Norwegians (Norwegian: nordmenn) are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, United Kingdom and South Africa.
During the Viking age, Harald Fairhair unified the Norse petty kingdoms after being victorious at the Battle of Hafrsfjord in the 880s. Two centuries of Viking expansion tapered off following the decline of Norse paganism with the adoption of Christianity in the 11th century. During The Black Death, approximately 60% of the population died and in 1397 Norway entered a union with Denmark.
In 1814, following Denmark-Norway's defeat in the Napoleonic Wars, Norway entered a union with Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remained officially neutral in World War I, the country was unofficially allied with the Entente powers. In World War II Norway proclaimed its neutrality, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940–45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes but in referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU. Key domestic issues include integration of a fast growing immigrant population, maintaining the country's generous social safety net with an aging population, and preserving economic competitiveness.