In the 1920s, Norway annexed Jan Mayen and was given the sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard under the Spitsbergen Treaty. The polar territories of Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land are external dependencies, but not parts of Norway. Norwegian claim for a sector of Antarctic mainland called Queen Maud Land is not recognised by the international community.

Since World War II Norway has experienced rapid economic growth, and is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world.Norway is the world's fourth largest oil export and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of GDP.

Norway also has rich resources of gas fields, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Norway was the second largest exporter of seafood (in value, after China) in 2006. Other main industries include food processing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, fishing and pulp and paper products. Norway has a Scandinavian welfare model and the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.

Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006, and was ranked second as of 2008 (behind Iceland). It was also rated the most peaceful country in the world in a 2007 survey by Global Peace Index. It is a founding member of NATO.