Lovatnet Lake in Norway

I traveled to Norway this year with a travel group called Shared World Tours, which focuses on learning about how other countries serve their elders. Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe, the mainland territory of which comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Today, Norway ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy; a prosperous capitalist welfare state, it features a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors, influenced by both liberal governments from the late 19th century and later by social democratic governments in the postwar era. 

Public health care in Norway is free, and parents have 46 weeks of paid parental leave. The state income derived from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production. Norway has an unemployment rate of 4.8%, with 68% of the population aged 15–74 employed. People in the labor force are either employed or looking for work. 9.5% of the population aged 18–66 receives a disability pension, and 30% of the labor force is employed by the government. The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Norway, are among the highest in the world. Norway has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population. In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry.

Due to the low population density, narrow shape and long coastlines of Norway, its public transport is less developed than in many European countries, especially outside the major cities. The main method of travel within Norway is by rail. The main railway network consists of over 2,500 miles of lines. We traveled from one end to the other via rail and it was very pleasant and beautiful scenery. A very interesting fact about train and bus travel is they never check your ticket. They just trust you have one! This was very interesting to me since in the States you have to hand your ticket to enter the bus or train. Certainly, the Norway people are very honest and trusting of each other’s behavior.

One in fifteen people throughout the country work in the tourism industry. Tourism is seasonal in Norway, with more than half of total tourists visiting between the months of May and August. The main attractions of Norway are the varied landscapes that extend across the Arctic Circle. It is famous for its fjord-indented coastline and its mountains, ski resorts, lakes, woods and amazing water falls. Popular tourist destinations in Norway include Oslo, Aalesund, and Bergen, all of which we visited on our tour. Much of the nature of Norway remains unspoiled. The fjords, mountains and waterfalls in western and northern Norway attract several hundred thousand foreign tourists each year and are just beautiful.

Norway has the world’s largest registered stock of plug-in electric vehicles per capita. In March 2014, Norway became the first country where over 1 in every 100 passenger cars on the roads is a plug-in electric. The plug-in electric segment’s market share of new car sales is also the highest in the world. About 91% of all new car sales are electric. The country would like to ban sales of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles as early as 2025. Norway is way ahead of the States in this area.

Health care in Norway is free. In the 1800s, by contrast, poverty and communicable diseases dominated in along with famines and epidemics. From the 1900s on, improvements in public health occurred as a result of developments in several areas, such as social and living conditions, changes in disease and medical outbreaks, the establishment of the health care system, and an emphasis on public health matters. Health in Norway, with its early history of poverty and infectious diseases along with famines and epidemics, was poor for most of the population, at least into the 1800s. The country eventually changed from a peasant society to an industrial one and established a public health system in 1860. Due to the high life expectancy at birth, which today is about 84 years, the low under five mortality rate, and the fertility rate in Norway, it is fair to say that the overall health status in the country is generally good to excellent and available to all at no cost.

In my travels in Norway, I came upon a book that discussed some very interesting Norwegian behaviors that I want to share. The title of the book is 100 Unwritten Norwegian Social Laws. Being a psychologist and social scientist, I found some of these social laws very fascinating. Here are a few:

  • You shall only be allowed to talk to strangers under the following circumstances: 1) If there is a serious emergency, 2) If you are lost,. 3) If they have a dog or baby.
  • You shall not show too much interest towards others.
  • You shall not show that you recognize a person until you are less than three seconds away.
  • You shall not walk at the same pace next to people you do not know.
  • You shall hide behind your door, a fence or run away from the hallway if you see one of your neighbors.
  • You shall not look other people in the eye when using public transport.
  • You shall be allowed to nod to fellow passengers only if you have been commuting together every morning for several years.
  • When making new friends, you shall not ask open questions or make open comments.
  • You shall not kiss people on the check when you meet them.
  • You shall not look at someone you’ve just said goodbye to if you run into them shortly after. Pretend you do not see them.
  • You shall not seek eye contact or nod to others when you are walking down the street.
  • You shall not compliment a stranger.
  • You shall praise others only when they aren’t there; never tell the person directly.
  • If you are interested in a person standing in a nightclub, do not talk, do not smile, just bump into the person.
  • You shall refrain from showing too much interest in a person; This also applies to social media.
  • You shall not pay for your friend at the restaurant, even if it was you who proposed to go out for dinner.

I did one little test of one of these social laws as I was walking around several cities in Norway. I looked at everyone I was passing by when walking the streets. Out of the hundreds of people I walked by, only five actually looked at me. They probably were tourists and not native Norwegians. In any case, I found this very fascinating and in spite of this unwritten Norwegian social law, I found Norway a very beautiful country and the Norwegians we actually talked with very warm, affectionate, and friendly. What better way to “add life to years.”

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