View Full Version : Scandinavia vs. Norden and the Baltic Region/The Difference Between Scandinavian, Nordic and Baltic

Monday, January 1st, 2007, 07:39 PM
Is there a difference? And does it make any difference? To a Scandinavian, yes. To almost anyone else, no.

THE DESIGNATION SCANDINAVIA IS AN AMBIVALENT ONE. It is often taken to mean all of northern Europe, from the North Atlantic islands in the west to the Russian border in the east and the German border in the south. This is often the case in English-language and continental-European usage. In the area itself, however, Scandinavia is usually taken to mean only Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Sometimes the word is used geographically about the Scandinavian peninsula, and thus encompasses only Norway and Sweden. Usually, however, the term is intended to include Denmark as well.

In this usage, Scandinavia contrasts with Norden, which is an established and institutionalized designation for the five independent countries Finland (including the self-governing territory of Åland), Sweden, Denmark (including the self-governing territories of the Faroe islands and Greenland), Norway and Iceland. Norden is the (mainland) Scandinavian term, while it is Nordurlönd in Icelandic and Pohjoismaat in Finnish, both these terms meaning "northern countries." The adjective for Norden is nordisk (Nordic in English), which is contrasted to skandinavisk (Scandinavian).

In linguistic connections, nordisk is often used to mean North Germanic (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic), while skandinavisk only includes the mutually intelligible languages Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. One may also include Finnish, Sámi or even Greenlandic in the concept nordiske språk (Nordic languages), but then the concept is based on a territorial delimitation and not a genetic one.

I shall give a short historical outlook on the use of the terms Norden and Scandinavia, and then draw some conclusions on present-day usage.

NORDEN IS, OF COURSE, DERIVED FROM NORD (NORTH). It seems to have been taken from-or at least inspired by-German, where the direction adverbs nord, etc. take the suffix -en when they are nominalized and used in a general sense of areas lying in the indicated direction. "In the north," therefore, is im Norden in High German and in het noorden in Dutch. In Old Scandinavian, there is an adverb, nordan, meaning "from the north" (and correspondingly, in the other direction adverbs, the suffix -an thus had an ablative function). But fyrir nordan meant "in the north." Possibly, the word Norden represents a contamination between the old (fyrir) nordan and the German im Norden.

Whatever the case, the word Norden was taken into use in Danish and Swedish, and later in Norwegian, with the general meaning "areas to the north," much the same way as in German and Dutch. Only gradually, a fixation of these areas covered by the word developed, to the Scandinavian peninsula and adjacent areas (Denmark, Finland) and culturally related areas in the North Atlantic (Iceland and the Faroe islands-both belonging to Denmark until well into the 20th century, the Faroes still under Danish sovereignty). The development of the pan-Nordic ideology, based on a feeling of a common identity between these peoples in contrast to the outside world, contributed to this fixation. In fact, Norden more and more grew into a proper noun, designating a clearly delimitated area. During the 20th century, this development received a forceful boost through the institutionalization of Nordic cooperation, with organizations like the Nordic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic language cooperation, lots of Nordic networks both in the governmental and the private areas, the introduction of the passport-free Nordic zone, etc.

It is a fact that the societies in question had a very parallel development, and therefore they are still often viewed as a unity by the world at large. The different choices of international cooperation frameworks (in other words, the different relations to NATO and, in particular, the European Union) have not as yet led to a major split between the countries, although some have feared the threat of such a split.

It is interesting to look at the parallel words (in their Norwegian Bokmål forms) Syden (the south), Vesten (the west) and Østen (the east). These have also been fixed, but to a lesser degree. Syden is used about an area roughly corresponding to Mediterranean Europe, normally in a holiday context where it is contrasted against the winterly north. Vesten was originally the North American "Wild West," but later-on a global scale-it took on the meaning "the West," in contrast to the Communist "east" and more recently to the Muslim world and the rest of Asia. Østen means "the Orient," often associated with a romantic picture of the area. Traditionally, then, these -en words stand for vaguely delimited areas, or rather, they represent ideas and associations connected to certain parts of the world. This also applies to Norden, which was a typical romantic concept in the 19th century. Consider its use in the Swedish national anthem: Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga nord (You ancient, you free, you mountain-high North) ending with: Ack, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden! (Oh, I want to live, I want to die in Norden!).

