A Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) file for the newsgroup
S O C . C U L T U R E . N O R D I C
*** PART 6: NORWAY ***
Geography, climate, vegetation
Population, language, culture
! Kings & Queens
Olof Skøtkonung and his friends
Main tourist attractions
Sons of Norway
Dictionaries and other study material
Subject: 6.1 Fact Sheet
Name: Kongeriket Norge (Bokmål)
Kongeriket Noreg (Nynorsk)
Telephone country code: 47
Area: 323,878 km² / 125,065 sq mi.
Overseas territories: Svalbard 62 700,0 km²
Jan Mayen 380,0 km²
Bouvet Island 58,5 km²
Peter I Island 249,2 km²
Land boundaries: Sweden, Finland, Russia
Terrain: mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys;
small, scattered plains;
coastline deeply indented by fjords;
arctic tundra in north
Largest glaciers: Jostedalsbreen, 486 km²
Svartisen, 369 km²
Folgefonni 212 km²
Highest point: Glittertinden, 2,472 m (8,110 ft)
Natural resources: crude oil, copper, natural gas, pyrites,
nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead,
fish, timber, hydropower
Population: 4,413,800 (1997)
Population density: 13.6 persons per km² (35 per sq mi).
(lowest in Finnmark: 1.7 persons per km²)
Distribution: 71% urban, 29% rural. (1990)
Average annual growth: 3.5% (1997)
Life expectancy: women 81 years; men 75 years (1994)
Infant mortality: 5.2 per 1,000 live births. (1994)
Average fertility: 1.87 (1995)
Average age at marriage: women 32.6; men 29.5 (1994)
Divorces per marriage: 53% (1994)
Capital: Oslo (population: 500,000) (1997)
Other major towns (1995): Bergen (223,000),
Flag: a blue Nordic cross outlined in white on a red background.
Type: Constitutional monarchy
Head of state: King Harald V
National anthem: Ja, vi elsker dette landet
Royal anthem: Kongesangen
Languages: Norwegian (two written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk).
Small Finnish- and Sámi-speaking minorities.
The North Sámi language has official status in
the northern parts of the country.
Currency: krone (Norwegian crown, NOK).
for the current exchange rate,
see the URL <http://www.dna.lth.se/cgi-bin/kurt/rates>
Climate: temperate along coast, warmed by the Gulf stream;
colder interior. Rainy year-round on west coast.
Average temp. in Oslo:
-7°C - 2°C in Jan.,
13°C - 22°C in July.
Current and historic data on temperature/precipitation/humidity
from 50 stations all over the country are available at:
Religion: Evangelic-Lutheran (88%) (official state-religion)
Exports: petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, fish,
aluminium, ships, pulp and paper.
Subject: 6.2 General information
6.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation
Norway is located on the Scandinavian peninsula; its long, craggy
coast forms the western margin of the peninsula and fronts the
Atlantic Ocean (sometimes known as the Norwegian Sea) for most of the
country's length. To the southwest the North Sea separates Norway from
the British Isles, and directly to the south the Skagerrak separates
it from Denmark. In the east Norway shares an extensive border with
Sweden and for a shorter one with Finland and Russia in the north.
From north to south, Norway is about 1,770 km long, but for much of
the distance it is very narrow, exceeding 160km of breadth only in the
south. About one third of the country lies within the Arctic Circle,
where the sun shines 24 hours at the height of the summer.
Characteristic of the terrain are rugged mountains interrupted by
valleys that cut into the land. Along much of the coast cliffs drop
impressively to the sea, forming the fjords which are among the most
distinctive features of Norwegian geography. The longest and deepest
of them is the Sogne Fjord. About 150,000 offshore islands serve as a
barrier that helps to protect Norway's coast from Atlantic storms.
Among these, the Lofoten Islands are the largest and also a very
popular tourist attraction.
The climate is temperate, and the severity of winter along the coast
is moderated by southerly air currents brought in above the waters of
the North Atlantic Drift, which is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Summers
are relatively cool throughout the country; rainfall is high
everywhere, most of all on the coasts, of course. The rivers contain
abundant salmon and trout, which are among the country's most famous
exports. Spruce and pine are the most common trees in Norway's
forests, and deciduous trees, such as birch and ash, are common in the
lowlands. In the mountain regions, heather is abundant, as well as low
bushes that provide numerous delicious berries. Timber is one of the
foremost natural resources. In addition, Norway has tremendous
resources in its offshore oil and gas fields in the North Sea as well
as in the hydroelectric potential of the numerous rapids and
waterfalls. Iron and copper are also mined.
