The Kingdom of Norway (Kongeriket Norge) is a sovereign and unitary monarchy. The country has two official names: Noreg in Nynorsk Norwegian and Norge in Bokmål. Its territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus the island Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. Until 1814, the kingdom included the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. It also included Bohuslän until 1658, Jämtland and Härjedalen until 1645, Shetland and Orkney until 1468, and the Hebrides and Isle of Man until 1266.
Norway has a total area of 148,747 square miles (385,252 square kilometers) and a population of 5,258,317 as of January 2017. The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden (1,006 miles, or 1,619 km). Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.
King Harald V of the Dano-German House of Glücksburg is the current King of Norway. Erna Solberg became Prime Minister in 2013, replacing Jens Stoltenberg. A constitutional monarchy, Norway divides state power between the Parliament, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court, as determined by the 1814 Constitution. The kingdom was established as a merger of several petty kingdoms. Using the traditional count from the year 872, the kingdom has existed continuously for 1,144 years and the list of Norwegian monarchs includes over sixty kings and earls.
Norway has both administrative and political subdivisions on two levels: counties and municipalities. The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliament and the Finnmark Act. The country maintains close ties with the European Union and the United States. It’s a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty 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 maintains a combination of market economy and a Nordic welfare model with universal health care and a comprehensive social security system. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water and hydropower. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). On a per-capita basis, it is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East.
The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMF lists. On the CIA’s GDP (PPP) per capita list (2015 estimate) which includes territories and some regions, Norway ranks as number eleven. From 2001 to 2006, and then again from 2009 to 2017, Norway had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world. It also has the highest inequality-adjusted ranking. Norway ranks first on the World Happiness Report, the OECD Better Life Index, the Index of Public Integrity and the Democracy Index.
The name Norway comes from the Old English word Norðrveg(r) mentioned in 880, meaning “northern way” or “way leading to the north”, which the Anglo-Saxon named the coastline of Atlantic Norway. The Anglo-Saxon of Britain also referred to the kingdom of Norway in 880 as Norðmanna land. In a Latin manuscript of 849, the name Northuagia is mentioned, while a French chronicle of c. 900 uses the names Northwegia and Norwegia. When Ohthere of Hålogaland visited King Alfred the Great in England in the end of the ninth century, the land was called Norðwegr (Northway) and norðmanna land (Northmen’s land).
Old Norse norðmaðr was Latinized as Nortmannus in the ninth century to mean “Norseman” and also “Viking”, giving rise to the name of the Normans. After Norway had become Christian, Noregr and Noregi had become the most common forms, but during the fifteenth century the newer forms Noreg(h) and Norg(h)e, found in medieval Icelandic manuscripts, took over and have survived until the modern day.
The Old Norse name Noregr (narrow strait) was borrowed into Old English, and was according to language student and activist Klaus Johan Myrvoll, first revealed by philologist Niels Halvorsen Trønnes in 1847, as misinterpreted for Norðweg and Norweg (northern way), giving rise to modern Norway by regular development via Middle English Norwei and Norwey. The letter ð was not used in any Old Norse spellings of the name Norway, and was wrongly added into the English word, changing the meaning to North (Old English Norðr or Norwegian Nord), who also influenced the old Latin names as Nortwegia and Northmannia with the same spelling mistake.
The history of Norway has been influenced to an extraordinary degree by the terrain and the climate of the region. Norway’s coastline rose from glaciation with the end of the last glacial period about 12,000 BC. The first immigration took place during this period as the Norwegian coast offered good conditions for sealing, fishing and hunting. About 10,000 BC, following the retreat of the great inland ice sheets, the earliest inhabitants migrated north into the territory which is now Norway. They traveled steadily northwards along the coastal areas, warmed by the Gulf Stream, where life was more bearable. In order to survive they fished and hunted reindeer (and other prey). They were nomadic and by 9300 BC they were at Magerøya.
Increased ice receding from 8000 BC caused settlement along the entire coastline. The Stone Age consisted of the Komsa culture in Troms and Finnmark and the Fosna culture further south. The Nøstvet culture took over from the Fosna culture ca. 7000 BC, which adapted to a warmer climate which gave increased forestation and new mammals for hunting. The oldest human skeleton ever discovered in Norway was found in shallow water off Sogne in 1994 and has been carbon dated to 6,600 BC.
