Friedrich Nietzsche

Anapus gėrio ir blogio

(Daugiau)

Norvegija

Facts and Figures

Norway is a constitutional democracy in Northern Europe with a population of 4.8 million inhabitants.

Head of State: His Majesty King Harald V of Norway
Head of Government: Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Area: 385 199 km²
Population (2009): 4 799 252
Population per km² land area: 16
Capital city: Oslo
Language: Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk)(In some districts, Sámi is also an official language)
State Church: Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran)
GDP (2008): NOK 2 548 billion (€ 295,2 billion)
GDP (per capita, 2008): NOK 534 440 (€ 61 915)
Currency: Norwegian kroner (NOK)1 krone = 100 øre
Constitution Day: 17 May
Population growth (2008): 1.3
Average life expectancy (2008): female: 83 years male: 78 years

Political System

The Storting
The Storting (Norwegian national assembly) has served as the highest political body in Norway since the introduction of Parliamentarianism in 1884. Elections to the Storting are held every fourth year, and mandates are distributed according to a system of proportional representation. The Government is selected on behalf of the King from within the Storting.
A Storting majority can utilize a vote of no confidence to bring about the resignation of a Government or a specific minister. A motion of no confidence can be submitted by any member of the Storting or the Government itself may put forth a request for a confidence vote. In the event that a Government has broken the law or acted in violation of the Constitution, it may be impeached by the Storting. However, this has rarely happened in practice.
The Storting maintains formal control over the two most important tools of government: the enactment of legislation and approval of national budgets. Most bills and national budgets proposals are introduced to the Storting by the Government. Normally, only minor adjustments need to be made to the bills, as the Government either already has a supporting majority in the Storting, or has adapted its proposals to satisfy the Storting majority.
The Storting monitors the efforts of the Government. The most important instruments of control include calling a vote of confidence, invoking the court of impeachment, checks by the Office of the Auditor General and the system of parliamentary questions and interpellations. During Question Time, members of the Storting can pose questions directly to the Government which must be answered by the appropriate minister. A short debate will normally ensue.
The Storting comprises 169 elected representatives, all representing a party.
The Storting is headed by a Presidium consisting of six members. Negotiations and the debate in the Storting chamber tend to play a minor role in the outcome of a given issue. Most of the work takes place in the standing committees, which is where a majority of the changes to governmental bills are proposed. Along with the private party groups, the twelve standing committees comprise the most important political bodies of the Storting.
The Storting is elected by county on the basis of proportional representation, i.e. each county is awarded a specified number of representatives based on its population.

The Monarchy
The tradition of Norwegian kingship in various forms extends back more than a thousand years. Norway was part of a union with Denmark from 1381 to 1814 and then with Sweden from 1814 until 1905, when it once more became independent under Haakon VII of Norway.

Form of Government
In formal terms, Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democratic system of governance. Democratic because the source of political power and legitimacy according to the Constitution lies with the people, in that all citizens are able to participate in the Storting (Norwegian national assembly), county and municipal councils. Parliamentary in as much as the Government, as the acting executive power, cannot govern without the confidence of the Storting, the legislative power. Constitutional monarchy because the Government, in accordance with the original articles of the Constitution, derives its authority from the executive power vested in the King.
Both democratic governance and the monarchy were established in the Constitution of 1814. Parliamentarianism was introduced in 1884. Today, the King has little real political power, but fills an important symbolic function as the Head of State and official representative of Norwegian society and industry. The monarchy also plays a crucial unifying role that becomes particularly evident in times of national crisis. This was clearly demonstrated during WWII, when King Haakon VII, who opposed the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1940, fled Norway to work against the occupation from exile in London.
State power is formally distributed between three institutions: the Storting (the legislative power), the Government (the executive power) and the courts (the judicial power). In addition, the public administration, which was designed to serve the needs of the political bodies, is sometimes viewed as a fourth state power, as it now takes independent action and can exert influence on the shaping of policies. There is also a geographical distribution of political power into state, county and municipal levels.
The participation of the people in the political sphere takes place both through direct elections and through their membership of organizations. The average Norwegian is a member of four organizations and approximately 70% of the adult population is a member of at least one organization. Such organizations are able to exert influence on the authorities by means of formal and informal contacts with the public administration. Close contacts between the standing parliamentary committees, ministries and interest groups mean that Norwegian policies are oriented towards segments such as the industrial segment, the agricultural segment or the educational segment.
Election turnout is usually in the vicinity of 80%. General suffrage for men was introduced in 1898, and for women in 1913. The age of majority is currently 18.