The modern use of Norden as a precise designation of a group of five countries is from this viewpoint a break with the past, although the word represents not only a geographic area, but also a particular ideology (focusing on pan-Nordic, not least spiritual, unity).

The adjective nordisk (Nordic) is more recent than Norden. It also had a more general meaning originally, "northern European" in contrast to the more southern peoples. One could talk about a "Nordic race," in accordance with a racist ideology popular before the Nazi regime in Germany took it into use in this meaning and thus made this usage impossible for non-Nazis. Still, one can talk about being a nordisk type or having a nordisk utsjånad (Nordic appearance or Nordic look), i.e., a fair complexion, blond or fair hair and blue eyes.

In other contexts, however, the word is strictly delimited to the concrete territorial meaning, pertaining to the five countries of Norden. Linguistically, nordisk is mostly used synonymically with "North Germanic," which is a language-genetic term covering Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic (and extinct languages such as Norn and Old Norse). It may also, however, have an areal meaning which transcends the genetic boundaries between different language families, thus including also the non-Germanic languages Finnish, Sámi and partly Greenlandic.

THE NAME FORM SCANDINAVIA IS LATIN, and it seems to date from classical Roman times. Its designation was rather vague, as is to be expected, considering the very limited knowledge and thus the hazy imagination the Romans had about these northern areas far beyond the borders of the prevailing civilization at the time. It is also found in shorter forms, such as Scandza, which was used by the Gothic historian Jordanes in the sixth century to designate the northern homeland of the Goths. The origin of the name appears to be Germanic, in fact Proto-Scandinavian. We can reconstruct the form skadinaujo, which in Latin would give "Scandinavia," into which word form an extra "n" was inserted as a phonetic device before the "d." The meaning of skadinaujo is not altogether clear, but it is a usual Germanic compound with the last constituent as the nucleus. Aujo seems to have meant "low land bordering on water" or "land surrounded by water; island." This Proto-Scandinavian word later developed into Old Norse ey (modern Norwegian øy, Swedish ö, Danish ø). The dual meaning lived on in Old Norse, but in the modern language, "island" is the only meaning. (In fact, the first syllable of the English "island" is the same word, and also the Dutch aland and the Old Norse eyland.) As to the first constituent, skadin-is often taken to mean "danger" or "damage" (cf. English scathe, and modern Scandinavian shade "damage")-the idea being that the coastal area concerned was risky or dangerous for passing ships. An alternative hypothesis is to associate the word with the Old Norse mythological (goddess) name Skadi.

The name had been associated with the southern Swedish region Skane (Scania). In fact, this name form would be a completely regular phonetic development of skadinaujo. The background would then be that this name in its Proto-Scandinavian form, actually designating only the present Skane, by continental Germanic peoples-and ultimately by the Romans-would be taken to designate the whole northern area, of which one had, as indicated above, a very diffuse image. Once accepted and used in this understanding-replacing or rivaling the earlier Thule-it was preserved in writing and conventionalized, whereupon it lived on until taken into use in the modern vernaculars a couple of centuries ago.

The modern use of Scandinavia in the area itself seems to have been consolidated during the 19th century, and the dominant meaning was Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In the standard Norwegian dictionaries (Bokmålsordboka and Nynorskordboka, both appearing in 1986 and later revised) we find under skandinavisk both "the Scandinavian countries," defined as "Norway, Sweden and Denmark," and "the Scandinavian Peninsula," defined as "Norway and Sweden." Secondarily, Finland might be included. In English, where the word Norden never has taken root, Scandinavia has become a general term for Northern Europe, i.e., the five countries concerned-as in the BBC English Dictionary (1992): "Scandinavia is the region in northern Europe that contains the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands." In the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (1989), however, only Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland are mentioned, probably based on linguistic criteria.

In the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1969), however, they have acknowledged the multiplicity of meanings of the word and given four different definitions: 1. the Scandinavian Peninsula (made up of Norway and Sweden); 2. the northwestern European countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark; 3. these countries and Iceland considered as a linguistic and cultural unit; and 4. broadly, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and the Faeroe Islands.

This is the most insightful treatment I have seen of the word in any dictionary. It would seem that the usage in English has passed from senses 1 and 2 to 4 in modern times, while meaning 2 is still the most common in Scandinavia itself.

