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Kingdom of Norway
Coat of Arms
Royal: Alt for Norge / Alt for Noreg
("Everything/anything for Norway")
1814 Eidsvoll oath:
Enig og tro til Dovre faller
("United and loyal until the mountains of Dovre crumble")
| Anthem: Ja, vi elsker dette landet|
Yes, we love this country
Royal anthem: Kongesangen
Song of the King
|Constitution:||May 17, 1814|
Location of Norway.
|Area:||385,252 km² (61st2)|
|Population:||4,805,437 (as of January 29, 2009) (115th)|
|Ethnic groups:||90.3% Norwegian, Sami, 9.7% other (2009)|
|Government:||Parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy|
– Prime Minister:
– Storting President:
– Current coalition:
| Harald V|
Jens Stoltenberg (Ap)
Thorbjørn Jagland (Ap)
|Official languages:||Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk) 1|
- Independence from union with Sweden declared:
May 17, 1814
June 7, 1905
|National day:||May 17|
- Per capita:
$259.049 billion (43rd)
$55,198 (IMF) (2nd)
- Per capita:
$481.148 billion (23rd)
$102,524 (IMF) (2nd)
|Gini (2006):||25.8 (low) (6th)|
|HDI (2005):||0.968 (high) (1st)|
|Currency:||Norwegian krone (NOK)|
Norway (Norwegian: Norge (bokmål) or Noreg (nynorsk)), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe that occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The majority of the country shares a border to the east with Sweden; its northernmost region is bordered by Finland to the south and Russia to the east. The United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands lie to its west across the North Sea, and Denmark lies south of its southern tip across the Skagerrak Strait. Norway's extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barent sea, is home to its famous fjords.
In the 1920s, Norway annexed Jan Mayen and was given the sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard under the Spitsbergen Treaty. The polar territories of Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land are external dependencies, but not parts of Norway. Norwegian claim for a sector of Antarctic mainland called Queen Maud Land is not recognised by the international community.
Since World War II Norway has experienced rapid economic growth, and is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world. Norway is the world's fourth largest oil exporter and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of GDP.
Norway also has rich resources of gas fields, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Norway was the second largest exporter of seafood (in value, after China) in 2006. Other main industries include food processing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, fishing and pulp and paper products. Norway has a Scandinavian welfare model and the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006, and was ranked second as of 2008 (behind Iceland). It was also rated the most peaceful country in the world in a 2007 survey by Global Peace Index. It is a founding member of NATO.
Norway is officially called Kongeriket Norge in the Bokmål written norm, and Kongeriket Noreg in the Nynorsk written norm. In other languages spoken in Norway, the country is known as:
- Northern Sami: Norga, or Norgga gonagasriika
- Lule Sami: Vuodna or Vuona gånågisrijkka
- Southern Sami: Nøørje or Nøørjen gånkarijhke
- Finnish/Kven: Norja or Norjan kuningaskunta
The usual Old Norse form of Norway is Noregr and the usual medieval Latin form Nor(th)vegia, though the earliest known written occurrence of the name is English (in the late-ninth-century account of the travels of Ohthere of Hålogaland), in the form norðweg. Although some medieval texts attribute the name to a mythical King Nórr, it is conventionally derived today from Old Norse *norðvegr, meaning "the northern route" (the way northwards). There is, however, some possibility that medieval forms in norð-, north- are folk-etymologisations, and that the name has other origins.
The Old Norse and nynorsk forms are quite similar to a Sami word that means "along the coast" or "along the sea" — realized as nuorrek in contemporary Lule Sami. The presence of the archaic prosecutive case marker (sometimes also called prolative in Finno-Ugric language research) supports the claim that the Sami word is indigenous and not a borrowing from North Germanic languages. Either way, competition over the linguistic origins of the name can be seen to reflect cultural tension between Sami ethnic groups and the dominant culture of Norway, which derives its identity from an Old Norse-speaking past.
