Norway (Norwegian bokmål: Norge, Norwegian nynorsk: Noreg), officially the Kingdom of Norway (Norwegian: Kongeriket Norge) is a country in Scandinavia which borders Sweden, Finland and Russia. They are good at fishing, handball, cross-country skiing/biathlon, social democracy and having a massive oil reserve without becoming a failed state like Nigeria, Venezuela, or Saudi Arabia. Most people live in the southern part of the country, particularly around Oslo. The southernmost area, known as the South Country (Sørlandet), is considered Norway's Bible Belt.
For much of its history (after The Black Death) 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. Norway has been a member of NATO since its founding in 1949. As of February 2021, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg is General Secretary of NATO.
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). However, almost all Norwegian politicians have understood that Norway benefits greatly from cooperation with the rest of Western Europe, so Norway has become a member of the European Economic Area, which makes Norway a part of EU for most practical purposes while in principle staying outside. This allows participating in the customs union, Europol and so on, and makes Norway 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 have been adapted by Norway as well. Norway thus to some degree suffers from self-inflicted legislation without representation, something which will also apply to the UK following Brexit. So why does Norway not simply join the EU and be done with it? Well, Norwegian voters don't have all the insights that their politicians have, and are very concerned about natural resources like oil, hydro-electric power and fishing fields, and also the farmers had a strong voice, so the EU referendums were decided much by fear and uncertainty about what could be the consequences of a real membership. 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.
Like the rest of her Scandinavian neighbors, Norway has adapted the social democratic Nordic Model.  However unlike the rest of them, Norway has a far greater governmental involvement in the economy, with the Government having large stakes in the main oil company Equinor and the largest telecommunications company Telenor, both originating from former national monopoly companies.  The Government also is involved in other fields to the point it can be called state capitalist.
The Norwegian Government offers free and excellent education on all stages. In addition there are some private schools. The State offers student loans at college/university level to cover costs of living, so that all talented students have a possibility of taking a higher education independently of the economy of their parents.
The Norwegian Government offers highly subsidised health services and hospitals that are mostly free. Additionally there are some private clinics that take paid, offering shorter waiting lines and offering services that are not offered by the State hospitals, like cosmetic surgery.
In recent decades, oil has made the Norwegian state wealthy. Most of the money has been stuffed away in a State owned trillion-dollar pension fund for future generations, investing in companies and real estate abroad to avoid domestic inflation. Some of the yearly dividend is used to lubricate the economy, strengthening the extensive social programs in healthcare, education, childcare, and welfare.
As with just about anywhere with an ethnolinguistic minority that lacks access to the levers of power, Norway has an illustrious history of overt discrimination against the Sami people. The situation today is far from ideal, but much better than it once was.
Political parties of Norway
The leading political parties of Norway, sorted on number of votes in the 2017 Parliamentary election, are:
- Arbeiderpartiet (Ap): The Labour Party, the social democrats, which has dominated Norwegian politics since 1935. After the 2019 Norwegian local elections, it lost the most votes ever seen in a Norwegian local election (after WW2) due to unclear incentives and a lack of traditional labour policies. Now suffers from a growing lack of people identifying themselves as "working class". Currently in power.
- Høyre (H): The Conservative Party, the liberal-conservative party. Considered solid and responsible, and thereby a bit non-spectacular. Supports many policies similar to those of the Democrats in the US.
- 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.
- 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. After the 2019 Norwegian local elections, it won a record number of votes partially because it was seen as a more dependable opposition party against the current government, whilst the traditional centre-left party - The Labour Party - suffered terribly due to reasons stated above. Currently in power.
- Sosialistisk Venstreparti (SV): The Socialist Left Party, a socialist party. The party was founded on dissatisfaction of the labour party's foreign policy, especially its NATO friendliness and the labour party's opening of allowing nuclear weapon on Norwegian soil. It entered its first government in 2005 with the redgreen government (a government of Socialist Left, Labour and Centre party) which lasted until 2013. The popularity of SV shrank to a reach a level close to the threshhold of 4% in the 2013 election, however it regained more popularity in the 2017 election.
