakspear (later Pope Adrian IV) visited Norway, resulting in the establishment of an archbishopric in Nidaros. The Holy See decided that the new archbishopric should comprise the five bishoprics in Norway (Nidaros, Bergen, Stavanger, Oslo, and Hamar) and the six bishoprics on the western islands (Skálholt and Hólar in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroes, the Orkneys, and the Hebrides with the Isle of Man). In 1163 the church of Norway supported the claims of a pretender, Magnus V Erlingsson, in return for his obedience to the pope, guarantees for the reforms of 1152, and the issuance of a letter of privileges for the church. Magnus's coronation was the first at which the archbishop presided. The first written law of succession, dating from this coronation, established primogeniture (primogeniture and ultimogeniture) in principle and the prior right of legitimate royal sons to the crown. Instead of kings being elected by the things, a representation dominated by the church was to serve as the electoral body. The law was never applied, and Magnus was succeeded by Sverrir Sigurdsson, a priest from the Faroe Islands who represented himself as a grandson of Harald IV, the first pretender king. After seven years of fighting, Sverrir was acknowledged in 1184 as king of all Norway and set out to bring the church under royal control. He refused to recognize the reforms and privileges made since 1152, and the archbishop and most of the bishops went into exile; Sverrir was excommunicated. The exiles in Denmark established a rebellious party and allied themselves with the secular enemies of the king, who were opposed to the king's administrative reforms—including the establishment of the hird as a new aristocracy composed of court officials and the heads of estates. This opposition party won control of the Oslo and inland areas and threatened Sverrir's rule until his death in 1202.

      Civil war continued until 1217, when Sverrir's grandson Haakon IV (Haakon IV Haakonsson) became king, beginning the “Golden Age” of Norway. Haakon modernized the administration by creating the chancellor's office and the royal council. He prohibited blood feuds, and a new law of succession was passed (1260) by a national assembly that established the indivisibility of the kingdom, primogeniture, the prior claim of the legitimate royal sons, and, most importantly, the hereditary right of the king's eldest legitimate son to the crown. During Haakon's reign relations in the northern area were first regulated by a treaty with Russia (signed at Novgorod; a similar treaty signed there went into effect in 1326). Greenland and Iceland agreed voluntarily to personal unions with the Norwegian king in 1261 and 1262, marking the greatest extent of Norwegian expansion, which included the Faroes and the Scottish isles. Haakon died during an unsuccessful expedition to the Hebrides in 1263, and in 1266 his son and successor, Magnus VI, ceded the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland in return for recognition of the Norwegian claim to the Orkney and Shetland islands.

       Magnus VI earned the epithet Lawmender for his work on Norway's legislation. During his reign (1263–80) a common national law code, with special chapters for the towns, replaced the earlier provincial laws in 1274–76. Haakon's law of succession was confirmed, and a hereditary nobility was established. The king thus took over the legislative functions, and the thing became courts presided over by royal judges (lagmenn). Such a systematic national code, prepared in the king's chancery, was unique in 13th-century Europe. It remained in force from the 1270s until the Norske Lov of 1687; the version of the code for Iceland (the Jónsbók, 1281) is still partly in force. In a concordat of 1277 the church of Norway had to accept the new lawbooks. Some of the privileges of the church were curtailed, but those that were confirmed left the church essentially independent within its own sphere.

      Magnus was succeeded by his young son Erik II (1280–99). Erik's regency was led by secular magnates who controlled central power throughout his reign. The church tried to win privileges that had been denied by Magnus, but the regency proved stronger. The magnates also tried to limit the rights of the German merchants in Norway but were answered by a blockade from the Hanse cities and forced to agree to the German demands. Erik was succeeded by his brother, Haakon V (Haakon V Magnusson) (1299–1319), who was determined to renew the royal power. He built a series of fortresses, including Akershus in Oslo, marking the shift of political power from the west coast to the Oslo area. Haakon was unable to restore royal power to the extent he wished, however.

Union with Sweden
      Haakon's successor was Magnus VII (Magnus II Eriksson) Eriksson, the young son of his daughter, Ingebjørg, and Duke Erik, son of Magnus I of Sweden. The child was also elected to the Swedish crown in 1319, creating a personal union between the two countries that lasted until 1355. The countries were to be governed during the king's minority by the two national councils, with the king's mother as a member of both regencies. The regency in Norway failed to prevent the increasing power of the magnates: the king came of age in 1332 but later was forced to recognize his younger son, Haakon, as king of Norway (1343) and to abdicate in his favour when he reached his majority (1355). Magnus's elder son, Erik, was designated king of Sweden.

      The Black Death struck Norway in 1349–50. It killed as much as two-thirds of a population of about 400,000, and the country did not regain that level again until the mid-17th century. The upper classes were particularly hard hit; only one of the bishops survived, and many noble families were reduced to the peasantry by the death of their workers and the decrease of their incomes. The circumstances of the remaining farmers and fishermen, however, improved correspondingly.

      The power of Haakon VI (Haakon VI Magnusson) (1355–80) was also limited. The high civil servants and clergy who had fallen victim to the Black Death were replaced by Danes and Swedes. The central government as a whole lost control over the kingdom, and the local areas began to conduct their own affairs. Haakon VI married Margaret, the daughter of Valdemar IV Atterdag of Denmark, and their son, Olaf (Olaf IV Haakonsson), was elected king of Denmark in 1375. Olaf also became king of Norway at his father's death (1380), but he died in 1387 at the age of 17, and his mother, who had served as regent in both kingdoms for him, then became the ruler.

