Norway Children's Encyclopedia

Norway Children’s Encyclopedia


The country with the highest development index

Until thirty years ago, Norway was ranked among the three poorest countries in Western Europe, although not among the least developed. Then came the North Sea oil: huge unexpected wealth. The country has reorganized, social policies have expanded, infrastructure and cities have been modernized. The result was the highest human development index in the world

Blessed by the sea

According to topschoolsintheusa, the Norwegian territory is a very long strip of mountains (up to 2,472 m high), looming on the coast of the Norwegian Sea, carved by fjords and fronted by hundreds of islands, which extends into a less harsh area and with some plains only at the southern extremity, where almost the entire population lives.

On the western coast, the climate is quite mild everywhere, thanks to the sea, while in the south-east it is continental.

The population, which has increased rapidly since the mid-nineteenth century, lives in a few large cities – the capital Oslo, with 794,000 residents, Bergen, Trondheim – and in many medium and small coastal towns.

The traditional economy was based on fishing and sailing, but many Norwegians preferred to emigrate. Metals are produced (iron, copper) and an enormous amount of hydroelectric energy, used for every need and exported. In the 1970s, large (almost completely exported) oil and gas fields discovered under the seabed went into operation.

The excellent social organization and the oil allow the country effective and very advanced social policies.

From Vikings to oil

During the era of the Vikings (8th-11th century AD) – which saw this extraordinary people of navigators and warriors settle on the coasts of Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, England and France – Norway was transformed into one kingdom and converted to Christianity. Losing its independence at the end of the 14th century, it remained under Danish rule for four centuries. In the 16th century Lutheranism spread, which in the following century became the state religion. In 1814 Sweden obtained from Denmark the cession of Norway: but the union between the two countries was marked by continuous contrasts, until Norway, in 1905, proclaimed its independence, choosing the constitutional monarchy as a form of government (the king current is Harald V).

The choice of neutrality spared Norway from the First World War, but not the Second, because in 1940 the German army invaded the country. Liberated in 1945, Norway joined NATO and was one of the founders of the UN and the Council of Europe. In its relations with other European countries, Norway has always maintained close relations of an institutional, political and economic nature, even if it did not join the European Economic Community (in 1972 the proposal was rejected by a referendum), nor of the European Union (the proposal was rejected by a referendum in 1994).

The twentieth century represented a period of continuous economic progress for Norway, initially thanks to the development of hydroelectric power and, starting from the 1970s, to the discovery of oil and gas fields. This economic development – together with the ability to implement efficient social policies – has led Norway to be not only one of the richest countries in the world, but also one of the best-living countries.

In 2005, the UN recognized, for the fourth consecutive time, that Norway is the country with the highest standard of living, due to the set of economic, social and cultural conditions that distinguish it.

Norway Children's Encyclopedia