Between 5,000 BC and 4,000 BC the earliest agricultural settlements appeared around the Oslofjord. Finds from these sites give a clearer idea of the life of the hunting and fishing peoples. The implements vary in shape and mostly are made of different kinds of stone; those of later periods are more skilfully made. Rock carvings (i.e. petroglyphs) have been found, usually near hunting and fishing grounds. They represent game such as deer, reindeer, elk, bears, birds, seals, whales, and fish (especially salmon and halibut), all of which were vital to the way of life of the coastal peoples. The carvings at Alta in Finnmark, the largest in Scandinavia, were made at sea level from 4,200 to 500 BC and mark the progression of the land as the sea rose after the last ice age ended (Rock carvings at Alta).
Around 4000 BC, people in the north started using slate tools, earthenware, skis, sleds and large skin boats. Between 3000 and 2500 BC, new settlers (Corded Ware culture) arrived in eastern Norway. They were Indo-European farmers who grew grain and kept cows and sheep. The hunting-fishing population of the west coast was also gradually replaced by farmers, though hunting and fishing remained useful secondary means of livelihood. Gradually, between 1500 BC and 500 BC, the agricultural settlements spread into the southern areas of Norway — whilst the inhabitants of the northern regions continued to hunt and fish.
From about 1500 BC, bronze was gradually introduced, but the use of stone implements continued; Norway had few riches to barter for bronze goods, and the few finds consist mostly of elaborate weapons and brooches that only chieftains could afford. Huge burial cairns built close to the sea as far north as Harstad and also inland in the south are characteristic of this period. The motifs of the rock carvings differ from those typical of the Stone Age. Representations of the Sun, animals, trees, weapons, ships, and people are all strongly stylized.
Thousands of rock carvings from this period depict ships, and the large stone burial monuments known as stone ships, suggest that ships and seafaring played an important role in the culture at large. The depicted ships, most likely represent sewn plank built canoes used for warfare, fishing and trade. These ship types may have their origin as far back as the neolithic period and they continue into the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as exemplified by the Hjortspring boat.
Little has been found dating from the early Iron Age (the last 500 years BC). The dead were cremated, and their graves contain few burial goods. During the first four centuries AD, the people of Norway were in contact with Roman-occupied Gaul. About 70 Roman bronze cauldrons, often used as burial urns, have been found. Contact with the civilized countries farther south brought a knowledge of runes; the oldest known Norwegian runic inscription dates from the third century. At this time the amount of settled area in the country increased, a development that can be traced by coordinated studies of topography, archaeology, and place-names. The oldest root names, such as nes, vik, and bø (“cape,” “bay,” and “farm”), are of great antiquity, dating perhaps from the Bronze Age, whereas the earliest of the groups of compound names with the suffixes vin (“meadow”) or heim (“settlement”), as in Bjorgvin (Bergen) or Saeheim (Seim), usually date from the first century AD.
Archaeologists first made the decision to divide the Iron Age of Northern Europe into distinct pre-Roman and Roman Iron Ages after Emil Vedel unearthed a number of Iron Age artifacts in 1866 on the island of Bornholm. They did not exhibit the same permeating Roman influence seen in most other artifacts from the early centuries AD, indicating that parts of northern Europe had not yet come into contact with the Romans at the beginning of the Iron Age.
The destruction of the Western Roman Empire by the Germanic peoples in the fifth century is characterized by rich finds, including tribal chiefs’ graves containing magnificent weapons and gold objects. Hill forts were built on precipitous rocks for defense. Excavation has revealed stone foundations of farmhouses 59 to 89 feet (18 to 27 meters) long — one even 151 feet (46 meters) long — the roofs of which were supported on wooden posts. These houses were family homesteads where several generations lived together, with people and cattle under one roof.
