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The Norwegian History

Some important facts in the Norwegian History

Early history

Most of Scandinavia has been covered by ice at least three times, and the last ice melted about 14 000 years ago. The first traces of man in Norway dates back to some time after 10,000 BC and they came both from the South and the North East.

The Viking Age (793-1066 AD)

For more than three centuries, the Vikings voyaged and invaded neighbouring countries. Little by little they acquired national identities and became Swedes, Danes and Norwegians. Local chieftains were administrating their own areas of the country until Harald Hårfagre united Norway into one kingdom and became the first king around 885.

The fundamental element for the Vikings was the ships, the instrument and symbol of Viking expansion. Due to the exceptional qualities and navigational skills, they spread across Europe, down the Caspian Sea, to Greenland and Iceland, and in the year 1000 to North America, where Leif Eriksson reached the American continent – about five hundred years earlier than Christopher Columbus. At that time Norway became a Christian country and the ruling king oppressed the Viking religion, but many people continued to hold on to the old beliefs. Traces of this Nordic mythology can still be seen in the names of the days of the week and in Norwegian holiday celebrations.

Union with Denmark

Norway entered the union with Denmark as a consequence of a Royal marriage in the 14th century. In addition the loss of political power was also effected by the Black Death which killed more than 50% of the Norwegian population. The trading activity was taken over by the Hanseatic liege and for about 200 years they controlled the distribution of fish from Bergen to the Baltic area.  

The kingdom was named “Denmark-Norway” and the capital was Copenhagen.  Danish became the official language among state officials from 1450 and a considerable cultural integration took place. By the end of the period the economy in general was growing and the population increasing. The fight for a more independent position within the union was confirmed by establishing the University in Oslo in 1811.

Union with Sweden

The year 1814 is a remarkable year in the Norwegian history. As a result of the Allies decision Norway was handed over to Sweden after the end of the Napoleon war. A constitutional law was formed and signed and the Swedish king Karl Johan came to Norway. The union with Sweden lasted less than 100 years and ended in 1905 as a result of a popular referendum. It was a “technical” union and non cultural integration took place between the two countries. The parliament was divided in two and as the king was obligated to stay in Oslo for at least 3 months per year, the parliament building (Storting) and the Royal Palace was built during the middle of the 19th century – today forming the “heart” of the city centre of Oslo.

Norwegian independence

Norway declared itself neutral during both the First and the Second World War but nevertheless Norway was invaded and occupied by the Germans on April 9th, in 1940. With help from allied forces, Norway was liberated in May 1945 after resisting strongly against the German occupancy.  Norway accepted the Marshall Plan) from The United States and rebuilt the country within five years. After the war, Norway became a member of NATO and in 1952 the Nordic Council was established. The strong will to be “independent” is probably one of several reasons that explains the complexity subject regarding Norway`s relationship to Europe and to the fact that Norwegians have voted “No” to the European Union both in 1972 and in 1994.

Modern times

Since the first discovery of crud oil on the Norwegian continental shelf in 1969, the life standard has increased considerably and the wealth of the “OLJE FOND” represents today about NOK 350 000  per capita.  The petroleum industry continues to be essential for the Norwegian economy and the “Know how” that Norway has obtained during this period, has become an important export article (product).

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