      The first Nordic settlers in Greenland reached the island in 985 under the leadership of Erik the Red. Two colonies were established on the western coast, one near Godthåb (modern Nuuk) and one near Julianehåb (Qaqortoq) (almost at the southern tip of the island), where a few thousand Norsemen engaged in cattle breeding, fishing, and sealing. The most important export was walrus tusks. A bishopric and two cloisters were organized in Greenland. The Greenlanders lacked wood and iron for shipbuilding and could not support communications with Europe; in 1261 they submitted to the Norwegian king, to whom they agreed to pay taxes in return for his acceptance of responsibility for the island's provision through a yearly voyage. A worsening of the climate may have occurred early in the 14th century, resulting in a decline in agriculture and livestock breeding. Plagues ravaged the populace; the Black Death alone is estimated to have halved the population. When Norway, with Greenland and Iceland, became subject to the Danish king, conditions worsened; the only ships that then sailed to Greenland belonged to pirates. About 1350 the Godthåb settlement apparently was deserted and then occupied by Eskimo (Inuit), and in 1379 the Julianehåb area was attacked. The last certain notice of Norsemen in Greenland was about 1410; sometime during the following 150 years they disappeared from the island. It was not until the beginning of the 18th century that Greenland again came into the Danish sphere.

The Kalmar Union (Kalmar Union)
      With the accession of Margaret I of Denmark to power in 1387, the foundation was laid for political union with Denmark. She adopted her grandnephew Erik of Pomerania (Erik VII) (later Erik VII), then six years old, as her heir, and in 1388 she was acclaimed queen of Sweden as well. The next year Erik was proclaimed heir apparent in Norway, and in June 1397 he was crowned king of all three Scandinavian nations in a ceremony at Kalmar, Sweden.

      Under the Kalmar Union, Norway became an increasingly unimportant part of Scandinavia politically, and it remained in a union with Denmark until 1814. Margaret and Erik left vacant the highest Norwegian administrative position and governed Norway from Copenhagen. Most appointments made in Norway were given to Danes and Germans. Whereas in Denmark and Sweden national councils took over the government, in Norway the council was unable to assert itself. After the accession of Christian I of Oldenburg in 1450, Norwegian government was again centred in Copenhagen. The lower estates were also essentially powerless against the Danes, and isolated peasant uprisings had neither good leadership nor clear political goals. In 1448 Norway had accepted the Swedish candidate for king, Karl Knutsson, but was forced to acknowledge Christian I and to remain in the union with Denmark. In 1469 Christian pawned the Orkney and Shetland islands to the Scottish king to provide a dowry for his daughter, and the islands were never reclaimed.

      The cause of this political impotence in Norway has been a subject of considerable debate. According to one theory, the conscious policy of the kings since the 12th century of crushing the local family aristocracy to strengthen royal power deprived the country of a counterpart to the strong and often rebellious Danish and Swedish aristocracies. A second theory holds that geography was responsible for the absence of a strong aristocracy—that is, that the poorness of the soil prevented economic expansion through the creation of large estates. This geographic factor, together with the loss of population during the Black Death and subsequent epidemics, may explain why Norway's aristocracy was more affected by the plague than were the nobles in the rest of Scandinavia. The huge loss in population deprived the aristocracy of much of its labour force, which led to the abandonment of farms and the decline of many nobles into the peasant class.

Henrik Enander Gudmund Sandvik

The 16th and 17th centuries
      After 1523 the Norwegian council tried to obtain some independence for Norway within the union. But, because the bishops dominated the council, they became the losers in the Norwegian parallel to the 1534–36 civil war in Denmark. As a result, the council was abolished, and the bishops lost all hope for help from Sweden, which did not want to provoke Denmark and whose king was himself leaning toward Lutheranism. Olaf Engelbrektsson, the last Norwegian archbishop and head of the council, left Norway in early 1537 for the Netherlands, taking with him the shrine of St. Olaf.

      In Norwegian political history, the year 1536 is a nadir—in Copenhagen, Norway was proclaimed a Danish province forever. Norwegian topography and society, however, were very different from those of Denmark, and the hereditary Norwegian crown was viewed as a distinct monarchy. Thus, Norway was allowed to keep most of its ancient institutions and laws, and new ones had to be given in a special Norwegian version (for example, the Norske Lov of 1687). From 1550 Norway's natural resources, including fish, timber, iron ore, and copper—commodities from outside the Baltic area and most useful to western Europe—were increasingly exploited. Consequently, a Norwegian bourgeoisie became a political factor. After 1560 Denmark had a constant fear of Swedish plans to occupy Norway. Therefore it was important that the Norwegians not feel oppressed by rule from the political centre in Copenhagen. All this may explain the special attention the Danish government gave to Norway.

      Most representative of this attitude was Christian IV, who visited Norway often and founded several towns (e.g., Kristiansand, with a plan to control the Skagerrak; Kongsberg, with its silver mines; and Christiania, after a destructive fire in Oslo in 1624). He even went on an Arctic tour to Vardø in 1599, proclaiming the Arctic waters to be the “king's streams.” This was part of his reaction to Swedish pretensions toward the Arctic Ocean.

      A certain separatist policy has been attributed to Hannibal Sehested (Sehested, Hannibal), the king's son-in-law and, in the 1640s, governor of Norway. He created an army (by conscription of peasants) and a separate financial administration, but he may have wanted a platform against the Danish nobility to work for absolutism. There were no signs of secession in the Norwegian population. When Sehested was deposed in 1651, the financial administration reverted to Copenhagen.

      For almost a generation after 1664, Ulrik Frederick Gyldenløve, the illegitimate son of Frederick III, was governor of Norway. He courted the Norwegian peasants and at the same time gave monopolies on trade and timber exports to restricted numbers of merchants. By applying such principles the government in Copenhagen and the Danish public servants managed to rule the now far-off Norway after the Swedish annexations of Skåne, Halland, and Bohuslän.

