Norway

Norway, Noreg or Norga, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a country in Northern Europe occupying the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, as well as Jan Mayen and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard under the Spitsbergen Treaty. The majority of the country shares a border to the east with Sweden; its northernmost region is bordered by Finland to the south and Russia to the east. Scotland and Faroe Islands lie to its west across the North Sea, Iceland, and Greenland lie to its west across the Norwegian Sea, and Denmark lies south of its southern tip across the Skagerrak Strait. The capital city of Norway is Oslo. Bouvet Island and Peter I Island are dependent territories (Norwegian: biland) of Norway but are not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land, a claim that has been recognised by Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Norway's extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea, is home to its famous fjords.

After World War II, Norway experienced rapid economic growth, with the first two decades due to the Norwegian shipping and merchant marine and domestic industrialization, and from the early 1970s, a result of exploiting large oil and natural gas deposits that had been discovered in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Today, Norway ranks as the wealthiest country in the world in monetary value,[8][9][10] with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. In August 2009 the nation's sovereign wealth fund announced that it owned approximately 1% of all the stocks in the world, presumably referring to publicly traded stocks. Norway is the world’s seventh largest oil exporter[11] and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of its GDP. Following the ongoing financial crisis of 2007–2010, bankers have deemed the Norwegian krone to be one of the most solid currencies in the world.

Norway also has rich resources of natural gas fields, hydroelectric power, forests, and minerals. This country was the second largest exporter of seafood (in value, after the People’s Republic of China) in 2006, but its offshore fish populaton had been declining rapidly through over-fishing, a serious problem. Other major industries include shipping, food processing, shipbuilding, the metal industry, chemicals, mining, fishing, and the pulp and paper products from forests. Norway maintains a Scandinavian welfare model with universal health-care, subsidised higher education and a comprehensive social security system. Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2007, and then again in 2009 and is ranked the best country to live in. It was also rated the most peaceful country in the world in a 2007 survey by Global Peace Index.

Norway is an early adapter of women's rights, minority rights, and LGBT rights. For example, in 1990 Norway was the first country to recognize the ILO-convention 169 about indigenous people, in 1993 Norway became the second country to legalize civil union partnerships for same-sex couples, and on January 1, 2009, Norway became the sixth country to grant full marriage equality to same-sex couples.

Although having rejected EU membership in two referenda, it maintains close ties with the Union and its member countries, as well as with the United States. It is considered a prominent participant in diplomacy and international development, having been heavily involved with the failed Oslo Accords and negotiated a failed truce between the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil Tigers. Norway remains one of the biggest financial contributors to the UN, and participates with UN forces in international missions, notably in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sudan.

Norway is a constitutional, hereditary monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with King Harald V as its Head of State. It is a unitary state with administrative subdivisions on two levels known as counties (fylker) and municipalities (kommuner). The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliament and the Finnmark Act.

Norway is a founding member of the UN, NATO, the Council of Europe and the Nordic Council, and is a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD. Norwegians aged between 18-30 qualify for a Working Holiday Visa for Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

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