These states were based on either clans or tribes (e.g., the Horder of Hordaland in western Norway). By the ninth century, each of these small states had things (local or regional assemblies) for negotiating and settling disputes. The thing meeting places, each eventually with a hörgr (open-air sanctuary) or a heathen hof (temple), were usually situated on the oldest and best farms, which belonged to the chieftains and wealthiest farmers. The regional things united to form even larger units: assemblies of deputy yeomen from several regions. In this way, the lagting (assemblies for negotiations and lawmaking) developed. The Gulating had its meeting place by Sognefjord and may have been the center of an aristocratic confederation along the western fjords and islands called the Gulatingslag. The Frostating was the assembly for the leaders in the Trondheimsfjord area; the Earls of Lade, near Trondheim, seem to have enlarged the Frostatingslag by adding the coastland from Romsdalsfjord to Lofoten.
From the eighth to the tenth century, the wider Scandinavian region was the source of Vikings. The looting of the monastery at Lindisfarne in Northeast England in 793 by Norse people has long been regarded as the event which marked the beginning of the Viking Age. This age was characterized by expansion and emigration by Viking seafarers. They colonized, raided, and traded in all parts of Europe. Norwegian Viking explorers first discovered Iceland by accident in the 9th century when heading for the Faroe Islands, and eventually came across Vinland, known today as Newfoundland, in Canada. The Vikings from Norway were most active in the northern and western British Isles and eastern North America isles.
According to tradition, Harald Fairhair unified them into one in 872 after the Battle of Hafrsfjord in Stavanger, thus becoming the first king of a united Norway. Harald’s realm was mainly a South Norwegian coastal state. Fairhair ruled with a strong hand and according to the sagas, many Norwegians left the country to live in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and parts of Britain and Ireland. The modern-day Irish cities of Dublin, Limerick and Waterford were founded by Norwegian settlers.
Norse traditions were slowly replaced by Christian ones in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. One of the most important sources for the history of the eleventh century Vikings is the treaty between the Icelanders and Olaf Haraldsson, king of Norway circa 1015 to 1028. This is largely attributed to the missionary kings Olav Tryggvasson and St. Olav. Haakon the Good was Norway’s first Christian king, in the mid-tenth century, though his attempt to introduce the religion was rejected. Born sometime in between 963–969, Olav Tryggvasson set off raiding in England with 390 ships. He attacked London during this raiding. Arriving back in Norway in 995, Olav landed in Moster. There he built a church which became the first Christian church ever built in Norway. From Moster, Olav sailed north to Trondheim where he was proclaimed King of Norway by the Eyrathing in 995.
Feudalism never really developed in Norway or Sweden, as it did in the rest of Europe. However, the administration of government took on a very conservative feudal character. The Hanseatic League forced the royalty to cede to them greater and greater concessions over foreign trade and the economy. The League had this hold over the royalty because of the loans the Hansa had made to the royalty and the large debt the kings were carrying. The League’s monopolistic control over the economy of Norway put pressure on all classes, especially the peasantry, to the degree that no real burgher class existed in Norway.
Upon the death of Haakon V (King of Norway) in 1319, Magnus Erikson, at just three years old, inherited the throne as King Magnus VII of Norway. At the same time, a movement to make Magnus King of Sweden proved successful and both the kings of Sweden and of Denmark were elected to the throne by their respective nobles, Thus, with his election to the throne of Sweden, both Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus VII.
In 1349, the Black Death radically altered Norway, killing between 50% and 60% of its population and leaving it in a period of social and economic decline. The plague left Norway very poor. Although the death rate was comparable with the rest of Europe, economic recovery took much longer because of the small, scattered population. Even before the plague, the population was only about 500,000. After the plague, many farms lay idle while the population slowly increased. However, the few surviving farms’ tenants found their bargaining positions with their landlords greatly strengthened.
King Magnus VII ruled Norway until 1350, when his son, Haakon, was placed on the throne as Haakon VI. In 1363, Haakon VI married Margaret, the daughter of King Valdemar IV of Denmark.[ Upon the death of Haakon VI, in 1379, his son, Olaf IV, was only 10 years old. Olaf had already been elected to the throne of Denmark on May 3, 1376. Thus, upon Olaf’s accession to the throne of Norway, Denmark and Norway entered personal union. Olaf’s mother and Haakon’s widow, Queen Margaret, managed the foreign affairs of Denmark and Norway during the minority of Olaf IV.
