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Norway and the United Kingdom

15/12/2003 :: Since the first millennium AD, Norwegian and British ships have been crossing paths on trade routes over the North Sea. During the 8th and 9th centuries the Vikings rampaged through the British Isles, after which they began settling down and imposing their own customs on the indigenous British. After the Viking landings, the two countries began a fertile exchange of language and traditions, which has continued ever since.

Norway and Britain have long shared a common sea, and have taken to the waves to trade, explore and fight. The royal families of both countries have a long history of intermarriage and alliance. When Norway became independent in 1905, and chose a Danish prince as king, the first queen of independent Norway was his English wife, Maud.

Over the centuries the countries have forged many and diverse alli-ances, both in peacetime and at times of national crisis. During the Second World War, Britain was host to the Norwegian royal family and government, who fled across the sea after the Germans occupied Norway. Today, Norway and the UK are close political allies, and cooperate in international organisa-tions such as the United Nations, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Despite having different forms of affiliation to the European Union, the two countries share many priorities and principles. Both countries place great emphasis on ensuring that their close relations continue.The UK is Norway’s single most important export market, and is the third largest market for imports to Norway, after Sweden and Germany. Britain is an important supplier of equipment and machinery to Norway.

The British were among the first tourists to Norway, and continue to cross the North Sea to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the fjords and the mountains, while the Norwegians travel to the British Isles in great numbers, many of them heading for London to savour the atmosphere of a large city. Over the centuries, cultural influences have crossed the ocean in both directions: from Henrik Ibsen, whose psychological dramas shocked and intrigued playgoers in 19th cen-tury London, to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who supplied the soundtrack for the youth of a whole generation of Norwegians.

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