Norway Facts

Norway Facts and History


Norway – land of fjords and glaciers

Norway, located in the far north of Europe and blessed with wild coastlines, fjords, beautiful forests and mountains, is an El Dorado for every nature lover. As the country with the sixth largest land mass in Europe, Norway is extremely sparsely populated with just 4.5 million residents. In return, the fascinating country is one of the richest and most expensive countries in Europe thanks to its large oil reserves. Norway, which is often referred to as the “land of fjords and glaciers”, has the northernmost point in Europe, the North Cape.

The country is not a member of the European Union, but membership in the European Economic Zone guarantees full access to the single European market. In addition, Norway has joined the Schengen Agreement, so that regular controls no longer take place at the borders with the EU. And in 2008 the city of Stavanger on the west coast of the country was the “European Capital of Culture”.

A regulation that is unique in the world came into force on January 1, 2008. Accordingly, at least 40% of the supervisory board members in companies must be women. Since 2003, the Norwegian government has awarded the 6 million crown Abel Prize for special achievements in the field of mathematics.


We express our condolences and deepest condolences to all the victims and relatives of the 77 victims of the gruesome terrorist attack in Oslo and on the island of Utøya.

Name of the country Kingdom of Norway/Kongeriket Norge
Form of government Parliamentary monarchy
Head of state King Harald V (since January 17, 1991)
Geographical location Northern Europe
National anthem Yes, vi elsker dette lands (Yes, we love this country)
Population approx. 5.3 million (Credit: Countryaah: Norway Population)
Ethnicities approx. 96% are Norwegians, including the minorities of approx. 40,000 Saami (Lapps) and approx. 10,000 Finns (Kvener). The proportion of foreigners is around 4%.
Religions Norway has an official Protestant state church based on the Evangelical Lutheran religion to which 84.8% of Norwegians belong.
Languages Norwegian and in some districts also Sami
Capital Oslo
Surface 323,802 km²
Highest mountain Galdhøppigen, 2,469 m
Longest river Glomma with a length of 598 km
Largest lake Mjøsa with an area of 368 km²
International license plate N
Currency Norwegian krone = 100 Øre
Time difference to CET = CET
International phone code 0047
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .no

Norway: history

Until around the year 1000

The settlement of Norway probably began after the last ice age, i.e. around 8000 BC. Chr. Gatherers and hunters probably followed the gradually melting ice to the north. The Stone Age megalithic culture of Scandinavia was followed by Germanic influences in the Bronze and Iron Ages.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, around the year 900, Harald Harfagre (Harfagre = beautiful hair), who can be regarded as the first Norwegian king, united a number of tribal areas into one empire on the territory that corresponds to today’s Norway. According to legend, he promised his wife Gyda that he would not cut his hair as long as he had not united the country into one kingdom.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

King Olav the Saint replaced Nordic-Germanic mythology with Christianity around 1030 (Battle of Stiklestad). Traces of Nordic mythology are said to have survived in rural areas until the 19th century. The old gods like Thor and Odin were replaced by Kvitekrist (White Christian). Christianity, however, took up old pagan festivals such as Jól (Christmas is still called “Jul” in Norwegian). The days still have pagan names in Norwegian. The Thursday after the Donnergod Gate is called “Torsdag”, Wednesday is “Onsdag”, i.e. Odin’s day.

King Olav was buried in Trondheim. Nidarosdomen was built over the grave, the only cathedral in Norway in which the burial chamber still exists.

In 1349 Norway was hit particularly hard by a plague epidemic. Pastors who became infected during the Last Unction were particularly affected. Since the clergy made up the educated elite at that time, the Black Death left a country largely without an elite. This severely weakened the position of power in the north. In addition, many places were depopulated. Therefore there are still many names like “Ødegard” and “Ødemark” (Øde = desert).

Kalmar Union (1389 – 1521)

After Queen Margaret of Denmark and Norway were also elected regent in Sweden, the three countries were united in a union. The union was established by treaty in 1450. Norway’s position became weaker and weaker during this period.

Union with Denmark (1521-1814)

After the dissolution of the Kalmar Union, from a purely legal point of view, Norway was in a union with Denmark. In reality, however, the country had become a Danish province. The Norwegians had to z. B. go to Copenhagen to find an apprenticeship.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

Union with Sweden (1814-1905)

Since the Danish king was on Napoleon’s side, Denmark had to cede Norway to Sweden after the fall of Napoleon. In Norway, a power group took advantage of the chaotic situation to enforce a constitution. The Danish Prince Christian Frederik was elected King of Norway. However, he could only hold his power for a few days because complete independence for Norway was not enforceable. However, the Swedish King Charles XIV granted Norway many rights. The Basic Law was accepted by Sweden. (It is still valid today, with minor changes.) The relationship between Norway and Sweden was formally a personal union, which means that the two countries had the same head of state and a common foreign policy.