Pre-historic and Viking period
Archaeological findings indicate that Norway was inhabited at least since early in the 6th millennium BC. Most historians agree that the core of the populations colonizing Scandinavia came from the present-day Germany. In the first centuries AD, Norway consisted of a number of petty kingdoms. According to tradition, Harald Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre) unified them into one, in 872 AD after the Battle of Hafrsfjord in Stavanger, thus becoming the first king of a united Norway.
The Viking age, 8-11th centuries AD, was characterized by expansion and emigration. Many Norwegians left the country to live in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and parts of Britain and Ireland. The modern-day Irish cities of Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford were founded by Norwegian settlers. Norse traditions were slowly replaced by Christianity in the 10th and 11th centuries. This is largely attributed to the missionary kings Olav Tryggvasson and St. Olav. Haakon the Good was Norway's first Christian king, in the mid tenth century, though his attempt to introduce the religion was rejected.
Kalmar Union, union with Denmark
In 1319, Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson. In 1349, the Black Death killed between 50% and 60% of the population, resulting in a period of decline, both socially and economically. Ostensibly, royal politics at the time resulted in several personal unions between the Nordic countries, eventually bringing the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden under the control of Queen Margrethe I of Denmark when the country entered into the Kalmar Union. Although Sweden broke out of the union in 1521, Norway remained until 1814, a total of 436 years. During the national romanticism of the 19th century, this period was by some referred to as the "400-Year Night", since all of the kingdom's royal, intellectual, and administrative power was centred in Copenhagen, Denmark. Other factors also contributed to Norway's decline in this period. With the introduction of Protestantism in 1536, the archbishopric in Trondheim was dissolved, and the church's incomes were distributed to the court in Copenhagen in Denmark instead. Norway lost the steady stream of pilgrims to the relics of St. Olav at the Nidaros shrine, and with them, much of the contact with cultural and economic life in the rest of Europe. Additionally, Norway saw its land area decrease in the 17th century with the loss of the provinces Båhuslen, Jemtland, and Herjedalen to Sweden, as a result of wars between Denmark–Norway and Sweden.
Union with Sweden (19th century)
After Denmark–Norway was attacked by Great Britain, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon, with the war leading to dire conditions and mass starvation in 1812. As the Danish kingdom found itself on the losing side in 1814 it was forced to cede Norway to the kingdom of Sweden, while the old Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands remained with the Danish crown. Norway took this opportunity to declare independence, adopted a constitution based on American and French models, and elected the Danish crown prince Christian Fredrik as king on May 17, 1814. This caused the Norwegian-Swedish War to break out between Sweden and Norway but as Sweden's military was not strong enough to defeat the Norwegian forces outright and Norway's treasury was not large enough to support a protracted war, and as British and Russian navies blockaded the Norwegion coast, Norway agreed to enter a personal union with Sweden. Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and independent institutions, except for the foreign service.
This period also saw the rise of the Norwegian romantic nationalism, as Norwegians sought to define and express a distinct national character. The movement covered all branches of culture, including literature (Henrik Wergeland, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe, Henrik Ibsen), painting (Hans Gude, Edvard Munch, Adolph Tidemand), music (Edvard Grieg), and even language policy, where attempts to define a native written language for Norway led to today's two official written forms for Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk.
Christian Michelsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate and statesman, and the Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907, played a central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on 7 June 1905. After a national referendum confirmed the people's preference for a monarchy over a republic, the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to the Danish Prince Carl and Parliament unanimously elected him king. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the medieval kings of independent Norway. In 1898, all men were granted universal suffrage, followed by all women in 1913.
