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The history of Norway, the land of the Vikings

After 400 years of being governed by Denmark, the country of the Vikings is not ready to give up its economic and political independence.

From the famous Vikings to the Norwegian monarchy

10,000 years ago the first inhabitants of Norway were the ancestors of the Lapplanders, who were hunter gatherers. Next came the epoque of the famous Vikings. These Nordic pirates set off on maritime expeditions across Europe and established numerous small kingdoms on the way. Norway was unified by King Vik in 885, and became Christian a century later. Those master navigators, the Vikings, disappeared in 1066 when King Harald Hardrada was defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in northern England.

Oslo was a centre of power during the 13th century, before being devastated by the Black Death in 1349. Norway was unified with Denmark in 1380 and then became a Swedish vassal in 1814. The country did try to rebel and declare its independence but was invaded by Sweden and was unable to repel them. In the end it was allowed to retain its democratic constitution but was forcibly unified with Sweden. Norway eventually regained its independence in 1905 and became a monarchy.

Norwegian houses

It is a neutral country that refuses to join the European Union.

Norway is neutral and remained so throughout both world wars. Which didn't stop it being occupied by the Nazis in 1940. The Norwegians resisted the Nazis whose reprisals systematically destroyed their towns and villages.

In 1960, Norway joined the European Free Trade Association . However, the country is keen to retain its economic development model which is based on human sized agriculture and fishing. (If you love fishing then you should try it during a trip to Norway). And for this reason they don't want to get any closer to Europe. Since petrol and natural gas were discovered in the North Sea in the 1970s the country has had one of the highest standards of living in the world. Its inhabitants have twice refused (in 1972 and 1994) to join the European Union. Nowadays Norway is divided into two groups which are firm opposites on the subject of joining the European Union, both within government and amongst the population themselves. The country has been part of the Schengen Area since 2001 and of the European Economic Area.

Tiphaine Leblanc
78 contributions
Updated 3 November 2015
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