Exploring New Horizons...
Student Text Page No. 2: "Within Its Region"
Norwegian Sea, 1010. The fishermen silence their oars, lift
a great shout into the night, then listen. Where are the other
boats? Surrounded by thick fog, they can't even see the stars, to
check their position.... Was that a sea serpent? For a moment, the
only sound is the chilly slap of waves. Then.... Did you hear that?
One reply! Two! The other boats in their small fleet are nearby, after all!
Millennia ago, the coastal waters of what we now call Norway, Sweden,
and Denmark were dotted with small fishing vessels. Their Norse (northern)
crews knew how terrifying the sea could be in a storm or fog. But they
knew its rewards, too. A very good catch of fish meant food for themselves
— plus a product they could trade for furs or other items. And,
though frightening, the unexplored horizon promised adventure, too.
Growing pains. By 1000 CE, Norse Vikings the descendants
of those early fishing crews had chased the horizon as far as the
Mediterranean Sea and the west Atlantic Ocean. Some Vikings raided coastal
towns. Others founded settlements in France and Iceland, for example,
and even North America. They opened new trade routes. And they challenged
boatbuilders everywhere. Viking ships were top of the line. Toward the
end of the Viking era, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes began to form separate
kingdoms, and this step often led to territorial warfare. Yet they still
traded together, spoke similar languages, and shared the same Norse myths
and Christian faith. So it was no surprise, when they traded fighting
for uniting in 1397. After that, Norway was joined in a union with Denmark
and Sweden until 1523; with Denmark until 1814; and with Sweden until
National identity. In the 1800s, Norwegians grew restless with that
arrangement. They kept their monarchy, but adopted a new constitution
(1814) and increased the powers of their parliament (1884). A new sense
of national identity and progress emerged, symbolized by the music of
Edvard Grieg and the writings of Henrik Ibsen. By the time Norway broke
with Sweden (1905), it was launching new industries and expanding its
trade worldwide. Still, Norway continued to protect its regional ties. It
expanded trade with its Baltic and North Sea neighbors. In the 1900s, it
joined with several of them to form the Nordic Council for mutual
cooperation. And (in between hot and cold wars) it strove to build stable
relations with Russia, its northern neighbor. Today, Norway cooperates with
Russia whenever possible on such critical, region-wide goals as nuclear safety.
A wider region? Norway is also part of a larger social and economic
region: western Europe. Linked by tourism, trade, and telecommunications,
Norwegians and other peoples in this democratic part of the world are
in constant touch with one another. Indeed, Norway ships about 80 percent
of its exports to countries in this region. Yet most of these nations
belong to the European Union (EU). Norway does not — and, up to now, most
Norwegians have favored that position. But at times the debate over whether to join
the EU has been intense. Those in favor of joining have claimed it would
give Norway a direct vote in shaping EU security measures for northern Europe and the
Arctic seas. Opponents argue that joining the EU would limit Norway's power
to protect its people's interests. For example, EU membership might oblige Norway to
open its coastal fishing grounds to other EU nations — a move that could hurt
its own fishing industry.