During World War I, Norway was a neutral country. In reality, however, Norway had been pressured by Great Britain to hand over increasingly large parts of its massive merchant fleet to Britain at low rates, as well as to join the trade blockade against Germany. Norway also claimed neutrality during World War II, but was invaded by German forces on April 9, 1940. Norway was unprepared for the German surprise attack, so military resistance only lasted for two months. The armed forces in the north launched an offensive against the German forces in the Battles of Narvik, until they were forced to surrender on June 10 after losing allied help following the fall of France. King Haakon and the Norwegian government continued the fight from exile in Rotherhithe, London. On the day of the invasion, the collaborative leader of the small National-Socialist party Nasjonal Samling — Vidkun Quisling — tried to seize power, but was forced by the German occupiers to step aside. Real power was wielded by the leader of the German occupation authority, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. Quisling, as minister president, later formed a collaborationist government under German control. During the five years of Nazi occupation, Norwegians built a resistance movement which fought the German occupation forces with both armed resistance and civil disobedience. More important to the Allied war effort, however, was the role of the Norwegian merchant navy. At the time of the invasion, Norway had the fourth largest merchant marine in the world. It was led by the Norwegian shipping company Nortraship under the Allies throughout the war and took part in every war operation from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the Normandy landings.
Post war history
From 1945 to 1961, the Labor Party held an absolute majority in the parliament. The government, lead by prime minster Einar Gerhardsen embarked on a program inspired by Keynesian economics, emphasizing state financed industrialization, cooperation between trade unions and employers' organizations. Many measures of state control of the economy imposed during the war were continued, although the rationing of dairy products were lifted in 1949, while price control and rationing of housing and cars continued as long as until 1960.
The war time alliance with Britain and the U.S. was continued in the post war years. Although pursuing the goal of a socialist economy, the labor party distanced itself from the communists (especially after Soviet seizure of power in Czechoslovakia in 1948), and strengthened its foreign policy and defense policy ties with the US. Norway received Marshall aid from 1947, joined the OEEC one year later and NATO in 1949.
Around 1975, both the proportion and absolute number of workers in industry peaked. Since then labour intensive industries and services like factory mass production and shipping have largely been off sourced. In 1969 Philips Petroleum discovered petroleum resources at the Ekofisk field. In 1973 the government founded the State oil company, Statoil. Oil production didn't become a net income before the early 1980's due to the heavy investments in the petro industry required.
Norway was one of the founding members of European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Two referendums to join the European Union failed by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994. In 1981 a conservative government lead by Kåre Willoch replaced Labor with a policy of stimulating the stagflated economy by tax cuts, economic liberalization, deregulation of markets and measures to curbing of the record high inflation (13,6 % 1981).
Norway's first woman prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland of the Labor party, continued many of the reforms of her right wing predecessor, while backing traditional Labor issues like social security, environmentalism and gender equality. By the late 1990's, Norway had paid off foreign debt and started accumulating a sovereign wealth fund. Since the 1999's, one of the dividing issues of politics has been the level of spending of petroleum income. While the right-wing political parties with the Progress Party in the lead advocate the spending of petroleum income on repairing infrastructure, schools and hospitals, the left-wing political parties has been restrictive in the spending of petroleum income, with the argument of saving the income on future generations.
Government and politics
Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Oslo is the capital city.
The Norwegian monarchy Norwegian Royal Family is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Since 1991 the king has been Harald V.
The Constitution of Norway was adopted in 1814. It grants important executive powers to the King, but these are effectively always exercised by the Norwegian Council of State (the cabinet) in the name of the King. The king does act as ceremonial head of state and a symbol of national unity and retains some reserve powers, which were used in World War II during the German occupation, when Haakon VII said he would abdicate rather than appoint a collaborationist government led by Vidkun Quisling. The King also opens the Parliament every October, receives ambassadors to the Norwegian court, and acts as the symbolic supreme commander of the Norwegian Defence Force and the High Protector of the Church of Norway, the established Lutheran church.
The Council of State consists of a Prime Minister (the head of government) and other ministers, formally appointed by the King. Parliamentarism has evolved since 1884 and entails that the cabinet must not have the parliament against it, and that the appointment by the King is a formality when there is a clear majority in Parliament for a party or a coalition of parties. After elections resulting in no clear majority to any party or coalition, the leader of the party most likely to be able to form a government is appointed Prime Minister by the King. Norway has often been ruled by minority governments.