The 18th century
Economic and social conditions
      The modern frontier of southern Norway, which had been established in 1660, was confirmed by a treaty with Sweden in 1751. This treaty also established the frontier farther north (to Varanger) and assigned the interior of Finnmark (Finnmarksvidda) to Norway. The frontier treaty of 1751 is remarkable in two ways. Among existing frontiers in Europe, it was the second oldest (the oldest being the Pyrénées frontier, established in 1659). And a special supplement to the treaty, called the Lapp codicil, guaranteed free crossing of the new frontier to the nomadic, reindeer-keeping Sami (Lapps), based on the seasonal grazing needs of their herds. The modern frontier in Varanger was established by a convention in 1826 between the king of Norway and Sweden and the tsar of Russia.

      Romanticists of the later 18th century idealized Norwegian rural society, with its free peasants in a wild landscape. Certainly, their situation contrasted favourably with that of the Danish tenants; the landowning farmers in eastern Norway, especially, earned sizable incomes from their timber forests. In the east and in the region of Trøndelag, therefore, the countryside was characterized by a class of wealthy timber merchants and farmers and a large rural proletariat. Elsewhere in the countryside social conditions were more nearly equal. The Norwegian population consisted almost exclusively of peasants and fishermen; no city or urban agglomeration exceeded 15,000 inhabitants. The census of 1801 counted 883,000 inhabitants in Norway and 925,000 in Denmark. The numbers reveal a remarkable population growth since the 17th century and indicate an economic stability that in the 19th century provided the basis of Norway's quest for independence.

      Thomas Malthus (Malthus, Thomas Robert) was the first demographer to see the exceptional possibilities for population studies in the Scandinavian countries, where civic registers were kept by parsons. In 1799, the year following his publication of An Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus went to Norway to confirm his theories about checks on population growth. He found a late marital age, which he ascribed incorrectly to military service and a large servant class. In fact, early marriages were hindered by poverty and lack of land. Moreover, Norwegian population statistics of the 18th century indicate years of famine and epidemics, as do Swedish and Danish statistics. Malthus was correct, however, in discerning that demographic evolution in nonindustrialized countries could be studied better in Scandinavia than anywhere else in the world.

Return to Greenland (Greenland)
      How and why the Norse community in Greenland perished at the end of the Middle Ages is an unsolved and fascinating problem. In the beginning of the 18th century there still was hope of finding Norse descendants among the Eskimo in Greenland. A Norwegian clergyman, Hans Egede, having managed to persuade the authorities that such people should be converted to the Lutheran faith, arrived in the Godthåb Fjord (in the southwest) to begin a new European settlement in Greenland but found only Eskimo. Later in the century another colony was founded at Julianehåb.

      Two factors are visible in this activity. First, the Pietist (Pietism) movement, which had considerable influence in Denmark, demanded religious conversion and stressed an obligation to bring the gospel to the heathens. A Ministry of Missions, founded in 1714, supported Egede in Greenland as it supported missionary activity among the Sami in northern Norway and the Indians at Tranquebar on the Coromandel Coast of southern India. Second, missionary activity became possible because of a close alliance with commercial interests. Egede himself founded a company in Bergen for trade with Greenland. The trade later passed to the Royal Greenland Trading Company of Copenhagen. The trade with Finnmark (now the northernmost part of Norway) was reserved, in principle, for merchants of Copenhagen as well.

The Napoleonic Wars and the 19th century
      Denmark-Norway's attempt to remain neutral in the struggle between France and England and their respective allies early in the 19th century came to an end after England's preemptive naval actions of 1807, in which the entire Danish fleet was taken. The continental blockade of England that followed, which was against Danish interests, was a catastrophe for Norway. Fish and timber exports were stopped, as well as grain imports from Denmark. The consequences were isolation, economic crisis, and hunger. In 1810–13 England consented to some relaxation of its counterblockade against Norway. As a whole, however, the years 1807–14 convinced leading groups in Norway that they needed a political representation of their own.

The Treaty of Kiel (Kiel, Treaty of)
      Swedish foreign policy was erratic during those years, but Denmark-Norway remained an ally of Napoleon I until 1814. After Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig (Leipzig, Battle of) (1813), Sweden repeated its 17th-century strategy by attacking Denmark from the south. With the Treaty of Kiel (Kiel, Treaty of) (January 14, 1814), Denmark gave up all its rights to Norway to the king of Sweden. It did not, however, relinquish its rights to the old Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, the Faroes, and Greenland, as England strongly opposed any buildup of Swedish power in the North Atlantic.

      The Danes did not intend this agreement to end the union with Norway. Officially loyal to the Treaty of Kiel, the Danish government worked for the eventual return of Norway. This probably is why the crown prince Christian Frederick (later Christian VIII of Denmark), governor of Norway, colluded with the Danish king in organizing a rising against the Treaty of Kiel. In doing so he needed support in Norway, and he thus came to rely on two political forces, each with regionalist aims. The larger faction consisted of civil servants and peasants who were loyal to Copenhagen but traditionally in opposition to its centralizing policy. The other was the small but important group of timber merchants in eastern Norway who wanted independence from Copenhagen for their trade with western Europe. Since 1809 they had conspired for a union between Sweden and Norway.

      This was the main background of a constituent assembly called by Christian Frederick to meet at Eidsvoll, 30 miles north of Christiania. It drew up the constitution of May 17, 1814 (which still exists), and elected Christian to the throne of Norway.

Union with Sweden
      Norwegian independence got no support from the Great Powers, and Sweden attacked Norway in late July 1814. After a brief war of 14 days, Christian resigned. Jean Bernadotte (later known as Charles XIV John; (Charles XIV John) called Karl Johan in Sweden and Norway), the Swedish crown prince, accepted the Norwegian constitution and thus could no longer argue on the basis of the Treaty of Kiel. This was of the greatest political importance to the Norwegians. As a constitutional monarchy, Norway entered the union with Sweden in November 1814. Only minor modifications were made in its constitution—the king and foreign policy would be common; the king would be commander in chief of Norway's armed forces, which could not be used outside Norway without Norwegian consent; and a government in Christiania (with a section in Stockholm) and the Storting (Norwegian parliament) would take care of national affairs.

