Norway is a country in Scandinavia which borders Sweden, Finland and Russia. They are good at fishing, Handball, social democracy and having a metric shit-ton of oil without becoming a failed state like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia or Texas.
For much of its history Norway was subject to either the Danish or the Swedish king and many of the many wars between those two countries were ultimately about who gets Norway.
After World War II, Norway became a social democracy, meaning that the people have universal health care and complain because they have to pay taxes. Norway's democratic traditions go back to 1884 and it has only since been under authoritarian rule once, from 1940 to 1945, when it was occupied by Nazi Germany under puppet leader Vidkun Quisling, whose name is now another synonym for turncoat. Norwegians often think of their nation as peaceful, but Norway does participate in the occupation of Afghanistan.
Norway's government negotiated to join what is now the European Union, but a 1972 referendum rejected membership (53.5% to 46.5%). Norway made a second attempt to join the EU, but this was again rejected in a 1994 referendum (52.2% to 47.8%); on both occasions, rural voters skewed more strongly against and voters in the capital city, Oslo, skewed more in favor (this is something it probably has in common with England). Norway is, however, a member of the European Economic Area, making it among other things (customs union, Europol, Frontex,...) part of the Schengen Area, giving it passport-free travel to most of the EU (except for, of course, the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland). This in turn means that many of the laws enacted by the EU apply to them as well. Norway thus suffers from self-inflicted legislation without representation, something the UK might keep in mind at the next referendum. So why does Norway not simply join the EU and be done with it? Well, you see, one of the first things the EU took a lot of interest (and power) in was farming and fishing. Given Norway's traditional reliance on fisheries, there is a point to not being part of the EU. A similar thing can be said of Iceland, of course.
Political parties of Norway
The leading political parties of Norway are:
- Arbeiderpartiet (Ap): The Labour Party, the social democrats, which has dominated Norwegian politics since 1935.
- Fremskrittspartiet (Frp): The "Progress" Party, the right-wing populists, who think Norway would be better off with fewer taxes and immigrants. Some argue the name is misleading. Currently in power.
- Høyre (H): The Conservative Party, the liberal-conservative party. Likes to pull the brakes. Currently in power.
- Sosialistisk Venstreparti (SV): The Socialist Left Party, the socialist ex-opposition party, which used to criticize the Labour Party from the left. Being in its first government (a coalition with the Labours) tore the party down, and it is now struggling to survive.
- Senterpartiet (Sp): The Centre Party, a centrist agrarian party with strong isolationist and traditionalist inclinations. Formerly called Bondepartiet ("Farmer's Party"). Strongly opposes membership in the European Union.
- Kristelig Folkeparti (KrF): The Christian Democratic Party, the morally conservative party, which wants to curb abortion, alcohol consumption, homosexuality and other un-Godly things.
- Venstre (V): The Liberal Party, a social liberal party which used to be the biggest party of the left (until the interwar years), but now is more of a centre-right shadow of its former self, notable as one of two parties opposing increased surveillance and supporting people's right to download music without being sued.
- Miljøpartiet de Grønne (MdG): Currently the most radical party represented in the Parliament. The Green Party used to be in the fringe of Norwegian politics, but is now a growing political force. Notable as the only party which declares no affiliation to the historic right/left-wing blocs of politics.
In addition, there are several minor parties, including:
- Rødt (R): Red, a non-parliamentary Marxist party, notable as one of two parties opposing increased surveillance and supporting people's right to download music without being sued.
- Kystpartiet (K): The Coastal Party, a non-parliamentary party which apparently cares a lot about coasts. Center-right, conservative, isolationist, emphasizes fishing and coastal issues and opposes membership in the European Union.
- De Kristne: The Christians. A non-parliamentary party for Christian fundamentalists. A relatively new party, started as a reaction to KrF getting too moderate.
Miscellaneous Norwegian trivia
In recent decades, oil has made the Norwegians very wealthy. The country has one of the highest HDIs in the world.
Norway has legalised gender-neutral marriage, effective starting in 2009.
Though Norway has 2 competing standards for writing its national language, Norwegian, there is no "official" standard for spoken Norwegian. Regional dialects, unlike in many other countries, are actually celebrated rather than despised, so that it is considered socially acceptable to use them in public contexts such as television or in Parliament. Indeed, Norway's Education Act even states that "the teacher 'should pay due attention to the vernacular used by pupils, and that he or she should not attempt to make them abandon their home dialect.'"
Norway is often criticized for hunting whales and seals and for the perceived hypocrisy of allowing the harpooning and shooting of marine mammals while banning Schechita and Dhabihah on the grounds that both are cruel to animals.
Norway is also the home to one of the most extreme forms of music there is, Norwegian Black Metal. Its musicians and fans burned churches and killed each other in the name of being the most evil. An example of a nutjob Norwegian Black Metal musician is Varg Vikernes.
Notable Norwegian cranks
- Anders Behring Breivik
- Hege Storhaug
- Max Hermansen
- Nina Hjerpset-Østlie
- Hans Rustad
- Christian Tybring-Gjedde
- "I hope they speak Norwegian in HELL!" (They do.)
- Norwegian life
- In Norway, Prime Ministers (and NATO Secretary Generals) drive taxis.
- Vote Norwegian!
- On second thought, let's not go to Norway. 'Tis a silly place.
- A documentary about the Norwegian blue parrot. Although it's possible that the documentarians have some of their facts wrong. (The bird does have lovely plumage, though.)