Norway

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Norway is a country west of Sweden on the Scandinavian Peninsula. A major source of income for Norway is the oil, gas and fishing industry. Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government.

The capital of Norway is Oslo.

History

Settled around 2000 B.C. Famous in the Middle Ages for its fearless warriors, explorers and traders, the Vikings, who controlled most of Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and parts of France, Britain, and Ireland between 800 AD and 1100 AD, and were also known to travel as far as Constantinople, Greece, Northern Africa and Newfoundland. A number of small Norwegian communities were gradually organized into larger regions in the 9th century, and around the year 900 King Harald Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre) unified the realm and became its first supreme ruler. After being united under a single king and christianed, Norway reigned over Denmark and Sweden during the Kalmar Union (1397-1523), which ended when Sweden seceded and Norway and its possessions quickly sank to the status of provinces under Denmark. This lasted until 1814, when Denmark was defeated in the Napoleonic wars and ceded Norway to Sweden in the Treaty of Kiel. In an attempt to retain control over Norway despite the treaty, Denmark encouraged representatives of various social and political factions to gather at Eidsvoll to declare independence, draft a constitution and elect a king (who happened to be the Crown Prince of Denmark, but what the heck). Sweden responded later the same year by waging war on Norway, which forced King Christian to renounce his claim and return to Denmark. Sweden then acknowledged the newly drafted constitution. Norway entered a union with Sweden. The union was dissolved in 1905 after several years of political unrest. Prince Charles of Denmark was elected King of Norway by referendum and assumed the throne under the Norwegian name of Haakon VII.

Norway remained neutral during World War I. As World War II erupted, Norway insisted on remaining neutral despite warnings from some political factions that the country's strategic importance was too great for Germany to leave it alone, and attempts from the same factions to obtain political consensus to build up sufficient defences to withstand an invasion long enough for Allied reinforcements to arrive. In a surprise dawn attack on April 9th, 1940, German forces attacked Oslo and the major Norwegian ports (Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik) and quickly gained footholds in those cities and the surrounding areas. Vidkun Quisling attempted a coup the same day, but was met with such strong resistance from the people that the Germans deposed him within a week and installed a bureaucratic administration in lieu of a government. However, in 1942 this administration was replaced with a regular (if not democratically elected) government headed by Vidkun Quisling who was named minister president by German commander Josef Terboven.

Despite the strength of the German position and the lack of air support, the Norwegian armed forces kept up an organized military resistance for more than two months - longer than any other country except the Soviet Union. King Haakon VII and his government fled to Britain on June 7th, the same day the French forces that had retaken Narvik abandoned it to return to a quickly disintegrating France. The Norwegian resistance movement (both civilian resistance and some pockets of military resistance that did not surrender in 1940) remained very active throughout the war. The Norwegian ships that were in allied waters at the time were requisitioned by the exiled Norwegian Government in London. The Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission was established in London shortly thereafter, and the name abbreviated to Nortraship, following a suggestion from the British Postal Services. Main duties were that of war transports, supply services etc. including the supply of food, ammunition and reinforcements to the front lines, besides evacuating the wounded. Nortraship had 1081 ships with 33 000 sailors. 570 ships were lost (these numbers vary according to source), along with 3734 sailors.

Despite its neutrality, Norway was not able to avoid occupation by Germany in World War II. 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. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.

Norway resumed allowing whaling with low quotas in 1993, in spite of protests from environmental organizations. Norway is a firm believer in sustainable development of its natural resources, and firmly believe that a quota of aprox. 500 out of about 120.000 whales is reasonable.

Norway's kings in modern times, with periods of reign:

Misc

Mostly from the CIA World Factbook 2000.

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