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Norway

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Major Cities of Norway in the continent of Europe

Oslo, NorwayBergen, NorwayStavanger, NorwayTrondheimDrammenFredrikstadSkienKristiansandTromsoSarpsborgAlesundSandefjordArendalTonsbergPorsgrunn

Norway Photo Gallery
Norway Realty



THE NORWAY COAT OF ARMS
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Location of Norway within the Continent of Europe
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Map of Norway
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Flag Description of Norway:The flag of Norway was officially adopted on July 17, 1821.

The red, white and blue colors are said to be influenced by the French Tricolore (as a symbol of liberty). Inspiration also came from the flags of the United Kingdom and the United States. The off-centered white cross (The Scandinavian Cross) is taken from the Danish flag, and the blue cross is the Cross of Sweden.

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Official name Kongeriket Norge (Kingdom of Norway)
Form of government constitutional monarchy with one legislative house (Storting, or Parliament [169])
Head of state Monarch: King Harald V
Head of government Prime Minister: Erna Solberg
Capital Oslo
Official languages Norwegian; Sami1
Official religion Evangelical Lutheran
Monetary unit Norwegian krone (pl. kroner; NOK)
Population (2013 est.) 5,084,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 148,7212
Total area (sq km) 385,1862
Urban-rural population

Urban: (2011) 79.4%
Rural: (2011) 20.6%

Life expectancy at birth

Male: (2012) 79.2 years
Female: (2012) 83.5 years

Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate

Male: 100%
Female: 100%

GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 102,610

1Official locally.

2Includes Svalbard and Jan Mayen.


Background of Norway

Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remained neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shipping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). 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. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU. Key domestic issues include immigration and integration of ethnic minorities, maintaining the country's extensive social safety net with an aging population, and preserving economic competitiveness.

Norway, 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 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, Roald Amundsen, and Thor Heyerdahl. 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, painter Edvard Munch, novelists Knut Hamsun and Sigrid Undset, and playwright Henrik Ibsen. 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!”

Geography of Norway

The Land

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, 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 through the Silurian geologic period (i.e., from about 540 to 415 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 (i.e., about the last 2.6 million years), 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, 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.


Demography of Norway

The People

  • 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 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, 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, Sami is the official language of a number of municipalities.

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, 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 to 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 of Norway

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. In an effort to reduce economic downturns caused by drops in oil prices, the government in 1990 established the Government Petroleum Fund (renamed the Government Pension Fund Global in 2006), into which budget surpluses were deposited for investment overseas. 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. The Norwegian economy remained robust into the early 21st century, and Norway fared much better than many other industrialized countries during the international financial and economic crisis that began in 2008. Nevertheless, foreign demand for non-petroleum-related Norwegian products weakened during that period, and, though not a participant in the single European currency, Norway was not immune to the pressures of the euro-zone debt crisis.

About one-fourth of Norway’s commodity imports are food and consumer goods (including motor vehicles); 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 1 percent of the private businesses and industrial companies in Norway have more than 100 employees. Nonetheless, they account for more than two-fifths of the private industrial labour force. The smaller companies are usually family-owned, whereas most of the larger ones are joint-stock companies. Only a few larger concerns are state-owned, most notably Statoil, the state-owned petroleum industry, as well as the railways and the postal service. The state also has large ownership stakes in hydropower stations and electricity plants.


Agriculture, forestry, and fishing-Norway

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 the 1950 total of more than 200,000. Much of the abandoned acreage was absorbed into the remaining farms. Nevertheless, many farms remain small; more than half have more than 25 acres (10 hectares) of farmland, while less than one-tenth 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.--->>>>Read More.<<<

  • 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 were largely responsible for a boundary dispute between Norway and Russia. Negotiations between the two countries began in the mid-1970s and involved competing approaches to the line separating their claims in the Barents Sea. In 2010 the two countries agreed to a boundary that divided the contested area (67,600 square miles [175,000 square km]) into approximately equal sections.

OIL AND GAS

By the mid-1990s Norway had become the world’s second largest oil exporter (behind Saudi Arabia), and it remained among the world’s most important oil exporters in the early 21st century. 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 about one-tenth of government revenues came from offshore oil and gas. Export earnings from oil and gas continued to climb into the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, when they tapered off somewhat. By the first decade of the 21st century, oil and gas revenue accounted for about one-fifth of overall government revenue. Oil production peaked in 2001 but remained steady into the second decade of the 21st century, while that of natural gas has continued to increase significantly since 1993.

