This article deals with the country of Norway. For other meanings see Norway (disambiguation).
|National motto: None|
|Official language||Norwegian and Sami|
|Prime minister||Kjell Magne Bondevik|
- % water
|Ranked 66th |
- Total (2002)
|Separation from Sweden|
June 7, 1905
October 26, 1905
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Ja, vi elsker dette landet|
The Viking period (9th to 11th centuries) was one of national unification and expansion. The Norwegian royal line died out in 1387, and the country entered a period of union with Denmark, since 1450 bound by treaty. This marked the start of what is known in Norway as the "400-year night", as the weaker part in a union with Denmark. After Denmark sided with Napoleon, Norway was ceded to Sweden in 1814.
Growing Norwegian irritation during the 19th century with having to deal with a government in Stockholm spawned the dissolution of the Norway-Sweden union in 1905, when the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to Danish Prince Carl. After a plebiscite approving the establishment of a monarchy, the Parliament unanimously elected him king. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the kings of independent Norway.
Norway was a nonbelligerent during World War I, but as a result of the German invasion and occupation during World War II, Norwegians generally became skeptical of the concept of neutrality and turned instead to collective security. Norway was one of the signers of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and was a founding member of the United Nations. Norway has twice voted against joining the European Union (in 1972 and 1994), but is associated with it via the European Economic Area.
Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The functions of the King are mainly ceremonial, but he has influence as the symbol of national unity. Although the constitution of 1814 grants important executive powers to the king, these are almost always exercised by the Council of State in the name of the King (King's Council). The Council of State or cabinet consists of a prime minister and his council, appointed by the King. Since 1884, parliamentarism has ensured that the cabinet must have the support of the parliament, so the appointment by the King is a formality.
The 165 members of the unicameral Norwegian parliament, the Storting (Norwegian: Stortinget), are elected from the 19 counties for 4-year terms according to a system of proportional representation. After elections, the Storting divides into two chambers, the Odelsting and the Lagting, which meet separately or jointly depending on the legislative issue under consideration.
The special High Court of the Realm hears impeachment cases; the regular courts include the Supreme Court or Høyesterett (17 permanent judges and a president), courts of appeal, city and county courts, the labour court, and conciliation councils. Judges attached to regular courts are appointed by the King in council after nomination by the Ministry of Justice.
The landscape is generally rugged and mountainous, topped by glaciers and its coastline of over 20,000 km is punctuated by steep-sloped inlets known as fjords, as well as a multitude of islands and islets. It is also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun because of its northern location, as part of Norway lies above the Arctic Circle, where in summer the sun does not set, and in winter many of its valleys remain dark for long periods.
Norway straddles the North Atlantic Ocean for its entire length, bound by three different seas: the North Sea to the southwest and its large inlet the Skagerak[?] to the south, the Norwegian Sea to the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. Norway's highest point is the Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 m.
The Norwegian climate is fairly temperate, especially along the coast under the influence of the Gulf stream. The inland climate can be more severe and to the north more subarctic conditions are found.
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.
Norway opted to stay out of the European Union during a referendum in November 1994. However, Norway, together with Iceland and Lichtenstein, participate in the EU's single market via the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.
Economic 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 privatisation in 2000, selling one-third of the then 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 US dollar.
The Norwegian language has two official written forms, called Bokmål and Nynorsk, which do not differ greatly. Bokmål is written by the majority. Several Saami languages are spoken and written in the northern regions by the Saami people. The Germanic Norwegian language and the Finno-Ugric Saami languages are entirely unrelated.
Famous Norwegians include playwright Henrik Ibsen, explorer Roald Amundsen, expressionist painter Edvard Munch, composer Edvard Grieg and novelist Knut Hamsun, winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Nyttårsdag|
|Moveable Thursday||Maundy Thursday||Skjærtorsdag||The Thursday before Easter Sunday|
|Moveable Friday||Good Friday||Langfredag||The Friday before Easter Sunday|
|Moveable Sunday||Easter Sunday||Første påskedag|
|Moveable Monday||Easter Monday||Andre påskedag||The day after Easter Sunday|
|May 1||Labour Day||Arbeidernes dag||International Workers' Day|
|May 17||Constitution Day||Grunnlovsdag||Celebration of the Constitution of 1814|
|Moveable Thursday||Ascension Day||Kristi Himmelfartsdag||40 days after Easter|
|Moveable Sunday||Pentecost||Første pinsedag||50 days after Easter|
|Moveable Monday||Whitmonday||Andre pinsedag||51 days after Easter|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Jul||Informal celebrations on eve of December 24th|
|December 26||Boxing Day||Jul|