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Norwegians (Norwegian: nordmenn) are a Northern European ethnic group found mostly in Norwaymarker and other Scandinavian countries, as well as many other countries in diaspora. Norwegians mostly speak Norwegian as well as other languages in diaspora and mostly follow Christianity (particularly Lutheranism).

Viking Age

The Norwegians travelled to the north-west and west, founding vibrant communities in the Faroe Islandsmarker, Shetlandmarker, Orkneymarker, Icelandmarker, Irelandmarker, Scotlandmarker and northern Englandmarker. Norwegian Vikings conducted extensive raids in Ireland and founded the cities of Corkmarker, Dublinmarker and Limerickmarker. A new wave of Norwegian Vikings appeared in England in 947 when Erik Bloodaxe captured Yorkmarker. Apart from Britain and Ireland, Norwegians mostly found largely uninhabited land, and established settlements in those places. The first known permanent Norwegian settler in Iceland was Ingólfur Arnarson, who built his homestead in Reykjavíkmarker, traditionally in the year 874. According to the saga of Erik the Red, when Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland he went west. There he found a land that he named "Greenland" to attract people from Iceland to settle it with him. The Viking Age settlements in Greenlandmarker were established in the sheltered fjords of the southern and western coast.

Norwegians in Norway

See also History of Norway and Demography of Norway.

According to recent genetic analysis, both mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphismsshowed a noticeable genetic affinity between Norwegians and central Europeans, especially Germans. (these conclusions are also valid for Swedes) For the global genetic make-up of the Norwegian people and other peoples, see also: [69270] and [69271]

Norwegian diaspora

Norwegian citizens abroad

As with many of the people from smaller European countries, Norwegians are spread throughout the world. There are more than 100,000 Norwegian citizens living abroad permanently, mostly in the USA and in the other Scandinavian countries.

The Netherlands

During the 17th and 18th Century, many Norwegians emigrated to the Netherlands and in particular Amsterdam. This emigration is regarded as the second of the waves of emigration from Norway (the first being the trek to the England, Atlantic islands, Normandy etc. during the Viking age, and the third was to North America, not counting the Gothic emigrations to Continental Europe in the 2nd and 3rd Century AD.) Loosely estimated some 10% of the population may have emigrated, in a period when the entire Norwegian population consisted of some 800,000 people. The Norwegians left with the Dutch trade ships that in Norway traded for timber, hides, herring and stockfish (dried codfish). Young women took employment as maids in Amsterdam. Young men took employment as sailors. Large parts of the Dutch merchant fleet and navy came to consist of Norwegians and Danes. They took Dutch names, so no trace of Norwegian names can be found in the Dutch population of today. One well known illustration is that of Admiral Kruys. He was hired in Amsterdam by Peter I to develop the Russian navy, but was originally from Stavangermarker in Norway (Kruys means 'cross', and the Russian maritime flag is today also a blue cross on white background). The emigration to the Netherlands was so devastating to the homelands that the Danish-Norwegian king issued penalties of death for emigration, but repeatedly had to issue amnesties for those willing to return, announced by posters in the streets of Amsterdam. Increasingly, Dutchmen who search their genealogical roots turn to Norway. Many Norwegians who emigrated to the Netherlands, and often were employed in the Dutch merchant fleet, emigrated further to the many Dutch colonies such as New Amsterdam (New York).

United States of America

See article: Norwegian American

Many Norwegians emigrated to the USA between the 1850s and the 1920s. Today, the descendants of these people are known as Norwegian-Americans. According to the 2000 US Census, 3 million Americans consider Norwegian to be their sole or primary ancestry. It is estimated that as many as a further 1.5 million more are of partial Norwegian ancestry.

Travelling to and through Canada and Canadian ports were of choice for Norwegian settlers immigrating to the United States. In 1850, the year after Great Britain repealed its restrictive Navigation Acts in Canada, more and more emigrating Norwegians sailed the shorter route to the Ville de Québec (Quebec City) in Canada, to make their way on to USA cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Green Bay by steamer. For example, in the 1850s, 28,640 arrived at Quebec, Canada en route to the USA, and 8,351 at New York directly.