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.

HYDROELECTRICITY

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 of Norway’s electrical consumption needs. At the beginning of the 21st century, Norway’s per capita production of hydroelectricity was the world’s highest, and renewable energy constituted more than three-fifths of the country’s total energy consumption. Deep in the Vestlandet fjords lie many of Norway’s largest smelting plants, constructed there to exploit the great hydroelectric resources of the region.

ELECTROMETALLURGY

A significant portion of the country’s production of electricity is utilized by its electrometallurgical industry, which is Europe’s largest producer of aluminum. Norway was also an important producer of magnesium until the early 21st century, when the country’s inability to compete effectively caused it to withdraw from the world market. 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 is among the world’s principal producers 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 between one-fifth and one-fourth of Norway’s export earnings. Metals and engineering are the two main subgroups, each accounting for more than one-tenth of nonpetroleum exports. 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.

The Østlandet region plays a particularly prominent role in mining and manufacturing. 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 more than two-fifths 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, Sweden (which is the greatest contributor of imports to Norway), and the Netherlands. Principal imports include machinery, motor vehicles, ships, iron and steel, chemicals and chemical products, 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 is a popular tourist destination, especially for Germans, Swedes, and Danes, and the tourism industry employs more than 5 percent of the workforce. In addition, public-sector employment is high in comparison with most other industrialized countries: about three-tenths of all workers in Norway are 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 more than one-tenth 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 (or consumption) tax of about 25 percent—among the highest value-added taxes in Europe—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 (Yrkesorganisasjonenes Sentralforbund; YS) and the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (Akademikerne).

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 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 their establishment and their operation. Bus transport plays a key role in public transportation, aided by many dozens of 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. The Lærdal-Aurland tunnel (15.2 miles [24.5 km]) became, when it opened in 2000, the world’s longest road tunnel. Located along the route linking Oslo and Bergen, 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 in the early 21st century more than nine-tenths of the population had Internet access.

Government and Society of Norway

Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government.

The Royal House is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. The functions of the King, Harald V, are mainly ceremonial, but the King retains 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. However, the reserve powers vested in the Monarch by the constitution are significant and were last used during World War II.

The Council of State consists of a Prime Minister and other ministers, formally appointed by the King. Parliamentarism has evolved since 1884 and requires that the Cabinet have the approval of the Parliament, and that the appointment of the Cabinet by the King is a formality only when there is a clear majority party in Parliament. But after elections resulting in no clear majority to any party, as has happened for the last twenty years or so, the King's political influence is real. In addition to heading government meetings every Friday at Oslo Palace (Council of State), the King has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. The King opens the Parliament every September, he receives ambassadors to the Norwegian court, and he is the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Head of the Church of Norway.

The Norwegian parliament, Stortinget, currently has 169 members (increased from 165, effective from the elections of September 12, 2005). The members are elected from the nineteen counties for four-year terms according to a system of proportional representation. When voting on legislation, the Storting – until the 2009 election – divides itself into two chambers, the Odelsting and the Lagting. 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. Nowadays, however, the Lagting rarely disagrees, effectively rubber-stamping the Odelstings decisions. A constitutional amendment of February 20, 2007, repeals the division after the 2009 general election.

Impeachment cases are very rare (the last being in 1927, when Prime Minister Abraham Berge was acquitted) 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.

Prior to an amendment to the Norwegian Constitution on February 20, 2007, indictments were raised by the Odelsting and judged by the Lagting and the Supreme Court justices as part of the High Court of the Realm. In the new system, impeachment cases will be heard by the five highest ranking Supreme Court justices and six lay members in one of the Supreme Court courtrooms (previously cases were heard in the Lagting chamber). Storting representatives may not perform as lay judges. Indictments will be raised by the Storting in a plenary session.

The Storting otherwise functions as a unicameral parliament and after the 2009 general election the division into Odelsting and Lagting for passing legislation will be abolished. Legislation will then have to go through two – three in case of dissent – readings before being passed and sent to the King for assent.

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court (eighteen permanent judges and a chief justice), courts of appeal, city and district courts, and conciliation councils. Judges attached to regular courts are appointed by the King in council.

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 nineteen members.

Norway is divided into nineteen first-level administrative regions known as fylker (counties); and 431 second-level kommuner (municipalities). The fylke is the intermediate administration between state and municipality. The King is represented in every county by a "Fylkesmann."

