When did Norway become a country

History of Norway

The Vikings once settled in what is now Norway (jonanderswiken / Shutterstock.com)
Tribal leader Ottar was the first to speak of "Norweg", the home of the Northmen, at the court of King Alfred in England 1100 years ago. After that, the Vikings ruled for a long time. Today Norway is one of the richest countries on earth.

Brief history of Norway

Norway's coastline is 2,650 kilometers long - but if you include the numerous fjords, it grows to a good 25,000 kilometers. Once it was the Vikings who set off from this coast to conquer Europe, today it is tourists from all over the world who seek - and can still find - extraordinary natural experiences on Norway's breathtaking cliffs or in the quiet depths of the fjords.

However, Norway is not only a natural phenomenon, it is also the oldest cultural country in Europe, clearly marked by a long occidental history. Numerous stone monuments prove that Norway was already around 3000 BC in the Neolithic Age. Must have been inhabited.

The rock carvings near Trondheim date from the Bronze Age, when Teutons settled in the valleys and on the coast of the country. The settlements, whose names end in -vik or -heim, bear witness to early petty kings, which were first united in 872 by Harald I Fairhair, the first king of most of the Norwegian coast, but which soon disintegrated into partial kingdoms .

Norway under Danish rule

From the 9th to the 11th centuries, the Norwegian Vikings were feared conquerors in the northern seas. Their ships reached England, Iceland, Greenland and even North America. But the masters of the seas did not remain masters in their own country for long. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Danish kings succeeded several times in occupying Norway and paving the way for the introduction of Christianity. The Archbishopric of Trondheim was founded and the construction of the stave churches began. These wooden houses of worship are still a symbol of Norway today.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden were contractually united in the Kalmar Union by the Danish Queen Margaret I in 1397. When Sweden left the union in 1523, the Danish kings remained the kings of Norway. Due to the Danish defeat in the Napoleonic Wars, Norway passed to Sweden in 1814. The Norway, however, insisted on their independence and gave themselves a liberal constitution that same year.

The independent state of Norway

In the middle of the 19th century, there was a heightened national awareness in Norway. Independence came in 1905, and in a referendum the Norwegians decided to keep the monarchy. The choice fell on the Danish prince, who was crowned King of Norway as Haakon VII. Independent Norway remembered its seafaring tradition, and with the rise of its merchant fleet, it experienced a considerable economic boom in World War I, in which it remained politically neutral.

During the Second World War, Norway was occupied by German troops in order to repel English attacks on the continent from its long sea flank. The king and the government went into exile. Today Norway, as a free country, belongs to all major Western alliances such as NATO and EFTA, while joining the EU failed due to a referendum.

The modern kingdom of Norway

Norway's kings always stood as a symbol of the national and cultural independence of the country, which only became autonomous in 1905. When King Haakon VII had to flee into exile with the government in London during World War II, he assumed the role of the integrating figure of the Norwegian resistance abroad.

And his son, King Olav V, who was honored for his involvement in the resistance movement, was a people's king in the best sense of the word. As an Olympic sailing champion in 1928, he represented Norway to the world as well as a diplomat, having inherited his father's legacy in 1957, while his warmth and humility made him a human role model in his own country.

His son, King Harald, continues this populist tradition. Similar to the neighboring countries Sweden and Denmark, Norway also built up a broad social welfare system and health care system after 1954, ranging from an exemplary school and training system to state-guaranteed old-age pensions.

The welfare state, which is one of the richest countries in the world and has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, enables every citizen to live without material need and, through its tax policy, watches over a fair distribution of wealth.

Learn more about Norwegian history

The Union with Sweden (1814–1905)

After the defeat in the Napoleonic Wars, the Danes had to cede Norway to Sweden. In return, Denmark received Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. These were until then under Norwegian rule.

Modern Norway (1945 to the present day)

After the end of the Second World War, the Norwegian economy recovered quickly. When large oil reserves were discovered in the North Sea in the 1960s, Norway began to rise to become one of the richest countries in the world.

The Kalmar Union (1396-1537)

The Kalmar Union was an association of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The union was the work of Queen Margaret of Norway (1353-1412), daughter of King Valdemar IV of Denmark.

Norway during the world wars (1905-1945)

After 400 years of Danish and Swedish occupation, the Norwegian royal family was extinct. The Danish Prince Carl was then appointed the new king, who ascended the throne on November 18, 1905 as Håkon VII.

Norway in the early Middle Ages (1066-1240)

The Norwegian Empire was consolidated by the middle of the 11th century, although the administration was still very rudimentary. The establishment of cities continued and at the end of the 11th century the three largest cities of Oslo, Trondheim (Nidaros) and Bergen (Bjørgvin) flourished.

The Union with Denmark (1537-1814)

The plague raged from 1349 to 1351, causing Norway to lose a large part of its population. As a result, the Norwegian elite was so weakened that they could no longer withstand the pressure of the Danes. More and more decisions were made in Copenhagen.

Norway after the Civil War (1240-1380)

How much the civil war affected the population is controversially discussed by historians. What is clear is that Norway was more closed in the years around 1240 than it was before the war began in 1130.