Only about 3% of Norway is arable land; for this reason Norway's main
source of livelihood has traditionally been fishery. Norway emerged as
an industrial nation from the beginning of this century, partly due to
local elites investing money in shipbuilding, woolspinning, timber and
pulp production, and partly because of foreign companies building up
on electrochemical industry based upon cheap hydro-electric power.
Norway has also had one of the biggest merchant fleets of the world.
The financial surplus made by this type of service made it possible to
outweigh the deficit of trade with other countries, and hence is an
important economic and political factor in Norwegian history.
Production of petroleum and gas has, however, become the foremost
industry with the discovery of offshore fields. Food, beverage, and
tobacco processing rank second. The manufacture of transportation
equipment, primarily ships and boats (the major export), ranks third,
followed by production of metal and metal products.
6.2.3 Population, language, culture
Norway's population is primarily Germanic. The largest ethnic minority
are Sámi (Lapps) living Northern Norway (Finnmark) who number about
20,000; a few thousand Norwegian Finns (Kvens) live in northern
Norway. Norwegian is a Germanic language developed from the Old Norse
spoken in the viking age; it is closely related to both Danish and
Swedish. Norway has hundreds of dialects of spoken Norwegian
(corresponding to different geographical regions or locales) and two
official written norms, Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål, which has its
basis in large part in the Danish spoken during the period of Danish
rule, serves as the written norm for most of the dialects of the
larger urban centers. Nynorsk, created by the philologist Ivar Andreas
Aasen (1813-96) who drew it from the old rural dialects that preserve
Norwegian as it descended from Old Norse, serves as the written norm
for most of the dialects of rural areas and some smaller urban
centers. Norway, while becoming increasingly urbanized, is still one
of the least urbanized countries in Europe. Population is extremely
sparse in northern Norway and inland; except for Iceland, it is the
lowest in Europe.
It's worth to note that both Nynorsk and Bokmål are pure written
languages. No one actually speaks these languages - in Norway all
spoken languages are regarded as dialects. But one has to remember
that over 80% of the pupils in Norwegian schools chose to learn
Bokmål, and that the vocabulary of Bokmål is influenced by Danish
whereas the vocabulary of Nynorsk lies closer to Swedish. The minority
language Nynorsk is thus protected by laws, ensuring for instance that
at least 25% of the radio and tv transmissions are in Nynorsk, and a
national theater Det Norske Teatret playing in Nynorsk,
Frequently questions about common Scandinavian names come up in the
newsgroup. The national statistical office of Norway has made tables
over the most common names to make your choice easier. :-)
Norway has a strongly developed tradition of folk music; its most
distinguished classical composers were Edvard Grieg (1843-1907),
Christian Sinding (1856-1941), and Johan Svendsen (1840-1911), all of
whom made much use of traditional music. The painting of Edvard Munch
(1863-1944) has achieved worldwide recognition. Gustav Vigeland
(1869-1943) produced a vast body of sculpture, which has been
collected in Frogner Park in Oslo. For Norwegian literature, see
Norway is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with a constitution
that was drafted in 1814. It gives broad powers to the king, but the
council of ministers, headed by the prime minister, generally
exercises this power as king in council. The 165 members of the
Storting, or parliament, are elected for a fixed term of 4 years by
all Norwegians 18 years of age or older.
The major political parties are the Labor party (Arbeiderpartiet), the
largest single party, the Conservative party (Høyre), and the Center
Party (Senterpartiet). The Labor party, which was responsible for
creating the social-democratic welfare state, headed the government
for 37 years during the period 1935-81. A debate about high taxes and
rising inflation caused the Labor party to lose ground to center-right
groups. The Conservatives under Kare Willoch were in office from 1981
to 1986, when they were ousted by Labor, led by Gro Harlem Brundtland,
Norway's first woman premier. Brundtland has since resigned as the
party leader (the office is currently held by Torbjørn Jagland), but
still represents the party as the prime minister. In the current
election period (1993-1997), Senterpartiet (Center Party) is bigger
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 6.3 History
Norway's history is divided in two parts: Before 1387, and after 1814.
