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In addition to Mother Norge , Ola Normand is also considered to be the national personification of Norway (caricature of the burden of independence associated with the 1905 referendum)

The Norwegians are a Germanic people in Scandinavia . They are the titular nation of the Kingdom of Norway . Norwegians were also the ancestors of the Faroese and Icelanders . The citizens of Norway also include ethnic minorities living in the north of the country such as Sami (Lappen), Finnish peoples such as Kvenen (Kväner), forest fins , etc., who were previously subject to a strict Norwegianization policy, but have enjoyed cultural autonomy since 1989/97.


In the 20th century, Norwegians (Kolanordmenn) living on the Russian Kola Peninsula also used the mixed language Russenorsk .

Norwegian is a North Germanic language . However, unlike Danish or Swedish , which developed from the eastern branch of the Old Norse languages , the Old Norwegian language developed from its western branch and therefore broke away from Swedish and Danish earlier when these two languages ​​separated from one another.

During the long period of union with Denmark (1380 to 1814), however, the old Norwegian language was overlaid or superseded by Danish, especially in Oslo and the western Norwegian coastal cities, while the eastern Norwegian and mountain dialects continued to resemble the neighboring Swedish more closely. The Faroese and Icelandic languages emerged from the old Western Norwegian dialects . The Jämtland language in Sweden, which is related to the northern Norwegian (Trondheim) dialect, represents a transitional form or a historical mixed language with Swedish dialects - not to be confused with the modern Svorsk .

Even today there are two main Norwegian dialects separated by the Scandinavian Mountains (Western Norwegian, Eastern Norwegian ) with 26 (Western Norwegian) and five (Eastern Norwegian) sub-dialects or four main regional groups with at least eleven subgroups.

In the middle of the 19th century, nationalistic linguists developed from the language of the inner Norwegian rural population, the Landsmål , the nine-Norwegian Nynorsk , which is partly closer to Swedish, to differentiate it from Danish . In contrast, there is the Norwegian version of the former Danish language, Riksmål , from whose Oslo dialect the Bokmål also emerged in the mid-19th century . Although only about 15 percent of Norwegians use Nynorsk as a written language - compared to 85 percent who use Bokmål, both variants are equally official languages ​​in Norway. The attempt to combine both variants in one synthesis - the Samnorsk (all Norwegian) - failed.

History of the Norwegians

Although Roman ships to early as the 1st century AD Kattegat achieved and Roman chroniclers the Germanic peoples of Scandinavia had described ( Tacitus ' Germania ), the Norwegians were only after the Great Migration as Normans (from Norwegian Nordmenn , "Norsemen", men from the Norden) first mentioned in the 9th century in Franconian chronicles about the Vikings . Synonymous with Normans in medieval Western Europe, all Vikings were initially referred to as Danes - regardless of whether they were Danish, Norwegian or Swedish Vikings.


There are more legends than reliable information about the origins of the Norwegians. Icelandic legends ( Prologue Snorra-Edda ) made Odin's sons Skjöld , Yngvi and Sæming (Säming) the ancestors of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian kings. ( Sæming was considered to be the progenitor of the small kings of Hålogaland or Trøndelag and Nor (d) land .) According to alternative Danish traditions (Chronicon Lethrense), the king of Old Uppsala is said to have had three sons who were the progenitors of the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes have become: Dan , Nór and Østen . Another variant has been handed down only by the two brothers Norr (Nór) and Gorr (Gór). Thránd , referred to in some traditions as the son of Nór and in others as the son of Sæming, is considered to be the mythical founder of Trondheim .

Swedish and Norwegian traditions report that Olaf Trätelgja , son of the Ynglinger King Ingjald , fled or was expelled from Uppsala around 600 and established a new rule in Värmland that extended to Vestfold in Norway . In Skiringssal (later called Kaupang, in Vestfold) Olaf is said to have founded a new place of worship. From there he tried to conquer Jutland too, but finally had to leave it to the Danes . There is no historical evidence of this legendary Olaf, but the first historically tangible king and unified kingdom Harald Fairhair († 933) should also come from the Norwegian branch of the Ynglingers .

