Norway officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Scandinavian unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of 385,252 square kilometres (148,747 sq mi) and a population of a little above 5 million. It is the 2nd least densely populated country in Europe. The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden (1,619 km or 1,006 mi long), which is the longest uninterrupted border within both Scandinavia & Europe at large. Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. It shares maritime borders with Russia by the Barents Sea; Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland by the Norwegian Sea; and Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom by the North Sea. Norway’s extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea, is laced with fjords, a renowned part of its landscape. The capital city Oslo is the largest in the nation, with a population of 1 million. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water, andhydropower.
Two centuries of Viking raids to southern and western areas tapered off following the adoption of Christianity in AD 994. Norway expanded its control overseas to parts of Britain, Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland. Norwegian power peaked in 1265, but competition from the Hanseatic League and the spread of the Black Death weakened the country. In 1380, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden went to war with Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Later Norway demanded independence, which it gained in a referendum in 1905. Norway remained neutral in World War I. Despite its declaration of neutrality in World War II, Norway was occupied for 5 years by forces of Nazi Germany. In 1949, it abandoned neutrality becoming a founding member of NATO. Discovery of oil in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway’s economic fortunes. The country maintains a welfare model with universal health care, subsidised higher education, and a comprehensive social security system. Key domestic issues include immigration and integration of ethnic minorities, maintaining the country’s extensive social safety net with an aging population, and preserving economic competitiveness.
King Harald V is Norway’s head of state and Erna Solberg became Prime Minister on 16 October 2013, replacing Jens Stoltenberg, and the government made a shift from being a labour to a conservative government. It has administrative subdivisions on two levels known as counties (fylke) and municipalities (kommuner). The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliament and the Finnmark Act. Norway maintains close ties with the European Union and its member countries (despite rejecting full EU membership intwo referenda), as well as with the United States. Norway participates with United Nations forces in international missions, notably in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sudan, and Libya. Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD; and is also a part of the Schengen Area.
The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMF lists as well as ninth-highest on a more comprehensive CIA list. On a per-capita basis, it is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.From 2001 to 2006, and then again from 2009 to 2012, Norway had the highest Human Development Index Ranking in the world. Norway has also topped the Legatum Prosperity Index for the last five years. Also from 2010 to 2012, Norway was classified as the most democratic country by the Democracy Index. The OECD ranks Norway third in social mobility and fourth on the 2013 equalized Better Life Index Norway was the first independent country to introduce women’s suffrage in 1913.
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