"Norway! A long, cold country almost devoid of people."
—Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Once one of the three lands of the Vikings, now the land of petroleum. And the Nobel Peace Prize. Norway is also the go-to place for tourists interested in fjords, midnight sun, aurora borealis, cartoon moose, troll figurines, mountains and fish. There are also actual live elks/moose and reindeer. In fact, the road signs that warn against crossing elks (triangular with a black elk silhouette on white background with a red border) often get stolen by foreign tourists that for some reason are fascinated by the animals.
Norwegians display striking amounts of mostly harmless nationalism, which likely grew from the fact that Norway during the late middle ages and early modern period was governed by Denmark, then conquered by Sweden in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars despite having declared independence. Norway only became an independent nation in 1905, when it adopted a Danish prince and his family, gave them Norwegian names, and made them regents. Has one of the world's oldest active constitutions, dating to 1814, though it does not accurately reflect the workings of the parliamentary democracy in place since 1884, not having been rewritten or replaced to reflect the realities of the political situation.
Pursued a policy of staying outside alliances from independence until the German invasion in 1940. At this time it produced the actual namer of The Quisling, though it had an active and strong resistance movement. Though the Germans could not be resisted for more than two months, the king and the cabinet went into exile in London and was able to rally much of the very large merchant fleet to the Allied cause, providing vital cargo capacity for the various convoys. There were also a number of Norwegian-crewed vessels and air force squadrons fighting under the British. And Norwegian volunteers for the Waffen-SS fighting on the Eastern front. Ironically, in order to prevent German shipping from exploiting its neutral waters for safe shipping, the Allies themselves had seriously planned and prepared to violate Noregian neutrality themselves, either by mining its waters or outright invading several port cities, only to be interrupted by Germany's invasion taking place mere days before their planned actions. Had delays not occurred in the Ally plans, they could have either cut off the invasion by accident or angered Norway enough to ally with the Germans willingly depending on exact timing.
A founding member of NATO, it turned down EEC/EU membership after two referendums, the first in 1972, the second in 1994. In fact, the EU membership question is so divisive that none of the pro-membership parties actually dare to push for another application for fear of the turmoil it would bring. Norway is also (in)famous for being one of the only developed countries, along with Japan, not to have banned whaling.
National peculiarities include two different written versions of the language (one based on Danish, one based on various dialects), and, thanks to the oil industry, more money than it can spend (Note that the government has been commended by various economists for being disciplined enough to refrain from spending the petroleum income irresponsibly, thus avoiding "Dutch disease").
Some unusual cultural exports of recent years include music in the genre known as Black Metal, the novel Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder which became remarkably popular worldwide (published in 54 langugages and more than 30 million copies sold) and crime novels by authors like Karin Fossum translated into several languages as part of the vogue for Scandinavian detective fiction.
Probably the most famous Norwegian is the realist/modernist playwright Henrik Ibsen. Other Norwegians with at least some international recognition include:
- Roald Amundsen, polar explorer best known for leading the first expedition to reach the South Pole back in 1911, beating the doomed Captain Scott.
- Fridtjof Nansen, polar explorer, biologist, oceanographer and diplomat. Travelled throughout the Artic, including a failed attempt to reach the North Pole on skis in 1896. Later in life engaged in humanitarian work, like facilitating the Greek/Turkish population exchange, providing aid to Armenian refugees in the wake of the Turkish genocide against them, and providing relief during famine caused by the Russian civil war.
- Thor Heyerdahl, archeologist and ethnologist. Best known for the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, where he and five others crossed the South Pacific from Peru to the Tuamotu Archipelago in a flimsy balsa raft in order to prove that it was possible for the South Pacific islands to have been originally populated by South American natives travelling in such a fashion. Apparently considered a hero by fans of tiki culture.
- Edvard Grieg, one of the Golden Age's most prominant composers, drawing his inspiration from Norwegian folk music - eventually he earnt himself the Fan Nickname "Chopin of the North". Some of his most famous pieces included Hall Of the Mountain King, Morning Mood and his Piano Concerto (which is notable for British viewers due to a famous Morecambe and Wise Christmas sketch).
