Known officially as the Kingdom of Norway, it is a Northern European country, which is also a constitutional monarchy, that is situated in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The Arctic islands, Jan Mayen and Svalbard are also part of Norway. Given the shape of the country, the terrain from the north to the south is long, whereas it is quite narrow in breadth, from the east to the west. Norway is bordered on its eastern side by Russia, Finland, and Sweden.
The sparsely populated country of Norway is divided by mountain ranges as well as has a long coastline bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on its west, extending over 13,050 miles, or 21,000 kilometers, which is gashed by its famous fjords, of which the Sognefjord, or the Sognafjorden, is the deepest and longest.
The highest mountain of Norway is Galdhopiggen, at a height of 2,469 m, the largest lake is Mjosa, while the largest glacier in all of Northern Europe is Jostedalsbreen.
The Viking Age, which began in the latter part of 8th century, lasting up to the middle part of 11th century, was the era in which the Norwegians started seeking new lands because their population had increased so much that they had begun falling short of cultivable land.
Being skillful at building boats and ships, along with being well armed with iron weapons, they set off on voyages over the seas in search of wealth and land. These were the famous Vikings who came to be feared for their ferocity all over Europe. This was also the time that Scandinavia also actually became a part of Europe.
The Norwegians set up settlements on Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, as well as parts of Ireland and Britain. In fact, it was the Norwegians who established the modern-day cities of Ireland, Waterford, Dublin, and Limerick and also set up the trading communities nearby the Celtic settlements, Dublin and Cork.
It was the Vikings, returning from their voyages, who brought Christianity to Norway. Although the first Christian king of Norway was Haakon the Good, it was Olav Tryggyasson, who ruled from 995 to 1000, and St. Olav, who ruled from 1015 to 1028, who actually established Christianity in Norway. Thus, between the 9th and 10th centuries, the Norse traditions like worshipping pagan gods like Odin and Thor, his son, were gradually replaced with the traditions of Christianity.
In the year 1349, when the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, spread all over Europe, it killed almost 40-50 percent of the population of Norway, resulting in both economic and societal decline.
The sea has always been Norway's source of strength, ever since the Vikings set out in their sea going vessels in the 9th century. Nowadays, fleets of oil-tankers and merchant ships can be counted amongst the largest in the world, while its fishing boats boast of getting the largest catch in Western Europe.
Since oil was discovered in Norway in 1969, it has been a source of wealth for this country, and subsidizes many public welfare and health programs. There was recession during the 1980s, however, Norway has recovered and has been enjoying a higher rate of economic growth compared to other countries of Europe.
The Laerdal tunnel, which was opened in 2000, situated on the Oslo-Bergen highway, is the longest road tunnel in the world, measuring 15.3 miles, or 24.5 kilometers. One of the aims of the tunnel was the hope it would encourage tourism to Norway's beautiful fjords. The tunnel, which features huge caverns, which drivers can pull over into and rest, and which also simulate the rising sun, has become quite a tourist attraction by itself.