Margaret was working toward a union of Sweden with Denmark and Norway by having Olaf elected to the Swedish throne. She was on the verge of achieving this goal when Olaf IV suddenly died. However, Denmark made Margaret temporary ruler upon the death of Olaf. On February 2, 1388, Norway followed suit and crowned Margaret. Queen Margaret knew that her power would be more secure if she were able to find a king to rule in her place. She settled on Eric of Pomerania, grandson of her sister. Thus at an all-Scandinavian meeting held at Kalmar, Erik of Pomerania was crowned king of all three Scandinavian countries. Thus, royal politics resulted in personal unions between the Nordic countries, eventually bringing the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden under the control of Queen Margaret when the country entered into the Kalmar Union.
After Sweden broke out of the Kalmar Union in 1521, Norway tried to follow suit, but the subsequent rebellion was defeated, and Norway remained in a union with Denmark until 1814, a total of 434 years. During the national romanticism of the 19th century, this period was by some referred to as the “400-Year Night”, since all of the kingdom’s royal, intellectual, and administrative power was centered in Copenhagen in Denmark. In fact, it was a period of great prosperity and progress for Norway, especially in terms of shipping and foreign trade, and it also secured the country’s revival from the demographic catastrophe it suffered in the Black Death. Based on the respective natural resources, Denmark–Norway was in fact a very good match, since Denmark supported Norway’s needs for grain and food supplies, and Norway supplied Denmark with timber, metal, and fish.
With the introduction of Protestantism in 1536, the archbishopric in Trondheim was dissolved, and Norway lost its independence, and effectually became a colony of Denmark. The Church’s incomes and possessions were instead redirected to the court in Copenhagen. Norway lost the steady stream of pilgrims to the relics of St. Olav at the Nidaros shrine, and with them, much of the contact with cultural and economic life in the rest of Europe.
The postal system of Norway dates from 1647, when the private company Postvesenet was established (now Posten Norge); this was little more than a means for the different parts of the country to report to the central government.
Eventually restored as a kingdom (albeit in legislative union with Denmark) in 1661, Norway saw its land area decrease in the seventeenth century with the loss of the provinces Båhuslen, Jemtland, and Herjedalen to Sweden, as the result of a number of disastrous wars with Sweden. In the north, however, its territory was increased by the acquisition of the northern provinces of Troms and Finnmark, at the expense of Sweden and Russia.
The famine of 1695–1696 killed roughly 10% of Norway’s population. The harvest failed in Scandinavia at least nine times between 1740 and 1800, with great loss of life.
After Denmark–Norway was attacked by the United Kingdom at the Battle of Copenhagen, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon, with the war leading to dire conditions and mass starvation in 1812. As the Danish kingdom found itself on the losing side in 1814, it was forced, under terms of the Treaty of Kiel, to cede Norway to the king of Sweden, while the old Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands remained with the Danish crown.
Norway took this opportunity to declare independence, adopted a constitution based on American and French models, and elected the Crown Prince of Denmark and Norway, Christian Frederick, as king on May 17, 1814. This is the famous Syttende Mai (Seventeenth of May) holiday celebrated by Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans alike. Syttende Mai is also called Norwegian Constitution Day.
Norwegian opposition to the great powers’ decision to link Norway with Sweden caused the Norwegian-Swedish War to break out as Sweden tried to subdue Norway by military means. As Sweden’s military was not strong enough to defeat the Norwegian forces outright and Norway’s treasury was not large enough to support a protracted war, and as British and Russian navies blockaded the Norwegian coast, the belligerents were forced to negotiate the Convention of Moss. According to the terms of the convention, Christian Frederik abdicated the Norwegian throne and authorized the Parliament of Norway to make the necessary constitutional amendments to allow for the personal union that Norway was forced to accept.
On November 4, 1814, the Parliament (Storting) elected Charles XIII of Sweden as king of Norway, thereby establishing the union with Sweden. Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and its own independent institutions, except for the foreign service. Following the recession caused by the Napoleonic Wars, economic development of Norway remained slow until economic growth began around 1830.