As a linguistic term, the tendency internationally is to use Scandinavian in the meaning "North Germanic." In Scandinavia itself, it normally denotes the three closely related and mutually intelligible or semi-intelligible languages Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. But internationally, thus, Icelandic and Faroese are also included, so that the word becomes synonymous with the Scandinavian nordisk. In this usage, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are often singled out under the term Mainland Scandinavian. Some modern linguists within Scandinavia have taken up this practice and use fastlastlandsskandinavisk, a direct translation of the English term, where we traditionally use simply skandinavisk.

However, this term has other connotations, too. Skandinavisk is often used about mixed forms of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish employed in inter-Nordic communication. In Iceland, this term is used for their own speech to Scandinavians. This is often a mixed variety, although most often based on Danish, which most Icelanders have learned at school. Danish on an Icelandic (and Faroese) phonetic substratum, in fact, may sound quite Norwegian-like to the ears of Scandinavians, and more intelligible to Norwegians and Swedes than Danish proper in many cases. When this speech by Icelanders is called skandinaviska, this usage implies that Icelandic is not Scandinavian.

TO CONCLUDE, NORDEN AND NORDIC are quite precise terms, but rare and perhaps not very suitable in English. Scandinavia(n) is definitely ambiguous, and the best advice is to be aware of this and make it clear how one uses the term. In Scandinavia itself, we will probably continue to distinguish between the broad concept Norden-nordisk and the more narrow Skandinavia-skandinavisk. But it is unlikely that such a usage will become general in English. Therefore, the best advice might be to use Scandinavia(n) with the broadest meaning generally, but to distinguish between Scandinavian and Nordic in more specialist contexts where precision is necessary.

Writer Lars S. Vikør is Professor of Scandinavian Linguistics at the University of Oslo, Norway, and editor-in-chief of Norsk Ordbok (Norwegian Dictionary), a scientific dictionary on Nynorsk and the Norwegian dialects.

Source (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3760/is_200407/ai_n9414884/pg_1)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007, 06:12 PM
Skanderna is a mountain chain in Sweden and Norway. Skandinavien denotes Sweden, Norway And Denmark. The skandinaviska peninsula denotes Sweden and Norway.

Finland is not a part of Skandinavien, but is sometimes and sometimes not counted as a part of Norden, depending on definitions.

As far as I know Finns are not germanic. They are finn-ugrian.

Denmark probably counts as skandinavisk since Danes are ethnically and racially similar to Swedes and Norse.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007, 06:52 PM
Geographically Scandinavia is Sweden and Norway. Ethnically Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. This is how I've always seen it.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007, 10:17 PM
Scandinavia is Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The term "Norden" also includes Iceland and Finland. Icelanders are "more Scandinavian", so to say, feel more Scandinavian, but if you go by the definition of the term Scandinavia, it's - as mentioned above, only Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

I wonder why you don't count Denmark in, SubGnostic.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007, 10:28 PM
I wonder why you don't count Denmark in

Because it's not located on the Scandinavian peninsula.

Finland is not a part of Skandinavien, but is sometimes and sometimes not counted as a part of Norden, depending on definitions.

It's always considered a part of Norden (Nordic countries) by everybody, and it's usually considered a part of Scandinavia by everybody living outside the Nordic countries.

As far as I know Finns are not germanic.

The Finnish language is obviously not a Germanic language. This is probably the billionth time this self-evident fact has been mentioned on this forum.

They are finn-ugrian.

And the Swedes are Indo-European. The Swedes are as close to the Iranians as the Finns are to the Hungarians.

Denmark probably counts as skandinavisk since Danes are ethnically and racially similar to Swedes and Norse.

The Finns are ethnically and racially similar to Swedes, Norwegians and Danes. There is no more difference between the Swedes and the Finns than between the Swedes and the Norwegians or between the Swedes and the Danes.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007, 11:22 PM
The Finns are ethnically and racially similar to Swedes, Norwegians and Danes. There is no more difference between the Swedes and the Finns than between the Swedes and the Norwegians or between the Swedes and the Danes.Not again, please. Stay on topic.

I wonder why you don't count Denmark in, SubGnostic.
If you define Scandinavia by the mountain range or the peninsula, Denmark isn't a part of it. I hope you didn't miss my cultural definition.

Friday, April 25th, 2008, 04:15 AM
Scandinavian and Nordic

What exactly is "Scandinavia"? and what are the "Nordic countries"? is there any difference between these two terms?

