While enjoying travel in the region you will easily notice that Norway has a culture distinctly its own. Because Norway is situated so far from some historyís most prominent cultural centers such as Rome, Paris and Florence, it developed a unique culture, very different from mainland Europe. Norwegians today vigorously protect their folk art and music, remnants from their Viking ancestry. Traditional folk dresses can still be seen at weddings and other festive occasions. Storytelling is also very popular, and many of the tales involve trolls. Because of their past union with Denmark, Norwegian culture has also been influenced by the Danish.
Architecture is an important element of Norwegian culture. While on a Norway tour you can see this cultural element in the countryís stave churches, which are among some of the oldest wooden buildings on earth. Norway has also produced numerous famous artists, including painter Edvard Munch, composer Edvard Grieg, sculptor Gustav Vigeland and playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Norwegians are predominantly Protestant, based on the Evangelical-Lutheran religion. Although there is no separation between Church and State, all citizens have the right to practice their religion freely. Roughly 10% of the population attends church services or events more than once a month, as Norwegian religious practice is largely private.
There are three official languages in Norway. The most commonly used is spoken by 80% of the population and heavily influenced by the Danish language. However, while on a Norway tour you have the opportunity to hear some of 272 dialects that are spoken in rural areas. Danes, Swedish and Norwegian can understand each otherís languages, but only 4 million people in the world actually speak Norwegian. English is taught in all Norwegian schools.
Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, and has a very low poverty level. The literacy rate is close to 100%, and a large number of its peoples have completed upper secondary schooling. At all public institutions in Norway, higher education is free for Norwegian nationals and international students alike. Norway ranks second, only to Iceland, in its economic and political gender equity.