This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Norway, especially of the Fjord region in western Norway. It is written for the participants in Stanford Travel/Study’s program, Shetland Islands and Norway, scheduled for June 9-22, 2022. 

           The first section of this essay addresses Norway’s earliest settlers, the Sámi people, and investigates how the Sámi economy, system of political control, and culture have evolved. In the second part, I discuss the rise to power of the Scandinavian Vikings (8th-12th centuries), the pattern of Viking expansion into Europe and the North Atlantic, and the decline of Viking power and wealth. In the third section, I turn to the German Hansa in Norway (12th-17th centuries) and seek to understand how the Hansa merchants operated a cartel to control Baltic trade, what they gained, and why they eventually lost control. I close in the fourth part by analyzing Norway’s amazing export-led economic progress (19th-21st centuries), allowing Norway to rank first in the world in the United Nation’s Human Development Index. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Norway on earlier trips.

The Sámi People, Viking Scandinavia, The German Hansa, Origin and Purpose of the Hansa, The Merchants’ Hansa, The Hansa of the Towns, Ships and Merchants, Trade Routes, Trade Goods, German Cities and Hansa Kontore, Rise of Foreign Competitors, Decline and Dissolution, How Norway Got Rich, Norway’s Reliance on Foreign Trade, Emigration from Norway, Norway’s Fisheries Industry, Traditional and Modern Fishery Sectors in Norway, Norway’s Whaling Industry, Norway’s Shipping Industry, Norway’s Shipping Industry, Norway’s Offshore Petroleum and Natural Gas, Sea-based Activities in Norway’s Export-led Growth, Sites Visited in Norway, Flaam, Aalesund, Svolvaer and Borge, Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Honningsvag, Olden, Bergen, Stavanger, Oslo, Karasjok, Norway, Geiranger Fjord, Svalbard Archipelago,