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A country forming the north-western part of Scandinavia in northern Europe.


Norway's extensive coast, fringed with innumerable small islands, stretches from the Arctic Ocean to the North Sea. Inland it borders on Sweden (a long boundary), Finland, and Russia. It is mountainous, rising to 2470 m (8104 feet) in the Jotunheimen range. Its warm climate is caused by the Gulf Stream, which usually keeps the fiords from freezing.


Norway has one of the world's largest reserves of aluminium, though the main resource is North Sea oil and natural gas; north in the Arctic the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago, contains rich deposits of coal. The extraction of North Sea oil and natural gas increased sharply in the 1970s and 1980s, and they made up about half of exports in the 1990s. Most electricity is generated by hydroelectric sources. Norway's annual fish catch is the second highest in Europe after that of the former Soviet Union. Agriculture is limited since only 3% of land area is cultivable.


Norway was inhabited in prehistoric times by primitive hunting communities. Rivalry between chiefs, and the desire for land provoked excursions by the Norwegian Vikings as far as England, Greenland, and Iceland. Political organization strengthened under Harald Fairhair (c.900) and under Olaf I, who brought Christianity. Olaf II furthered the work of Christian conversion, but was killed in a battle with the Danes. Danish rule (1028–35) followed, and thereafter civil war, and, in 1066, an unsuccessful expedition to assert Harald Hardrada's claim to the English throne. The reign of Haakon IV brought order and, from 1254, Norway traded with the Hanseatic League. In 1397 the Union of Kalmar brought Norway, Sweden, and Denmark together under a single monarch. Danish rule resulted in conversion to the Lutheran Church. The Union was dissolved in 1523, though Norway was ruled by Danish governors until 1814 when it was ceded to Sweden. The country had established its own parliament (Storting) in 1807. A literary revival and a new national consciousness brought demands for complete independence. Responsible government was granted in 1884, and universal male suffrage in 1898. Finally, union with Sweden was unilaterally declared dissolved in June 1905, and Prince Charles of Denmark elected as Haakon VII. A Liberal Party government introduced women's suffrage and social reform, and maintained neutrality during World War I. In World War II, the Germans invaded, defeating Norwegian and Anglo-French forces at Narvik in 1940 and imposing a puppet government under Vidkun Quisling. In 1945 the monarchy, and a Labour government, returned. Norway withdrew its application to join the European Economic Community (1972) after a national referendum, while the exploitation of North Sea oil in the 1970s gave a great boost to the economy. Norway had been a founding member of EFTA in 1960, but by 1990 64% of its export revenue was coming from the EC trade, and only 15% from EFTA. Hence Norway was a leading negotiator for the establishment of the European Economic Area in February 1992. However, Norwegians voted against joining the European Union in a referendum held in 1994. In 1991 King Olav V (1957–91) was succeeded by his son, Harald V.


Subjects: History.

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