The difference between being Scandinavian and Nordic

Have you ever been corrected in Finland when you called a Finn "Scandinavian"? Or perhaps this has happened to you in Iceland? Is Denmark a Nordic country? Are the Danes actually Scandinavians?

Although in the rest of the world the words "Scandinavian" and "Nordic" are happily used in similar manner and are interchangeable, in northern Europe they are not. Europeans love to magnify even the smallest difference between neighbouring countries and you will probably be corrected if you don't use the words in their appropriate context. The problem comes when even northern Europeans can't agree themselves on the meaning of "Scandinavian" and "Nordic"...

Where is Scandinavia?

Greeks and Romans were the first to write about Scandinavia. They had a vague knowledge about what they called "an island on the edge of the civilized world", populated by the barbarian tribes from Germania.

Geographically speaking, the Scandinavian peninsula is a territory shared by Norway, Sweden and northern Finland. The Scandinavian countries would therefore only be Norway and Sweden.

Linguistically, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish have a common word called "Skandinavien" which refers to the ancient territories of the Norsemen, and for most people in these three countries "Scandinavia" consists only of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. This one is considered to be the most commonly accepted definition of "Scandinavia".

However, Iceland was also a Norse territory and Icelandic belongs to the same linguistic family as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. And so does the Faroe islands. Therefore, you will find some people for which Scandinavia is Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

And finally, Swedish language is also spoken in Finland and reciprocally, Finnish and Sami languages are spoken in Sweden and Norway. Again, we have a new definition of Scandinavia, which would include Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Culturaly and historically, the north of Europe has been the political playground of the kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Finland was a part of the kingdom of Sweden and Iceland belonged to Norway and Denmark. Besides a common history, politically and economically these five countries have followed a similar model known as the Nordic welfare state since the 20th century. One more time, these five countries are perceived as an unity by some and therefore called by the same name: "Scandinavia".

What are the "Nordic countries"?

In such a state of linguistic and geographical confusion, the French came to help us all and invented the term "Pays Nordiques" or "Nordic Countries", which has become the most standard term to bring together Scandinavia, Iceland and Finland under the same umbrella.

The creation of the Nordic Council in 1956 gave us another new word to define the cultural affinity of our five countries: "Norden". Norden is commonly used in the Nordic countries, although this term is rather unknown in English.

The Baltic countries and Greenland

The Baltic countries are the three young Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Neither the Baltic countries nor Greenland are considered as Scandinavian or Nordic. However, there is a close relation between the Nordic countries and the Baltics and Greenland:

The Baltic republics have been strongly influenced, culturally and historically, by the Scandinavian countries. Lithuania, Latvia, and particularly Estonia, are very proud of the cultural heritage received from Scandinavia and there is a wish for close co-operation on both sides of the Baltic sea.

The same applies to Greenland, a territory which is closer to America than to Europe, but that belongs politically to the kingdom of Denmark. Half of Greenland's historical and cultural heritage is Scandinavian and therefore these strong ties often bring Greenland together with the Nordic countries.


Saturday, April 26th, 2008, 04:20 AM
Where does Gotland fit in here?

Saturday, April 26th, 2008, 05:41 AM
To put it bluntly, this article is rubbish. You can call a Finn scandinavian but to call them Nordic is fighting words. Estonia considers themselves to loosely have some relation with Finland but they, Lithuana and Latvia don't care about Scandinavia or Germania. And Greenland is a territory of Denmark full of boozing natives and a handful of Danes.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008, 05:51 AM
In Scandinavian, Scandinavia equals Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Nordic countries equals Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland.

If you assume Scandinavia is a latinization of a proto-Norse word, you seem to get skadinaujo with a probable meaning of dangerous coastal area. Etymologically, skadinaujo presumably would've developed into Skánøy which would've developed into Skåne, the modern name for the southern-most tip of what is now Sweden, which is likely the location which the word originally refered to, and which has areas that fit the name. I haven't really looked for überserious sources for this, I probably will one day, but it seems very plausible to me.

Where does Gotland fit in here?
Sweden is divided into provinces/counties and Gotland is simply one of them, not autonomous or anything like that.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008, 06:27 AM
I wanted to add that the term Nordic is derived from Norse which has it's etymology rooted in old dutch word "noorch" "from the North" or "Norwegian". The Old English term for someone from the viking settlements and territories was a Northman. There were a variety of other terms for the groups around the baltic such as a "Kvelander" refering to someone from what is now Finland.