A chronology of important dates:
The bloody conflicts between tribal kingdoms, as well as a
craving for adventure, prompted Norwegians to leave their lands
in what are known as Viking voyages. Warriors from the fjords
(Vik in Norse) raided throughout western Europe and into the
Harald Hårfagre ("fair-hair") unites Norway to a single
kingdom. Ireland falls under Norwegian rule. Iceland is
King Olav Tryggvason converts to Christianity.
(circa) Norway is split in three parts by Olof Skötkonung, King
of Svealand, his step-father Svend Forkbeard, King of Denmark,
and the exiled Jarl Eirik. King Olav Tryggvason is defeated.
Jarl Eirik gets a third of Norway as his own, and the part of
Olof Skötkonung's as his vassal.
The viking chieftain King Olav Haraldsson defeats and slays the
son of Jarl Eirik, but unites with Eirik against King Olof of
Svealand. Unpease pesters the life in Jämtland and Bohuslän.
King Canute the Great (of Denmark) conquered also Norway. King
Olav escaped to his relative King Jaroslav in Novgorod, where
he raised an army. The new King of Sweden, Amund Jakob,
supports king Olav Haraldsson.
Bishopric in Trondheim
The battle of Stiklestad in Trøndelag, in which Olav Haraldsson
(canonized as St. Olav) is killed. The pilgrimages to his grave
in Nidaros (Trondheim) begin. When King Canute the Great dies
in 1035 the Danish supremacy over Norway is exchanged in a
Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance. It
was settled that if one of the two realm's kings should die
without heirs, then the other would succeed him.
King Hardeknud of Denmark dies without an heir, and Denmark and
Norway is again united - now under King Magnus.
A retired colonel from Constantinople, later called Harald
Hårdråde, and actually an uncle of King Magnus, returned to his
native country and made demands on half of the kingdom. As King
Magnus refused, the uncle, allied with a claimant to the Danish
kingdom. King Magnus was defeated and the union between Denmark
and Norway was split.
Harald (Hårdråde) killed in the battle of Stamford Bridge while
attempting to conquer England. Viking raids come to an end.
After a civil war, the illegitimate son of King Sigurd, Sverre,
is acknowledged as sole king. He consolidated the power of
monarchy, created a new nobility and replaced an aristocratic
administration with royal officials. His firm hand in ruling
the church led Pope Innocent III to excommunicate him and lay
Norway under interdict.
Greenland and Iceland are subjected to Norwegian rule.
King Magnus VI Lagabøter (Law-Mender) ended a lingering war
with Scotland by selling the Isle of Man and the Hebrides to
Magnus VI introduces a general code of laws which remains in
use for more than four centuries, replacing local legal systems
with a unified code for the entire kingdom. It strengthened the
position of the monarch by treating crime not as a private
matter but as an offense against king and country. Magnus also
promulgated municipal laws and accepted a basically independent
status for the church.
The three-years old King Magnus of Norway is elected King of
Sweden too. This marks in many ways the end of Norway as an
independent kingdom, although the Norwegian magnates in the
Norwegian Senate (Council of the Realm) will continue to meet
for several hundreds of years.
Black plague, "Svartedauen", kills one third of Norways
Marriage ties linked Norway with both Sweden and Denmark, and
Queen Margarete, the wife of Haakon VI, succeeded in gaining
control of the country as their son the king was only five
years old. (He had, by the way, been elected King of Denmark
The under-age king died, and with him the Norwegian royal house
died out. The nobles of the Senate (the Council of the Realm)
elected Erik of Pomerania, Margarethe's grandnephew, as their
king. Margarethe is appointed Regent and unites Norway, Sweden,
and Denmark in the Union of Kalmar.
Norway becomes a subject of the Danish crown, little more than
a Danish province. Danish becomes the written language of
Norway. Reformation makes Norway Lutheran.
The provinces of Jämtland and Härjedalen are ceded to Sweden
after Denmark-Norway's participation in the Thirty Years' War.
In 1658, Bohuslän is lost to Sweden, too.
Sweden attacks Norway, but has to retreat when king Karl XII is
killed at Fredrikshald.
The peace treaty of Kiel gives Norway to Sweden. Norway
declares independence at Eidsvoll, but after a short war
against Sweden Norway agrees to a personal union with Sweden.
The Norwegian constitution was written.
The union with Sweden falls apart and Norway becomes an
independent kingdom. The Danish prince Karl becomes king Haakon
VII of Norway.