Norwegian-Americans represent between 2 and 3% of the White non-Hispanic population in the US. They mostly live in the Upper Midwest.


See article: Norwegian Canadian

As early as 1814, a party of Norwegians was brought to Canadamarker to build a winter road from York Factory on Hudson Bay in northern Canada to the infant Red River settlement at the site of present-day Winnipeg, Manitobamarker, Canada. Norway House is one of the oldest trading posts and Native-Canadian missions in the Canadian West. Willard Ferdinand Wentzel served the North West Company of Canada in the Athabasca and Mackenzie regions and accompanied Sir John Franklin on his overland expedition in 1819–20 to the Canadian Arctic.

Norwegians immigrated to Canada in search of the Canadian Dream. This immigration lasted from the mid-1880s until 1930. It can be divided into three periods of roughly fifteen years each. In the first, to about 1900, thousands of Norwegians homesteaded on the Canadian prairies. In the second, from 1900 to 1914, there was a further heavy influx of Norwegians immigrating to Canada from the United States because of poor economic conditions in the USA, and 18,790 from Norway. In the third, from 1919 to 1930, 21,874 people came directly from Norway, with the peak year in 1927, when 5,103 Norwegians arrived, spurred by severe depression at home. They came with limited means, many leaving dole queues.

From 1825 to 1900 some 500,000 Norwegians landed at Quebec City, Quebec, (and other Canadian ports) for traveling through Canada was the shortest corridor to the Central American states. In spite of efforts by the Government of Canada to retain these immigrants for Canada, very few remained because of Canada's somewhat restrictive land policies at that time and negative stories being told about Canada from U.S. land agents deterring Norwegians from going to Canada. Not until the 1880s did Norwegians accept Canada as a land of opportunity. This was also true of the many Americans of Norwegian heritage who immigrated to Canada from the USA with "Canada Fever" seeking homesteads and new economic opportunities. By 1921 one-third of all Norwegians in Canada had been born in the USA.

These new Canadians became British subjects in Canada, and part of the British Empire. Canadian citizenship, as a status distinct from that of a British subject, was created on 1 January 1947, with Canada being the first Commonwealth country to create their own citizenship. Prior to that date, Canadians were British subjects and Canada's nationality law closely mirrored that of the United Kingdom. On 1 January 1947, Canadian citizenship was conferred on most British subjects connected with Canada. Unlike in the USA, Canada was part of the British Empire and most Norwegians would have become Canadians and British subjects at the same time.

According to the 2006 Canadian census, 432,515 Canadians reported Norwegian ancestry (Norwegian-Canadians). Norwegians make up 2% of the White Canadian population. However, the actual figure may be higher. It is important to note that because so many Norwegian women married men of other nationalities, and thus by census rules are not counted as having children of this ethnic origin, this tends to reduce the number in the statistics.


See article: Kola Norwegians

Some Norwegians who once lived in the Russian city of Murmanskmarker have left. There are very few of them left there today. The Norwegians in Murmansk are Kola Norwegians.


See also: Norwegian Swedes

The countries and territories with the highest percentage of Norwegians
Country Population Percent
4,799,252 86.1%
307,966,000 1.6%
33,848,000 1.4%
9,325,429 0.4%
5,532,531 0.2%
49,006 0.2%
World 6,790,062,216 0.17

Other terms used

The Norwegians are and have been referred to by other terms as well.Some of them include:
  • Nordmenn: A term used by Scandinavians to denote ethnic Norwegians and Norwegian citizensmarker. It translates as "Northmen". (Singular: Nordmann)
  • Northmen: Old term used by other European peoples to denote the peoples originating in the northern regions of Europe
  • Norsemen or Norse: Viking age peoples of Nordic origin.
  • Vikings: Used in Norway to denote people who went raiding during the Viking age. Used in a similar way by other peoples but can also mean Scandinavians in general.
  • Minnewegian: What a Norwegian-Minnesotan is called.
  • Norrbagge: A Swedish derogatory term for Norwegians (first attested use: 1257), based on the root "bagge" meaning sheep's testicles
  • Norski: Common name for Northern American Norwegians

See also



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