  • Constitutionally protected freedoms

Freedom of expression is established in Article 100 of the Constitution of Norway. Freedom of religion is established in Article 2 of the Constitution, which also establishes the state religion as "Evangelical Lutheran." The press is not censored, but most editors adhere to self-imposed commandments of caution ("Vær Varsom-plakaten"). Public radio and television broadcast mostly without interference from the government, although permission to broadcast depends on the program spectrum. Broadcast advertisement is regulated, with particular restrictions on paid political messages and advertising directed at children.

The constitution also forbids retroactive laws, punishment not based on laws and court decisions, and the use of torture. Capital punishment for high crime during wartime was abolished in 1979. [6]

Norway is the current top-ranked nation in the UN Human Development Index. In 1999, the Human Rights conventions of the United Nations and the Council of Europe were instituted as law in Norway and given superiority to all laws after the constitution. [7] Additionally, Norwegian lawyers have joined the Council of Europe's Committee Against Torture to express their concern about the long-term detention of criminal defendants and the use of solitary confinement in Norway, deeming it to be torture. [8] The use of leg-irons and handcuffs on a group of armed robbers who shot and killed a police officer in 2004 was deemed illegal by Norwegian courts. Long processing times for asylum seekers and the treatment of those arriving without identity papers has also come under discussion.


Social laws

In 2005, the international conventions against discrimination of women and race discrimination were incorporated in to (but not made superior to) Norwegian law. Amnesty International has recently focused on violence against women in Norway and a shortage of public services to victims of violence. [9]

Homosexuality was officially decriminalized in 1972 and homosexual partnerships legalized in 1993. According to Statistics Norway (SSB), 192 homosexual partnerships were recorded in 2004. Since 2002, it has become possible for homosexual partners to adopt each other's children from previous relationships, although joint adoption is yet to be allowed.


Military

Norway has compulsory military service for men. Conscripts are drafted at age 18 for initial service of between six to twelve months. Service may begin at age 17 with parental consent. After completion of the initial service period, personnel are transferred to reserve units, which may be called up for periodic training until age 44. Conscientious objectors serve 12 months in an alternative civilian national service. If a candidate refuses to attend the assessment of fitness, where any objections to future military service are to be stated, he is liable to prosecution. A person who is deemed fit for service and who is not a conscientious objector but still refuses military service is also liable to prosecution. Changes to the structure of the armed forces has resulted in a lower demand for conscripts; the number of males eligible to serve is decreasing as well.


Foreign relations

Since the end of the Cold War, Norway has developed a model to foreign policy known as the "Norwegian model," the goal of which is to contribute to peace and stability through coordinated response among governmental and non-governmental Norwegian organizations; acting as an honest broker in international conflicts; an informal network of Norwegian individuals with access and credibility among parties; and the willingness to take the long view in international issues.

The post-war foreign policy of Norway can described along four dimensions:

  • Strategic alliances

Norway's strategic importance for waging war in the North Atlantic became important in the failed neutrality policy of World War II. Norway became a founding member of NATO in order to ally itself with countries that shared its democratic values. Both through diplomatic and military cooperation, Norway has played a visible role in the formation and operations of NATO. It allowed a limited number of military bases and exercises to be based in its territories, which caused some controversy when NATO decided to put forward bases in Northern Norway in preparation for a conflict with the Soviet Union.

  • International cooperation

Norway supports international cooperation and the peaceful settlement of disputes, recognizing the need for maintaining a strong national defense through collective security. Accordingly, the cornerstones of Norwegian policy are active membership in NATO and support for the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Norway also pursues a policy of economic, social, and cultural cooperation with other Nordic countries, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, through the Nordic Council, Its relations with Iceland is very close due to the cultural bond the two nations share. Norway ended a two-year term on the UN Security Council in January 2003, and chaired the Iraq Sanctions Committee.

Norway is the only Scandinavian country that is not a member of the European Union. Membership has been proposed within Norway, and referendums over Norwegian membership were held in 1972 and 1994. Popular opinion was split between rural and urban areas. The present government has tabled the possibility for future membership.

Norway also has a history of co-operation and friendship with the United Kingdom, due to their shared cultural heritage since Viking times. Norway's Embassy to Britain is located in London, and it also maintains a Consulate General in Edinburgh.