The Altmark Incident
February 16th British blockaders discovered the German war-ship
Graf Spee heading home along the Norweigan coast with 299
British merchant seamen captured. The Brititsh Admiralty
ordered their rescue at all costs. The destroyer Cossack
pursued the Altmark into Jøssing fjord near Stavanger, and
despite Norweigan protests boarded and captured her, releasing
the prisoners. Norweigan protests of this violation died away
in the face of British proof that Norway had permitted an armed
vessel to take refuge in neutral waters.
April 2-3rd Germany's naval forces start their journey to
occupy Norway and Denmark, operation Weserübung.
April 8th the British Navy placed mines in Norwegian
territorial waters off North Norway, in an attempt to halt the
shipment of Swedish iron ore over the port of Narvik. This
concurrence of events was purely coincidental. The German
occupation of Norway had been planned in meticulous detail
months in advance and had no connection with the British
Germany attacks Norway on 9th of April, and after two months of
resistance completes the occupation. The Norwegian king and
government flee to England. The leader of Norways National
Socialist party, Vidkun Quisling, is nominated by Hitler to
form a puppet regime.
The Norwegian resistance, "Hjemmefronten", is organized. With
its 50,000 members it made life more difficult for the Nazi
occupiers in Norway, while many Norwegians joined British or
American forces to fight the Germans. The Norwegian merchant
fleet played a vital role in aiding the Allies. Although it
lost half of its fleet, the country recovered quickly after the
Germany surrenders to the Allies and the Nazi-occupation ends
Norway joins NATO.
Olav V becomes king after the death of Haakon VII.
Large oil finds in the North Sea make Norway prosperous.
Norway holds a referendum about joining the EEC: the people
On Olav's death in January, his son Harald V succeeded him as
the king of Norway.
A referendum about joining the EU will was held November
27-28th. Again, the Norwegians voted "NO" by a clear majority
and thus remained outside the union while Sweden and Finland
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 6.4 Main tourist attractions
Bergen located about 300 km west of Oslo, on a sheltered inlet of the
North Sea, it is an important port and the country's second-largest
city. Warm Historical landmarks include the King Haakon's Hall (1261),
St. Mary's Church (12th century), the Rosencrantz Tower (1562) and the
old wooden merchant's quarters (Bryggen) at the harbour. One of the
Bryggen buildings (Finnegården) houses a Hansaetic Museum, another
(modern one) houses a medieval museum (Bryggens museum). The city also
has a university (1948) and National Theater (1850), and it was the
birthplace of the composer Edvard Grieg and the violinist Ole Bull.
Fantoft stave church (built 1150) and Grieg's home Troldhaugen are
located a short distance to the south of the city.
The city was founded in 1070 by King Olaf III; it became a leading
trade center and Norway's capital during the 12th and 13th centuries.
It joined the Hansaetic League in the 14th century, and German
merchants from the league developed trade monopolies here that lasted
into the 18th century. Occupied during World War II by the Germans,
the city suffered heavy damage during Allied bombings.
Bergen is surrounded by mountains low enough to be climbed on foot but
sufficiently high to offer a great view. There are many good paths for
hikers, but there are also a cable cars going to the highest peak,
mount Ulriken (606m above sea), and to Fløyen (314m) which is a bit
closer to the centre.
<The following from an article by Daniel R. Juliano>
I am not sure how you are getting from Bergen to Oslo, but I would
suggest the beautiful scenic train that takes you between the two if
you are not flying. It stops quite often and lets you get out in the
mountains and look around. It is warm up there, yet there is tons of
snow. At least there was when I was there two years ago this month.
If you could get to Oystese and see the Hardanger fjord that is the
most beautiful one I ever saw. But, you have to take a bus or drive
there. When we were there the buses were on strike (of course) and we
rented a car. Scary. You have to drive on these huge mountains with no
guard rail where you are literally one foot from the edge and you have
to go through huge tunnels. A police man actually pulled us over for
going to slow. :)
We did take a boat tour in Bergen of the fjords which we enjoyed. My
family went to see Grieg's house. They enjoyed that. They also saw the
stave church. I didn't go along to those so I don't know if I should
On most days in Bergen there is a fish market in the main part of town
which is quite interesting. They sell fish that they have just caught,
as well as fresh fruit, flowers, bread and handicrafts. It is closed
Oh, we also went on a tour of some church and of the Hansa houses.