Gudmund Sandvik
      For Norway the Treaty of Kiel meant secession from Denmark, the forming of its own separate state with complete internal self-government, and a political centre in Christiania. The history of Norway during the 19th century is marked by the struggle to assert its independence from Sweden within the union and its attempts to develop a modern Norwegian culture. It was a time when an unmistakably national cultural identity emerged, which continued to take shape in the 20th century, based on the foundations of the independent Norwegian state of the Middle Ages. Individuals associated with the rise of a distinct Norwegian culture include the mathematicians Niels Henrik Abel (Abel, Niels Henrik) and Sophus Lie (Lie, Sophus), the physical scientists Christopher Hansteen (Hansteen, Christopher) and Vilhelm Bjerknes (Bjerknes, Vilhelm), the composer Edvard Grieg (Grieg, Edvard), the creator of modern realistic drama Henrik Ibsen (Ibsen, Henrik), the poets Henrik Arnold Wergeland (Wergeland, Henrik Arnold) and Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson (Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne Martinius), the historians Peter Andreas Munch (Munch, Peter Andreas) and Johan Ernst Sars, the explorer and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (Nansen, Fridtjof), and the expressionist painter Edvard Munch (Munch, Edvard).

      Norway's population grew more rapidly during the 19th century than in any other period of its history. The population rose from 883,000 in 1801 to 2,240,000 in 1900. Whereas the urban population was only 8.8 percent in 1800, it had reached 28 percent by 1900. Economic growth, although considerable during the century, could not keep pace with the burgeoning population, and this was one of the principal causes of a massive emigration of Norwegians. After Ireland, Norway had the highest relative emigration of all European countries in the 19th century. From 1840 to 1914 about 750,000 people left Norway; most were from rural areas and were drawn to the farming opportunities of the American Midwest.

Economic conditions
      Norway was also severely hit by the economic crisis that followed the Napoleonic Wars. Norway's exports consisted mainly of wooden goods to Great Britain and, to a certain extent, of glass and iron products. After the war, when the British introduced preferential tariffs on articles of wood from Canada, Norwegian forest owners, sawmills, and export firms were badly hit. Iron and glass exports also met with marketing difficulties. Fish—which, after timber, was the country's most important export commodity—was only lightly hit by the slump, and by the 1820s the herring fisheries on the west coast were undergoing a period of vigorous expansion. From the 1850s agriculture developed rapidly. Modern methods were adopted, with an emphasis on cattle breeding. Simultaneously, the building of railroads began ending the isolation of the small communities and opening the way for the sale of agricultural products.

      It was, however, the great expansion of merchant shipping (especially between 1850 and 1880) that gave the most powerful boost to the country's economy. Norway's percentage of world tonnage rose from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent, and at the end of the century Norway possessed, after the United Kingdom and the United States, the largest merchant navy in the world. The economic resources that merchant shipping brought to the country laid the basis for industrialization. From 1860 Norway's industry expanded rapidly, especially in the timber and wood-pulp trade and engineering. Socially and economically this expansion was a springboard for shipowners, manufacturers, and businessmen, all of whom began to play a much greater role in politics toward the end of the 19th century.

The age of bureaucracy (1814–84)
      The economic development in the decades immediately after the Napoleonic Wars meant a reduction in the power of the big business concerns and great estates. The decision to abolish the nobility in 1821 was indicative of the greatly reduced social and economic circumstances of the upper classes. At the same time, the position of the civil servants was strengthened, and from then until the latter part of the 19th century they controlled the political power of the country. Apart from the civil servants, there were only two other political factors of any importance in Norway at this time: the farmers and the monarch.

Parliamentary authority
      The Eidsvoll constitution of 1814 gave the Storting greater authority than parliamentary bodies had in any other country except the United States. The king retained executive power and chose his own ministers, but legislation, the imposition of taxes, and the budget were within the authority of the Storting. The Storting had the power to initiate legislation, and the king had only a suspension veto. When Charles XIV John (ruled 1818–44) demanded the right of absolute veto, the Storting categorically refused, despite the king's attempt to intimidate them with shows of military strength. Faced with this unanimous resistance, the king was forced to abandon his struggle, and the Storting's dominant position became the firm defense against Swedish attempts to further unite the two countries. As a national demonstration, Norway began in the 1820s to celebrate May 17, the date of the Eidsvoll constitution, as a national day. The king's attempt to outlaw the celebration resulted in violent demonstrations, and during the 1830s he conceded this point also.

Monetary problems
      Norway had at the same time many major problems to resolve on the domestic front. The war, which had been financed to a great extent by an increased issue of bank notes, had brought about a reduction of the local currency to one-fifteenth of its prewar value. To ward off inflation, a severe sterling tax was imposed, and in 1816 a new bank of Norway was established that held the monopoly on issuing bank notes. In spite of strong precautionary measures, however, it was not until the currency reform of 1842 that finances were stabilized. From an economic point of view, the civil service was decidedly liberal, and the guild system and old trade regulations were abolished during the 1840s and '50s. By 1842 it was decided to reduce tariffs, a decision that gradually made Norway a free-trade country.

