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General facts about Norway are as follows. Age structure: 0-14 years=19% (390,344 female; 444,570 male), 15-64 years=65% (1,375,493 female; 1,424,027 male), 65 years and over=16% (408,675 female; 287,842 male). Birth Rate: 12.86 births/1,000 population. Death Rate: 10.35 deaths/1,000 population. Net Migration Rate: 1.15 migrants/1,000 population. Infant Mortality Rate: 6.1 deaths/1,000 live births. Life Expectancy at Birth: Total Population: 77.61 years, Male: 74.26 years, Female: 81.15 years.
The official language of Norway has two forms. Bokmål, or “book language” is used in most written works and is spoken by more than 80 percent of the people, especially those living in urban areas. English is taught in the schools beginning at age 11, and is widely spoken as a second language. Communication is very similar to that of the United States. Although technology is probably more advanced, things like Internet, and cellular communication are very widely used with an average of 2 cell phones per person in Norway.
The power structure of Norway is probably one of the few areas that are quite different from that of most other free countries. Norway is a constitutional monarchy. The king has limited authority, except as head of the military and as a symbol of continuity and stability. Executive power is vested in the prime minister, who presides over the dominant party in the country’s parliament (Storting). The 165 members of parliament are elected every four years. The Storting has an Upper Chamber (Lagting) and a Lower Chamber (Odelsting). The Labor, Center, and Conservative parties are the largest in parliament, but no party has a majority. Another similar note is that all citizens may vote at age 18. Norway also has 19 provinces (fylker). Norway enjoys a strong economy, and has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
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The most important exports are petroleum products, natural gas, ships, and fish. Aluminum and some manufactured items, such as furniture, are also exported. Norway is a major producer of aluminum. Oil drilling, textiles, chemicals, and food processing are among the key industries in Norway. Agriculture is important to the domestic economy, employing 7 percent of the labor force in livestock-raising, fishing, and crop cultivation.
As far as work ethics are concerned, the average workweek in Norway is about 37.5 hours, one of the shortest in the world. Office hours are usually from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Stores open from 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. In large towns, stores often stay open as late as 7:00 p.m. each Thursday. Shops close by 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and are closed on Sunday.
Dress generally follows conservative, European fashions and is influenced by the necessity to keep warm. Dressing well is important, and an unkempt appearance in public is considered inappropriate. Traditional costumes (bunad), which vary according to region, are worn on special occasion, such as weddings and national and local holidays. They are often hand sewn and have elaborate embroidery. For women, these costumes usually consist of a white blouse (often embroidered), a jumper-type skirt, an apron, and a headdress. Men war knee pants, shirts, and vests.
More than 85 percent of the population belongs to the state church, the Church of Norway, which is Evangelical Lutheran. Still, freedom of religion is guaranteed, and thee are many other Christian churches active in the country. Among them are the Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and various Protestant groups. Most people only attend church services on special occasions or holidays.
Brigham Young University, Culturgram ’96 Kingdom of Norway. ©1995.
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