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Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav Tryggvason in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that was to last for more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution.
Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of WW II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes.
The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted.
Norway is foremost a land for those who love nature. However, it also offers a rich cultural experience for those keen to follow in the footsteps of the Vikings – as well as those of later luminaries such as artist Edvard Munch. You can marvel at the awesome beauty of the Norwegian countryside, with its countless steep-sided valleys, high mountain lakes and unbelievable views.