Political change
      The influence that the vote gave to the farmers was not exploited at first, and they continued to elect civil servants as their parliamentary representatives. About 1830, however, a demand was raised for a decrease in expenditure, and, under the leadership of Ole Gabriel Ueland, a more deliberate “class” policy began to be conducted in the Storting. In 1837 a statute regarding local self-government was enacted that offered training for grassroots politicians. The farmers' policy led to sharp conflicts with influential groups of bureaucrats and finally became a struggle for political power on the national level. Under pressure from a radical labour movement, which arose after 1848 under the leadership of Marcus Thrane, and from the later mounting tension in the relationship with Sweden, many farmers turned to the middle classes and the minor civil servants. The intensely nationalistic attitude of this leftist coalition was expressed in its attempts to strengthen national culture and language. The struggle for the introduction of the vernacular as the official language, instead of the bureaucrats' Danish-influenced tongue, became an important item of the coalition's policy. The coalition was organized as the Venstre (Left) political party in 1884.

The union conflict (1859–1905)
      Because the union's king usually resided in Sweden, he was represented in Norway by a governor-general. This gave rise to the governor-general conflict, which was not resolved until 1873, when Sweden yielded to Norway's main demands. The result was that in Norway the king was regarded as Swedish, and his right to nominate the government in Norway was considered a danger to the country's autonomy. The conflict revolved around the question of the Storting's confidence in the government. During the reign of Oscar II (ruled in Norway 1872–1905), matters came to a head when a Conservative government refused to pass an amendment to the constitution that the Storting had three times accepted. After a trial before the court of impeachment (Riksrett), the government was forced to resign in 1884. The Storting, and not the king, had thus acquired the decisive influence on the government, and Norway became the first country in Scandinavia to be governed by parliamentary means.

      Although Norway had won full self-government on the domestic front, the union was still represented externally by the Swedish-Norwegian king, and the country's foreign policy was conducted by the Swedish foreign minister. From the 1880s, therefore, there was an increasing demand for an independent Norwegian foreign minister. In 1891 Venstre won a convincing majority at the polls with this question, among other things, on its program. In spite of this, the Venstre government headed by Johannes Steen—which the king had appointed after the election—did not take up the question of the foreign minister but raised instead a more limited demand for a Norwegian consular service. Even this was flatly refused by Sweden in 1892 and again the following year. When the Storting attempted to carry out this reform independently, it was forced under threat of military action to negotiate with Sweden on a revision of the whole question of the union. Though Sweden soon showed its readiness to be more compliant, the incompatibilities had become so marked that there was no real chance of a compromise.

      The negotiations collapsed in 1898, and Norway at the same time demonstrated its independence by abolishing the union emblem on its merchant flag despite the king's veto. New negotiations were opened in an attempt to solve the more limited demand for an independent consular service, but when these negotiations also failed Norway took the matter into its own hands; the Storting passed a bill establishing Norway's own consular service. When the king refused to sanction the bill, the coalition government, under the leadership of Christian Michelsen (Michelsen, Christian), resigned. As, under the circumstances, it was impossible for the king to form a new Norwegian government, the Storting declared “the Union with Sweden dissolved as a result of the King ceasing to function as Norwegian King,” on June 7, 1905. The Swedish parliament refused, however, to accept this unilateral Norwegian decision. Under threat of military action and partial mobilization in both countries, Norway entered into negotiations on the conditions for the dissolution of the union. A settlement was reached in Karlstad, Sweden, in September 1905 that embodied concessions from both sides. The Swedish-Norwegian union was thus legally dissolved, and shortly afterward Prince Charles of Denmark was elected in a referendum as Norway's king and came to the throne under the name of Haakon VII.

The 20th century
Economic and industrial growth
      The period from 1905 to 1914 was characterized by rapid economic expansion in Norway. The development of the merchant fleet, which had begun during the second half of the 19th century, continued, and at the outbreak of World War I Norway's merchant navy was the fourth largest in the world.

      From about the beginning of the 20th century Norway's immense resources of waterpower provided a base for great industrial expansion. The large number of waterfalls bought by Norwegian and foreign companies gave rise to grave concern that the country's natural resources were falling into foreign hands or becoming monopolized by a small number of capitalists. By 1906 three-fourths of all developed waterpower in Norway was owned by foreign concerns. Venstre and the growing Norwegian Labour Party (DNA) pressed for legislation to protect the natural resources of the country. The bill on concessions (later known as the Concession Laws) played a dominating role in Norwegian politics from 1905 to 1914. It led to a split in Venstre—but the majority of the party supported the bill, which was passed by the Storting in 1909 and remained in force despite continued criticism.

      The DNA had been founded in 1887, and universal suffrage was one of the principal points in the party program. In the 1890s Venstre likewise adopted this policy, and in 1898 universal male suffrage was introduced. By reforms in 1907 and 1913 the vote was extended to women. One consequence of industrialization and the introduction of universal suffrage was the growing influence of the DNA. A number of social reforms were enacted: a factory act, which included protection for women and children; accident insurance for seafaring men; health insurance; a 10-hour working day (in 1915); and a 48-hour workweek (1919). A 40-hour workweek was introduced in 1977.

World War I and the interwar years

      With the outbreak of war in 1914, Norway, like Sweden and Denmark, issued a declaration of neutrality. Norway was badly hurt by the war at sea, about half of Norwegian merchant shipping being lost. Because the Allied powers could almost totally control Norway's foreign trade, they forced it to break off exports of fish to Germany and, at the same time, forbade exports of iron pyrites and copper, which were important commodities for the German war industry. Because of the many casualties caused by German submarine warfare, public feeling in Norway became strongly anti-German. The government, however, under the leadership of the Venstre politician Gunnar Knudsen, insisted on maintaining the appearance of neutrality. The war brought a distinct boom to Norway's economy in shipping, mining, and fish exports, although the prosperity was unevenly distributed. Within the DNA, the left wing formed the majority in 1918, and in 1919 the DNA, unlike the other social democratic parties in western and central Europe, joined the Comintern (Third International (International, Third)). The DNA, however, was unwilling to submit to the centralization that Moscow demanded, and in 1923 it withdrew.