  • Foreign aid

In addition to strengthening traditional ties with developed countries, Norway seeks to build friendly relations with developing countries and has undertaken humanitarian and development aid efforts with selected African and Asian nations.

Third party mediation in international conflicts Norway has played an active role as a third party mediator in a number of international conflicts. The late foreign minister Johan Jørgen Holst was instrumental in forging the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. Thorvald Stoltenberg was part of the mediation team in seeking an end to the war in Bosnia. Norway has contributed both mediation services and financial assistance in Guatemala.

Norwegian diplomats have acted as mediators in Sudan, Sri Lanka and Colombia in the early twenty-first century.

culture Life of Norway

History of Norway

Medieval Norway

The history of Norway before the age of the Vikings is indistinct from that of the rest of Scandinavia. In the 9th cent. the country was still divided among the numerous petty kings of the fylker. Harold I, of the Yngling or Scilfing dynasty (which claimed descent from one of the old Norse gods), defeated the petty kings (c.900) and conquered the Shetlands and the Orkneys, but failed to establish permanent unity. Harold's campaigns drove many nobles and their followers to settle in Iceland and France. In the next two centuries Norsemen raided widely in W Europe and established the Norse duchy of Normandy. Harold himself concentrated on developing a dynasty; before he died (c.935) the country was divided among his sons, but one of them, Haakon I, defeated (c.935) his brothers and temporarily reunited the kingdom.

Christianity, brought by English missionaries, gained a foothold under Olaf I and was established by Olaf II (reigned 1015–28). Olaf II was driven out of Norway by King Canute of England and Denmark, in league with discontented Norwegian nobles; however, his son, Magnus I, was restored (1035) to the Norwegian throne. Both Magnus and his successor, Harold III, played a vital part in the complex events then taking place in England and Denmark. After Harold died while invading England (1066), Norway entered a period of decline and civil war, precipitated by conflicting claims to the throne.

Among the major events of 12th-century Norwegian history were the mission of Nicholas Breakspear (later Pope Adrian IV), who organized the Norwegian hierarchy, and the rule of Sverre, who created a new nobility grounded in commerce and, with the help of the popular party, the Birkebeiner, consolidated the royal power. His grandson, Haakon IV, was put on the throne by the Birkebeiner in 1217; under him and under Magnus VI (reigned 1263–80) medieval Norway reached its greatest flowering and enjoyed peace and prosperity. During this time Iceland and Greenland recognized Norwegian rule.

  • Norway and Denmark

The separate development of Norway was halted by the accession (1319) of Magnus VII, who was also king of Sweden. He was unpopular in Norway, which he was compelled to surrender (1343) to his son, Haakon VI, husband of Margaret I of Denmark. Margaret subsequently united the rule of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in her person and in 1397 had the Kalmar Union drawn up. Although the union was strictly a personal one, Norway virtually ceased to exist as a separate kingdom and was ruled by Danish governors for the following four centuries. Its power had greatly declined even before Margaret's accession, however, and its trade had been taken over by the Hanseatic League, which maintained its chief northern office at Bergen.

Norway's political history became essentially that of Denmark. Christian III of Denmark (1535–59) introduced Lutheranism as the state religion. Under Danish rule Norway lost territory to Sweden but developed economically. The fishing industry flourished (late 17th cent.), lumbering became an important industry (18th cent.), the merchant class grew, and Norway became a naval power. During the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was blockaded by the British. In 1814, Denmark, which had sided with France, was obliged to consent to the Treaty of Kiel, by which it ceded Norway to the Swedish crown in exchange for W Pomerania.

  • Norway and Sweden

The Norwegians resisted union with Sweden and attempted to set up a separate kingdom, with a liberal constitution and a parliament, under Prince Christian (later King Christian VIII of Denmark). A Swedish army obliged Norway to accept Charles XIII of Sweden, but the act of union of 1814 recognized Norway as an independent kingdom, in personal union with Sweden, with its own constitution and parliament. Despite some Swedish concessions to growing Norwegian nationalism, Swedish-Norwegian relations were strained throughout the 19th cent. Johan Sverdrup, the Liberal leader, succeeded in making the ministry responsible to parliament despite royal opposition (1884), but other problems remained.