Living standards
Norway has been ranked the best country to live in by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) several times during the past decade. In addition, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Norway one of the world's leading countries in closing the gender gap between men and women.
Today Norwegians are living longer than ever before. A girl born in 2008 can expect to live to nearly 83 years of age, while a boy can expect to reach just over 78 years of age. The general health of the population is very good, and the infant mortality rate is extremely low. Literacy is virtually 100per cent and most of the adult population has completed upper-secondary schooling. There is no extreme poverty in Norway, and the relative poverty level is low compared to other OECD countries.
The GDP per capita is high, and wealth is relatively equally distributed among the population. There is a high degree of gender equality at all levels of society. In keeping with its welfare orientation, Norway has implemented a universal, public health service financed by tax revenues and a national insurance scheme, applicable to all citizens and residents, that provides a host of social benefits.
Both public and private consumption have increased enormously since 1900, and the wealth of the last few decades is primarily due to the discovery and exploitation of subsea oil and natural gas deposits in the North Sea. As a result of modernisation and urbanisation, the stable, traditional settlement patterns of the past have been replaced by a trend towards greater mobility, in which people more frequently move and change jobs.

Parental benefits and paternity leave
Did you know that Norwegian parents have the right to a paid leave of absence during the first year of a child's life? To encourage more men to assume a greater share of care-giving responsibilities, 10 weeks of parental leave are reserved for fathers.
The aim of the parental benefit scheme is to help parents to combine working life and family life. Thanks to the scheme, Norway tops European statistics on birth rates and participation of women in the workforce.
Norwegian parents may choose to take a total of 46 weeks of leave at 100 per cent pay or 56 weeks at 80 per cent pay.

Public Health System
The gradual emergence of the welfare state during the course of the 1900s was accompanied by a major expansion of Norway's public health system as well as nursing and care services.Public health services are financed by taxation and are designed to be equally accessible to all residents, independent of social status. With its 242 500 employees, the public health sector is one of the largest sectors in Norwegian society.
The public health system comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and Care Services, which is responsible for devising and monitoring national health policy. Responsibility for provision of services is decentralized to the municipal and regional level. The municipalities are in charge of providing primary health services such as general practitioner clinics, while the counties and the five health regions provide the more specialized medical services, such as hospitals. A number of authorized private hospitals and health services have also been established in addition to the public facilities.
Hospital queues and an aging population currently pose two of the greatest challenges to Norwegian health policy. The percentage of elderly in the population has risen rapidly since the 1970s, creating an ever-increasing need for curative, rehabilitation, nursing and care services.
Norway's first public hospital facilities were established during the 1700s, with the arrival of specialized hospitals and psychiatric wards towards the end of the 1800s. When x-ray machines and modern anaesthetics appeared after 1900, the modern hospital sector gained new momentum. Since 1945, the development of the public health service has followed international trends in the use of antibiotics and other types of medications, as well as ongoing improvements in medical technology.
Physicians have long formed the backbone of the Norwegian public health service, and have often paved the way for state and local health reforms.
National Insurance Scheme
All Norwegian citizens and individuals working in Norway are automatically qualified for membership of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, a government insurance scheme entitling members to pensions (e.g. old age, survivors, disability) as well as benefits in connection with industrial accidents, accidents and illness, pregnancy, birth, single parent families and funerals. Together with the insurance schemes for family allowance and the cash benefit to parents of young children (kontantstøtte), the National Insurance Scheme comprises the most important general insurance scheme in Norway.
At the end of 1999, some 1.1 million people had disbursements from the national insurance as their main source of income, including approximately 900 000 old-age pensioners. In 1999, the total outlay of the insurance scheme reached NOK 162 billion, corresponding to 13.6% of the GDP and roughly 34.3% of the national budget. The National Insurance Scheme is financed by membership fees from employees, self-employed individuals and other insured parties, employer's contributions and government allocations.
The public social services first emerged in the 1700s. Prior to this, the family, church or the individual parish was responsible for looking after the poor and infirm or aged. The expansion of the social services and national insurance is closely linked to the process of industrialization. Industry brought with it new health hazards, greater mobility and thus a weakening of family ties. At the same time, it provided the economic basis for social reform. The Norwegian Accident Insurance for Factory Workers of 1895 was gradually extended to apply to other professions, followed by the introduction of sickness benefits, old-age benefits (1936), unemployment benefits (1939), disability benefits (1960) and benefits for widows and single mothers (1964). In 1967, the social benefits introduced prior to WWII were amalgamated into the National Insurance Scheme. Payments from the scheme are determined by the number of pension points that an individual has earned.