- 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. Suffers from a lack of unique causes to fight for. Notable as one of two parties opposing increased surveillance and supporting people's right to download music without being sued.
- Kristelig Folkeparti (KrF): The Christian Democratic Party, the morally conservative party, which wants to curb abortion, alcohol consumption, homosexuality and other un-Godly things. Supported mostly by elderly voters.
- Miljøpartiet de Grønne (MdG): The green party, the main environmentalist party in Norway. The Green Party started its growth in 2012 and all the way to 2015 afterwards its popularity declined and later stabilized. Notable as the only party which declares no affiliation to the historic right/left-wing blocs of politics. However due to the prominence of FrP in the right wing bloc, the green party has found itself mostly working with the left.
- Rødt (R): The Red Party, also a socialist party like SV, but more red and revolutionary as it's the only leading party that believes it's urgent to get rid of capitalism. It was founded as a merger of Arbeidernes Kommunistparti(marxist-leninistene) and Rød Valgallianse in 2007. Notable as one of two parties opposing increased surveillance and supporting people's right to download music without being sued. Prior to the 2017 election, the red party had no representation in the parliament, however after the local elections of 2015, the red party saw a growth in both membership and popularity which has continued until this day. Favored by many immigrants from developing countries; they like the idea of the State caring for them.
In addition, there are several minor parties without representation in the Parliament, but some with representation in county and municipality boards, including:
- Folkeaksjonen nei til mer bompenger (FNB): The People's Movement No To More Tolls, a party that really doesn't like toll roads (duh!). Most prominent in the country's biggest cities.
- Pensjonistpartiet (PP): Pensioners party, a party which focuses on pensioners interests.
- Helsepartiet (HP): The health party, a party that focuses mostly on healthcare.
- Partiet De Kristne (PDK): Another Christian party. Christian fundamentalists. Relatively new, started as a reaction to KrF getting too moderate.
- Kystpartiet (K): The Coastal Party, a non-parliamentary party which apparently cares a lot about coasts.[note 1] Center-right, conservative, isolationist, emphasizes fishing and coastal issues and opposes membership in the European Union.
- Selvstendighetspartiet (ShP): The Independence Party, a tiny non-parliamentary party who think the FrP does not have enough Islamophobia.
- Alliansen: The Alliance, another fringe xenophobic party, this one led by alt-right crank Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen.
Norwegian politicians are mostly extremely honest compared to politicians in other countries. Two of the "worst" scandals involving politicians both happened in 2008: One Norwegian politician rented out an apartment where the windows were too small and the height under the ceiling was too low according to building regulations;she had to resign. Another female politician had sex with a 17 year old young man in a grain field; both were drunk and very consentual; she stayed in politics and has heard one or two comments about the incident.
Miscellaneous Norwegian trivia
Norway has claimed the #1 spot on the Human Development Index for over a decade now.
Norway has legalised gender-neutral marriage, effective starting in 2009.
Alcohol stronger than beer is only sold in a limited number of government-owned shops. All alcohol carries high taxes, and so does tobacco. Therefore tax free shops at airports are popular, together with shopping trips to Sweden for the half of the population living near the border.
Norway has two co-existing standards for writing its national language, Norwegian. One, Bokmål ("book language"), is based on Danish, from the dark time when Norway was part of Denmark and most books were printed there. Luckily, the Norwegian pronounciation of the words is much clearer than the Danish. The other, Nynorsk ("new Norwegian") was an attempt at recovering a Norwegian way of writing, based on a selection of dialects. 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.'" Norwegian dialects are quite varied, e.g. the Norwegian word for "I" can be spelled "jeg" or "eg", and can be pronounced "yæi" (West side Oslo), "yæ" (East end Oslo), "ye" (Eastern inland), "eg" (Bergen), "yei" (part of Trondheim), "i" (Molde), "æ" (Middle and Northern regions), "e" and "æg". In addition, the Sami people have their own, very different, language, with its own dialects, and they obviously must have one or more words for "I" too.