That was neat. Ok, I'll stop. Again. If you have any more specific
questions, just ask.
<From: Jan Setnan>
I always recommend taking the boat from Bergen to Balestrand in the
evening. Then the express ferry from Balestrand to Flåm. The trip from
Bergen to Flåm will give you an impressive view of the fjords. Then
you take the nighttrain flom Flåm to Oslo, arriving the next morning.
The boat from Bergen to Balestrand may be filled with tourists so you
probably should reserve tickets. But the ferry from Balestrand to Flåm
should give you no problems. The train tickets you should reserve
beforehand. The luggage is another problem travelling from boat to
boat to train. If you have several items, you could send most of it
with the train from Bergen to Oslo, and only take the necessary
minimum with you on the boats. The boat ticket from Bergen to Flåm is
<From: Melvin Klasse>
When I went to Bergen, in early-July 1988, the "Tourist Information
Centre" (*very* close to the SAS Hotel in Bergen) had all sorts of
accomodation available, from a "pension" (bed & shared bathroom &
NO-breakfast) to "tourist-class" hotels.
* Get an umbrella -- if it isn't raining, you're not in Bergen!!!
* Walk around the Fish Market, of course.
* The WW II "War Resistance" museum chronicles the time of the
* Take the Fløybanen (train ride at 23 degrees "up" the hill).
* See Edward Greig's summer-house "Troldhaugen".
* Make reservations for dinner & entertainment with "Fana Folklore".
Oslo lies at the head of Oslo Fjord, about 97 km from the open sea.
The city first occupied the small Åkershus Peninsula, where a fortress
was built in 1300. Oslo was founded about 1050 to the east of the
present city. Early in the 17th century fire destroyed the town,
mostly built of wood. King Christian IV ordered the city to be rebuilt
on the Åkershus Peninsula below the fortress, which could protect it.
The new city was laid out on a square plan and was named Christiania
after its founder (the name Oslo was readopted in 1925).
The city remained small until the 19th century; in 1814, it's
population was only 11,200. That year, Norway was separated from
Denmark and was joined into Sweden by a personal union. Christiania
became the national capital and started to grow. The Royal Palace was
built, and the Storting (Parliament) and government offices were
established. By 1910, the population had already reached 225,000.
Today Oslo is a well-planned city with wide, straight streets.
Government offices and the central business district are focused on
Karl Johansgate, which is the main street in Oslo. By the harbour is
the two-towered City Hall (completed 1950), the city's most famous
landmark, facing the fjord and the downtown area.
Oslo is also the cultural heart of Norway. The university, which was
founded in 1811, is the largest in the country. The city also contains
the National Theater, the Bygdøy folk museum with a large collection
of traditional buildings, and a museum of excavated Viking ships. On
Holmenkollen, a mountain overlooking the city, is a famous ski jump,
the site of many winter sports competitions. Frogner Park contains the
statuary of Gustav Vigeland.
<From: Ken Ewing>
I spent a week in Oslo in July, 1989. I don't know what you might be
interested in, but here's a rundown of stuff that I did (please
forgive any misspellings...I don't have my travel info in front of me.
* City Hall. Called "Rådhuset" in Norwegian. This is a large,
twin-towered building right on the waterfront. The ground floor is
the national tourist office. Here you can arrange for tours, find
out interesting things to see, buy guidebooks, etc.
* Akershus Fortress. Easy to find. It's a genuine medieval fort
right on the waterfront. It's something of a symbol for Oslo in
that having been under siege nine times since its construction in
the 1300's, it has never fallen to an enemy. Guided tours are
available. In or near the Akershus Fortress are many museums,
+ Resistance Museum. A "must-see" for WWII enthusiasts. It
looks very small from outside the door, but it's quite large
inside. It documents the German occupation and TONS of
artifacts, photos, etc.
+ Christiania Exhibit (I think it's called that). This is a
model and show about the history of Oslo. Oslo was originally
located a but further south, and the current site of Oslo
used to be called Christiania, named after King Christian IV.
* Take a water taxi across the bay to Bygdøy. There are several
museums over there, including:
+ Maritime Museum. Pretty big place. If you're into maritime
topics (which I am) you can spend a few hours here.