After 1814, the postal service in Norway was reorganized independently of Denmark or Sweden. Christiana (Oslo) had been built in 1624 and it now became the postal center. In the following years, a number of postal routes were established; these linked all the parts of the country together and also allowed for entry into other European postal systems.
This period also saw the rise of the Norwegian romantic nationalism, as Norwegians sought to define and express a distinct national character. The movement covered all branches of culture, including literature, painting, music, and even language policy, where attempts to define a native written language for Norway led to today’s two official written forms for Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk.
King Charles III John, who came to the throne of Norway and Sweden in 1818, was the second king following Norway’s break from Denmark and the union with Sweden. Charles John was a complex man whose long reign extended to 1844. He protected the constitution and liberties of Norway and Sweden during the age of Metternich. As such, he was regarded as a liberal monarch for that age. However, he was ruthless in his use of paid informers, the secret police and restrictions on the freedom of the press to put down public movements for reform — especially the Norwegian national independence movement.
The Romantic Era that followed the reign of King Charles III John brought some significant social and political reforms. In 1854, women won the right to inherit property in their own right just like men. In 1863, the last trace of keeping unmarried women in the status of minors was removed. Furthermore, women were then eligible for different occupations, particularly the common school teacher. By mid-century, Norway’s democracy was limited by modern standards: Voting was limited to officials, property owners, leaseholders and burghers of incorporated towns.
The first postal markings in Norway was a cancellation introduced at Oslo in 1845. The first postage stamp was issued in 1855, and depicted the Coat of arms of Norway. The following year, a set was issued showing the portrait of King Oskar I — King of Sweden and Norway. His successor, Oskar II, features on a set issued in 1878. It is interesting to note it was Norway rather than Sweden that first issued stamps with the portrait of the kings that ruled these countries in personal union. When stamps were first issued, a series of numeral cancellations were introduced to indicate the office of use.
In 1871, Norway introduced its first stamp with a posthorn design. The design of a numeral in an oval was first introduced in Denmark in 1870 by the Danish engraver Philip Christan Batz. In Norway, the design was modified by the Norwegian architect and designer Andreas Friedrich Wilhelm von Hanno, who included the post horn. The design by Hanno was still engraved by Batz. With a number of modifications to the design throughout the years, the design has been in use ever since.
Norway remained a conservative society. Life in Norway (especially economic life) was “dominated by the aristocracy of professional men who filled most of the important posts in the central government”. There was no strong bourgeois class in Norway to demand a breakdown of this aristocratic control of the economy. Thus, even while revolution swept over most of the countries of Europe in 1848, Norway was largely unaffected by revolts that year.
Marcus Thrane was a Utopian socialist. He made his appeal to the laboring classes urging a change of social structure “from below upwards.” In 1848, he organized a labor society in Drammen. In just a few months, this society had a membership of 500 and was publishing its own newspaper. Within two years, 300 societies had been organized all over Norway with a total membership of 20,000 persons. The membership was drawn from the lower classes of both urban and rural areas; for the first time these two groups felt they had a common cause. In the end, the revolt was easily crushed; Thrane was captured and in 1855, after four years in jail, was sentenced to three additional years for crimes against the safety of the state. Upon his release, Marcus Thrane attempted unsuccessfully to revitalize his movement, but after the death of his wife migrated to the United States.
In 1898, all men were granted universal suffrage, followed by all women in 1913.
Christian Michelsen, a shipping magnate and statesman, and Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907, played a central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on June 7, 1905. A national referendum confirmed the people’s preference for a monarchy over a republic. No Norwegian could legitimately claim the throne because none was able to prove relationship to medieval royalty and in European tradition royal or “blue” blood is a precondition for laying claim to the throne.
The government offered the throne of Norway to a prince of the Dano-German royal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Prince Carl of Denmark was unanimously elected king by the Norwegian Parliament, the first king of a fully independent Norway in 508 years (1397: Kalmar Union); he took the name Haakon VII. In 1905, the country welcomed the prince from neighbouring Denmark, his wife Maud of Wales and their young son to re-establish Norway’s royal house. Following centuries of close ties between Norway and Denmark, a prince from the latter was the obvious choice for a European prince who could best relate to the Norwegian people.