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 has finished last in the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other country. Norway has also won three times, with two songs that became international hits to some degree ("La det swinge" with Bobbysocks and "Fairytale" with Alexander Rybak) and one that did not ("Nocturne" with Secret Garden).
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.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo.
Norway is the only country that borders Russia without having been attacked or occupied by Russia or the Russian-dominated Soviet "Union". Actually, a part of Northern Norway can be said to have been liberated by Soviet troops during a major disagreement in the 1940-ies.
Hell Station is in Norway. One part of the building has a sign saying Gods Expedition.
Norwegians taught the Japanese how to make sushi from salmon, as a part of an initiative to export farmed fish. Norwegian salmon is rich in vitamin D, and is delicious both in fried, barbequed, smoked, sushied and cured versions. The fermented version is for connoisseurs only.
The length of the Norwegian coast line is ... meaningless. Should one measure roughly along the outer parts? Include more details, making the coast "longer"? Also measure along the the fjords? Also measure around the islands? Also measure the islets? Also measure the skerries? Pick a number between 2,000 and 100,000 kilometers. But at least one can say that the south coast is a very pleasant place to stay in the summer when many Norwegians go there for vacation, and the coast along the Western and Northern parts is popular among foreign tourists who like to take photos of impressive mountains and fjords.
Taxable income, tax paid and total wealth are public information for all Norwegian residents.
Several of the billionaires in Norway started from nothing.
Norway is a leading country for using electric cars.
Most of the electricity in Norway is hydro-electric, with some additional wind power in recent years.
The cheese slicer was invented in Norway, allowing Norwegians to make thin, cheap slices of cheese. The main types of cheese in Norway are gulost ("yellow cheese") which is also called hvitost ("white cheese") and is a copy of the Dutch Gouda cheese, and brunost ("brown cheese") which is not a cheese at all but instead is a somewhat caramel-like substance that is made from whey, the sugary liquid that is left after making cheese.
Many Norwegians believe that the paper clip was invented in Norway.
The list of inventions NOT made in Norway is longer, and will not be provided here.
Norwegian Vikings traveled in their Viking ships (what else?) to North America during the tenth century. They also had some encounters with people in England, France and what is now the Netherlands; this was sometimes peaceful trade, at other times a less peaceful, one-way exchange of goods. Despite common depictions today, blonde hair was relatively rare (brown and red were far more common, and Thor was just about always depicted with red hair), beards were common but not universal, the facial features of men and women were significantly less distinct from each other than they are today, and the average Viking man stood all of... about 5'6". They also invented Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Norwegians are mostly proud of their Viking forefathers and foremothers (Equal rights for women have come far in Norway), but are also a bit embarrassed by their varying social skills and manners.
Norwegians came first to the North and South poles, for unclear reasons. In the Norwegian language it is possible to make jokes about the "East Pole" and "West Pole", but these make little sense neither in English nor Polish.
The polar circle goes through Norway. North of this circle there is at least one day in the summer with midnight sun and one day in the winter without any part of the sun coming over the horizon. The polar circle is locally sometimes also called the "moral circle", hinting at what some Norwegians do when there is not so much else to do during the winter with very long nights north of the circle.
Notable Norwegian cranks
- Anders Behring Breivik
- Hege Storhaug
- Max Hermansen
- Nina Hjerpset-Østlie
- Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen
- Hans Rustad
- Christian Tybring-Gjedde
Men's rights movement
- "I hope they speak Norwegian in HELL!" (They do.)
- Norwegian life
- In Norway, Prime Ministers (and NATO Secretaries General) 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.)