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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Norway marks its '100th birthday'
By Lars Bevanger
BBC News, Oslo

Norway's Independence Day parade. Archive picture
Today's Norway is one of the world's richest nations
Norway is celebrating 100 years of independence from Sweden.

A unilateral decision by Norway's parliament to scrap the rule of the Swedish king in 1905 provoked military build-ups in both countries.

But the Swedish-Norwegian union in the end dissolved peacefully - through a referendum in Norway.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called what happened between the two Scandinavian neighbours an example to aspire to in today's world.

He told a Swedish newspaper the centennial was an inspiring occasion for all who work in the cause of peace, underlining the importance for both sides in a conflict to compromise.

Democracy prevailed

In 1905 Norway did enjoy a degree of autonomy, but the king and foreign policymakers sat in neighbouring Sweden.

map of Norway

When the Norwegian parliament unilaterally voted to disregard the king, some forces in Sweden called for armed intervention.

Norway answered by reinforcing its defences along the Swedish border but - despite strong nationalist sentiments in both countries - democracy prevailed.

After negotiations both countries agreed to let the Norwegian people decide for themselves through a referendum whether they wanted full independence.

Today the only animosity between the two countries seems to be found on the football pitch or during the Eurovision song contest where there can be only one winning team.

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