Throughout the First World War, Norway was in principle a neutral country. In reality, however, Norway had been pressured by the British to hand over increasingly large parts of its large merchant fleet to the British at low rates, as well as to join the trade blockade against Germany. Norwegian merchant marine ships, often with Norwegian sailors still on board, were then sailing under the British flag and at risk of being sunk by German submarines. Thus, many Norwegian sailors and ships were lost. Thereafter, the world ranking of the Norwegian merchant navy fell from fourth place to sixth in the world.
Norway also proclaimed its neutrality during the Second World War, but despite this it was invaded by German forces on April 9, 1940. Although Norway was unprepared for the German surprise attack, military and naval resistance lasted for two months. Norwegian armed forces in the north launched an offensive against the German forces in the Battles of Narvik, until they were forced to surrender on 10 June after losing British support which had been diverted to France during the German invasion of France.
King Haakon and the Norwegian government escaped to Rotherhithe in London. Throughout the war they sent inspirational radio speeches and supported clandestine military actions in Norway against the Germans. On the day of the invasion, the leader of the small National-Socialist party Nasjonal Samling, Vidkun Quisling, tried to seize power but was forced by the German occupiers to step aside. Real power was wielded by the leader of the German occupation authority, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. Quisling, as minister president, later formed a collaborationist government under German control. Up to 15,000 Norwegians volunteered to fight in German units, including the Waffen-SS.
The fraction of the Norwegian population that supported Germany was traditionally smaller than in Sweden but greater than is generally appreciated today. It included a number of prominent personalities such as Knut Hamsun. The concept of a “Germanic Union” of member states fit well into their thoroughly nationalist-patriotic ideology.
Many Norwegians and persons of Norwegian descent joined the Allied forces as well as the Free Norwegian Forces. In June 1940, a small group had left Norway following their king to Britain. This group included 13 ships, five aircraft, and 500 men from the Royal Norwegian Navy. By the end of the war, the force had grown to 58 ships and 7,500 men in service in the Royal Norwegian Navy, 5 squadrons of aircraft (including Spitfires, Sunderland flying boats and Mosquitos) in the newly formed Norwegian Air Force, and land forces including the Norwegian Independent Company 1 and 5 Troop as well as No. 10 Commandos.
During the five years of German occupation, Norwegians built a resistance movement which fought the German occupation forces with both civil disobedience and armed resistance including the destruction of Norsk Hydro’s heavy water plant and stockpile of heavy water at Vemork, which crippled the German nuclear program. More important to the Allied war effort, however, was the role of the Norwegian Merchant Marine. At the time of the invasion, Norway had the fourth largest merchant marine fleet in the world. It was led by the Norwegian shipping company Nortraship under the Allies throughout the war and took part in every war operation from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the Normandy landings. Each December, Norway gives a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom as thanks for the British assistance during the Second World War. A ceremony takes place to erect the tree in London’s Trafalgar Square.
From 1945 to 1962, the Labour Party held an absolute majority in the parliament. The government, led by prime minister Einar Gerhardsen, embarked on a program inspired by Keynesian economics, emphasizing state financed industrialization and co-operation between trade unions and employers’ organizations. Many measures of state control of the economy imposed during the war were continued, although the rationing of dairy products was lifted in 1949, while price control and rationing of housing and cars continued as long as until 1960.
The wartime alliance with the United Kingdom and the United States was continued in the post-war years. Although pursuing the goal of a socialist economy, the Labour Party distanced itself from the Communists (especially after the Communists’ seizure of power in Czechoslovakia in 1948), and strengthened its foreign policy and defense policy ties with the US. Norway received Marshall Plan aid from the United States starting in 1947, joined the OEEC one year later, and became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.
In 1969, the Phillips Petroleum Company discovered petroleum resources at the Ekofisk field west of Norway. In 1973, the Norwegian government founded the State oil company, Statoil. Oil production did not provide net income until the early 1980s because of the large capital investment that was required to establish the country’s petroleum industry. Around 1975, both the proportion and absolute number of workers in industry peaked. Since then labor-intensive industries and services like factory mass production and shipping have largely been outsourced.
