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origin of the name "Norway" is not entirely known, but most people believe
the name means "Way North" or "Northern Way." In the Old Norse
language this is directly translated as "nor veg," which seems to indicate
the name's origin, although no one knows with absolute certainty. The country's
name is "Kongeriket Norge" in Bokmal Norwegian and "Kongeriket Noreg"
in Nynorsk Norwegian.
Kongeriket Norge / Kongeriket Noreg
Norway was created by the earth, the glaciers, and the animals; today the people
have not strayed too far from their historic roots, which forever ties them to the
land. Even today it is the landscape and pure beauty of the country that pulls people
to this northern location.
Despite the incredible natural beauty, the mountains, glaciers, and fjords also
created havoc for the early settlers as farmlands were sparse, transportation was
difficult, and the long cold winters meant farming was essentially impossible for
most of the year. The people survived on the few plants and animals that somehow
managed to make the region home just as the people did.
The people that thrived in this environment developed a very strong sense of adventure
as they had to be tough to survive the weather and conditions. They also created
an impressive communication network via the fjords, rivers, and oceans, which was
much easier than trying to traverse the mountains. This sense of adventure, knowledge
of the seas, and ability to withstand great difficulties led to the Viking Age in
the late 700s.
The Vikings rose to fame due to their knowledge of the seas, their ability to trade,
and their willingness to expand their boundaries, but their far superior boat technology
also led to pillaging, which seemed to be a much easier way to earn a living. Despite
the pillaging, the Vikings also displayed an incredible sense of right versus wrong
and social justice, remnants of which can still be seen today. They were one of
the first people in the world to have a Parliament and representation for the people
as they allowed many rights to the people and they encouraged economic growth.
As the Viking Age slowly died, Christianity and foreign rulers arrived to Norway.
Both made a lasting impact on the people. Christianity is still the most populous
religion in Norway and this foreign dominance helped create a more distinct Norwegian
culture while making the people more worldly as Bergen became a center of trade
in northern Europe.
Despite the struggles of living under foreign rulers, Norway was allowed to essentially
develop in its own way. With independence in 1905 the people continued on this path
as the country became quite unique from a cultural perspective, yet became more
reliant on the world around them to move forward. The Norwegians have led the world
in numerous realms from environmental protection and legal rights for minorities
to their development of winter sports.
Today Norway remains about the people and their lands. Their major sites are fjords,
glaciers, and mountains, not architectural achievements, museums, or theme parks...
although Norway offers all of those as well.
Welcome to the land of the midnight sun!
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