Thursday, October 16th, 2008, 06:23 PM
Faroe Islands is NOT scandinavia.. i repeat NOT scandinavia!!

We are norse proud people on our own north-germanics living there.. Lots of similarities with the DNA of the western Norwegian.. But we are NOT scandinavia.

Scandinavia is only Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland maybe...

Scandinavia is hundreds of miles away from Faroe Islands and from Iceland..

Saturday, October 25th, 2008, 04:12 PM
You can only ever be what you once were ... and so where did your people come from, really? Where did Icelanders come from.... what myths did they bring with them and then so diligently and faithfully :oanieyes record for all to study?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008, 03:55 PM
You can only ever be what you once were ... and so where did your people come from, really? Where did Icelanders come from.... what myths did they bring with them and then so diligently and faithfully :oanieyes record for all to study?

Not to dredge anything old up, but the people and culture are decendents from Scandinavians (and, a lot of celtic DNA in those places as well, as I am led to believe) but the land itself is not Scandinavian, it is as he said many miles away from Scandinavia (in the sense that, Australia isn't the British Isles, as it is far away from there).

Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 02:13 AM
What are the differences between Nordic and Scandinavian?

The Horned God
Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:07 AM
Strictly speaking, Scandinavia refers only to the countries of the Scandinavian peninsula which are Norway and Sweden. Usually Denmark is included as well.

The Nordic countries comprise Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

M. Krause
Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:40 AM
More often, Scandinavia refers to Denmark, Norway Sweden and usually Finland, with Iceland and sometimes Greenland added loosely as common heritage and history nations.

In short, nearly all Scandinavians are Nordic (at least partially if not fully), however not all Nordic people are necessarily Scandinavian proper.

Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 07:37 AM
What about the Pharaose Islands? Or is that included in Denmark?;)

Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 09:29 AM
Well, I'm not sure, but having read wikipedia, it can be said with some degree of confidence that countries such as Shetland and Orkney, Scotland, England, Northern Germany and Estonia would never be considered Scandinavian and although they are not Nordic countries proper, they harbour a long and close relationship with and often identify with some or all of the Nordic countries, and under United Nations officialdom, they are all considered Northern European. Baring this in mind, it can be considered that, of course, 'Scandinavia/Scandinavian' refers to the countries and the peoples that reside in the particular countries that comprise the geographic region of Scandinavia, where as Nordic refers to the ethno-cultural and symbolic significance attached to the countries of the geographical region of Scandinavia, which explains why some countries outside of the region are considered 'associates' (or something of that nature) due to their long withstanding interactions. Baring this in mind, would it be fair to say that an immigrant to any Scandinavian country could be considered a 'Scandinavian' but they could not be considered, rightfully, 'Nordic'? In the same sort of sense that an immigrant to England could be considered 'British', due to their citizenship, but not English, Scottish or Welsh due to their lack of ethno-cultural and symbolic ties with the nation and the people.

I'm just taking a stab at the dark though ;)

Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 12:38 PM
Are we talking geographically, genetically, or culturally here?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010, 05:45 AM
The term "Scandinavian" would originally roughly mean "from any of the north Germanic tribes", i.e. the tribes of the Norwegians, the Danes, the Scanians, the Gotlanders, the Geats and the Sweons.

These six tribes are sadly not terms that are used that often nowadays. Instead we mostly use other terms to divide the North Germanic (i.e. Scandinavian) peoples, based on the modern day nation states. The Norwegian tribe is in this way split into the modern day terms of Icelanders, Faeroese, Norwegians, and Swedes (in the now Swedish provinces of Bohuslän, Härjedalen, and Jämtland). The tribe of the Danes is now a part of the term Danish (which also comprises the West Germanic tribe of the Jutes, and the Scanians on the island Bornholm). The Scanians (except from the ones on Bornhom) are now lumped together with all of the Gotlandes, Geats and most of the Sweons and called Swedes (though the Scanians in Scania Proper often object to this). Some Sweons are called Finland-Swedes, living in Finland (mainly on the autonomous island of Åland).

