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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Norway

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NORWAY (Norwegian, Norge), a country in the N. of Europe, bounded on the N. E. by Russian Lapland, and E. by Sweden, and washed on all other sides by the sea; by the Arctic Ocean on the N., the Atlantic and the North Sea on the N. W. and W., and the Skager-rack on the S. It is about 1,080 miles in length, and its greatest breadth is about 275 miles, but toward the N. narrows so much as to be in some places not more than 20 miles; area, 124,130 square miles; pop. (1910) 2,391,782; (1918, est.) 2,632,010.

Topography.—The coast consists chiefly of bold precipitous cliffs, and is remarkable both for the innumerable islands by which it is lined, and the bays or fiords which cut deeply into it in all directions. The surface is very mountainous, particularly in the W. and N. Very commonly the mountain masses assume the form of great plateaux or table-lands, called fjelds or fields, as the Dovre Fjeld, Hardanger Fjeld, etc. The highest summits belong to the Sogne Fjeld, a congeries of elevated masses, glaciers, and snow fields in the center of the S. division of the kingdom, where rise Galdhoepig (8,400 feet), the Glitretind (8,384), and Skagastölstind (7,879). The few important rivers that Norway can claim as exclusively her own have a S. direction, and discharge themselves into the Skager-rack; of these the chief are the Glommen (400 miles), and its affluent the Lougen. The most important river in the N. is the Tana, which forms part of the boundary between Russia and Norway, and falls into the Arctic Ocean. The prevailing rocks of Norway are gneiss and mica-slate, of which all the loftier mountains are composed. The most important metals are iron, copper, silver, and cobalt, all of which are worked to a limited extent.

Climate.—The climate of Norway is on the whole severe. The harbors on the W., however, are never blocked up with ice; but in places more inland, though much farther S., as at Christiania, this regularly happens.

Industries.—The farms are generally the property of those who cultivate them, and commonly include a large stretch of mountain pasture, often 40 or 50 miles from the main farm, to which the cattle are sent for several months in summer. The rearing of cattle is an extensive and profitable branch of rural economy. There were in Norway in 1917 246,634 farms. Live stock is an important industry. The chief sources of wealth are forests and fisheries. There are nearly 100,000 persons engaged in cod fisheries, and about 30,000 in other fisheries. The total value of fisheries in 1918 amounted to 85,292,024 kroner. There are valuable deposits of iron ore, but the lack of coal prevents smelting. Silver, copper ore, and nickel also exist. Power for manufacturing is furnished chiefly by water. In 1917 there were 6,886 manufacturing establishments, employing 161,772 persons. In 1916 the total value of imports was 1,353,664,900 kroner, and of the exports 988,333,000 kroner. The chief imports were carriages and machinery, unworked metals and bread stuffs. The chief exports were animal products, timber, and wooden goods.

Manufactures include cotton, woolen, flax, and silk tissues. Distilleries, brick works, saw and flour mills, are numerous; and there are foundries, machine works, lucifer-match works, tobacco factories, and sugar refineries. Norway is one of the leading shipping nations and during the war it became one of the chief tarrying countries. A number of vessels belonging to Norwegian citizens were destroyed during the war by submarines. In 1919 the merchant marine consisted of 1,759 steamers with a tonnage of 1,504,432. There were also nearly 600 sailing vessels and nearly 1,200 motor vessels, a total of 3,500 vessels of all kinds.

Finance.—The revenue for 1918-1919 was 624,891,900 kroner, and the expenditures 624,891,900 kroner. The national debt in 1917 was 455,504,598 kroner.

History.—In the earliest times Norway was divided among petty kings or chiefs (jarls), and its people were notorious for their piratical habits (see Northmen). Harold Fair Hair (who ruled from 863 to 933) succeeded in bringing the whole country under his sway, and was succeeded by his son Erick. He was ultimately driven from the throne, which was seized in 938 by his brother, Hako I., who had embraced Christianity in England. Magnus the Good, the son of St. Olaf and Alfhild, an English lady of noble birth, was called to the throne in 1036; and having in 1042 succeeded also to the throne of Denmark, united both under one monarchy (see Denmark). After his death the crowns of Norway and Denmark again passed to different individuals. In 1319 the crowns of Norway and Sweden became for a short time united in the person of Magnus II. Erick of Pomerania succeeded, by separate titles, to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark; and in 1397 was crowned king of the three kingdoms. Sweden then for a time became a separate kingdom; but the union between Denmark and Norway was drawn closer and closer, and very much to the disadvantage of the latter, which was ultimately degraded into a mere dependency of the former. The subsequent history of Norway becomes for a long period merely a part of that of Denmark. After the defeat of Napoleon by the allies in 1813 it was arranged by the treaty of Vienna in 1814 that Denmark must cede Norway to Sweden, and the result was the union of the two countries under the Swedish crown. A grave constitutional struggle at length arose between the two countries, from the demand for greater independence for Norway in her foreign policy, which was energetically backed by the Liberals. On the plea that King Oscar refused to permit the establishment of a separate Norwegian consulate system, which was a fact, the Storthing on June 7, 1905, passed a resolution dissolving the union with Sweden. The Swedish political party in power then required that this resolution be referred to the Norwegian people as a plebiscite matter or a referendum, seeing it had been before only determined by the Storthing or parliament. This was done and on Aug. 13, 1905, the vote proved to be 368,200 in favor of dissolution, and 184 against that movement, being one of the most remarkable popular expressions ever formulated. Prince Charles of Denmark was proffered the now vacant Norwegian throne and was crowned Nov. 18, 1905, as Haakon VII., the first exclusively Norwegian king since 1380. King Haakon VII. is second son of the king of Denmark, and grandson of Christian IX., who died in 1906. He was born in 1872 and married the British princess Maud. Members of the Storthing are elected every three years by voters who have themselves been elected by the citizens. It has two chambers, the Odelsthing, containing three-fourths of the members, and the Lagthing, one-fourth. The great body of the people are Protestants of the Lutheran confession, which is the state religion. Other sects are tolerated, though government offices are open only to members of the Established Church. Elementary education is free and compulsory. Besides primary schools there are numerous secondary schools. There is but one university, that of Christiania. The people are almost entirely of Scandinavian origin. A small number of Lapps (called in Norway Finns) and Qvaens, reckoned at 20,000 in all, live in the N. The chief ports are Bergen, Christiania, and Trondhjem; the capital is Christiania. Norway suffered probably as little as any of the neutral nations during the World War. The sentiment from the beginning was strongly against Germany and this continued to the end. The heavy losses suffered as a result of the submarine war were probably greatly offset by the increased commercial activity.

The United States during the war chartered or requisitioned a large number of Norwegian ships. There was some friction in regard to delay in payment for these, but in 1919 an agreement was reached by which the United States was to pay $11,000,000, representing the actual value of the ships, with additional compensation later.

For six years following 1913, the government of Norway was in the hands of the so-called Knudsen Cabinet, which was somewhat radical in its policies. This Cabinet finally resigned on Feb. 5, 1919, and another Cabinet was formed by the prime minister Knudsen.


Collier's 1921 Norway - Map of Norway and Sweden.jpg
Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921