Education Policy
Norwegian educational policy is rooted in the principle of equal rights to education for all members of society, regardless of their social and cultural background or where in Norway they live. It is the role of the schools to convey both knowledge and culture, as well as to promote social mobility and provide a basis for wealth creation and welfare for all.
Teaching at Norwegian schools is to be adapted to the abilities and skills of the individual pupils. Special education is available for persons with disabilities or those with special needs who are otherwise unable to participate in ordinary school teaching activities. As a result of the increase in immigration, the number of pupils belonging to language minorities is on the rise. Norwegian education policy stipulates that consideration be given to the special needs of language minority pupils in order to better enable them to complete upper secondary education and pursue higher education and employment.
The Storting (Norwegian national assembly) and the Government are responsible for specifying the objectives and establishing the budgetary frameworks for the education sector. The Ministry of Education and Research is the administrative agency in charge of educational matters, and is responsible for implementing national educational policy. Norway has a unified school system based on a common standard. A national curriculum has been introduced to help to ensure that government educational standards are met.
Compulsory education in Norway is ten years, and consists of primary and lower secondary education. Upper secondary education is optional. The responsibility for ensuring that appropriate schooling is accessible to children, young people and adults in all municipalities and counties has been assigned to educational authorities in the county administration. The individual municipalities are in charge of operating primary and lower secondary schools, while the upper secondary schools are administered at the county level.
The higher education sector comprises educational programmes at the universities and university colleges. Admission to these programmes is normally contingent upon completion of three years of upper secondary education. With the exception of a few privately-run institutes, all institutions of higher education are operated by the state. However, each institution enjoys a large degree of academic and administrative autonomy.
Public education in Norway is free up to and including the upper secondary level. Tuition for higher education programmes at state-run institutions is normally minimal. The State Educational Loan Fund was founded in 1947, and provides student loans and grants for living costs to those attending higher education programmes. Support is also available for Norwegian students who wish to pursue part or all of their education abroad.
Independent, private schools provide a supplement to the public school system. The Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education authorizes such schools according to stipulated quality criteria. The academic programmes at independent schools must satisfy the requirements set out in the relevant regulations. Authorized independent private schools are eligible for government funding.

Population
Norway's population exceeded 4.8 million in 2008. This is an increase of over 1.5 million since 1950. Today net immigration contributes more to population growth than the net natural increase in the total population.
In 1665 Norway had a population of 440,000. It had grown to one million by 1822, two million by 1890, three million by 1942 and four million by 1975.
A total of 60,500 children were born in 2008. Since 1973, the number of children born in a single year has only been higher in 1990, 1991 and 1996. Norwegian women give birth to 1.96 children on average. Norway tops fertility rate statistics in Europe; only Icelandic, French and Irish women give birth to more children than Norwegian women.
Life expectancy has changed over time, and today Norwegians are living longer than ever before. A girl born in 2008 can expect to live to almost 83 years of age, while a boy can expect to reach just over 78 years of age. Twenty years ago the corresponding figures were 79 and 73 years.
The average age of the population is 39 years, but this figure varies greatly in different parts of the country. Twenty-six per cent of Norway's population is under 20 years of age, 61 per cent is between 20-66 years of age and 13 per cent is over 66 years of age.
Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents accounted for 9.7 per cent of Norway's population in 2008, and totalled 460,000 persons from more than 200 countries. All Norwegian municipalities are home to immigrants, but Oslo has the largest proportion of immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents at 25 per cent of the population.

