After the liberation there was general agreement that top priority should be given to rebuilding Norway. In the 1945 elections the Labour Party gained a majority and appointed a government led by Einar Gerhardsen.
The government's goal was to build up Norway within five years, and to increase the pace of industrialization by concentrating on heavy industry. Developments moved even more rapidly than the politicians had planned. By 1946 both industrial production and the GDP exceeded 1938 figures. By 1948-49 the country's real capital stood well above the pre-war level. The subsequent years were characterized by steady growth and progress.
In the years immediately following WWII, Norway maintained a very low profile in foreign policy. The intention was to remain well outside potential conflicts between the major powers, as well as any bloc formations. It was hoped that the United Nations, under the leadership of its first Secretary General, Norwegian Trygve Lie, would be a sufficient guarantee of security.
As East-West tensions gradually mounted, Norwegian foreign policy was also reoriented. Norway played a part in the Marshall cooperation, receiving NOK 2.5 thousand million from 1948 to 1951 from Marshall Aid.
The Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia in 1948, and the Soviet Union's proposal for a defensive alliance along the lines of its pact with Finland triggered strong reaction in Norway. After an interim period when an abortive attempt was made to form a Nordic defence alliance, Norway joined NATO, alongside Denmark, in 1949. Since then a succession of opinions polls has confirmed that the Norwegians are overwhelmingly in favour of NATO membership.
The post-war years have been marked by steady progress in the Norwegian economy. A large amount of resources have been spent on building up a welfare state, which has served to create an overall egalitarian society.
The 1960s heralded the oil age. Exploratory drilling in the North Sea revealed rich petroleum reserves, leading to considerable oil and gas production. Later, finds have also been registered in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea. The major production now takes place in the Norwegian Sea, off the coast of central Norway.