Water has often played a vital role in Norway’s history as well as current day economics with the drilling of oil beneath it. Norwegian Vikings sailed the ocean between 795 to 821 to Ireland and Scotland and founded Waterford, Cork, Dublin and Limerick. They also colonized Iceland in 860, Greenland and ultimately Newfoundland, Canada around 1000.
It is not surprising that Norwegians are drawn to the sea as it has the longest coastline 33,043 miles, of any European country. Although well known for picturesque fjords, Norway also has the deepest European lake Hornindalsvatnet 1,686 feet and highest waterfall Vinnufossen 2,822 feet. Remarkably, Eiksund, the deepest undersea tunnel at a depth of 945 feet with a length of 25,476 feet and the longest road tunnel Laerdal at 15.2 miles are both found in Norway.
Norway’s robust economy results in the average income of $100,000 per person in 2011 and is subsidized by government owned oil found under the sea off the coast near Stavanger. At that time, Norway was the fifth largest oil exporter even more than Kuwait, Nigeria, Canada and the United States. As a result of this, Norway has a generous maternity or paternity leave of 13 months off at 80% salary or 10.5 months at 100%. Norwegians are the best-educated Europeans and 37% have a postsecondary degree. Unfortunately as a downside, Norway and in particular Oslo are among the most expensive places in the world for visitors. However, for Norwegians, the free education, health care and the low crime rate and low cost of public transportation offset the high cost of food, housing and cars. Norwegians have a long life (81.8 years) due to their lifestyle.
North of Trondheim is Norway’s artic region which has traditionally been inhabited by the nomadic Sami people or Laps. Known for the raising of reindeer or caribou they speak various languages closely related to Finnish.
Modern skiing as a sport was first developed in southern Norway with the invention of the cambered ski around 1850 in Telemark. Is it any wonder that Norwegians have won more Winter Olympic medals, a total of 303, than all other countries? In addition they’ve won the highest number of combined Summer and Winter Olympic medals per capita: 95.9 medals per million people.
Norway has existed as an independent country since the dissolution of their union with Sweden in 1905. Before that, from1319 to 1905 it was unified with Denmark, Sweden or both countries. Norway has made contributions to music with the composer Edvard Greg (1843-1907) and art by Symbolist painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944). After being invaded by Germany in WWll, it provided the first Secretary-General of the United Nations, Trygve Lie, who served from 1946 to 1952. Norway also hosts the annual Nobel Peace Prize.
Today, Norway is a vibrant country filled with wealthy, well-educated and happy people in control of their destiny, as were the Norwegian Vikings when they set sail so long ago.