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Early history and the Viking Age
- 8th century: Norway has a rich history, dating back to the Viking Age when numerous tribes inhabit the land. The Vikings are known for their seafaring and trading abilities, and they established settlements in many parts of Europe and beyond, including England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Russia and Iceland.
- 793 AD: The first recorded Viking raid takes place in Lindisfarne, England.
- 872: A collection of small kingdoms ruled by petty kings, Norway is unified under the rule of King Harald Fairhair. This event is considered the beginning of Norway's national history and the start of its development into a unified state.
- 1000 AD: Olaf Tryggvason becomes Norway's first Christian king, bringing Christianity to the country.
The Kalmar Union, Danish–Norwegian rule and cession to Sweden
- 1397: The Kalmar Union joins Denmark, Norway and Sweden under a single monarch. The union aims to establish peace and cooperation between the three kingdoms, but it also subordinates Norway to Danish rule.
- 1397–1521: Sweden repeatedly leaves and rejoins the union, and eventually separates to become the Kingdom of Sweden.
- 1520s: The Protestant Reformation leads to the establishment of the Church of Norway as a separate entity from the Roman Catholic Church, further distinguishing Norway from Denmark.
- 1537: Denmark invades and annexes Norway, effectively subjugating it to Danish rule for the next three centuries.
- 1814: Norway is ceded to Sweden as part of the Treaty of Kiel. The Norwegian Constitution is signed, establishing Norway as a separate kingdom and granting greater political rights to citizens.
Independence and modernisation
- 1905: Norway's peaceful separation from Sweden is facilitated by the Norwegian government's negotiations with the Swedish king, leading to Norway's independence and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, with the Danish Prince Carl elected as King Haakon VII.
- 1913: Norway introduces universal suffrage for women. Norwegian women begin to play a greater role in politics.
- 1940: Norway is invaded by German forces during World War II, leading to significant hardship and loss of life for Norwegians.
- 1945–1962: After the war, the Labour Party led by Einar Gerhardsen establishes a comprehensive welfare state that remains a hallmark of Norwegian society. The government's policies and the discovery of significant natural resources lead to rapid economic growth and modernisation.
- 1949: Norway joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
- 1969: The discovery of large oil reserves in the North Sea initiates the transformation of the Norwegian economy and solidifies its position as a major oil producer.
- 1972: Norway votes to join the European Economic Community (EEC), which later becomes the European Union (EU), but ultimately decides not to join after the rejection of membership in a referendum.
- 1990s: Norway becomes a leader in environmental initiatives and sustainable development, investing in renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind and solar power.
- 1994: Norwegians reject membership of the European Union in a referendum for a second time, by a margin of about 5 percent.
- 2000s: Norway experiences a period of prosperity and stability, but is hit hard by the global financial crisis of 2008.
- 2011: Norway suffers one of the worst terrorist attacks in its history, when a far-right extremist bombs government buildings in Oslo and carries out a mass shooting on the island of Utøya, killing 77 people.
- 2015: Norway is ranked as the most prosperous country in the world by the Legatum Prosperity Index, and it continues to lead in environmental and social policies.
- 2016: The Lutheran Church – to which three-quarters of Norwegians belong – adopts a new liturgy allowing gay couples to marry in church weddings.
- 2019: The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, also known as the Oil Fund, reaches a value of more 1 trillion US dollars, making it the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.
- 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic reaches Norway, leading to widespread lockdowns, economic disruption and significant loss of life. The Norwegian government implements strict measures to contain the spread of the virus, including border closures and social distancing rules.
►To learn more about life in Norway, read Culture Shock in Norway
Are you an expat living in Norway?
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