Norway - Introduction
Norwegian tend to call their own country ďThe Best Country in the World.Ē Norwegians are super-rich from oil, live in wooden huts on beautiful fjords, wear chunky, brightly coloured knitwear, and live an outdoorsy life of skiing in winter and hiking in summer, interspersed with very rare binges on country's Ä10 beer. That, or something like it, is the stereotype people across the world have of typisk norsk (typical Norwegian). Myths, prejudices and stereotypes always exist in the relations between nations and countries. They are normally based on bad or misrepresented knowledge about other people divided by distances, cultural peculiarities and national borders.
Confident people in countries donít get terribly worked up about their flags. When national identity and confidence is contested in some way, that is when people jump to flying flags. Norway is a comparatively new country, started in 1905, every garden in the country has a flag pole with the flags flying. Whether it actually looks nice across the Norwegian landscape is a matter of taste. There is a strange lack of confidence - a blend of helnorsk (totally Norwegian) with unorsk (not Norwegian at all). There is just that sense that people want to feel that they belong and therefore, using the flag, if thereís any question of them belonging, becomes very important.
Norway is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The population is approximately 4.82 million. The country is governed by a prime minister, a cabinet, and the 169-seat parliament (Storting) that is elected every four years and cannot be dissolved. Free and fair elections to the multiparty parliament were held in September. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
The national police have primary responsibility for internal security; the police may call on the armed forces for assistance in crises. In such circumstances, the armed forces are under police authority. The Ministry of Justice and Police oversees the police force. The police force was generally effective, and corruption was not generally a problem. Adequate measures were in place to investigate police abuses. An independent police complaint commission investigated reports of corruption within the police force.
Norway is the country responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, something they are very proud of. Norway is also proud of social order. A socially just system for the distribution of wealth has prevailed here for decade after decade, creating a society based on equal rights and equal opportunity. Social benefits make life here secure, whether for a native Norwegian or migrant come here to work. In Norway people pay taxes in return for this kind of welfare, and agree that it is money well spent. Sometimes Norway is called the last Soviet state, which is somewhat untrue. Just somewhat. Everyone is on holiday from the second week of July until August. The government closes, doctors are in Spain and all offices are semiclosed.
In Norway every peasant breathed the air of freedom, a few only excepted on some estates near Frederickstadt. The Norwegian peasants possessed much spirit and fire in their manner; are frank, open, and undaunted, yet not insolent; never fawning, yet paying proper respect. Norwegians tend to be a bit somber during the dark ages or dark months. In the north itís dark all day long for many a month.
Norwegians are very, very into Personal Space. Donít sit down at a table where a Norwegian is already sitting, donít touch a Norwegian you donít know. Never kiss on the cheek. Handshakes? Ok, but keep them to a minimum. Oslo is called the one-night stand capital of the world, and Norwegians tend to be more open minded when it comes to sex than many other cultures. Donít wear shoes inside. Take them off if you visit someones private home. Remember clean socks. Norwegians tend to concentrate their alchohol consumption in a shortest possible time space. Helgefylla ["Weekend Fill"] is like spring break in the US, except every weekend. Norwegians love their cabins (Hytta). The best cabins have a required ski trek of 30 minutes to reach it, has outdoor toilets, no electricity and no water (you melt snow).
The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. The report evaluated 156 countries and those at the top were found to have high values in six categories of well-being, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
In 2018 Finland replaced Norway in the World Happiness Report, while Norway dropped to the second place, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland has kept their place in top five. Norway jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place in 2017, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year.
Norway moved to the top of the ranking despite weaker oil prices. It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it, according to the report. By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies. To do this successfully required high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings.
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