The term "Scandinavian" is nowadays mainly used as a designation of the three modern states in which all the North Germanic peoples at one time lived (prior to the actual founding of said states), i.e. Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Sometimes the Faeroe Islands (being a non-sovereign part of Denmark, and having inhabitants of mainly Scandinavian descent) are included in the term. Sometimes Iceland (having inhabitants of mainly Scandinavian descent) is included. Sometimes Greenland (being a non sovereign part of Denmark, and with some inhabitants of Scandinavian descent) is included. Sometimes Finland (being a former part of Sweden, and with some inhabitants of Scandinavian descent) is included. Sometimes only the two states (Sweden and Norway) on the actual Scandinavian Peninsula are regarded as Scandinavian.

The term "Nordic" is a term used for designating all of the states mentioned above (i.e. Denmark with the autonomous Faeroe Islands and Greenland, Finland with the autonomous Åland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland). It's very usable since the term Scandinavian is so ambiguous, and the Nordic countries have a lot in common and are often referenced as a whole.

To complicate matters, the term "Scandinavian" is not used in the same way in different languages. For example, a Swede would never say that Finland is a Scandinavian country, and would very rarely say that Iceland is a Scandinavian country, but in English this does happen. Sadly I don't know much about how the word is used in other languages than Swedish and English.

I would recommend not using the term "Scandinavian" at all, except when it's obvious or unimportant what you mean with it. When talking about the Germanic Scandinavian peoples and their collective culture and language, the term "North Germanic" works very well, since it's more unambiguous than the term "Scandinavian". The term "Nordic" is best used only when talking about all of the Nordic countries as a whole, but it's not uncommon in English usage to use it in other ways. "Nordic culture" would then mean either the culture of the North Germanic peoples or the cultural traits common to all five Nordic countries, but "Nordic languages" could only mean the languages in the North Germanic language group, since the other indigenous languages of the Nordic countries are Finno-Ugric and cannot easily be grouped together with North Germanic languages.

Monday, September 4th, 2017, 09:05 PM
Staff note: Discussion about the differences between Scandinavia and Nordic has been split from this thread (https://forums.skadi.info/showthread.php?t=112753&page=9).

In America, Scandinavian and Nordic are sometimes interchangeable but as far as I've heard in Europe, they're not synonymous, they have a different meaning. The word "Skandinavien" in their languages refers to the ancient territories of the Norsemen: Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Nordic nations on the other hand are also Finland, Iceland (in Europe) and in America sometimes also Greenland or the Baltic countries, sometimes maybe Russia, although it's very rare.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, 10:18 PM
In America, Scandinavian and Nordic are sometimes interchangeable but as far as I've heard in Europe, they're not synonymous, they have a different meaning. The word "Skandinavien" in their languages refers to the ancient territories of the Norsemen: Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Nordic nations on the other hand are also Finland, Iceland (in Europe) and in America sometimes also Greenland or the Baltic countries, sometimes maybe Russia, although it's very rare.
Yes, it depends. The designation of Scandinavia is an ambivalent one. To non-Scandinavians, particularly English-speaking ones and continental Europeans, the term is often taken to mean all of Northern Europe. The most inclusive definition would be from the North Atlantic islands in the west to the Russian border in the east and the German border in the south. In Scandinavia itself the word is used geographically to include the Scandinavian peninsula, and thus encompasses only Norway and Sweden. Usually, however, the term is intended to include Denmark as well, as politically and economically speaking, Denmark is also classified as a Scandinavian country. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Culturally speaking, Finland has been known to have close cultural ties with the Scandinavian countries, Sweden in particular (because of their mutual history and the Finlandsvensk enclave/Aaland Islands I suppose) but Finnish is not a Germanic language. The Icelandic and Faroese also have close historical and cultural ties as well as Germanic linguistic roots like the Scandinavian languages, which makes these countries closely connected with Scandinavian cultures. Iceland used to be under Danish rule (and Norwegian rule before that) and the Faroe Islands are still technically under Danish rule, so there are close political connections as well. Greenland is a grey area because while it also lays under Danish rule, its population nowadays is largely non-Germanic (88% are Greenlandic Inuit, the rest 12% are of European descent, mainly Greenland Danes).

The definition is fleeting as Scandinavia has become somewhat of a brand. The Nordic Council (http://www.norden.org/en/nordic-council) includes Denmark, Finland, The Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden & Aaland.

Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are sometimes differentiated into western Nordic countries (http://www.vestnorden.com/).