Language
Norway's official language is Norwegian, a northern Germanic language closely related to Danish and Swedish. For the most part, speakers of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are easily able to understand one another.
Norway's geography and settlement patterns have given rise to a myriad of local and regional spoken dialects that continue to enjoy a strong position within society today. There are two official written versions of Norwegian, Bokmål ("Book Norwegian") and Nynorsk ("New Norwegian"). Bokmål is based on Dano-Norwegian, and has been developed from written Danish adapted to the phonology of the general dialect spoken in eastern Norway. Nynorsk was devised by linguist Ivar Aasen in the 1850s, and is based on a compilation of various western Norwegian dialects.
Bokmål and Nynorsk have been accorded equal status officially, although Bokmål is somewhat more widely used in Oslo and the larger towns. Nynorsk is utilized by some 10-15% of the population, mostly on the Western coast, as well as in government texts, literature, dramatic art, public broadcasting and church services.
At present, some 20 000 individuals in Norway have the Sámi language as their mother tongue. Sámi is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of languages, and its roots in Norway may extend as far back as Norwegian. North Sámi has been established as an official language on a par with Norwegian in the North-Norwegian districts of Kárášjohka-Karasjok, Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino, Unjárga-Nesseby, Porsanger and Deatnu-Tana and Gáivuotna-Kåfjord.
Due to the number of immigrants and refugees whose first language is not Norwegian, there are currently approximately 110 different mother tongues represented in the Norwegian primary schools. Today, English is Norway's most important foreign language for international use, followed by German and French. Moreover, approximately 4 000 hearing impaired persons utilize Norwegian Sign Language, which exists in two main versions stemming from Norway's oldest schools for the deaf in Oslo and Trondheim.

Religion
Norway has an official Protestant State Church based on the Evangelical-Lutheran religion. Although there is no separation of Church and State, all inhabitants have the right to exercise their religion freely in accordance with a 1964 amendment to the Constitution. Eight out of ten ethnic Norwegians are members of the State Church of Norway.
Norwegian religious expression is largely private; whereas most individuals state that religion is important to them, this is not generally expressed through active religious participation in organized communities. While roughly 80% of the population belong to the Church of Norway, only 10% attend church services or other Christianity-related meetings more than once a month.
Some 5.9% of the population are members of other religious communities, while 6.2% do not belong to any religious community at all. The largest religious and life-stance communities outside the Church of Norway are the Humanist Movement, represented by the Norwegian Humanist Association (63 000), Islam (60 000), the Pentecostal Movement (45 000), the Roman Catholic Church (40 000 or more), the Evangelical-Lutheran free church (20 000), Methodists (13 000) and several lesser free churches.
The conversion of Norway to Christianity started in around 1000 and was a result of contact with Christian Europe through a combination of trade ties and Viking raids. Missionary activities conducted by the Anglo-Saxon church as well as from Germany and Denmark also helped Christianity to gain prominence over the gods of traditional Norse mythology and Sámi nature worship.
Christian Norway belonged to the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation of 1537. A ban on lay preaching was lifted in 1842, giving rise to several free church movements and a strong lay organization within the Church of Norway. As a result, Norwegian church society became closely associated with a conservative Christian interpretation and an active missionary movement.

Norwegians and nature
Norwegian adoration of nature is a vital ingredient in the country's national identity. Over half of the population have ready access to a cabin, the schools arrange annual obligatory ski days, and most postcards produced by the tourist industry depict nature scenes rather than cultural attractions.
Most Norwegians live in single-family homes and large apartments, equipped with every thinkable electric appliance. Nevertheless, great value is attached to closeness to nature and a simple lifestyle. Thousands of Norwegians spend weekends and holidays at the family cabin, which ideally speaking should be should be tucked away in the wilderness surrounded by the pristine landscape of the Norwegian mountains.
The typical Norwegian cabin is built of logs and consists of a living room, one or more bedrooms, an outdoor lavatory, woodshed and small kitchen. Heating is preferably by wood, although kerosene is permissible, just barely. Oil lamps and candlelight provide light on dark winter nights. This simplicity is not due to a desire to save money. In fact a mountain cabin in an attractive location is a costly investment, no matter how simply they are furnished. The absence of modern comforts is founded on ideological and moral, rather than economic, reasons. (It must be added here that many Norwegians have a cabin by the coast, usually in an area with a mild climate. Here, completely different rules apply: these cabins can be comfortable second homes.)
Hiking and going for walks are a way of getting out of the house, as Norwegians put it; you leave civilization and all its comforts and depravity behind to get in touch with your inner self and feel like an authentic person. Hikes and walks can be taken on a weekday after work, but are usually a weekend activity. A normal yardstick for gauging the success of a walk is the number of people you meet along the way. The fewer the people, the more successful the walk was.
Adoration of nature in Norway has many facets. It is official and has a political aspect; unspoiled nature is a national symbol. It is private and is associated with family rituals, such as cabin life. But it is also personal and individual, and in this area veneration of nature has a clear sprinkling of religion. The state religion in Norway is the Lutheran faith, but reverence for nature is also very strongly ingrained. Instead of renouncing it as heathenish, Lutheranism has consciously embraced it - among other things, Christian books published in Norway often display Norwegian nature scenes on the cover. Moreover, the outdoors is often recommended by state church clergy as a great place for religious meditation and reflection. In this way, Christianity, which in principle places a sharp dividing line between culture and nature (nature is evil, people are by nature sinful), avoids a direct confrontation with the strong Norwegian ideology that culture and nature are two sides of the same coin.

