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Climate: The Gulf Stream tempers the climate and keeps fjords and harbours ice-free during the winters. Winters are cold; summers can be quite warm. The annual range of temperatures increases generally from east to west and from north to south along the coastline. During the summer in the north of the country you can experience the midnight sun, which means there are long days in the summer and long nights in the winter.

Population: Norway has one of the lowest density rates and little urbanization, so people are scattered. Norwegians mostly populate Norway, but in the far north there are some small groups of Lapps, or Sami people.

Language: The official language of Norway is Norwegian, but there are two types of Norwegian, which are almost identical. One called Bokmål, which is fairly similar to Danish and the other, called Nynorsk, which is mainly spoken in northern Norway. Nynorsk was invented just after the union with Denmark ended, because many Norwegians did not want to be reminded of the Danish impact. Norwegian is similar to German and English so it is not difficult for native speakers of those languages to learn it. In the very north of Norway Finnish and Lapp is also spoken.

Religion: The state church is the evangelical Lutheran and approximately 86% of all Norwegians belong to this church. Most Norwegians only go to church on special occasions like baptism, confirmations, weddings, funerals, Easter and Christmas.

Government: Norway is a constitutional monarchy, like the government of Great Britain. The legislative power is vested in the Parliament, called the Stortinget, whose 165 members are elected for a four-year term. The monarchy is hereditary. It has always been important for the government to take responsibility for the welfare of the individual and Norway has been the leading country in many aspects of welfare.

 

History: Harald the Fair-haired became the first supreme ruler of Norway in 872 A.D. Between 800 and 1000 A.D. the Vikings of Norway and the rest of Scandinavia, raided and occupied parts of Europe. Christianity was introduced in the year 1030. The country was united with Denmark from 1381 to 1814 and with Sweden from 1814 to 1905. When the Swedish Union was dissolved in 1905, a Danish

 

 prince, Håkon VII, was named king of Norway. Nazi Germany attacked Norway on 9 April 1940. The Norwegian resistance was strong and the Nazis responded by destroying almost every town or village in northern Norway during their retreat. On 8 May 1945, Norway was liberated. Norway is, and always has been, a politically stable country. A small country, Norway has found it important to extend itself to other nations and at the same time maintain its individuality. Norway joined NATO in 1949, but is not a member of the European Union. In the 1960s, oil resources were found in the North Sea, which has led to a very high standard of living.

Economy: Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. Agriculture remains an important resource of the country, even though it supports only 8% of the people. Farmers derive an important part of their income from forests holdings. Forests cover about a quarter of the land area, with 80% of the forest area being privately owned. Fisheries and related industries are an important feature of the Norwegian economy. The Norwegian merchant fleet is primarily engaged in overseas traffic. Industrially, lumber, paper, production, shipbuilding, oil and natural gas production, and the mining of iron ore and pyrites are the backbone of Norway’s economy.

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