Viking seamen sailed from the blue waters of the mile-high fjords of Norway around A.D. 800. Today Norwegian fishermen sail these same waters and bring in some of the world’s largest catches of fish each year.
The far north, known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, is almost continuously in day-light from May to July. In the extreme south of Norway, there is a long twilight that brings no real darkness during those same months. In the winter, however, light comes for only a few hours in midday.
This land of the Vikings is long, rangy, and beautiful. It stretches from the comparative warmth of the North Sea in the south to above the Arctic Circle in the north.
Because of long winters and marvelous snow, almost everyone enjoys outdoor sports. Skiing, the national sport, was started hundreds of years ago. Today almost every town has a ski jump. Many people take cross-country ski trips.
Another popular winter sport is ice skating. Eleven-man teams play a form of ice hockey called bandy.
Soccer is a favorite summer sport. Sailing is popular along the coasts, and fishermen are attracted by the many lakes and rivers. Some towns have rowing clubs.
Children play a game called “Cut the Oats.” An odd number of children play this game by joining hands in a circle. One player stands in the middle as the others skip around and sing a song; the last line says “You take yours and I’ll take mine.” The circle breaks as each child, including the one in the middle, tries to choose a partner. The child who is left without a partner goes to the center of the circle, and the game begins again.
The composer Edvard Grieg, the playwright Henrik Ibsen, and the explorer Roald Amundsen were all born in Norway. Thor Heyerdahl, who traveled on the raft Kon-Tiki with five companions for 4300 miles across the South Pacific, was also born in this country. His journey on this raft proved that the Polynesian islands could have been settled by people who sailed long ago from Peru.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is found in the southeastern lowlands. There are many rivers in this area, and they provide the means to float timber to sawmills, and they furnish waterfalls for hydroelectric energy.
Trondheim, a city founded in A.D. 998, was once the capital of Norway. Trondheim is found in the Central Trondheim Lowlands, which include several wide, flat valleys. Today it is a leading center of industry and trade. There are also many farmlands here.
A modern poet, S. Wolff, has written: “Glorious is my native land, the ancient cliff-bound Norway, with summer valley and winter fastness. Even if the globe were shaken, the storm would be unable to overthrow its mountains.”