Happy the man, woman or child -and there are just under 5 million of them- with a passport, birth certificate, or similar official identity document issued by the kingdom of Norway. Star singer, songwriter, pianist and rapper Stella Mwangi might have failed to reach the final of the Eurovision Song Contest this month with her bouncy little number Haba Haba, but Norwegians have good cause to hold their heads high for other reasons. Norway's gross domestic product per capita is slightly more than US$53,000, making it the second highest in the world. The average salary is some US$6,000 a month, while unemployment is a mere 3 per cent. Foreign reserves stand in excess of US$50 billion and the country regularly pops up in first place in the United Nations Human Development Index. The cost of living may be high, ranked about one-third more than in the United States, but the standard of living is one of the highest in the world. Foreign Policy magazine puts Norway last in its Failed States Index -meaning it's the best functioning and most stable country on the planet. Oil and gas exports -and other natural resources such as hydropower, minerals and forests- alongside a healthy economy and carefully invested wealth all contribute to Norway's No1 spot. An equally important revenue earner is the fishing industry. Norway exports seafood to more than 150 countries. In 2009, its seafood exports totalled about US$7 billion, while exports of farmed seafood amounted to US$4.65 billion. Norwegian fishermen face a healthy rivalry from the Chinese in terms of volume but, in recent years, Oslo has become increasingly interested in trade with Beijing. As far as Norway is concerned, China offers a growing domestic market with increasing purchasing power, efficient and inexpensive production and research capacity, and a burgeoning interest in and opportunities for tourism and investment abroad. China is Norway's most important trading partner in Asia and its fifth-largest supplier of traditional goods. Hand in hand with the business sector, Oslo is working out the best possible framework for the Norwegian business sector by concluding a trade agreement with China and working on problems related to intellectual property rights. Negotiations over the free-trade pact have spanned several years and look like they will continue for a while. Imports and exports between the countries have continued to thrive. Trade soared to record levels in the first three months of this year, with Norwegian exports jumping by a quarter from last year to reach US$511 million. Imports from China increased 17 per cent to reach US$1.8 billion. The Norwegian government is also paving the way for increased Chinese tourism and to promote investment between the countries. Situated in the north of Europe, Norway remains firmly outside the European Union (EU). Two referendums, in 1972 and 1994, indicated that Norwegians were as close to Brussels as they wanted to be. However, Norway, together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, participates in the EU's single market via the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement. This makes Norway a highly integrated member of most sectors of the EU internal market. However, some sectors, such as agriculture, oil and fish, are not wholly covered by the EEA Treaty. Norway has also acceded to the Schengen Agreement and several other agreements between EU states. As Norway looks further afield for trade partners, so the country's ethnic make-up is being gradually transformed. Some 31,000 Pakistanis now make up the country's largest ethnic minority, while Iraqis, Vietnamese and Somalis have also made their home in Norway in substantial numbers. One highly visible sign of the times is that Stella Mwangi was born in Kenya, emigrating when she was five years old in 1991. While the blond-haired, blue-eyed fisherman might remain the Norwegian of popular imagination, that STL -as she's sometimes called- should represent her adopted country is a significant pointer for the future.