The Norwegian interest in obtaining greater participation in foreign policy came to a crisis in the late 19th cent. over the issue of a separate Norwegian consular service, justified by the spectacular growth of Norwegian shipping and commercial interests. Finally, in 1905, the Storting declared the dissolution of the union and the deposition of Oscar II. Sweden acquiesced after a plebiscite showed Norwegians nearly unanimously in favor of separation; in a second vote Norway chose to become a monarchy, and parliament elected the second son of Frederick VIII of Denmark king of Norway as Haakon VII.

  • Modern Norway

Two important features in Norwegian history of the late 19th and early 20th cent. were the large-scale emigration to the United States and the great arctic and antarctic explorations by such notable men as Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Three outstanding cultural figures of the period were Edvard Grieg, Henrik Ibsen, and Edvard Munch. In World War I, Norway remained neutral. The industrial development of Norway, spurred by the harnessing of water power, contributed to the rise of the Labor (socialist) party, which has predominated in Norwegian politics since 1927. In the 1930s much social welfare legislation was passed, including public health and housing measures, pensions, aid to the disabled, and unemployment insurance.

Norway attempted to remain neutral in World War II, but in Apr., 1940, German troops invaded, and in a short time nearly the whole country was in German hands. King Haakon and his cabinet set up a government in exile in London, and the Norwegian merchant fleet was of vital assistance to the Allies throughout the war. Despite the attempts of Vidkun Quisling to promote collaboration with the Germans, the people of Norway defied the occupation forces. German troops remained in Norway until the war ended in May, 1945. Although half of the Norwegian fleet was sunk during the war, Norway quickly recovered its commercial position. Postwar economic policy included a degree of socialism and measures such as price, interest, and dividend controls.

Norway was one of the original members of the United Nations (the Norwegian Trygve Lie was the first UN Secretary-General), and it became a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. King Olaf V succeeded to the throne in 1957. Norway joined the European Free Trade Association in 1959. Norwegian voters rejected membership in the European Community (now the European Union) in 1972, but trade agreements with the market were made the next year. Between 1965 and 1971 the Labor party was out of power for the first time since 1936.

The Labor party returned to power in 1971 under the leadership of Trygve Bratteli, whose government resigned but was restored to power in the 1973 elections. Bratteli was succeeded as prime minister by Odvar Nordli in 1976, who was quickly succeeded (1977) by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first woman prime minister. Brundtland was defeated by Conservative Kåre Willoch in the 1981 election, but she returned to the office of prime minster in 1986 and 1990. In 1991, Harold V succeeded his father Olaf V as king of Norway.

Norway sparked international controversy in 1992 when it refused to conform to the International Whaling Treaty (see whaling). During 1993, the Norwegian government facilitated secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which led to agreements on Palestinian self-rule. Norwegian voters again rejected membership in the European Union (EU) in 1994. Bruntland resigned in 1996 and was replaced by Thorbjørn Jagland. Following elections in 1997, Jagland resigned and Christian Democrat Kjell Magne Bondevik became prime minister, heading a center-right coalition government that included the Center and Liberal parties.

In Mar., 2000, Bondevik resigned after losing a key vote in parliament, and Labor party leader Jens Stoltenberg formed a new government. In parliamentary elections in Sept., 2001, Labor suffered a significant setback, with nonsocialist opposition parties winning a bare majority of the seats. Bondevik again became prime minister, heading a center-right minority government consisting of the Christian Democrat, Conservative, and Liberal parties.

Parliamentary elections in Sept., 2005, brought Labor and its allies into office, and Stoltenberg became prime minister. The far-right Progress party, espousing a populist, anti-immigration platform, became the largest opposition party after the vote. The Labor-led coalition government remained in office after the Sept., 2009, parliamentary elections. In July, 2011, the country was stunned by the bombing of government offices in Oslo, which killed eight, and the killing of 68 people at a Labor party youth camp; the attacks were by an extreme rightist who accused the government of allowing the Islamization of Norwegian society. The Sept., 2013, parliamentary elections resulted in a victory for the conservative opposition, though Labor won a plurality. The Conservative party formed a minority coalition government with the populist Progress party, and Conservative leader Erna Solberg became prime minister.

Norway in 2004

Norway 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 ... >>>Read On<<<

Disclaimer

This is not the official site of this country. Most of the information in this site were taken from the U.S. Department of State, The Central Intelligence Agency, The United Nations, [1],[2], [3], [4], [5],[6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14],[15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], [23], [24],[25], [26], [27], [28], [29], [30],[31], [32], [33], [34], and the [35].

Other sources of information will be mentioned as they are posted.