Knowledge of the Norse isn’t all that hard to come by in Minnesota. Here are five things that could get even the most un-Scandinavian resident through an initial congressional hearing.
1. Almost as many Americans claim Norwegian heritage (4.6 million) as there are citizens of Norway (about 5 million). So when George Tsunis offended Norway during confirmation hearings to be U.S. ambassador, he likely offended twice as many people as he realized.
2. One in five Minnesotans identify themselves as Norwegian. That’s equal to the population of the state’s six largest cities — Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Bloomington, Duluth and Brooklyn Park — combined.
3. Norway has a king and a prime minister. King Harald V mainly has symbolic power but is immensely popular. Erna Solberg, who was elected prime minister last year, leads a center-right coalition government. For her tough stance against political asylum, she’s known as “Iron Erna.”
4. Nearly 80 percent of religious Norwegians are Lutherans. The next most practiced religion, at just over 2 percent, is Islam.
5. Norwegians likely invented skiing. (There’s evidence they were skiing in 5000 B.C.) They undoubtedly coined the word “ski,” which comes from an Old Norse word meaning “split piece of wood.”