Land grab

Small kingdoms in the 9th century (Vestfold red, Hålogaland purple)

The ethnic Norwegians are descendants from southwest Sweden ( Bohuslän , Västergötland , Halland ) immigrant Germans, who in about the time between the years 150 BC and 400 of our era in the valleys at the Norwegian south and west coasts and along the fjords settled had . Instead of mixing with the pre-population of Finnish-Sami tribes who had previously immigrated from northeastern Europe, they pushed them further and further north. Whether and to what extent there was a mixture of Norwegian and Sami nobility, at least in northern Norway, is controversial.

Except in southern Norway, arable farming was more complicated than in Sweden or Denmark, for example, in view of the country's rugged fjords and the Scandinavian mountains; In contrast, the mountain forests offered plenty of wood for the timber industry and shipbuilding. So the coastal inhabitants concentrated on fishing and seafaring early on, and the Norwegians became a seafaring nation. Separated by the mountains from Sweden and the sea from Denmark, several small Norwegian kingdoms gradually emerged along the coast, which were first united in the year 872 under King Harald Fairhair. The agreement did not come from the supposed successors of Odin in northern Hålogaland, but from the fertile Vestfold in the south. Numerous Norwegians then left the country over the sea, some Norwegians from Hålogaland and Trøndelag emigrated over the mountains to Jämtland . A permanent unification of the empire and the formation of a state did not succeed until 995 in the course of Christianization, and Harald der Harte († 1066) is considered the final unifier .

The development of a Norwegian nation with its own (old Norwegian) language only took place with the provisional self-assertion against the Danes and the end of Anglo-Scandinavian ties in the 11th century. Inner Norwegian civil wars (in the course of which, for example, Värmland was finally lost to Sweden) lasted until the 13th century. In the 14th century the local royal family died out and more than half of the old Norwegian population was killed by the plague. The weakened and partially depopulated Norway fell first to the Swedish royal family (1319-1355), then to the Danish (from 1380).


Norwegian and Danish settlements in England and Scotland in the 9th and 10th centuries

Because of the widespread birthright in Norway, second and third born farmer sons had no chance of inheriting their father's property. As Vikings , they sought easy prey and new land overseas. Above all, however, the royal unification, centralization and Christianization efforts induced numerous Norwegians to emigrate and colonize the opposite North Sea islands. As early as 700, Norwegians settled on the Shetland Islands, and around 800 also on the Faroe Islands, the Hebrides and the Orkneys. From 820 Norwegians settled on the Isle of Man and Ireland, where they founded the Kingdom of Dublin around 840 , and from 860 they reached Iceland. Around 900 Norwegians moved from the islands to north-west England (today's Cumbria ), but around 950 they were subjugated or displaced by Danes, English and Scots. The last king of York was Erik Blutaxt († 954), the son of Harald Fairhair who had been expelled from Norway. From Ireland, Iro-Norwegians (Norse – Gaels) settled the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy , but were subjugated by the mostly Danish Seine-Normans. The predominantly Norwegian Loire-Normans did not succeed in conquering a similar land . From Iceland, Norwegians reached Red Greenland from 980 under Erik (and briefly even the North American mainland around 1000 under Erik's son Leif ).

Norwegian Vikings and settlers thus became the ancestors of the Faroese , Icelanders , Normans and Grænlendingar . In Normandy, however, the Normans were quickly Christianized and assimilated by the native French population.

The time of the Norwegian Vikings ended with the death of Harald the Hard at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066), even if Harald's grandson Magnus Barefoot ("the last Viking") attacked Ireland again in 1102/03 (and fell there), Magnus' son Sigurd ruled the Isle of Man until 1130 and Magnus' grandson Øystein II attacked English coastal towns for the last time in 1153. ( Sweyn Asleifsson , who fell in the battle for Dublin in 1171 , was sometimes referred to as the "last Viking".) Instead of the Norwegians, French Normans conquered England and Ireland. Håkon IV finally subjugated Iceland and Greenland in 1261/62; Man and the Hebrides fell to Scotland after his death, and on Greenland the Grænlendingar succumbed to bloody battles with the local Inuit (Eskimos).


