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According to the traditional undisputed view, the first component was originally norðr, a cognate of English north, so the full name was Norðr vegr, "the way northwards", referring to the sailing route along the Norwegian coast, and contrasting with suðrvegar "southern way" (from Old Norse suðr) for Germany, and austrvegr "eastern way" (from austr) for the Baltic.

According to another theory, the first component was a word nór, meaning "narrow", referring to the inner-archipelago sailing route through the land ("narrow way").

The earliest traces of human occupation in Norway are found along the coast, where the huge ice shelf of the last ice age first melted between 11,000 and 8,000 BC.

The oldest finds are stone tools dating from 9,500 to 6,000 BC, discovered in Finnmark (Komsa culture) in the north and Rogaland (Fosna culture) in the south-west.

The English name Norway comes from the Old English word Norþweg mentioned in 880, meaning "northern way" or "way leading to the north", which is how the Anglo-Saxons referred to the coastline of atlantic Norway.

There is some disagreement about whether the native name of Norway originally had the same etymology as the English form.

The culture is named after the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (15.53 mi) north-east of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where wooden arrow shafts and clubs have been excavated.The interpretation as "northern", as reflected in the English and Latin forms of the name, would then have been due to later folk etymology.This latter view originated with philologist Niels Halvorsen Trønnes in 1847; since 2016 it as also advocated by language student and activist Klaus Johan Myrvoll and was adopted by philology professor Michael Schulte.Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.King Harald V of the Dano-German House of Glücksburg is the current King of Norway.

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