Norway was a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Two referendums on joining the European Union failed by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994.
In 1981, a Conservative government led by Kåre Willoch replaced the Labour Party with a policy of stimulating the stagflated economy with tax cuts, economic liberalization, deregulation of markets, and measures to curb record-high inflation (13.6% in 1981).
Norway’s first female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland of the Labour party, continued many of the reforms of her conservative predecessor, while backing traditional Labour concerns such as social security, high taxes, the industrialization of nature, and feminism. By the late 1990s, Norway had paid off its foreign debt and had started accumulating a sovereign wealth fund. Since the 1990s, a divisive question in politics has been how much of the income from petroleum production the government should spend, and how much it should save.
In 2011, Norway suffered two terrorist attacks on the same day conducted by Anders Behring Breivik which struck the government quarter in Oslo and a summer camp of the Labour party’s youth movement at Utøya island, resulting in 77 deaths and 319 wounded.
The 2013 Norwegian parliamentary election brought a more conservative government to power with the Conservative Party and the Progress Party, winning 43% of the electorate’s votes.
Scott #728 was released on May 2, 1978, the high denomination in the annual two-stamp EUROPA issue. This is an annual joint issue of stamps with a common design or theme by postal administrations member of the European Communities (1956-1959), the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT from 1960 to 1992), then the PostEurop Association since 1993. The first Europa issue dates back to September 15, 1956. In 1959, these stamps were jointly issued by the member countries of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications, the initials of which (CEPT) are displayed on the stamps of the joint issue from 1960 until 1993. The 1978 theme was monuments or architecture and Norway elected to portray two of its famous stave churches. The 1.80-krone slate green and blue stamp, engraved and perforated 13, illustrates Borgund Stave Church.
Borgund Stave Church (Borgund stavkyrkje) is located in the village of Borgund in the municipality of Lærdal in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is classified as a triple nave stave church of the so-called Sogn-type. This is also the best preserved of Norway’s 28 extant stave churches. The church is part of the Borgund parish in the Indre Sogn deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin, although it is no longer used regularly for church functions, it is now used as a museum and it is run by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.
A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church building once common in north-western Europe. The name derives from the buildings’ structure of post and lintel construction, a type of timber framing where the load-bearing ore-pine posts are called stafr in Old Norse (stav in modern Norwegian). Two related church building types also named for their structural elements, the post church and palisade church, are often also called ‘stave churches’. Originally much more widespread, most of the surviving stave churches are in Norway. The only remaining medieval stave churches outside Norway are those of circa 1500 at Hedared in Sweden and one Norwegian stave church relocated in 1842 to the outskirts of Krummhübel, Germany, now Karpacz in the Karkonosze mountains of Poland.
Archaeological excavations have shown that stave churches are descended from palisade constructions and from later churches with earth-bound posts. Similar palisade constructions are known from buildings from the Viking Age. Logs were split in two halves, set or rammed into the earth (generally called post in ground construction) and given a roof. This proved a simple but very strong form of construction. If set in gravel, the wall could last many decades, even centuries. An archaeological excavation in Lund uncovered the postholes of several such churches.
In post churches, the walls were supported by sills, leaving only the posts earth-bound. Such churches are easy to spot at archaeological sites as they leave very distinct holes where the posts were once placed. Occasionally some of the wood remains, making it possible to date the church more accurately using radiocarbon dating and/or with dendrochronology. Under the Urnes stave church, remains have been found of two such churches, with Christian graves discovered beneath the oldest church structure. A single church of palisade construction has been discovered under the Hemse stave church.
The next design phase resulted from the observation that earthbound posts were susceptible to humidity, causing them to rot away over time. To prevent this, the posts were placed on top of large stones, significantly increasing their lifespans. The stave church in Røldal is believed to be of this type. In still later churches, the posts were set on a raised sill frame resting on stone foundations. This is the stave church in its most mature form.
It is now common to group the churches into two categories: the first, without free-standing posts, often referred to as Type A; and the second, with a raised roof and free-standing internal posts, usually called Type B. Those with the raised roof, Type B, are often further divided into two subgroups. The first of these, the Kaupanger group, have a whole arcade row of posts and intermediate posts along the sides and details that mimic stone capitals. These churches give an impression of a basilica.
