Occupying the western seaboard of Scandinavia, Norway is a long thin strip of land that stretches right up into the Arctic Circle. Half of the country is mountainous, and apart from Oslo, Bergen and the western coastline – especially the Fjords – I don’t suppose many people know too much else about the country – me included.
What I do know is that the total population is just over the 5 million mark with about 1 million living in the Oslo urban area.
There are also around 30,000 indigenous Sami (Lapps) that still live (mainly) in the north.
Apart from its majestic scenery, Norway is probably best known for its Viking history and famous explorers. From the 9th century onwards, the Vikings raided Europe and explored areas as far away as Greenland and North America, but it all came to a sudden end when the Black Death decimated the population during the 14th century.
The Danes then took over and remained in control until 1814 when the country was handed over to Sweden.
Norway eventually regained independence in 1905 but World War II saw the country fall to the Nazis.
Since then the country has prospered even though it isn’t a member of the European Union (it operates under the European Economic Agreement Free Trade Deal). Thanks to its oil reserves in the North Sea, 40% of its exports come from the sale of crude oil, but as the reserves dwindle, the Barents Sea is beginning to attract attention to bolster its much-envied social welfare system.