Language: Norwegian (similar to Swedish & Danish)
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran (73%), Catholic (2.5%)
A brief history of Norway
At the very top of Europe, Norway is a country that has a unique and fascinating history that you will not only hear about but actually witness and experience on a trip to this ancient country. Humans have inhabited this region for close to 10,000 years, but the country’s current borders weren’t officially established until 1905.
The original settlers in this area hunted and fished for thousands of years until they were able to domesticate animals and establish agriculture. Fast forward to 800 CE and you arrive to what most people know of Norway’s culture – the Vikings! These early ocean pioneers and explorers had a firm hold on Norway’s culture for over two hundred years.
When Christianity arrived in Norway around 1030 CE, its empire included most of the European Arctic, from Greenland all the way to islands that are now parts of the United Kingdom and Denmark. But in 1350, the Black Plague ravaged the empire’s population.
Rebounding from the Plague, Norway joined with Denmark from 1380 until 1814. Following this, from 1815 until 1905, Norway was in a union with Sweden. In WWII, it was a British ally under German control, but since then it has remained a nation at peace with the world, notable for its cultural commitment to negotiation rather than confrontation.
Norway’s cuisine is notable for its organic origins and freshness. With a very long coastline along the Arctic Ocean, freshly caught fish are a staple part of the Norwegian diet. You’ll also find that many deserts feature berries, like the traditional multekrem, which features cloudberries topped with whipped cream. For the proteins, you might want to try the gamier dishes like moose, reindeer, and elk, but the most common meat is definitely lamb, which you can try dried and salted (fenalar) or simmered with cabbage and peppercorn (farikal). Locally grown vegetables, whole grains, and dairy (especially cheese) are common sides in Norwegian cuisine.
Art, Architecture, and Literature
Norway’s artistic culture is distinct among Europe’s many diverse cultures, influenced by both its Viking and Danish history. This part of the world has been inhabited for thousands of years and folklore has had plenty of time to develop here. Many legends include tales of trolls, and storytelling is a popular tradition. In the typical dance, music, and dress you will see highlights from the Viking era.
The architecture is also notable for its stave churches – some of the oldest wooden structures in the whole world. Most of our tours to Norway feature a stop in a town where you will get a chance to admire the traditional architecture.
In more recent history, Norway has produced several cultural icons from the 19th and 20th centuries, including painter Edvard Munch, composer Edvard Grieg, sculptor Gustav Vigeland and playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Education is at the heart of the Norwegian culture, as evidenced by the literacy rate, which is nearly 100%, and the extraordinary percentage of the population that has completed secondary education or higher.