The Danish missionaries who were brought ashore in Norway by the Danish King Harald Blauzahn were sent back by Håkon Jarl in 975 (illustration by Christian Krogh, 1899)

The Vikings in Normandy and their leader Rollo had already been baptized in 911 , as were the Danish-Norwegian Viking kings in Ireland in 926 . A revolt by newly arrived Vikings in Normandy against Christianization was put down in 943. In Norway, however, King Håkon the Good († 961) , who was allegedly baptized as early as 940, as well as Saint Sunniva of Selje initially unsuccessfully promoted the Christian mission. Hakon succeeded in introducing Christianity just as little as his Danish rival and successor Harald Blauzahn († 987). Resistance to Christianization, which was forcibly pursued by Olav I. Tryggvason († 1000) and Olav II. Haraldsson († 1030), rose above all in Western Norway and Hålogaland, both kings fell in the fight against the Danes, who were allied with the rebels. But the Danish victors were meanwhile also Christians, and after their expulsion, Olav II was canonized as early as 1035.

The Norwegian King Sigurd I even took part in a crusade to Jerusalem from 1107, and King Inge Krogrygg achieved the elevation of the diocese of Trondheim to an archdiocese by the Pope in 1152 and thus the separation of the Norwegian Church from the Danish Archdiocese of Lund.

When the church demanded a say in the election of a king, it came into conflict with the kingdom. During the civil wars between loyal Birkebeiners and church- loyal Baglers , Archbishop Øystein Erlendsson was expelled in 1180 by the Birkebeiner King Sverre († 1202) and his successor was also deposed in 1190. Pope Celestine III thereupon imposed the ban on the Norwegian king in 1194, which led to a split in the Norwegian clergy. Only Sverre's grandson Håkon IV († 1263) achieved a reconciliation, the legendary rescue of this Håkon by skiing Birkebeiner became a Norwegian national myth and national sport. Håkon's grandson Håkon V († 1319) was the last Norwegian on Norway's throne and was considered a saint until the Reformation.

Although Christianization began earlier in Norway than in Denmark and was sooner completed than in Sweden, the Reformation reached Norway as the last of the three Nordic kingdoms united in the Kalmar Union since 1397 . Christian II , the Union king overthrown in 1523 , had tried in vain to win back Norway at least in the civil war of 1531/36 . The supporting Catholic clergy around the Norwegian Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson had hoped to be able to prevent the Reformation and the secularization , which had been introduced in both Denmark and Sweden in 1527/31. Christian's victorious cousin Christian III. enforced the Reformation in Norway in 1536/37 and sold Olav Engelbrektsson. With the Norgesparagraf , Norway was deprived of its autonomous rights, brought into line with Denmark and incorporated as a dependent part of the empire into the Danish state . In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Sami population of northern Norway was also forced to Christianise or reformed by Danish missionaries and authorities. At the end of the 18th century, the Puritan Haugians split off from the Evangelical Church in Norway. A Roman Catholic Church in Norway was not re-approved until 1843.

Officially, between 79 and 86 percent of all Norwegians today belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Norwegian Church . According to surveys, up to 72 percent do not believe in a god, and only two to four percent of Norwegians attend church regularly. The officially high membership comes about because by law every newborn child automatically becomes a member of the Church of Norway upon baptism, or even if at least one parent is already a member of the Church. Instead, leaving the church requires the consent of both parents. This legal regulation remained in force even after the constitutional amendment of 2012. Only since that constitutional amendment is the Evangelical Lutheran creed officially no longer the state religion in Norway, the Lutheran Church officially no longer a state church , and also the law according to which half of it was the cabinet minister had to be Lutheran has been repealed. The Christian heritage is still enshrined in the constitution. The king, who is officially no longer head of the church and defender of the faith, must continue to be a Lutheran. Even if the bishops are no longer appointed by the king or the state, they are still paid as state officials.