The Great Depression (Great Depression)
      In the years up to 1935 the various governments—formed alternately by the Conservatives, Venstre (the Liberals), and the Agrarian (Farmers') Party—pursued, by and large, a liberal economic policy. After the inflation caused by World War I and the postwar years, the main aim during the 1920s was to guide the currency (the krone) back to its former value. Norway received only an insignificant share in improved world market conditions, and by 1927 the unemployment figures were as high as one-fifth of the workforce. The Great Depression in the early 1930s increased unemployment still further, and by 1933 at least one-third of the workforce, including many civil servants, was unemployed.

      The government, led by the Agrarian Party (1931–33) and Venstre (1933–35), tried to combat the crisis with extensive reductions in governmental expenditure but refused to consider an expansionist financial policy or the emergency relief measures that the DNA demanded. The DNA thus enjoyed great success in the elections of 1933, although it failed to gain a majority in the Storting. When the DNA formed the government in 1935, with Johan Nygaardsvold as prime minister, it needed the support of at least one other party. By a compromise with the Agrarian Party, the DNA received support for a social program that included old-age pension reform, revision of the factory act, statutory holidays, and unemployment insurance financed by increased taxation. State investments were also greatly increased. Although the situation improved, unemployment in Norway was still as high as one-fifth of the organized labour force in 1938.

      Despite economic difficulties, the high rate of unemployment, and the many labour conflicts, the interwar years were a period of vigorous expansion, and the country's industrial production was increased by 75 percent during the years 1913–38.

      During the 1920s Norway acquired the islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, and Norwegian hunters and fishermen occupied an area on the east coast of Greenland. Denmark's demand for sovereignty of the area led to a conflict that was settled in the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague in 1933 in Denmark's favour. In 1939 the government proclaimed that Queen Maud Land in Antarctica was under Norwegian sovereignty. Because the League of Nations in 1936 had proved ineffective at keeping the peace, Norway's foreign minister, Halvdan Koht, attempted to coordinate the policy of the smaller states within the framework of the league in an effort to preserve peace. Norway continued to pursue a strictly neutral policy and declined Germany's invitation to join in a nonaggression pact in 1939.

      With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, Norway again declared itself neutral. On April 9, 1940, German troops invaded the country and quickly occupied Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik. The Norwegian government rejected the German ultimatum regarding immediate capitulation. The Norwegian Army, which received help from an Allied expeditionary force, was unable to resist the superior German troops, however. After three weeks the war was abandoned in southern Norway. The Norwegian and Allied forces succeeded in recapturing Narvik but withdrew again on June 7, when the Allied troops were needed in France. The same day, King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olaf, and the government left for London, and on June 10 the Norwegian troops in northern Norway capitulated. The government, through the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission (Nortraship), directed the merchant fleet, which made an important contribution to the Allied cause. Half of the fleet, however, was lost during the war.

      In Norway, Vidkun Quisling (Quisling, Vidkun), leader of the small Norwegian National Socialist (Nazi Party) party (Nasjonal Samling, or National Union)—which had never obtained a seat in the Storting—proclaimed a “national government” on April 9. This aroused such strong resistance, however, that the Germans thrust him aside on April 15, and an administrative council, consisting of high civil servants, was organized for the occupied territories. Political power was wielded by the German commissioner Josef Terboven. In September 1940 the administrative council was replaced by a number of “commissarial counselors,” who in 1942 formed a Nazi (Nazi Party) government under the leadership of Quisling. The Nazification attempt aroused strong resistance, however. Initially, this took the form of passive resistance and general strikes, which the Germans countered with martial law and death sentences. Once the resistance movement became more firmly organized, its members undertook large-scale industrial sabotage, of which the most important was that against the production of heavy water in Rjukan in southern Norway.

      At the end of the war the German troops in Norway capitulated without offering resistance. On their retreat from Finland in late 1944 and early 1945, however, the Germans burned and ravaged Finnmark and northern Troms. The Soviet troops who liberated eastern Finnmark in November 1944 withdrew during the summer of 1945.

The postwar period
      The liberation was followed by trials of collaborators; 25 Norwegians, including Quisling (whose name has become a byword for a collaborating traitor), were sentenced to death and executed, and some 19,000 received prison sentences. By a strict policy that gave priority to the reconstruction of productive capacity in preference to consumer goods, Norway quickly succeeded in repairing the ravages left by the war. By 1949 the merchant fleet had attained its prewar size, and the figures for both industrial production and housing were greater than in the 1930s. Until the 1980s Norway had full or nearly full employment and a swiftly rising standard of living.

Political and social change
      After the liberation in 1945 a coalition government was formed under the leadership of Einar Gerhardsen (Gerhardsen, Einar). The general election in the autumn of 1945 gave the DNA a decisive majority, and a purely Labour government was formed with Gerhardsen as prime minister. The DNA governed almost continuously from 1945 to 1965. Haakon VII died in 1957 and was succeeded by his son, Olaf V. The Labour governments continued the social policies initiated in the 1930s. From 1957 old-age pensions were made universal, and in 1967 a compulsory earnings-related national supplementary pension plan came into effect. The old “poor law” was replaced by a law on national welfare assistance in 1964. The election of 1965 resulted in a clear majority for the four centre and right-wing parties, which formed a coalition government under the leadership of Per Borten. In 1971 the coalition government split, and the DNA again came to power, headed by Trygve Bratteli (Bratteli, Trygve).

