Danes and Norwegians: Bitter envy and brotherly love


Danes and Norwegians were part of the same country for hundreds of years, and they’re still family.

Written Danish and written Norwegian are very similar – so similar that I once tried to find a Danish-Norwegian dictionary and was told there was no such thing. The spoken language is a little more different, but still Danes and Norwegians can understand what the other is saying.

Danes and Norwegians like each other. They care about each other. They even sometimes cheer for each other’s football teams.

But like any family, there’s envy involved. Envy.

For example, there’s envy of each other’s geographical pleasures. Norway has beautiful mountains, great for skiing. Denmark has windswept beaches, which the Norwegians seem to love. Lots of summer holidays in Denmark.

Oil and a glass of whisky
The real envy, of course, is about money. Norway has money, because of North Sea oil. There is a feeling among Danes that some of that oil should have been Danish oil.

During a meeting to divide up the waters between the two countries in 1963, the Danish negotiator Per Haakerup was photographed with a glass of whisky in his hand.

The rumor is he was drunk during the meeting, and gave up the Ekofisk oilfield to Norway, which has earned billions of dollars from it.

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).


Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.






Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2021

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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Reply Deborah Sorensen May 26, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Love hearing information about Denmark. My husband wad born in Copenhagen and has spoken about the relationship with Danes and Norwegians and the Swedes. He’s from the generation that is not fond of Sweden because of their stand during WWII.

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