Danization and Norwegianization

The enormous loss of population during the plague had weakened the old Norwegian element lastingly. As part of the Danish-Norwegian personal union , Danish had replaced Old Norwegian as the official language in Norway as early as the 14th century. With the Reformation, Danish also became the language of the Church, the only officially approved Bible translation from 1550 was Danish, an (old) Norwegian translation of the Bible was not published (in contrast to Iceland in 1540/84). While the nobility in particular had danced quickly at first, this also affected a large part of the rest of the population, especially in the cities, at the latest after the introduction of a state school system from 1739. There were hardly any opposing movements. Danized Norwegians made careers in the whole of Denmark . Norwegian seafarers, for example, made up about two-thirds of the men and officers in the Danish Navy , some even became admirals.

Scandinavianism propagated by the Danes and Swedes did not reconcile the Norwegians; 19th century anti-Swedish nationalism culminated in the flag dispute

On the side of Denmark, Norway was drawn into wars with Sweden that were costly, during which it gained the northern Norwegian Finnmark in the 17th century, but lost the eastern Norwegian regions of Bohuslän , Härjedalen and Jämtland to Sweden and finally fell to Sweden in 1814. The Danish upper class had opposed Swedish rule from the start. The Norwegians achieved that Norway should only be united with Sweden in personal union, and defied the Swedish king from a Norwegian constitution, a Norwegian parliament ( Storting ) and a Norwegian government.

It was only in this resistance against Swedish rule that a new Norwegian national feeling , a romantic Norwegian nationalism and the “Norwegian School” of 19th century history emerged. While Scandinavianism, which also emerged in the 19th century, gradually reconciled the Danes and Swedes, it had little effect on the Norwegians. Norway's national movement was anti-Scandinavian. The anti -Swedish Norwegian national feeling increased in the constant power struggle between the Norwegian authorities and the Swedish kings, the Norwegian-Swedish flag dispute was a visible example of this. With the help of a fictitious government crisis, a tricky constitutional interpretation and a controversial referendum, Norway finally achieved the dissolution of the Union and its national independence in 1905.

However, Norwegian nationalism was directed not only against the Swedes, but also against Danes, Finns and Sami (Lappers). In an effort to set itself apart not only from Swedish patronage, but also from Danish culture, the Danish-influenced colloquial language was subjected to various reforms. The Norwegian Danish was reviving some long-forgotten altnorwegischer vocabulary and "norwegisiert" by adapting to the Norwegian debate - this mainly by Ivar Aasen created New Norwegian Landsmål ( Nynorsk ) more so than that of Knut Knudsen reformed Riksmål ( Bokmål ). The choice of a Danish prince as the Norwegian king offended Sweden, but it was no guarantee of good relations with Denmark. Because of Norwegian claims on East Greenland , war almost broke out in 1931/33.

The Finns (Kvenen, Waldfinnen) who immigrated in the 17th century and the indigenous Sami population (Lappen) were forbidden to use their own language in the course of Norwegianization. Their nomadic way of life was restricted and their children were sent to Norwegian schools that only taught (in) Norwegian. This Norwegianization policy was not ended until 1959 and Sami was taught again. In 1989 the Norwegian king officially apologized for the state coercive measures. Since then there has been a Sami parliament in Finnmark, which decides independently on the distribution and use of Norwegian compensation and subsidy funds. The Sami cultural autonomy is not regionally limited to Northern Norway, Sami from all over Norway can choose and be chosen. The Kvenen were officially recognized as a minority only in 1996. The minority of the Tyskerbarn (German-Norwegian war children, Wehrmacht children), also subjected to harsh Norwegianization and often inhuman treatment, has repeatedly sued for reparations.

The state-sponsored immigration of foreign guest workers in the 1970s and 1980s and the model of a multi-ethnic Norway officially promoted by the social democrats in particular are increasingly being opposed by right-wing extremist and nationalist circles. The xenophobic (especially Islamophobic) policies of the Progress Party and the National Democrats that split off from it are just as much an expression of this as the reprint of the Danish Mohammed cartoons in the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet and the attacks in Norway in 2011 . The Norwegian national consciousness is also strongly Eurosceptic: In 1972 and 1994 a majority of Norwegians voted against joining the European Economic Community or European Union.

Norwegian Abroad

Of the approximately 9.5 million people of ethnic Norwegian origin, barely 4.5 million live in Norway itself. Ethnic Norwegians make up about 90% of the population in Norway, plus a good 1% Sami and Kven. The remaining inhabitants are immigrants mainly from European and African countries. Almost as many people of Norwegian origin as in Norway live in the USA . Numerous Norwegians and descendants of Norwegian emigrants also live in Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, Canada and Australia, but some also in the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand and Russia.