+ Fram Museum. The Fram is a sailing ship built around 1897. It
was basically designed to be a wooden-hulled icebreaker. The
designer had a theory that the Arctic ice cap flowed with
"currents" matching those of the ocean underneath, and that
if a ship could lodge itself in the ice, it could ride these
currents across the North Pole. He built this ship, lodged it
into the ice, and proved his theory (coming with five degrees
of the North Pole). The ship is now housed within this
+ Kon-Tiki museum. Contains Thor Heyerdahl's ships Kon-Tiki and
Ra II. You might remember Ra II from the movie made in 1973
(I think). There is also a life-size copy of a statue from
Easter Island, and also a genuine, taxidermed, 30-foot whale
shark suspended underneath the Kon Tiki.
All three of these museums are right next to one another. A little
farther down the road (easy walking distance) you'll find:
+ Viking Ship Museum. This building looks like a church from
the outside, and is not marked very well with signs. It
contains three actual Viking ships dug up from the ground,
plus a bunch of artifacts from the Viking era.
+ Folk Museum. This is a large park that contains exhibits of
the inland culture of Norway (as opposed to the maritime
culture, as the other museums in this area display). The
creators of this park went all over Norway and collect farm
houses (whole houses!), stave churches (pronounced "stahv" --
some of these structures date back to the 1200s and are still
in active use), etc. to show how Norwegian people lived.
There are tours available. Employees wear authentic cultural
Back in Oslo:
* Vigeland Statue Park. This is a 20-acre or so park with 250
statues by Mr. Vigeland, a famous Norwegian sculptor. It's best to
get a guidebook of some kind, as the park has a theme to its
organization. As I understand it, Vigeland statues are not found
outside of Norway.
* Historical churches. Olso has been around for a long time, and
there are interesting old churches all over town.
* The Royal Palace. Norway has a royal family, although the
parliament is the governing body. The palace has a military guard
that changes regularly.
* Downtown shopping. The downtown area of Oslo is really quite small
and easily explored by walking. The main street, Karl Johansgate,
starts right in front of the Royal Palace and proceeds straight
into the downtown area. About halfway or so the street becomes
closed to traffic, and thus turns into a large walking mall. The
street life is fascinating, with the usual contingent of street
musicians and other entertainers. In the harbour is the new
shopping complex, Akersbryggen; gleaming modern architecture,
Other general tips:
* In Norway (as well as other Scandinavian countries) you can obtain
a "Tourist Card". You can get them for one, two, or three days,
and you buy them at the city hall (Rådhuset). This card gives you:
+ Free transport on busses, trams, and subways.
+ Discount admission to most museums.
+ Discounts at some restaurants.
Among other advantages. I considered it worth the expense. With
the three-day card, you can get discounts on railroad fare to
other places in Norway, but you have to purchase tickets *before
coming to Norway* (which apparently means that you can obtain a
tourist card through a travel agency or perhaps through a
* Restaurants seem to be rather rare around Oslo. I like eating out,
and I had a rather hard time finding restaurants around town.
* Alcohol is strictly controlled. Beer costs $6-$7 for a pint glass.
Drunk driving laws are strictly enforced with heavy penalties, and
foreigners cannot claim ignorance as an excuse.
* Oslo seems to be a safe place. I never felt in danger of physical
harm at any time. Virtually everyone there (natives, that is)
speaks English (it is a requirement in the school system).
Trondheim, a city on the west central coast of Norway, is situated
about 400 km north of Oslo. The city is the site of the Technical
University of Norway (1900) and the Royal Norwegian Society of
Sciences (1760). Histoical landmarks include the impressive Nidaros
Cathedral (started in 1075, finished c. 1320, burned badly six times,
restauration started in 1869), where several Norse kings and Kings of
independent Norway have been crowned. The cathedral, built from
Norwegian blue soapstone and white marble, contains the tomb of St.
King Olaf II (Saint Olaf), which made it an important centre of
pilgrimage in the middle ages.
Founded as Kaupangr by King Olav Tryggvason in 997, Trondheim was an
archbishopric from 1152 until the Reformation (1537). The city was an
important administrative and commercial center during the 12th and
13th centuries, but its importance later diminished.
Erkebispegården, the archbishop's house by the cathedral survives from
the middle ages. Stiftsgården is a long wooden building with a rococo
interior. Folkemuseum has a collection of traditional houses and a
stave church. The fortified island of Munkholmen just off the city can
be reached by a boat.
