A number of small Norwegian communities were gradually organized into larger regions in the 9th century, and around the year 900 the realm was unifi ed under a king. In the Middle Ages, Vikings from Norway settled in England, France, Ireland, and Iceland. Norway and Denmark formed one kingdom from 1380 to 1814 when Norway had a short period of independence and adopted its constitution. The same year, in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, Norway was united with Sweden under the Swedish king. In 1905, the union was peacefully dissolved and Norway has been independent since. Norway is a country with a high degree of socioeconomic equality, a high standard of living and a rather homogeneous population. About one million people live in the area around Oslo. Quite a few Norwegians live in small communities with well-developed road, air, and ferry transportation and communication systems. The oil in the North Sea has allowed the country’s economy to fl ourish for most of the last 30 years, subsidizing public health and welfare programs. Twice, by referendum, Norway has decided

to stay outside the European Union (EU), but it is connected through the European Economic Area (EEA).