Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a sovereign and unitary monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus Jan Mayen and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. Until 1814, the Kingdom included the Faroe Islands (since 1035), Greenland (1261), and Iceland (1262).
Norway has a total area of 148,747 sq. miles and a population of 5,109,059 people (2014). The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden (1,006 mi long). Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.
Between 1661 and 1814, Norway was an absolute monarchy, and before 1661, the King shared power with the Norwegian nobility. Traditionally established in 872 and a merger of several petty kingdoms, Norway is one of the original states of Europe and among the oldest still existing kingdoms worldwide. The Kingdom has existed continuously for over 1,100 years, and the list of Norwegian monarchs includes over sixty kings and earls.
Norway maintains close ties with the European Union and its member countries (despite rejecting full EU membership in two referenda), as well as with the United States. Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD; and is also a part of the Schengen Area.
The country maintains a combination of market economy and a Nordic welfare model with universal health care and a comprehensive social security system. Norway has extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, fresh water, and hydropower. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMF lists, as well as ninth-highest on a more comprehensive CIA list. On a per-capita basis, it is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East.