20th century until today

Union dissolution (1905)

During the 19th century, a strong popular movement for full independence emerged in Norway. In addition, there was a cultural boom at this time (e.g. through Ibsen and Bjørnson), which also contributed to the national movement. This development led to two referendums. One led to the dissolution of the union with Sweden and the second to the enthronement of the Danish Prince Carl, who was proposed as King of Norway. This episode is known as the biggest news scandal in Swedish history because the Swedish secret service believed that the Norwegians would never say “yes”. Sweden was militarily much stronger and could have simply refused Norway the referendum. However, because of this misjudgment, they waived a corresponding threat. On the 7th June 1905 Norway left the Union and on November 18, Prince Carl of Denmark became King Haakon VII of Norway. They wanted to have a representative of the Danish royal family, as this family relationship ensured the continuation of the Norwegian nobility.

World War I

Norway tried to maintain neutrality during World War I. But it was indirectly involved through the merchant fleet and predominantly on the side of the Entente. 1156 Norwegian sailors were lost in the unlimited submarine war. The shipowners benefited from good freight rates. Since part of the profits were passed on as wages, the business was lucrative for the seafarers. Much discussion has subsequently been held about the moral aspects of this practice.

Interwar period

Norway experienced a brief economic boom right after the First World War. After that, however, the economic situation deteriorated. Because of the par policy (par = nominal value; here with the gold standard), Norway was hit hardest by a deflationary crisis in the first half of the 1920s. To strengthen the Norwegian krone, you needed high interest rates, which over time led to a price drop. That sparked a debt crisis. Real estate prices fell until the houses bought no longer secured the loans.

After gold backing was secured in 1927, things picked up. Therefore, Norway was not hit so badly by the Great Depression in 1929. The economic development was also relatively stable in the 1930s. The global economic crisis was also noticeable in Norway, but not as intense as in the 1920s. In 1928 the Labor Party (Social Democrats) came to power for the first time.

Second World War

Norway also adopted a policy of neutrality during World War II. Even so, the British laid mines on the Norwegian coast in early April 1940. On April 9, 1940 the country was attacked by Germany (Operation Weser Exercise). Despite the overwhelming power, it was possible to sink the German warship Blücher with the cannons and torpedoes of the Oscarsborg fortress. This gave the king and government time to flee to Great Britain via Tromsø. The Norwegian royal family, King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V), gained a very strong role and a lot of sympathy in Norwegian society in exile. The speeches of King Haakon VII broadcast from London, which could be heard on illegal radios, had a major impact on morale and mood in the occupied country.

The hostilities of the invasion lasted three weeks in southern Norway and two months in the north. Overall, Norway was not hit very hard by the war. Of the 1,500 Jews who lived in Norway when the Nazis invaded Norway, around half were murdered during this time.

Post-war period

After the war, Norway became a member of NATO (1948). But the times up to the 1950s after the war were characterized by great poverty and shortage of goods. The country was slow to recover. The numerous refugees from poor Finnmark caused an enormous housing shortage, these problems could be solved by the government, and Gerhardsen is lovingly called “Landsfader” (country father).

After oil was found in the North Sea in 1967, Norway developed into one of the richest countries in Europe. In 1957, Olav V (1903-1991), the son of the first king of Norway – Haakon V (1872-1957) – became king of the country. Crown Prince Harald (born 1937), Olav’s son, met and fell in love with Sonja Haraldsen (born 1937), the daughter of a Norwegian master tailor, in 1959. The engagement took place after much resistance – also against the initial resistance of his father, King Olav V, in 1968. And shortly afterwards, the two married in July 1968 to the great cheer of the Norwegians. After the death of Olav V in 1991, Harald King and Sonja became Queen of Norway. Their daughter Märtha Louise was born in 1971 and the heir to the throne Haakon in 1973. Incidentally, Haakon married Mette Marit in 2001 – this marriage also met with critical voices beforehand. After the change in the law on succession to the throne, her daughter ingrid Alexandra (born 2004) can now become Queen of Norway.

Terrorist attack

On July 22, 2011, a bomb was detonated in the government district of Oslo, killing eight people and injuring many. A few hours later, the perpetrator – the 32-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, opened fire on children and young people on the small holiday island of Utøya. The island, about 30 km from Oslo, belongs to the Norwegian Social Democratic Youth Organization. 69 children and young people were killed in the slaughter. The assassin was then arrested without resistance.

Norway Facts