Music
Norwegian musicians are making a big impact on the international music scene. Some of the most familiar names are Röyksopp, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan Garbarek, Arne Nordheim, Mari Boine, Leif Ove Andsnes, Nils Petter Molvær, Rolf Wallin, Turbonegro, Truls Mørk, Bugge Wesseltoft, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Serena Maneesh.

Folk
Unlike many other European countries, Norway has an unbroken folk music tradition. Since folk music has been passed along continuously from generation to generation, there has been no need for a folk music revival. The arenas in which folk music has been presented, however, have changed over time.

Pop
Today, Norwegian pop, rock, hip-hop, metal, R&B and electronica are more popular than ever. Bands and artists like Röyksopp, Turbonegro, Serena Maneesh, Sissel, Annie, Madrugada and Jaga Jazzist are at the forefront of Norwegian popular music. Thanks to a multitude of other active bands and new record companies, more is going on in Norwegian popular music than ever before.

Economy

Mixed Economy
The Norwegian economy is generally characterized as a mixed economy - a capitalist market economy with a clear component of state influence. As in the rest of Western Europe, the expansion of most industry in Norway has largely been governed by private property rights and the private sector.

Economic Policy
Norway's economic policy is designed to stabilize and counteract unemployment and inflation, to stimulate growth and to influence the structure of industry and the distribution of income. Regions with little industry are subject to more lenient taxation than other areas, and credit institutions have been established to provide support to the regional industrial sector as well as agriculture.

Industries

Oil and Gas
Norway is the second-largest net exporter of gas and the seventh-largest exporter of oil in the world. The industry accounts for a third of state income (2008 figures). Around 140,000 people are employed by petroleum-related businesses, and the knock-on effects on other industries are considerable.

Maritime Industry
Norway is Europe's most diversified maritime nation and commands worldwide respect for its shipping expertise, equipment and ability to exploit new market niches. Norway's overall maritime economy - an expanding cluster of industries linked to shipping and the aquaculture industry - encompasses an increasingly wide variety of products and services.

Seafood
Norway literally has a sea of opportunities The rich resources of its fjords and seas have played an important part in the economies of Norway's coastal regions and, if they are to be maintained for the future, it is important to exploit them in a way that both safeguards marine diversity and results in the desired value creation.

Process Industry
Norway is a major producer of hydropower. Nearly one third of this power is used in the production of metals, chemicals, petrochemicals, mineral products, paper and pulp. Norway's process industry is the country's largest land-based export sector. The nearly exclusive use of hydropower allows Norway to operate its facilities more economically and cleanly than most other countries.

Consumer Goods
Norway offers a growing range of finished products and consumer goods on the international market. The combination of natural materials and traditional craftsmanship has given Norwegian goods a reputation for quality and reliability. Numerous small and medium-sized companies produce a broad assortment of products, from furniture and specialty foods to leisure craft and outdoor equipment.

Building and Construction
The Norwegian building and construction industry has attracted international attention for its innovative design and exceptional products. Norwegian architects have won international acclaim for their modern approach to traditional materials such as wood, stone and metal. Norway has cutting-edge expertise in building large timber structures, tunnelling, and cavern excavation, as well as in road.

