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Norway is regarded as the birth place of modern skiing. The word "ski" is Norwegian and simply means "piece of wood" or "cleft piece of wood". Contrary to English, the word "ski" is not a verb (only noun) in Norwegian, so Norwegians say "to walk on skis" (cross country) or "to stand on skis" (alpine skiing).
American movie Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (episode V) was partly recorded at Finse, near the Oslo-Bergen railway, in March 1979. The Finse area appears in the movie as Hoth, the snow & ice planet. Many Norwegians contributed as extras.
The Vikings of Norway (and Scandinavia) are well-known, they had a reputation as fierce and fearless fighters. Vikings did not have helmets with horns (as shown in the popular comic strip Hägar the Horrible). In fact, it is not clear if Vikings used helmets at all. While tens of thousands of Viking weapons has been uncovered, only one (1) helmet from around the Viking period exist. The Viking helmet is a merely a legend. Although the word "viking" is now used about people from Scandinavia, thousands years ago in west-germanic languages it possibly referred to pirates, seaborn warriors or seamen of any origin.
Although Finland has been named " The Land of a Thousand Lakes", Norway's lakes do in fact far outnumber Finland's. About 450,000 (half million) lakes in Norway are identified, compared to the 188,000 lakes in Finland. About 200 lakes are 10 km² (1000 hectars or 4 square miles).
While Norway's freshwater lakes are modest in area, several lakes are among the deepest in the world or in Europe. Hornindalsvatnet in Nordfjord district is the deepest lake in Europe and the 12th deepest in the world (at least 514 meters), but only 50 square kilometers surface area. This lake is only 50 meters which means that most of the lakes volume is below sea level. Mjøsa, Norway's largest lake and located in central eastern region, is also the 2nd deepest in Europe and the 19th deepest in the world.
The original cheese slicer ("ostehøvel") was invented and patented by Bjørklund, a Norwegian carpenter, in 1925. Norwegian cheese, particluarly the special brown cheese, is now mainly eaten as thin slices, often on open sandwiches. The word "høvel" is identical to the Norwegian word for "plane", a carpenter tool.
Norwegians eat brown cheese (brunost) a type of sweet cheese that is not really cheese. Brown cheese is made by evaporating most of the water in the left-overs of ordinary cheese production. In the most common version, Gudbrandsdalsost, cream is added to make it fat and "full". Brown cheese made from goat's milk is called "geitost". Varities are found in other Nordic countries, but is essentially a Norwegian product.
The well-known paper clip made from a thin wire has long (probably incorrectly) been assumed to be invented and patented by a Norwegian. During the second world war, the paper clip became a symbol of resistance to Nazi occupation and of unity during the hard times. When Nazi authorities recognized the symbolic meaning of the paper clip, it was forbidden to wear.
Many Norwegians take a daily mouthful of cod liver oil ("tran") for health reasons, particularly to avoid rickets (English disease) in children.
Many Norwegians eat kaviar on a daily basis. This of course the inexpensive type, mashed cod roe sold in every grocery store.
The Troll A gas production platform is the largest object ever moved by humans. The platform is 472 meters high (of which 369 under water) and weighs about 656 million kilograms. This huge structure is in other words two times heavier than Empire State Building in NY City, the underwater part of Troll is exactly the height of Empire State Building top floor.Troll A is mostly a concrete structure that contains reinforcing steel corresponding to 10 times the entire Eiffel tower.
The Lærdal road tunnel on road E16 is the world's longest road tunnel, total 24.5 kilometers (15 miles). It is an ordinary two-lane undivided highway. There is a separate ventilation tunnel to a mountain valley above. There are no less than five speeding cameras inside the tunnel. To reduce mental strain and claustrophobia the tunnel has three large caves with blue or green light. The tunnel was built as part of an effort to make the main road between Oslo and Bergen unaffected by winter storms. Construction lasted from 1995 to 2000. Nearby the world's 8th longest road tunnel, the Gudvanga tunnel at 11.6 kilomteres, is part of the same highway.
The Eiksund tunnel, 287 meters deep between Volda and Ulstein in western Norway, is the world's deepest underwater tunnel of its kind.
Norway and Sweden is separated from the rest of Europe by open water: The Baltic, the North Sea, the Skagerak (between Denmark and Norway) and the narrow strait between Sweden and Denmark. Norway and Sweden forms the Scandinavian penninsula, and for this reason the rest of Europe (except of course the British isles and Iceland) is simply refered to as the "Continent", although Scandinavia is not island.
Norway is part of Scandinavia, together with Sweden and Denmark (although Denmark is not on the Scandinavian penninsula...). Finland and Iceland is however not part of Scandinavia, but the wider concept of the Nordic countries ("Norden").
Although Norway has a lot in common with Britain, Sweden and Denmark, contrary to these neighbours Norway outlawed aristochracy in the new constitution (in 1814). There are virtually no castles in Norway, except ancient military constructions and the royal palace in Oslo.
While understanding basic Norwegian words is fairly easy for English, German or Dutch speakers, perfect pronunciation si notoriously difficult to learn because Norwegian is a pitch accent or tonal language - unlike most European languages, except Swedish, Latvian and Serbo-Croat, but similar to Chinese languages or Japanese. This gives Norwegian (and Swedish) a "singing" appearance that is easily recognized, this "singing" characteristic also vaguely resembles East Asian languages. This "singing" style usually spills over when Norwegians are speaking English, often to the amusement of native speakers. Whereas eastern Norway tone or pitch system is similar to Swedish, Western and Northern Norway is notably different.
When Norwegians say "the State" (staten), they mean "the (civil) Government". Wheras "regjeringen" means the "cabinet" or "council of ministers". Officially the King heads the civil government, so when offcial documents says "the King decides" it simply means that the cabinet (the executive council) or the individual ministers.
Norwegian and English are not only closely related, but a number of Norwegian or Old Norse words have been adopted in English as well as other languages, examples:
There are as many Norwegian descendants living in the United States as there are Norwegians in Norway (about 4.5 mill pr year 2000, according to the US Census bureau). In North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin there is substantial proportion of inhabitants with Norwegian anscestors. In the period 1860 to 1910, the percentage of the Norwegian population emigrating to America was second only to the percentage of the Irish. In total, about 1 million Norwegians left for America around 1900, when Norway had about 2 million inhabitants.