Norway is a country that is known for its natural beauty, from its snow-capped mountains to its deep fjords. It is also a country with a rich history and culture, and there are many things to see and do.
One of the most popular tourist destinations is of course the capital city of Oslo. Oslo is a vibrant city offering museums, art galleries, and historical sites. The city is also home to a number of parks and gardens, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors - if it is summer.
The city of Bergen has a medieval feel derived from it's history as a thriving port and the former centre of Norwegian trade under the Hanseatic League. The Hanseatic League was a medieval commercial and defensive confederation of market towns and merchant guilds in Europe ranging from Estonia in the Baltic, to the Netherlands in the west and Krakow, Poland, in the south.
It is home to the Bryggen wharf, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a great base for exploring the surrounding fjords if you are looking for something more active. There are many biking and hiking trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging.
History of Norway
In prehistory agricultural settlements spread along the coast and from the 8th century, the Viking Age saw Norwegians take to the seas to trade, raid, colonise, expanding to Iceland in 874 AD and Greenland in the 980s. Raids on the British Isles started in 793 AD. Vikings had perfectly suited ships for sea travel, advanced navigation, were well trained, and had good arms and armour.
Throughout the Middle Ages the population of Norway grew and by the 13th century Norway was in what is considered a Golden Age marked by peace and trade, being a member of the Hanseatic League. However, in 1349 the Black Death made its mark and in just one year killed about 66% of the population. Further plagues wiped out more of the population by 1400 leaving a much weakened country.
Norway entered into the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden in 1397 to form one Scandinavian power with Denmark as the dominant power. Norway had to follow the policies even though they were detrimental to it and was too weak to secede.
Sweden left in 1523 leaving Norway as the junior power. The 1600s saw a series of Denmark-Norway wars against their former Swedish brothers.
Denmark-Norway participated in the Napoleonic Wars on the side of France in 1807 but in 1814 as one of the losing powers was ceded to Sweden. Not surprisingly, Norway wasn't too keen on this and declared its independence. The powers of day supported Sweden's claims and after a short war Norway accepted a union with Sweden. This lasted until 1905 when parliament voted for the dissolution of the union and a follow up referendum confirmed this with less than 1% voting in favour of union.
Norway was neutral in World War 1, as they were in World War 2, but with Norway occupying a strategic location both Britain and Germany intended to invade. Germany got there first and stayed there, enacting a brutal occupation from 1940 until the end of the war in 1945.