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Norway's history has long been one of exploration and change. Though its medieval period saw it as the home of the feared Viking raiders, it was at the same time home to shipbuilders, explorers, and merchants.
Frequently allied with and against its closet neighbors, its history has seen it both expand and contract, with periods of great prosperity as well as a few of significant distress.
Today's Norway is one of the world's happiest and wealthiest nations, promoting both a highly advanced economy as well as a society that places an incredible amount of value on individual choice. It is a country that honors its past as it continues to move into the future.
Quick Facts about Norway
- While sushi may have originated in Japan, Norway is actually responsible for introducing salmon sushi to the world.
- Norway was rated the happiest place on Earth to live, and it also holds the top spot on the Human Development Index.
- People in Norway spend more time reading than any other people in the world.
- Norway has the eighth longest coastline in the world, ranking behind Australia and ahead of the United States.
- At 7,302 miles long, Norway is the longest country in Europe.
Norway borders several countries. To the west is Sweden, with which it shares a long border. To the northeast are both Finland and Russia. Across the Skagerrak strait to the South lies Denmark. Norway also borders the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea at its coasts.
The total area of Norway is 148,729 square miles, making it the 67th largest country in the world. The vast majority of its area is on the Scandinavian Penninsula, though it does have significant island holdings. One of the country's more unique land claims is an area called Queen Maud's Land, located in Antarctica.
The official language of Norway is Norwegian, and it is by far the most commonly spoken language in the country. About ninety-five percent of the people in Norway speak Norwegian. There are, however, a few other regional languages spoken. About 6,500 people in Norway speak Romani, while a smaller number speak Norwegian Traveler.
There are also significant enclaves in the country that speak Finnish, Swedish, and Russian. Norway is also one of the countries with the highest level of proficiency in English, with about ninety percent of its residents demonstrating fluency in the language.
The climate varies due to proximity to either the sea or to the mountains. Western Norway tends to have cool summers and dry winters. Eastern Norway, on the other hand, tends to have warm summers and cold winters. Generally speaking, though, Norway tends to be much warmer than average for its latitudes.
Norway does, however, experience a huge amount of variation in the amount of sunlight received throughout the year. In the summer, much of Norway experiences 20 hours of sunlight per day and the areas above the arctic circle get 24 full hours of daylight. In the winter, though, the days are incredibly short and some areas receive no sunlight at all.
Norway is a constitutional monarchy. While the monarch is the head of state, he does have more responsibilities than those in most other constitutional monarchies. The King of Norway is the military's commander-in-chief and he is responsible for appointing the cabinet. The head of the government, however, is the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is chosen by the party with the most seats in Norway's legislature. Norway's legislature is a single-house Parliament called the Storting, which as 169 members.