Number of speakers worldwide: 4.8 million
Norwegian is spoken in Norway, including the Svalbard archipelago.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway and spoken by communities in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden (Jämtland County) and the United States.
Norwegian belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.
All the English-language pages of the Norwegian Language Council, the language’s regulator, at http://www.sprakrad.no/Toppmeny/Om-oss/English_and_other_languages/English/;
Up until 150 years ago, Norwegians did not have a written language of their own but managed with Danish. Norwegian, Danish and Swedish have roots in Old Norse and as such, are closely related. Old Norse was the language of Vikings and it was practiced throughout the Scandinavian countries during the Middle Ages. Old Norse also heavily influenced English and even furnished Old Norman (spoken in Normandy, France) with some words.
Modern Norwegian has two written standards: Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål, literally translated as book language, is heir to Riskmål, literally translated as royal language. The kingdom in question is the Danish one and Bokmål reflects the intertwined histories of the two countries. Bokmål is an adaptation of written Danish to the Dano-Norwegian koiné spoken by the Norwegian elite. Nynorsk, or New Norwegian, comes from Landsmål, literally translated as country language or national language. It would be incorrect to say that there are two Norwegian languages; the spoken language is the same but there are two official forms of written Norwegian which have developed over the last 100 years.
At school, students must learn the two written forms. About 85.3% of Norwegian students receive primary school education in Bokmål, while 14.5% receive it in Nynorsk. The important national daily newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet and VG) are only published in Bokmål.
The common root of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish means that they are relatively similar languages and that any Norwegian would understand written Danish or Swedish; problems arise in oral communication due to certain pronunciation differences.