Anne Lise Falck <email@example.com> wrote:
I have one particular thing in mind: you should take the time to
travel with `Hurtigruta` or Coastal Line as they say in English. It is
a beautiful boatride from Bergen to Kirkenes by the Russian border in
the north. You have the possibility of stopping in different cities
along the coast if you want to, and I believe that the whole trip
takes about a week or two.
Mike Jittlov adds:
IMHO, it's the finest boat cruise in the world. You might consider a
variety of travel (it seems to invite adventure and wonderful
meetings): take the train from Oslo toward Bergen, but just before
that switch trains at Myrdal, winding down the steep gorge to Flåm,
and take the ferry through the spectacular fjord (either to Bergen, or
a bus to the city); treat yourself to a day or two in Bergen
(wonderful fish & rolls at the harborside market), then board the
Hurtigruten northbound; the route through the Lofoten Islands is
breathtaking, and incredibly healing for spirit and body (weather
permitting, the steamer takes a sidetrip into the Trollfjord, and
plays Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" over loudspeakers); continue
to Tromsø, then to Nordkapp (incredibly touristy at the northernmost
point of Europe - but the contrast can be wild), every village and
stop along the way enticing you to stop and explore and learn and
enjoy; take the plane to Trondheim, and then the train back to Oslo
(with a sidetrip to Hell, a beautiful fjord-town with a unique stamp
for your passport ;) -- check out postcards and the free tourist
brochures for places that excite your interest. Ask for directions and
advice -- everyone is helpful, gracious, and honest; most speak
English, and will help you with your Norwegian.
The Hurtigruta has also a home page on WWW (both in English and
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 6.5 Norwegian literature
The earliest Norwegian literature, the Poetic Edda, was composed in
Norway but written down on Iceland in the early middle ages by the
descendendants of Norwegian settlers of Iceland. A more ornate and
technically complicated poetry was composed by court poets, or skalds,
mainly in praise of the battle exploits of various chieftains.
From the 16th through the 18th century, Norwegian literature was
written in Danish, mostly by priests and civil servants educated in
Denmark. The two principal literary figures were Petter Dass in the
17th century and Ludvig, Baron Holberg in the 18th. Dass has given a
marvelously vivid picture of life in the north of Norway in his
topographical poem, The Trumpet of Nordland (1739; Eng. trans., 1954);
Holberg was the first professional author in Dano-Norwegian
literature. A highly learned person, he wrote in a variety of genres;
his comedies in particular have remained popular.
Norways newly won independence from Denmark in 1814 inspired authors
to regard themselves as the creators of a national literature and
national identity. Henrik Arnold Wergeland, considered by some the
Norwegian national poet, enthralled his countrymen with e.g his
monumental cosmological poem, Skabelsen, mennesket, og messias
(Creation, Man, and Messiah, 1830). The conservative poet and critic
Johan Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven, however, reproached Wergeland
for his refusal to recognize the existence of a shared Dano-Norwegian
cultural heritage. But he little effect on either Wergeland or oesther
contemporaries, such as Peter Christen Asbørnsen and Jørgen
Engebretsen Møe, who were enthusiastically rediscovering Norway's
great past. Asbjørnsen and Møe published their celebrated Norske
folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folk Tales) in 1842-44. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson,
a great Norwegian patriot, also used folklore in his novels describing
The dramatist Henrik Ibsen is Norway's most famous literary figure;
some of his plays are considered to rank with the works of
Shakespeare. In the 20th century, three Norwegian novelists have won
Nobel Prizes: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1903, Knut Hamsun, most famous
for Growth of the Soil (1917; English translation 1920), and Sigrid
Undset, author of the epic novel Kristin Lavransdåtter (1920-22;
English translation 1923-27). Other important writers of this century
include the novelist John Bøjer, the poet Olaf Bull, novelist Olav
Duun, playwright and novelist Nordahl Grieg, and novelist Terje
Vesaas. More recent authors of note are short-story writer Terje
Stigen, novelist Jens Bjørnboe, poet Stein Mehren, the feminist writer
Bjørg Vik, and Jostein Gaarder, a former school teacher whose novel on
the history of western philosophy (Sophie's World, 1991) has had
tremendous success all over the world.