- Knut Hamsun: Neo-romantic novelist, the only Norwegian author besides Ibsen to achieve lasting international renown. Despised in his native country for supporting National Socialism during WWII and still a controversial figure because of this. 2009 sees the 150th anniversary of his birth, and this will apparently be celebrated in various fashions in several countries. Ernest Hemingway supposedly once said that Hamsun taught him to write.
- Vidkun Quisling, fascist politician whose name became a byword for traitor. Had negligible support before the war, and during the occupation even the Germans were apathetic to him at first and only let him form a puppet government in 1942. Executed for treason after the war.
- Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnack, the infamous black metaller serving a prison sentence for murdering another infamous black metaller. He and his pals, in addition to already-existing Germanic mythos, are responsible for Norway's reputation in metalhead society as some kind of Grim Up North metal heaven where setting churches on fire is still a fair game.
- Roald Dahl was Norwegian-British. Norway features in some of his books (such as The Witches) and he also wrote fondly about visiting the country in his autobiography.
Norway in fiction
- Red Storm Rising has brief mentions of the Norwegian air force exhausting its strength against the Soviets and the subsequent occupation of certain military bases in Northern Norway. A Norwegian submarine manages to sink the Northern fleet flagship Kirov.
- A short story by Iain M. Banks set in the Culture universe: Members of the Culture visit Earth during the 1970s, one of them visits Oslo and walks around the Frogner sculpture park. In real life, this is a park full of bronze and stone sculptures by the artist Gustav Vigeland depicting anatomically correct naked people of various ages and statures. Supposedly, all the naked bodies are often disturbing to tourists from more puritanical countries.
- In the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Norway was the particular point of pride of a planet sculptor.
"Lovely crinkly bits down the edge! I won an award for that, you know."
- In the X-Files episode "Dod Kalm" , Mulder and Scully visit the most heavily populated tourist spot in Northern Scandinavia and solve the mystery of why nobody dares to go there.
- The first two Clock Tower games take place in Norway, the first near Romsdaaren (it should actually be Romsdalen) and the second in Oslo.
- The country is personified as a Deadpan Snarker and a bit of a Tsundere in Axis Powers Hetalia.
- The country is the Straight Man/Invisible to Gaydar voice of reason (sometimes) in the webcomic Scandinavia and The World.
- Features off-stage in Hamlet.
- In Metalocalypse, death metal band Dethklok's rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth is norwegian. The band visits Norway in the episode "Dethdad".
- The 13th century Heimskringla, a.k.a. Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. Everything you ever wanted to know about the medieval kings of Norway from 872 to 1177 AD.
Notable Norwegian Films:
- Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) is Slasher/horror film, set in the mountains of Jotunheimen.
- Dead Snow (Død Snø), commonly known as "Norwegian Nazi Zombies", also set in the mountains.
- Elling (2001) is a film about a man trying to overcome his social anxiety, based on the novel Brødre i blodet (Blood brothers, the English translated titled it Beyond The Great Indoors) by Ingvar Ambjørnsen. It was nominated for an oscar for Best Foreign Film.
- Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (Flåklypa Grand Prix), traditionally shown every year before Christmas, is a puppet film by Ivo Caprino that centers around the quiet life of Theodor Rimspoke, Ludwig and Sunny Ducksworth getting into a race with Theodor's former student turned racing champion, sponsored by an Arab oil sheik. Better Than It Sounds. In fact, it's popular enough that it has sold more tickets within Norway than the entire Norwegian population.
- The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren): 2010 Mockumentary about Norway's hushed-up troll problem and the specialist hired by the government to solve it.
the Norwegian flag
- A totally nonsensical title, consisting of the Norwegian word for "dead" and the English word "calm" spelled funetikally - "blikkstille" would have been a correct translation of the phrase, but obviously someone didn't do their research