The King has government meetings every Friday at the Royal Palace (Council of State), but the government decisions are decided in advance in government conferences headed by the Prime Minister every Tuesday and Thursday. In order to form a government, more than half the membership of the Council of State is required to belong to the Church of Norway. Currently, this means at least ten out of 19 members. After the negotiations of looser ties between the church and the state, it was decided that this requirement will be abolished in the near future.
The Norwegian parliament is the Storting (Stortinget). It currently has 169 members (an increase from 165 effective in the September 2005 elections). The members are elected from the 19 counties for four-year terms according to a system of proportional representation. An additional 19 seats ("levelling seats") are allocated on a nationwide basis to make the representation in parliament correspond better with the popular vote. There is a 4 percent election threshold to gain levelling seats.
The Storting is a qualified unicameral body. After elections it elects a quarter of its membership to form the Lagting, a sort of upper house, with the remaining three quarters forming the Odelsting, a lower house. When voting the two chambers divide, and this division of chambers is also used on very rare occasions such as impeachment. The original idea in 1814 was probably to have the Lagting act as an actual upper house, and the senior and more experienced members of the Storting were placed here. Laws are in most cases proposed by the government through a Member of the Council of State, or in some cases by a member of the Odelsting in case of repeated disagreement in the joint Storting. In modern times the Lagting rarely disagrees, effectively rubber-stamping the Odelsting's decisions.
Impeachment cases are very rare and may be brought against Members of the Council of State, of the Supreme Court (Høyesterett), or of the Storting for criminal offenses which they may have committed in their official capacity. The last case was in 1927, when Prime Minister Abraham Berge was acquitted.
Constitutional amendments of 20 February 2007 provide for:
- The abolition of division after the 2009 general election (making the Storting fully unicameral). Legislation will go through two readings, or three in case of dissent, before being passed and sent to the King for assent.
- Changes in impeachment procedures. The current system (indictments raised by the Odelsting and judged by the Lagting and the Supreme Court justices as part of the High Court of the Realm) will be replaced by new system (indictments raised by the Storting in plenary session; impeachment cases will be heard by the five highest-ranking Supreme Court justices and six lay members in one of the Supreme Court courtrooms, instead of the Lagting chamber; Storting representatives no longer perform as lay judges).
The judiciary is referred to as the Courts of Justice of Norway. It consists of a Supreme Court of 18 permanent judges and a chief justice, appellate courts, city and district courts, and conciliation councils. Judges attached to regular courts are appointed by the king-in-council.
Each December Norway gives a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom in thanks for the UK's assistance during World War II. A ceremony takes place to erect the tree in Trafalgar Square.
In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Norway at a shared 1st place (with Iceland) out of 169 countries.
Parties, ideology, and politics
Norway has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments and/or minority cabinets.
Following 2005, 7 political parties are represented in the Storting, divided into Right-wing, Left-wing and Centrists. On the leftist side there is Norwegian Labour Party (Social Democrats), which has been the largest party since 19, and the Socialist Left Party (Socialists). On the right-wing side there is the Progress Party (Liberalism or Libertarian), which is the second-largest party in Norway, and the Conservative Party. The remaining three are Centrist parties; the Christian Democratic Party, the Centre Party (Agrarians and Centrists) and the Liberal Party (Social liberalists).
The current government is a coalition between the Labour Party, Socialist Left Party, and Centre Party, took over government from October 17, 2005 after the 2005 general election, where this so-called red-green alternative received a majority of 87 out of 169 seats in the Storting. The current Prime Minister is Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the Labour Party.
Norway maintains embassies in 86 countries around the world. 60 countries maintain an embassy in Norway, all of them in the capital, Oslo.
Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO and the Council of Europe. The Norwegian electorate has twice rejected treaties of accession to the European Union (EU). Most legislation made by the EU is however implemented in the country due to Norway's membership in the European Economic Area (EEA). This ensures Norway's access to the EU's internal market.
Norway has good relations with most nations, and has strong ties with the member states of the European Union and fellow members of NATO and the COD, and the United States, the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland in particular.
Norway has territorial claims in Antarctica (Queen Maud Land and Peter I Island), and as well a border dispute with Russia over the territorial waters of the Barents Sea.