Norwegians


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Norwegians

 

the nation (natsiia, nation in a historical sense) that forms the majority of Norway’s population (about 98 percent). About 3.9 million Norwegians live in Norway (1974, estimate), and a considerable number of people of Norwegian descent live in the USA and Canada. The mother tongue is Norwegian. Their religion is Lutheranism.

The Germanic-speaking ancestors of the Norwegians arrived in what is now Norway in approximately the second millennium B.C. Written remains—runic inscriptions—have been discovered from as early as the first few centuries of the Common Era. The Norwegian nationality was formed by the end of the first millennium A.D., by which time the people had begun calling themselves Norwegians. By that time the primitive communal system had largely disintegrated, the power of the aristocracy—the ko-nungrs and jarls—had increased, the armed forces of the aristocracy were devastating the maritime countries of Europe (the Viking raids), and the Norwegian early feudal state was developing (tenth and 11th centuries). In the ninth and tenth centuries, Norwegians settled the Orkney, Shetland, Hebrides, and Faeroe islands, Iceland, the western coast of Greenland, and several other areas. From 1380 to 1814, Norway was joined in a union with Denmark, and from 1814 to 1905 with Sweden. The consolidation of the Norwegian nation (natsiia) was promoted by the Norwegians’ struggle in the Middle Ages against the dominance of the Danes and the Hanseatic merchants and in the 19th century by the struggle for independence from Sweden and the development of capitalist relations.

At present, Norwegians living in cities are engaged mainly in industry, maritime transport, and trade, and those in the countryside in meat and dairy animal husbandry and crop farming. Fishing is of great economic importance, especially in the north of the country. The Norwegians have retained several elements of the traditional culture, such as a varied folklore, including historical, ritual, and fishermen’s songs and fairy tales. National dances—for example, the hailing and springar—are still popular in rural areas. Folk arts and crafts are widespread, such as embroidery, rug weaving, knitting, and the making of lace.

REFERENCES

Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965.
Ocherki obshchei etnografii: Zarubezhnaia Evropa. Moscow, 1966.
Anokhin, G. I. Obshchinnye traditsii norvezhskogo krest’ianstva. Moscow, 1971.
Blemsted, K. Norge: Folk og erhverv. Copenhagen, 1948.
Holmsen, A. Norges historie, 3rd ed. [vol. 1]. Oslo-Bergen, 1961.
Jensen, M. Norges historic 3rd ed. [vols. 2–4], [Oslo-Bergen] 1961–65.

G. I. ANOKHIN

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