For electronic versions of some of the works of Nordic literature, see
the collection of Project Runeberg:
* Icelandic Literature
* Literature from the Viking Age
* Medieval Nordic Literature
* Danish Literature
* Norwegian Literature
* Literature of Finland
* Literature from the Age of Liberty [ in Sweden and Finland
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 6.6 Sons of Norway
<From: Ruth M. Sylte>
(Ruth, if you'd like to write a more comprehensive intro I won't say
In recent years, Sons of Norway has been actively reaching out to the
"younger" community of Norwegian-Americans. The Viking magazine has
many interesting articles that cover subjects on modern Norway. There
are also specific pages for children each month that look at various
cultural and historical subjects.
Sons of Norway also has special membership categories for children and
young people. Children (up to age 15) who are the children *and/or*
grandchildren of Sons of Norway adult members can be FREE "Heritage"
Members in Sons of Norway. This entitles them to a number of benefits,
including a quarterly newsletter geared specifically for that age
group. The newsletter often carries penpal requests from American and
Norwegian children. Young people - (about ages 15-22) can join SoN at
a reduced membership rate and receive a newsletter geared toward their
SoN also sponsors summer camps where children can go to get an
introduction to Norwegian language and culture. They also offer
scholarships to study at "Camp Norway" - a 6 week summer language camp
in Sandane, Norway - and the University of Oslo's International Summer
There are a number of active SoN lodges in the San Francisco area.
Indeed, anyone looking for Sons of Norway can usually find them
organizing the local Syttende Mai events. :-)
Sons of Norway has a Heritage Books department (run out of a store
called "Tomten") that offers books in Norwegian and English that deal
with the subjects listed above (and many others). They can be reached
7616 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55423
tlf: 1-800-468-2424 or 1-612-866-3636
Ruth - Vice-President of Midnattsolen Lodge #6-156 in Orange County
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 6.7 Dictionaries and study-material
Nynorskorboka (Det Norske Samlaget) and Bokmålsordboka
(Universitetsforlaget) form the official standard of the the two forms
of written Norwegian, "nynorsk" and "bokmål".
Nynorskordboka and Bokmålsordboka are available on the huge web of the
world at this location: <http://dina.uio.no/ordboksoek.html> This page
is entirely in Norwegian, though, so a minimal knowledge of Norwegian
(or Swedish or Danish) is necessary.
In addition, the following dictionaries can be mentioned:
* W. A. Kirkeby. Norsk-engelsk ordbok (Kunnskapsforlaget).
Especially good for Norwegian-speakers looking for the idiomatic
way to say something in English.
* Aschehoug og Gyldendals Store norske orbok ("moderat bokmål og
* W. A. Kirkeby. Engelsk-norsk ordbok
* Einar Haugen. Norsk-engelsk ordbok. Universitetsforlaget. OR the
American edition, Norwegian-English Dictionary (not sure of
publisher). Especially useful to English-speakers learning
Norwegian; includes both Bokm}l and Nynorsk words.
* The latest, most up-to-date version of Guttu's dictionary is Norsk
illustrert ordbok. Moderat bokmål og riksmål (Oslo 1993, 1009
pages). The format is now almost exactly like that of
Bokmålsordboka (17cm x 25.5cm). Both are excellent dictionaries,
which can be recommended. However, Norsk illustrert ordbok has a
layout that makes it easier to find what you are looking for in
Dave Golber writes:
(1) Get Einar Haugen's Norwegian-English dictionary. It's great.
(Also, it's got a introductory section that describes Nyn-Bokm.) It's
written in English in the sense that the explanations, extended
descriptions, etc, are in English, not Norwegian.
For English-Norwegian, I don't have any strong opinion. I have and use
Kirkeby's Dictionary, and it's good.
The Haugen you should be able to order from your local bookstore. The
Kirkeby might be harder. I can get you the particulars (publisher,
ISBN number, etc). You might have to order it from Norway, but that
isn't as hard as you think. Perhaps someone else in the group here
will have suggestions.
(2) I started using the tapes "Norsk for Utlendingar" (Norwegian for
Foreigners). This is used in Norway for teaching Norwegian to
immigrants. I think it's great. I wish I'd started using it long ago.
It's available in the USA from Audio Forum, with the Norwegian texts
that go with it, plus an American supplement. For an outrageous price.
But it's worth it.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- END OF PART 6 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
© Copyright 1994-98 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL for the
original archive (as: <http://www.lysator.liu.se/nordic/index.html>),
where the most recent version of this document can be found.
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