The other subgroup is the Borgund group. In these churches the post are connected halfway up with one or two horizontal double ″pincer beams″ with semicircular indentations, clasping the row of posts from both sides. Cross-braces are inserted between the posts and the upper and lower pincer beams (or above the single pincer beam), forming a very rigid interconnection, and resembling the triforium of stone basilicas. This design made it possible to omit the freestanding lower part of intermediate posts. In some churches in Valdres, only the four corner posts remain.
Many stave churches had or still have outer galleries or ambulatories around their whole perimeters, loosely connected to the plank walls. These probably served to protect the church from a harsh climate, and for processions.
Borgund Stave Church was built sometime between 1180 and 1250 AD with later additions and restorations. Its walls are formed by vertical wooden boards. The four corner posts were connected to one another by ground sills, resting on a stone foundation. The rest of the staves then rise from the ground sills, each stave notched and grooved along the sides so that they lock into one another, forming a sturdy wall.
Borgund is built on a basilica plan, with reduced side aisles, with an added chancel and apse. It has a raised central nave demarcated on four sides by an arcade. An ambulatory runs around this platform and into the chancel and apse, both added in the fourteenth century. An additional ambulatory, in the form of a porch, runs around the exterior of the building, sheltered under the overhanging shingled roof. The floor plan of this church resembles that of a central plan, double-shelled Greek cross with an apse attached to one end in place of the fourth arm. The entries to the church are in the three arms of the almost-cross.
The ceiling is held up with “scissor beams” or two steeply angled supports crossing each other to form an X shape with a narrow top span and a broader bottom span. The lower ends of the X shape are joined by a bottom truss to prevent the X from collapsing. In the case of Borgund, an additional beam cuts across the X below the crossing point but above the bottom truss, for extra stability. This stabilizes the steeply pitched roof, consisting of horizontal boards covered in shingles. Originally, the roof would have been covered on the outside with boards running lengthwise, like the composition of the roof beneath it, however in later years wooden shingles became more common. Scissor beam roof construction is typical of most stave churches.
Bracing in the form of cross-shaped trusses also appears on the walls of the building itself, diagonal beams running up the walls from the floor to about level with the top of the arcade. Further crossing, this time in a more ornamental sense appears in the cross shaped carvings with medallions in the center, commonly dubbed “Saint Andrew’s crosses” which run along the area above the arcade, in the visual “second story” that is not actually a gallery but is located where one is commonly put in large stone churches elsewhere in Europe at this time. Near these smaller crosses are the pincer beams, running between the columns to help further wedge everything firmly together. The most important bracing elements are the carved buttresses that are supported by knee joints and arc upward from the outer wall to the top of the arcade as these help to support the outward thrust on the stave walls.
Borgund has tiered, overhanging roofs, topped with a tower. On the gables of the roof, there are four carved dragon heads, swooping from the carved roof ridge crests, recalling the carved dragon heads found on the prows of Norse ships. Similar gable heads also appear on small bronze house shaped reliquaries common in Norway in this period. Borgund’s current dragon heads possibly date from the eighteenth century, however original dragon heads remaining on earlier structures, such as Lom Stave Church and nearby Urnes Stave Church, the oldest still extant stave church, also in the Sogn district, suggest that there probably would have been similar dragon heads there at one time. Borgund is one of the only churches to still have preserved its ridge crests, carved with openwork vine and vegetal repeating designs. The dragons on top of the church were often used as a form of drainage.
Most of the internal fittings have been removed. Apart from the row of benches that are installed along the wall inside the church in the ambulatory outside of the arcade and raised platform, a soapstone font, an altar (with seventeenth-century altarpiece), a sixteenth-century lectern, and a sixteenth-century cupboard for storing altar vessels there is little else in the building. After the Reformation, when the church was converted for Protestant worship, pews, a pulpit and other standard church furnishings were included, however these have been removed since the building has come under the protection of the Fortidsminneforeningen (The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments). There would have been more artwork in the building, most likely in the form of statues and crucifixes, as remain in a few other churches, but these are now lost.