Norwegian people in North America

Number of Norwegians and people of Norwegian origin in the US states and the provinces or territories of Canada

Since the medieval attempts to settle Norwegian grænlendingar in North America were not successful, only around 8,000 Norwegians (and the same number of Danes) lived in the USA in 1790. Today's Americans of Norwegian descent are primarily descendants of Norwegian emigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries. The high point of emigration was the record year 1882, when almost 30,000 Norwegians left their homeland. In 1934, however, there were just 106. Between 1820 and 1993, around 755,000 Norwegians immigrated to the USA (plus 1.395 million Swedes, with whom the Norwegians were recorded between 1820 and 1868) - according to other information, they even reached during this time nearly a million Norwegians the US and Canada. This resulted in a population of around 4.3 million people of Norwegian descent in the USA in 2010 (compared to 4.1 million Americans of Swedish descent), most of them living in the US state of Minnesota (which is also where most of the people of Swedish descent live ).

The second generation of these immigrant descendants initially married mostly within the Norwegian or Scandinavian minority, but also members of the descendants of immigrant Germans. The third generation of descendants also began to intermingle with Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans and other Protestant minorities of European descent, gradually giving up their mother tongue. Therefore, in 2012 only 131,000 of all Scandinavian descendants in the US spoke one of the Scandinavian languages ​​as their mother tongue. The trend is declining: in 2007 there were still almost 135,000 speakers of Scandinavian languages ​​(out of 4.66 million people of Norwegian origin and 4.34 million people of Swedish origin); in 1990, of the then 3.87 million Americans of Norwegian origin, 80,723 spoke Norwegian and in 1980 even 113,227 (compared to 77,511 and 100,886 who spoke Swedish at the time).

In Canada in 2006 there were almost 45,000 Norwegians and a further 388,000 people of Norwegian origin.

Seniors in Spain

Norwegian market in Alfaz del Pi

There are also significant communities of Scandinavian and Norwegian citizens in Spain. Up to 50,000 Norwegians are said to live and work in the southern European country - that is around 1 percent of all Norwegian citizens. They concentrate on the province of Alicante on the Mediterranean coast ( Costa Blanca ), especially in the coastal towns of Alfaz del Pí or L 'Albir (suburb of Alfaz del Pi) and Torrevieja (there together with Sweden). Most of the Norwegian residents living on the Costa Blanca are retirees. While their number in the province of Alicante was only 2,190 in 1999, it rose to 9,939 by 2011 - and has continued to increase since then. Around 10,000 Norwegians live in the Marina Baja district alone (to which Alfaz del Pi belongs).

After London and New York, Alfaz del Pi is the place with the third largest number of Norwegians living abroad. At the beginning of 2014, between 7,000 and 8,000 Norwegians lived in Alfaz del Pi, where a Norwegian hospital, a Norwegian social center and Norwegian schools are available to them. At the same time there were 2,397 Norwegians in Torrevieja. In Torrevieja's neighboring town of Guardamar del Segura , the number of Norwegians exceeds that of Swedes.


The abuse norrbagge , which originally meant something like “sheep's balls”, has been widespread in Swedish since the 17th century , and since the 1950s the Norwegian expression fjeldabe , literally “mountain monkey”, has been passed down for Norwegians .

See also

Portal: Norway  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Norway

Web links

Wiktionary: Norwegian  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  43. Explotación estadística del censo a 01-01-2011 . Instituto Nacional de Estadítistica
  44. ^ First official Norwegian representation in Alfaz del Pí. ( Memento of the original from November 17, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Costa Blanca Info, September 9, 2005 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  45. ^ Portrait of Alfaz del Pí.
  46. ↑ Attract Norwegians . ( Memento of the original from August 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Costa Blanca News, January 8th, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  47. Torrevieja inicia el año con ciento siete mil habitantes . Ayuntamiento de Torrevieja
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  50. Article fjeldabe in the Norske Leksikon store (online edition), accessed on December 7, 2019.