Norway was the first European nation to declare independence in the 20th century. Since World War II the country has experienced rapid economic growth, and is now among the wealthiest countries in the world. Norway is the world’s third largest oil exporter. It was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006. It also rated the most peaceful country in the world and is a founding member of NATO.

Gay rights in Norway are among the best in the world. In 1972 homosexuality was legalized and the age of consent became equal at 16 regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In 1981, Norway became the first country in the world to enact a law to prevent discrimination against homosexuals. Civil Unions are allowed. A gender neutral legal definition of marriage was accepted by the parliament and put into effect on June 11, 2008. Read the story about Gay Norway

The photos here were taken during a cross-country drive from Oslo to the north of Lapland
and down along the rugged west coast with its glaciers and stunning fjords.

In Oslo one of most remarkable man-made sites is the Gustav Vigeland Sculpture Park (photos 47-54). The park covers an area of 80 acres and displays 212 sculptures all modelled in full size by Gustav Vigeland during the first half of the 20th century.