History and Background:
Norway rises from two centuries of Viking raids into Europe which where tapered off by the adoption of Christianity by King Olav Tryggvason in 994. Conversion of kingdom of Norway occured 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 ntaionalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remined neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shippping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the ouset 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 adjecent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referanda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.
Official Name: The Kingdom of Norway
Location: Norway is situated in Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden. See map .....
Total Areas: 385 155 km2 - Mainland: 323 758 km2 (7.6 per cent protected)
Svalbard and Jan Mayen: 61 397 km2 (57.1 per cent protected).
Norway mainland consist of 307,398 sq km land and 16,360 sq km water.
Climate: Temperate along coast, modified by North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; rainy year round on west coast.
Landscape: The country has a very elongated shape. Glaciated, mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north. Norway has about two-thirds of its landscape consist of mountains; some 50, 000 islands off its much indented coastline; strategic location adjecent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic; one of the most rugges and longest coastlines in the world.
Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, nickel, fish, timber, hydropower.
Natural Hazards: rockslides, avalanches
Population: 4 640 219 (as pr. 1.Jan.2006)
Ethnic groups: Norwegain, Sami 20,000
Religions: Church of Norway 85,7%, Pentecostal 1%, Roman Catholic 1%, other Christian 2,4%, Muslim 1,8%, other 8,2% (2004)
Languages: Bokmal Norwegian (official), Nynorsk Norwegian (official), small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities; note - Sami is official in six municipalities.
System of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Capital city: Oslo
Administrative divisions: 19 counties (fylker); Akershus, Aust-Agder, Buskerud, Finnmark, Hedmark, Hordaland, More og Romsdal, Nordland, Nord-Trondelag, Oppland, Oslo, Ostfold, Rogaland, Sogn of Fjordane, Sor-Trondelag, Telemark, Troms, Vest-Agder and Vestfold.
Dependent Areas: Bouvet Island, Jan Mayen, Svalbard.
Independence: 7 June 1905 (Norway declared the union with Sweden dissolved); 26 October 1905 (Sweden agreed to the repeal of the union).
National day: Constitution Day, 17 May (1814)
Government: Chief of state: King Harald V (since 17 January 1991); Head of government: Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (since 17 Oct. 2005). Cabinet: State Council appointed by the monarch with the approval of parliament. Elections: none; the monarch id hereditary; following parliamentary elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch with the approval of the parliament.
Flag description: Red with a blue cross outlined in white that extends to the edges fo the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag).
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Note: estimated value from July 2005.