Bridge to the Future

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The new millennium brought change for one of Scandinavia’s oldest schisms. The Øresund road and rail bridge rejoined Denmark and Sweden in 2000, a connection broken by the cataclysmic convulsion at the end of the Ice Age.

The Scandinavian crime drama television series The Bridge (Broen) were shot in Denmark and Sweden. What appeared to be the body of a female Swedish politician was discovered in the middle of the Øresund Bridge, which connects Copenhagen with Malmö.

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Although Scandinavia was hit by the 2008 financial crisis, with sharp rises in inflation and unemployment, signs of recovery are good and there are plenty of ambitious projects in the works.

The Fehmarn Tunnel
The Fehmarn Tunnel

Denmark and Germany are forging closer links with a 32 billion-kroner undersea tunnel across the Fehmarn Strait. In Sweden, the Hallandsaas railway tunnel, Sweden’s longest railway tunnel (8.7km) opened in October last year, as part of a larger project to create super-efficient train links between Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Hallandsaas railway tunnel
Hallandsaas railway tunnel

Norway insulated itself from economic pain by using its sovereign wealth fund to buy cheap shares – by June 2015 topped 7 trillion kroner (over US$900 billion).

A Norwegian national flag flies from a vessel near the Scarabeo 8 deepwater oil drilling rig, operated by ENI Norge AS, in Olensvag, Norway, on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The world's seventh-largest oil exporter boasts no net debt, adding to its appeal as an alternative to the debt-riddled euro area. Photographer: Kristian Helgesen/Bloomberg
A Norwegian national flag flies from a vessel near the Scarabeo 8 deepwater oil drilling rig, operated by ENI Norge AS, in Olensvag, Norway, on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The world’s seventh-largest oil exporter boasts no net debt, adding to its appeal as an alternative to the debt-riddled euro area. Photographer: Kristian Helgesen/Bloomberg

A tense stand-off with Russia over Arctic territory was resolved in 2010, allowing Norway to begin oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

Today, Norway has the highest GDP per person and the lowest working hours in Scandinavia, pointing to a level of individual wealth and leisure that the rest of the world can only dream of.

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Norway’s oil age is far from over. However, activity in the petroleum sector has passed the peak. Norwegians must now be prepared for lower returns in the oil industry. In the period ahead, the key to economic progress is Norway’s ability to restructure.

Bridge to the Future, written by Tor Kjolberg