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The area known as Norway was originally populated by the Ahrensburg culture, a group dating from the late Upper Paleolithic period (11 -12 millennia BC), as evidenced by clubs and wooden arrow shafts unearthed from that era. The oldest discoveries in Norway date from 9500 to 6000 BC, consisting primarily of stone tools.
The Corded Ware culture arrived in the eastern portions of Norway between 3000 and 2500 BC, before the Bronze Age, and agriculture gradually joined the hunting-fishing lifestyle.
With little of value with which to trade, the Bronze Age passed up most of the population, excepting wealthy chieftains. And very little evidence has been found to enlighten us on the culture of the region during the Iron Age, although it has been determined that the people of Norway had contact with Gaul, which was occupied by the Romans.
By the 3rd century BC, Norway had begun employing runes, learned from more civilized cultures to the south and settlements began expanding. Then with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, formation of cooperative communities, united in common defense and rudimentary legislature, began to occur.
This period, up until around 900AD, was the beginning of much emigration and expansion and many Norwegian (and Danish) settlers left the country, founding settlements in Iceland, Greenland, Britain, Ireland and the Faroe Islands.
The Black Death decimated more than half the population of Norway, plunging the area into severe social decline. This led to a strengthening of the farmers’ standing in the culture, which was the beginning of a new economic structure. Intermittent unions with Denmark and Sweden further edged Norway into expanded trade and cultural exchanges, and Norway’s borders ebbed through the 17th century.
The Norwegian government and culture was influenced by the aristocracy, with the general populace having neither control nor influence over their own lives, which bred a great deal of discontent. Numerous attempted revolts failed, due to the ultra-conservative nature of Norway. Eventually, Norway won its independence from Sweden peacefully, in 1905.
In World War I, although Norway remained neutral, the country was pressured by Britain into joining the blockade against Germany, which cost them many men and vessels. In World War II, again neutral, Norway was invaded by Germany, resulting in the country’s surrender to Germany in June of 1940.
The Norwegian Resistance fought valiantly against the occupying Germans, and their sabotage of the Nazi heavy water plant at Vemork crippled the Axis’ nuclear program, which quite possibly affected the war’s outcome.
- Norway has two different written forms of its official language, Norwegian.
- Marriage is not considered a necessity to raising a family in Norway, and many couples dispense with the formality.
- Women generally receive equal consideration and pay in Norwegian businesses.
- As a rule, Norwegians are quite modest, adhering to Jante Law, which essentially prohibits one from acting superior to another.
- In Norway, it is common and expected that people act in a casual and open fashion, respecting each other for themselves, rather than for their status or position.
- Norwegians value punctuality, both socially and in business.
- Norwegians tend to keep their personal and professional lives separated.
- While it’s common to bring the hostess flowers when invited to a Norwegian’s home, you should never bring carnations or white flowers, as these are reserved for funerals.
- You should also never give an even number of flowers.
- In business dealings, Norwegians give and expect the initial price as a firm and competitive price, with little to no bargaining afterward.
- They rarely give discounts, even to favored, long-term customers.
- In all circumstances, interrupting others is considered very poor practice.
- The Royal Family’s castle – The home of the King and Queen, this castle is a must-see in Oslo.
- Flåm Railway – only 20 km in length, this railway is one of the steepest in the world, passing through 20 tunnels, 18 of which were cut by hand.
- Akershus Fortress – Begun in 1290 AD to protect Oslo, this ancient castle has been under prolonged siege, has served as a prison and currently houses the Royal Mausoleum.
- Trollveggen cliff – This 1800 foot cliff is a breathtaking spectacle, overhanging the base by nearly fifty meters.
- Steinsdalsfossen waterfall – This 50 meter high waterfall is gorgeous, from both in front and behind.
- Jostedals Glacier – The largest glacier of its kind in all of Europe, this glacier is up to 600 meters thick.
- Nidaros Cathedral – Dating from the Middle Ages, this amazing cathedral is the largest so far from Rome.
- Preikestolen – The Pulpit Rock towers over the Lysefjord, seemingly suspended in defiance of gravity.
- Kjeragbolten – this huge bolder, also located at Lysefjord, is a base-jumper’s dream.
- Træna and Myken Islands – These islands have been settled for more than 6,000 years, and the Træna Festival enjoys worldwide cult status.
How to Get Cash
- ATMs are found throughout Norway, including PLUS, Cirrus and other networks, although you’ll need a PIN at most locations.
- You can also get a cash advance against your credit card at an ATM in Norway, although maximum daily limits usually apply.
- For exchanging your currency for Norwegian kroner, you’ll find that banks offer the most favorable rates.
- While many hotels will accept personal checks, there are several that won’t accept checks that are denominated in dollars or pounds. Those that do will charge for the conversion, sometimes handsomely.
- Traveler’s Checks are accepted in most banks, with American Express Traveler’s Checks being the preferred.
- If you get in a bind and need funds sent to you from outside Norway, Western Union is always an option.