      As a consequence of the referendum on the European Economic Community (European Community) (EEC), the Labour government resigned and was followed by a non-Socialist coalition government under the leadership of Lars Korvald. The DNA returned to power in 1973 with Bratteli again as prime minister. When he resigned as leader of the party and prime minister in 1976, he was succeeded by Odvar Nordli. Gro Harlem Brundtland (Brundtland, Gro Harlem), Norway's first woman prime minister, took over the government and party leadership from Nordli in February 1981. Her government was defeated at the polls in September of that year, and a Conservative, Kåre Willoch, became prime minister. Brundtland returned as prime minister in May 1986 but was again defeated three years later. The Conservatives formed a three-party coalition government under Jan Peder Syse but resigned after one year over the issue of Norway's future relationship with the EEC. Brundtland again formed a minority Labour government and continued to head it until her resignation in October 1996. A year later the Labour government fell and was replaced by a centre-coalition minority government, with Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian People's Party as prime minister. King Olaf V died in 1991 and was succeeded by his son, who ascended the throne as Harald V.

      Since the 1970s a central issue in Norwegian politics has been the exploitation of the rich natural gas and petroleum deposits in the Norwegian part of the North Sea. The petroleum industry made possible continued high employment until the 1980s, but it also caused a sharp rise in domestic prices. In addition, the industry became so dominant in Norway that fluctuations in the world petroleum market had profound effects on the Norwegian economy.

Postwar foreign policy
      When the antagonisms between the great powers came to a head in 1948, Norway took part in the negotiations set in motion by Sweden on a Nordic defense union. The negotiations produced a tacit Cold War “Nordic balance.” For instance, in 1949 Norway, followed by Denmark, joined the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but NATO was not allowed to establish military bases or stockpile nuclear weapons on their territories; Sweden remained neutral. The compensation for these self-imposed restrictions was a gradual improvement in relations between the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and the Nordic countries.

      The dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s revived an old problem concerning the boundary between Norway and Russia in the Barents Sea of the Arctic Ocean. Once merely an esoteric legal issue, the boundary took on great importance because of its strategic naval relevance to Russia and because extensive deposits of petroleum and natural gas may lie beneath the shallow waters.

Jörgen Weibull Gudmund Sandvik
      Since the 1960s the question of Norway's relations with the EEC (from 1993 the European Community within the European Union [EU]) has split the country's citizenry across traditional party lines and even within families. A member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) from its formal inception in 1960, Norway decided to follow the lead of fellow EFTA member Great Britain from 1961 by entering into negotiations for membership in the EEC. These initiatives were thwarted in 1963 and 1967 by the strong opposition of French president Charles de Gaulle (Gaulle, Charles de). Norwegian orientation toward the EEC was suspended until 1969, when the country again followed Britain's lead (along with Ireland and EFTA member Denmark) in applying for EEC membership. All four were accepted, but in 1972 Norwegian voters defeated the referendum on membership by more than 53 percent; the other three nations joined the organization in 1973.

      For some 10 years thereafter Norway joined the remaining EFTA countries in signing a variety of free-trade agreements with members of the EEC that, though they were bilateral, incorporated the economic liberalism of the EEC. Negotiations begun in 1989 between the two organizations culminated in 1991 in an agreement to form a free-trade zone called the European Economic Area (EEA). Norway became a member of the EEA when it came into effect in 1994.

      Meanwhile, the dissolution of the communist governments of the Soviet bloc countries of central and eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union itself in 1989–91 changed the European political scene as well as the plans inherent in the inauguration of the EEA. EFTA members Austria, Finland, and Sweden suddenly felt politically free to apply for full membership in what soon would become the EU. Norway followed suit, applying for membership in November 1992. In a national referendum in November 1994, however, the Norwegian electorate again rejected the treaty negotiated by the government, albeit by a slightly smaller margin than in 1972.

      It may seem contradictory that Norway has continued to reject EU membership. Norway, as a founding member of NATO, has been solidly integrated into Western security politics since 1949. The export of petroleum and natural gas from the North Sea has greatly strengthened Norway's economy and has more fully integrated it into the global economy. Nonetheless, the movement toward European political, monetary, and military unity that found expression in the Maastricht Treaty and establishment of the EU reminded too many Norwegians of the unions in their past that had subjugated Norway for more than half a millennium. The proponents of EU membership could not convince the opponents that Norway had obtained favourable concessions in its negotiations with the EU regarding fisheries, agriculture, and the exploitation of petroleum and natural gas. Moreover, the opponents were fearful that Norway would once more lose its national independence. Thus, at the beginning of the 21st century Norway found itself in a much-diminished EFTA (with Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland) but, through its affiliation with the EEA, strongly tied economically to the EU.

Gudmund Sandvik

Additional Reading

General works
Magne Helvig and Viggo Johannessen, Norway: Land, People, Industries, 4th ed. (1974), provides a concise but informative introduction. A more comprehensive survey is found in Ronald G. Popperwell, Norway (1972). The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten publishes a guidebook, Facts About Norway, 23rd ed. (1993). Other guides include Erling Welle-Strand, Tourist in Norway, 6th ed. (1980); Gunnar Jerman, New Norway 8, trans. from Norwegian by Rolf Gooderham (1993); and Arvid Bryne and Joan Henriksen, Norway, Behind the Scenery (1986).Current writings on the country's development, history, economics, and culture are found in the periodicals Norwegian Archaeological Review (semiannual); Scandinavian Journal of History (quarterly); Acta Borealia (semiannual); and The Scandinavian Economic History Review (3/yr.). Leland B. Sather (compiler), Norway, ed. by Hans H. Wellisch (1986), is an annotated bibliography of works in English.

