Norway

Norway The official country name in conventional long form is the Kingdom of Norway. Norge is the local short form. The capital of Norway is Oslo. Norway is situated far to the north in the western corner of Europe bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Norway shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. The Kingdom of Norway, in addition to the mainland, includes the Svalbard archipelago and Jan Mayen.

Norway also has territories in the Antarctic region. These are Bouvet Island and Peter I Island. The size of Norway is slightly larger that New Mexico. The geographical conditions do not favor internal communication in Norway. The terrain is two-thirds mountains and there are nearly 50,000 islands off its coastline.

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High mountains, glaciers with high plateaus deep fjords, and arctic tundra in the north make communication difficult (www.odci.gov.) Norways natural resources include petroleum, copper, natural gas, pyrites, nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead, fish, timber, and hydropower. Current environmental issues include: water pollution; acid rain damaging forests and adversely affecting lakes, threatening fish stocks; air pollution from vehicle emissions (www.odci.gov.) People Norway has a population of 4,438,537 with a growth rate of .4% recorded in July 1999 (www.ssb.no.) The life expectancy at birth of the total population is 78.36 years. This statistic is broken down by gender and the life expectancy at birth for females is 81.35 years and 75.55 years for male, est. in 1999. The estimated total fertility rate in 1999 is 1.77 children born per woman.

The infant mortality rate is 4.96 deaths per 1,000 live births (1999 est.) (www.adin.dep.no.) Ethnic groups include: Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, Baltic), Lapps (Sami) (www.odci.gov.) The major religions are Evangelical Lutheran 87.8% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3.8%, none 3.2%, unknown 5.2% (1980) (Ostbye, 1992.) The official language is Norwegian and there are small Lapp and Finnish-speaking minorities. Literacy rates are defined in the population of age 15 and over that can read and write. The total population is 99% literate (www.ssb.no.) Economy Norway is one of the richest countries in the world calculated by GNP per capita or purchasing parity which is $24,700 (www.odci.gov.) Norway thrives on welfare capitalism. The economy consists of a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises), and extensively subsidizes agriculture, fishing, and areas with sparse resources.

Norway maintains an extensive welfare system that helps increase public sector expenditures to more than 50% of GDP and results in one of the highest average tax levels in the world. The unemployment rate in the year-end of 1997 was 2.6%. The inflation rate was low at 2.3% is 1998 (www.ssb.no.) Norway is a major shipping nation, with a high dependence on international trade and exporter of raw materials and semi-processed goods. The country is richly endowed with natural resources and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices. Only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Norway.

Oslo opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. Economic growth in 1999 should drop to about 1%. Despite their high per capita income and generous welfare benefits, Norwegians worry about that time in the 21st century when the oil and gas run out (www.odin.dep.no.) Government Norway is a constitutional monarchy which means that the constitution decrees that the country shall be ruled by a monarch. The king and his family have no real political power but are an important symbol and mean a great deal to the people. Harald V came to the throne after the death of his father Olav V in 1991.

King Harald is married to Queen Sonja and they have two children, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Martha Louise. The Storting is Norway’s national assembly and consists of 165 representatives from 19 counties. General elections are held every 4 years. The Storting passes laws and decides how the national income should be spent. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and has 18 ministers to assist in the running of the country.

Although the Storting is the most powerful body in the country, each of the 19 counties and the 435 municipalities has its own local government which is responsible for the building and running of schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and roads (www.odin.dep.no.). Every Norwegian has the right to vote from the age of 18. Norway was one of the first countries in the world to allow women to vote, which occurred in 1913. Since this period, Norway has come a long way in ensuring equal rights for men and women (www.odin.dep.no). Language During the union with Denmark from 1400 to 1815, Oslo became the cultural, political, and commercial center. Nationalist opposition against the union with Sweden (1815-1905) got most of its strength from the periphery (Ostergaard, 1992.) One of the lasting outcomes of the protest is two official languages: bokmal (literary Norwegian) based on the dialect of the upper class in Oslo and influenced by the Danish and nynorsk (new Norwegian) which is based on countryside dialects from the western parts of Norway (Ostybe, 1993.) Ninety-five percent of the population speaks Norwegian as their native language.

Everyone who speaks Norwegian, whether it is a local dialect or one of the two standard official languages, can be understood by other Norwegians since there are no real language barriers. The two languages have equal status; therefore, they are both used in public administration, in schools, churches, and on radio and television. In addition, books, magazines, and newspapers are published in both languages (www.odin.dep.no.) Media System Overview The media landscape in Norway has been transformed over the past two decades. Norwegians still top the list of the worlds most avid newspaper readers. The time spent on the electronic media is increasing year by year.

Norway was a latecomer in the field of television, which was introduced officially in 1960 (Ostergaard, 1992) The state retained a monopoly of both radio and television until the early 1980s. The Norwegian parliament then opened the field to private enterprise, though both radio and television stations had to be licensed by the authorities. This breaking down of the state monopoly opened up for a large number of both local and nationwide radio and television companies that started to compete with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). At the same time the compact disc was introduced to the market, personal computers and the Internet entered the market (Ostybe, 1993.) This rapid development in the field of electronics meant tougher competition for the traditional printed media. They already faced competition from radio and television in the fields of both news and entertainment.

The media landscape underwent a radical change, but the new media did not replace the old, they supplemented them. Newspapers There has been governmental regulation of newspapers in Norway for quite some time. Norwegian papers are linked to political parties and some are even owned by a party as a result of monopolization (Ostergaard, 1992.) During the German occupation in Norway from 1940-1945, more than 60% of the newspapers were stopped and only five of the 44 Labor Party papers continued during the war (Ostybe, 1993.) All Labor Party papers re-established after the war but never regained their strength. Organizations in the paper industry turned to government for subsidies. There was no evidence of state influence over the content of the newspapers which is why the subsidy system has widened the range of newspapers in Norway (Ostybe, 1993.) The national organization of the Labor Party controlled the leading Labor newspaper, Abeiderblader.

There was strong technical, economical, editorial cooperation between Labor Papers and they were seen as a newspaper chain. All papers remained independent until 1990 when all the Labor papers merged into one company (Ostergaard, 1992.) Currently, there are one or two newspapers in each town, except for larger cities. The largest newspaper is the Oslo-bases tabloid, Verdens Gang, which is read by 1,384,000 people (www.odin.dep.no.) The other nation-wide popular newspaper is the Dagbladet. These two tabloids contain news background, comments, and debate on both political and cultural affairs. There is no va …