Norway

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Norway, along with other Scandinavian countries, is among the most progressive of nations. The Socially Progess Index, in fact, once ranked it at #1 and routinely in the top ten, based on areas of basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunities, and the country has provided the world with The Nordic Model of Social Responsibility. In addition, Norway’s GDP, largely based on an abundance of natural resources, is consistently strong, and its government among the most transparent and trusted.

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Norway’s indigenous Sámi, inhabiting northernmost areas near/in the Arctic Circle to include not only Norway but also Sweden, Finland, and Russia’s Murmansk Oblast, have historically suffered the same discrimination and maltreatment as native peoples around the world. Today, there are multiple initiatives in Norway as elsewhere to right past wrongs and provide the Sámi and their culture with full recognition.

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Norway has long been a model for renewable energy and environmental protection, ranked 3rd globally by some measures. However, as a major producer of both oil and gas, the country also bears responsibility for carbon emission and is working on carbon-capture technologies, though not yet in place. Waste management also bears a poor record — so their eco-practices still have room for improvement.

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The value of family and children is universal; in Norway, it is also policy. Child and Parental Leave benefits are quite strong; the “work-life balance” is termed “family-work balance” and as such is highly prioritised. Flexible parental leave, daycare as a right, free education — including all public universities — and universal healthcare, flexible work hours and holiday leave, and numerous facilities for family recreation all support this cultural value.

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The arts are also highly valued in Norwegian culture, often in combination with architectural design as well as environment, as in the Oslo Opera House seen here (housing Norwegian National Opera and Ballet as well as the national opera theatre). Nature in Norway is free for everyone to walk in, including the national pastime of mountain-climbing, and this structure was built on that principle — as one is encouraged to stroll its rooftop.

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Alternative and indie art forms are also highly encouraged in today’s Norwegian culture — especially in hipster, edgy Oslo, where such opportunities abound. Here, in the repurposed Christiana Seildugsfabrik (c.1856), a former sail-making factory, is the Visual Arts faculty of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

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Religion historically played a major role in Norwegian culture, particularly Lutheranism; today, 71.5% report such affiliation (though many are also non-practicing), which is now independent but until 2012 was the state religion. In earlier times, Norse paganism was practiced, with Christianity introduced only as of the 10th century. The indigenous Sámi of arctic regions continue to follow their native shamanic / animistic tradition today.

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Norwegians are often thought of as terse, unemotional — and without humor. Naturally, this is an unfounded stereotype — and humor, though often subtle and even sly, and terribly ironic … lurks ’round every corner.

~EWP