Resources and Knowledge
In the course of a century, Norway has evolved from a quiet agrarian society to a dynamic, high-tech country with a prominent international position. Norway is one of the world's largest oil exporters, and is among the world leaders in a wide range of industries, such as aquaculture, maritime industries, hydropower, the environment, energy, technology and telecommunications.
History

Norway pre 1814
Pre-historic Norway
The first men to appear in what is now Norway emerged from dim pre-history when the great inland ice sheets were retreating over Scandinavia. Ten thousand years ago the forefathers of today's Norwegians hunted reindeer and other prey on their long trek north. The land they came to had for centuries borne the weight of the icecap, so the ocean met the shore 200 metres higher up than is the case.

The Viking Age
The Viking era marks the termination of the prehistoric period in Norway. No written sources of knowledge exist, so what is known about this period is largely based on archaeological finds. The Sagas also shed some light on this age. Although they were written down later, the Sagas were based on tales passed down orally from one generation to the next.

The Middle Ages
The year 1130 represented a watershed in Norwegian history. A period of peace was disrupted by conflict and civil war lasting until 1227. But 1130 was a special year in other ways too. It is regarded as the start of the High Middle Ages, a period of population growth, consolidation within the Church, and the emergence and development of townships.

Union with Denmark
The late Middle Ages were a period of marked economic decline in Norway. The population had been decimated by the plague and other epidemics during the fourteenth century. Many farms in the marginal areas were deserted, and incomes shrank. Some historians claim that a worsening of the climate and the grip of the Hanseatic League on Norwegian economy were the cause of the downward trend.

Norway post 1814

1814
At the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 Napoleon suffered a stunning defeat. One of his opponents on the battlefield was the Kingdom of Sweden. Having previously lost Finland to the czardom to the east, Sweden now wished to have Norway as a safeguard on its western border. Sweden's allies had therefore promised that it could have Norway as one of the spoils of war.

Union with Sweden
In the years immediately following 1814, the newly organized state fought repeatedly for its existence. Norway was hit by the worst economic depression it had ever suffered. The common market with Denmark was dissolved and the British market was closed to Norwegian timber. Mines and sawmills lost foreign custom. Many of the wealthier middle class citizens in southeast Norway went bankrupt.

Norway after 1905
The issue of Norway's future form of government was hotly disputed. A plebiscite showed a large majority in favour of a monarchy rather than a republic. On 18 November 1905 the Storting chose the Danish Prince Carl to be King of Norway. Prince Carl was married to Princess Maud, daughter of King Edward VII of Great Britain, and had one son. The new Royal Family arrived in Norway on 25 November.

Explorers

Roald Amundsen
It is one of history's coincidences that Norway's two giants of polar exploration, Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, were contemporaries. Amundsen was born in 1872, eleven years after Nansen, near the town of Sarpsborg in southeast Norway. Abandoning a planned career in medicine, he decided instead to devote his life to polar research.

Fridjof Nansen
When Fridtjof Nansen was born in 1861, there were no new shores to discover. The outlines of the world map had been virtually completed; Nansen helped to fill in the details. Fridtjof Nansen was a scientist, statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. His devotion to humanitarian causes saved the lives of countless thousands after WWI.

Thor Heyerdahl
The most widely known contemporary Norwegian "explorer" Thor Heyerdahl, has probed the cultures of our earliest forefathers. His quest was to discover more about the historical landscape, not the geographical one. Heyerdahl was born in 1914 in the small town of Larvik, on Norway's south coast. Following exhaustive studies of ethnographic and archaeological material from Polynesia, the American.

The first Explorers
Norway's coast is long and jagged, and its fjords cut far into the land. From early history, the sight and sound of the sea has beckoned to its inhabitants, who have made only a meagre living from the soil. Small wonder that when tilling their small fields they lifted their eyes to the horizon; to the sea that could not only provide them with more food but could also bear them to richer lands.

The Viking Expeditions
Although only a few vessels took part in the initial Viking raids, their numbers gradually swelled, and the fleets that sailed westwards to England, Scotland, France and Ireland numbered many hundred ships. They came as raiders and pillagers, bringing terror to the coasts they frequented; but they were traders and administrators too.