The official name of Norway is the Kingdom of Norway. Norway is situated in the north-western part of Europe, has an area of 385 000 square km and, as of January 2014, has approximately 5.1 million inhabitants. Norway is a constitutional, democratic monarchy with King Harald V as the head of state. The Storting is Norway’s national assembly. It consists of 169 representatives from 19 counties. Since October 2013, Norway has had a minority government consisting of a coalition of the Conservative Party (Høyre) and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), with parliamentary support from the Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti) and the Liberal Party (Venstre). The present Government is led by Prime Minister Erna Solberg and has 17 other ministers.
The Sámi is an indigenous people in Norway. The majority of the Sámi live in the northern part of the country and in the capital (Oslo). The Sámi Assembly was established in 1989. The assembly is independent, elected by the Sámi people and consists of 39 representatives. As an indigenous people, the Sámi are entitled to be consulted on matters that affect them. The Sámi Assembly is consultative for the authorities in all questions concerning the Sámi population.
The 19 counties (fylker) have from around 75 000 to 634 000 inhabitants (lowest: Finnmark county, highest: Oslo county). The 19 county municipalities (fylkeskommuner) are responsible, among other things, for infrastructure and upper secondary education. Norway is further divided into 428 municipalities (kommuner), which differ greatly in terms of population, from 213 (Utsira) to 634 246 inhabitants (Oslo, which is both a municipality, a county and the capital city). 228 municipalities have less than 5000 inhabitants and only 14 have over 50 000. The municipalities are led by local governments. Local self-government has been the main principle in Norway since 1837, but, especially since 1945, there has been a continual process of reform of the relationship between the national and the local authorities. The goal of the reforms has been to achieve an acceptable balance of power and division of functions between the two levels of government. The state is represented in each county by a County Governor (Fylkesmannen), whose tasks include responsibility for disseminating national policies at the regional level, providing guidance to municipalities, barnehage owners and the general public, and monitoring the barnehage sector and education sector.
Norway is a country with a high degree of economic equality and stability. Norway has avoided the financial turmoil that has affected most of the world in recent years. Norway’s GDP (gross domestic product) per capita has risen from USD 35 609 in 1999 to USD 64 864 in 2014 (second in the world after Luxembourg). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Norway was worth 512.58 billion US dollars in 2013. The GDP value of Norway represents 0.83 percent of the world economy. GDP in Norway averaged 135.58 USD Billion from 1960 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 512.58 USD Billion in 2013 and a record low of 5.20 USD Billion in 1960. GDP in Norway is reported by the World Bank Group.
The unemployment rate is low, approximately 3.5 per cent in 2013. Social expenditure: 22.9 per cent of GDP (the OECD average is 21.9 per cent). Child poverty rate: 3.4 per cent after taxes and transfers (the OECD average is 11.2 per cent). Total educational expenditure: 7.4 per cent of GDP (the OECD average is 6.1 per cent).