The economy, administration, and social conditions
Arne Selbyg, Norway Today (1986), presents a brief overview of Norwegian society; whereas Natalie Rogoff Ramsøy (ed.), Norwegian Society (1973; originally published in Norwegian, 1968), is a comprehensive survey. Special studies include Ian Whitaker, Social Relations in a Nomadic Lappish Community (1955); Robert Paine, Coast Lapp Society, 2 vol. (1957–65); Jon Leirfall, Old Times in Norway, trans. from Norwegian (1986); and Tove Stang Dahl, Child Welfare and Social Defence (1985; originally published in Norwegian, 1978). Political developments are surveyed in Henry Valen and Daniel Katz, Political Parties in Norway (1964); William M. Lafferty, Participation and Democracy in Norway (1981); and Johan Jørgen Holst (ed.), Norwegian Foreign Policy in the 1980s (1985). Economic history is traced in Thorvald Moe, Demographic Developments and Economic Growth in Norway, 1740–1940 (1977); Alan S. Milward, The Fascist Economy in Norway (1972); and Fritz Hodne, An Economic History of Norway, 1815–1970 (1975). Modern economic conditions are examined in Fritz Hodne, The Norwegian Economy, 1920–1980 (1983); John C. Ausland, Norway, Oil, and Foreign Policy (1979); and Walter Galenson, A Welfare State Strikes Oil: The Norwegian Experience (1986).

Culture
Gabriel Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (1964, reprinted 1975), deals with pre-Christian religious beliefs. Translations of the original sagas and of Old Norse poetry include The Poetic Edda, ed. and trans. by Ursula Dronke, 2 vol. (1969–97); and Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda, trans. from Icelandic by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (1916, reissued 1967), and The Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings, 3 vol., trans. from Icelandic by Samuel Laing, ed. by Rasmus B. Anderson (1964–68). The historical development of the Norwegian language is explored in Einar Haugen, Language Conflict and Language Planning: The Case of Modern Norwegian (1966); and Karen A. Larson, Learning Without Lessons: Socialization and Language Change in Norway (1985). The arts are discussed in Janice S. Stewart, The Folk Arts of Norway, 2nd enlarged ed. (1972); Kristian Lange, Norwegian Music, 2nd rev. ed. (1982); Jan Askeland, Norwegian Painting (1971), and Norwegian Printmakers: A Hundred Years of Graphic Arts, trans. from Norwegian (1978); Øistein Parmann, Norwegian Sculpture (1969); Christian Norberg-Schulz, Modern Norwegian Architecture (1986); and Harald Beyer, A History of Norwegian Literature, trans. and ed. by Einar Haugen (1956, reissued 1979; originally published in Norwegian, 1952). Sverre Mortensen and Per Vogt (eds.), One Hundred Norwegians: An Introduction to Norwegian Culture and Achievement (1955), is a collection of biographies. A main biographical source for history and culture is Edvard Bull et al. (eds.), Norsk biografisk leksikon, 19 vol. (1923–83).Jan Christensen

History
Broad surveys of the country's history include T.K. Derry, A Short History of Norway, 2nd ed. (1968, reprinted 1979), and A History of Scandinavia (1979), both good introductions; and Rolf Danielsen et al., Grunntrekk i norsk historie: fra vikingtid til våre dager (1991). Two monumental new standard works are Knut Mykland (ed.), Norges historie, 15 vol. (1976–80); and Aschehougs Norgeshistorie (1994–98), lavishly illustrated. Highly recommended is the work by Phillip Pulsiano et al. (eds.), Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia (1993). A study based on excavations of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland is presented in Anne Stine Ingstad, The Norse Discovery of America, 2 vol. (1985). Pierre Jeannin, L'Europe du Nord-Ouest et du Nord aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, 2nd ed. updated (1987), is a comprehensive history of the area and the period. Social conditions are explored in Michael Drake, Population and Society in Norway, 1735–1865 (1969). Recommended volumes from the series Handbok i Norges historie are Per Sveaas Andersen, Samlingen av Norge og kristningen av landet 800–1130 (1977); Knut Helle, Norge blir en stat 1130–1319, 2nd ed. (1974); Rolf Fladby, Samfunn i vekst: under fremmed styre, 1536–1660 (1986); Knut Mykland et al., Norge under eneveldet, 1660–1720 (1975); and Ståle Dyrvik et al., Norge under eneveldet, 1720–1800 (1976).The 19th and 20th centuries are covered in Tore Pryser, Norsk historie 1800–1870: frå standssamfunn mot klassesamfunn (1985); Sverre Steen, Det frie Norge, 5 vol. (1951–62), continued in På egen hånd: Norge etter 1905 (1976), and Frihet og liv er ett: Norge fra 1920–årene til 1950 (1977); Jens Arup Seip, Utsikt over Norges historie, 2 vol. (1974–81), covering the years 1814–84; and three related works: Arne Bergsgård, Norsk historie, 1814–1880 (1964); Jostein Nerbøvik, Norsk historie, 1870–1905, new ed. (1993); and Berge Furre, Norsk historie, 1905–1990: våre hundreår (1992). Raymond E. Lindgren, Norway-Sweden: Union, Disunion, and Scandinavian Integration (1959, reprinted 1979), examines cooperation among Scandinavian countries in the first half of the 20th century. The war years are studied in Olav Riste, The Neutral Ally: Norway's Relations with Belligerent Powers in the First World War (1965), and “London-regjeringa”: Norge i krigsalliansen, 1940–1945, 2nd ed. (1995), on the Norwegian exile government in London. Tim Greve, Haakon VII of Norway, trans. and ed. by T.K. Derry (1983; originally published in Norwegian, 1980), is especially useful for the analysis of Norway's independence and its role in World War II. A survey of the postwar period is found in Franklin D. Scott, Scandinavia, rev. and enlarged ed. (1975); and T.K. Derry, A History of Modern Norway, 1814–1972 (1973), which focuses on 20th-century industrialization and economy. Comprehensive and excellent is Thomas Pedersen, European Union and the EFTA Countries: Enlargement and Integration (1994). Fredrik Sejersted et al., EØS-rett (1995), is recommended as a central work on the legal situation in Norway after the implementation of the EEA rules.

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Universalium. 2010.

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