From about 10,000 BC, once great inland ice sheets had melted, humans migrated into the territory that we now know as Norway. For centuries, Vikings ruled this area, voyaging throughout the seas ad invading neighbouring countries. Overtime, loose national identities started to develop, including a group of people who saw themselves as Norwegians. Eventually in 885, Harald Harfagre (sometimes known as Harald Fairhair) united Norway into one kingdom, becoming the first king.
In the 14th century, Norway and Denmark entered into a union as a result of a royal marriage. Norway had lost some of its political power during this time with the Black Death having halved the population. In 1397, Norway entered the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden. Sweden left the union in 1523 and Norway remained the junior partner in Denmark-Norway, with Copenhagen as the capital city.
As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was handed over to Sweden in 1814. While Norway initially resisted this cession, it eventually accepted a technical union with Sweden but retained its own constitution, parliament and institutions. The union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905 after the results of a referendum although Norway still celebrates its independence day based on the day their constitution was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May, 1814.
If you would like more of an insight into Scandinavian history and the role of the Vikings, read our article on the topic here.