Mrs vonTrep
Wednesday, September 6th, 2017, 07:15 AM
Skandinavien = Danmark, Norge and Sverige

Norden = Danmark (including Grönland and Färöarna), Norge, Sverige, Finland (including Åland) and Island.

Blod og Jord
Saturday, March 31st, 2018, 07:47 PM
I'm adding the differences between Nordic and Baltic, since this also causes confusion with some people:


We are joined by Aurelija Aniulyte, a Lithuanian born woman who currently lives in Denmark and who happens to be one of the key figures behind the newly created Identitarian movement in Denmark.

Together, we dive in and compare the different Scandinavian countries to each other from different perspectives. How do Danes view their "crazy liberal" neighbour Sweden? Why do our people seem to have so different mentalities despite sharing so much when it comes to our viking past and culture?

And how do Scandinavia compare to her more conservative homeland, Lithuania, and other countries in the Baltic region?

Finnish Swede
Saturday, March 31st, 2018, 08:35 PM
Skandinavien = Danmark, Norge and Sverige

Norden = Danmark (including Grönland and Färöarna), Norge, Sverige, Finland (including Åland) and Island.

Yup. Scandinavia is firstly culture (language etc.) connected definitions (and not a geographical ones).
Fennos-Scandia on the other hand is a pure geographical definition (and larger area than ''Scandinavia'').

Rodskarl Dubhgall
Thursday, April 12th, 2018, 12:04 AM
Well, the Balts are distinguished from the Slavs by being N rather than R1a. Therefore, the native stock of the Balts belongs with the Uralics, which complicates matters further. The Balts are what happens when Satem speakers assimilate Uralics. Putin probably loves it.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018, 06:40 PM
Regarding Iceland:
Is Iceland really a part of Scandinavia, or is just said to be because of the country's connections with the Nordic countries?

The old meaning of the word Scandinavia embraced Norway and Sweden. The origin of the word is not entirely clear but people generally favour the idea that it means the island of darkness or fog island (The Norwegian word skodde meansfog and avia or aujo which are of Norwegian origin, mean island). On old maps, Scandinavia is often shown as an island, and as people's knowledge of world geography was then quite limited, then this interpretation is not unlikely.

https://www.why.is/myndir/olaus_skandinavia_hluti.jpg (https://www.why.is/myndir/olaus_skandinavia_stor.jpg)

Part of a map of Scandinavia by Olaus Magnus (1490-1557). Click on the image to see the entire map.

The anglo-saxon meaning of the word Scandinavia is Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and some also include Finland and Iceland. But as was previously said, the original meaning is probably geographical and refers to the "peninsula" that is often depicted as an island on old maps, so Iceland is not a part of Scandinavia. It is not unlikely that the common Nordic heritage of these countries, along with the fact that these five are called the Nordic countries, result in Denmark, Iceland and Finland being considered part of Scandinavia.https://www.why.is/svar.php?id=5561

Monday, November 2nd, 2020, 10:47 PM
What unites and divides the Nordic countries?

Mankind tends to categorise the world into manageable units. One such category is the Nordic region or Scandinavia (which are not the same, with the term Scandinavia covering Denmark, Sweden and Norway, while the Nordic countries also include Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands).

Politicians and other public figures around the world speak about Scandinavian prosperity, Nordic well-being, Scandinavian design, the Scandinavian social democracy, the Nordic model.

These generalisations can be practical, but at what point do they no longer suffice?

In order to dissect the differences between the Northern European countries, it seems reasonable to start by tracing the concept of ​​a northern unity. Why is the Nordic region often regarded as a single entity?

The answer to that question depends on the perspective you take, says Johan Strang, associate professor of political science and intellectual history at the Center for Nordic studies, which is part of the University of Helsinki.

"From a historical point of view, you can trace Norden [the North] as a separate region to however far back you want to go," he tells The Local. One possible starting point is the reformation and the foundation of the Lutheran state churches, resulting in a partial homogenisation of northern society and culture.

'Make Scandinavia great again'

Approached from a diplomatic angle, however, the Nordics could hardly be regarded as a unity until more recent times; Sweden and Denmark were two competing empires. They found themselves in constant conflict over Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region. According to Strang, the two states fought a 'record number' of wars.

A distinct starting point for homogenisation, or unification, began with Pan-Scandinavianism, a movement originating in the 19th century that focused on promoting a shared Scandinavian past, a shared cultural heritage and a common linguistic tradition.

The Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s had torn Northern Europe apart: Finland had become part of Russia and Norway now belonged to Sweden. As Strang puts it: "The Scandinavian movement had the intention: make Scandinavia great again."

The Northern states had failed to either form a military or an economic union, but instead aimed at a cultural unity.

"From that moment on, the unification process accelerated," explains Strang. "The northern countries established the Nordic Council in 1952 and opened up their borders. The region had its own little club in the League of Nations and the Nordic codes of law were partly homogenised. The countries often copied each other's best practices, whether in the social, economic, judicial or political realm. Denmark and Sweden decided to bury the hatchet and became best friends instead."

'All of the Nordics are misfits'

Back to the present day. The divergencies in administrative traditions – which in Sweden resulted in Anders Tegnell and the Public Health Agency being at the helm, whereas in Norway, Denmark and Finland it has been the government primarily taking the lead – can, according to Strang, be linked to historical differences in governance between the Danish and Swedish empires.

"Finland and Sweden traditionally had relatively small ministries and autonomous, administrative bodies. In Norway and Denmark politicians have had more direct influence on the policy-making process."

The fact that Finland has had such a different coronavirus strategy from Sweden – with the public health authority certainly having a seat at the table, but Prime Minister Sanna Marin ultimately taking the lead – might have to do with its more recent past. The country's war history is very much embedded in the collective memory. Finland waged a civil war at the start of the 20th century and fought against the Soviet Union and later the Third Reich during the Second World War. Finland remains wary of neighbouring Russia.

"The lesson Finland learned was that, as long as everyone follows the orders of the state, everything will be fine. The Finnish people expect the government to act promptly and decisively. The state is also better prepared when it comes to emergency supplies. In Sweden, this degree of crisis preparedness is lacking," Strang said.

Yet the above distinction in administrative traditions is an unsatisfactory explanation for the stark contrast between Sweden's corona strategy and that of its neighbours. Has Sweden always been an exception within Northern Europe?

"The Nordic model is a model of great exceptions," Strang says. "In that respect, all of the northern countries are misfits."

The researcher chuckles in defining the Nordic region as "a group of countries that all have a complex relationship with Sweden". "For us Finns, Sweden is our closest neighbour to whom we tend to compare ourselves. Something similar applies to Norway – they also share a culture. The Danes are Sweden's former arch enemies. We all have our special link to Sweden, yet Swedes are not nearly as interested in us as we are in them. That's why we tend to joke about them; how paternalistic they are, how authority abiding, how arrogant."

In Denmark in particular, Swedes have a reputation for being extremely compliant. According to a Danish idiom, if the public health authority prescribes five slices of bread a day, Swedes will eat five slices of bread a day. Swedes, or so the stereotype goes, blindly trust the state in knowing what is best for them.

This trust in authorities might also explain why there seem to be few domestic opponents to the Swedish Sonderweg, as it has become known in Germany ('special path'); the fact that the country adopts such a different coronavirus strategy has seldom generated critical questions or a public outcry.

Simultaneously, Strang says, approaching the coronavirus crisis in such a different manner to the rest of Europe requires a great deal of self-confidence on the part of the state.

'Swedish self-confidence or arrogance'

That confidence is much more prevalent in Sweden than in the other Nordic countries, according to Strang. The neighbouring nations can be characterised by a 'small-state mentality' in generally following the example of other, bigger states.

"Explaining this Swedish self-confidence, or arrogance if you will, is one of the most difficult and exciting topics for philosophers and historians with an interest in the Nordic region."

His own theory is one of temporality:

"During the second half of the 20th century, Sweden was the richest nation in Europe, and was praised for its progressive social welfare system. Others looked to Sweden as the society of the future and strove to copy their model. But if Sweden is the future, this argument goes, then looking at other countries is, for Swedes, like looking into the past. That is why policymakers aren't too bothered about what their international colleagues do. 'The others will at some point realise that we were right after all', is the idea."

The other Nordic countries all love Sweden, Strang says: "We look up to you."

Yet he is discerning a gradual shift that originates about a decade ago. "Since the refugee crisis and now, with the pandemic, the previously undisputed Swedish model is being questioned. Sweden offers less of a utopian and more of a dystopian future to a growing number of Nordic residents," he continues.

"Many in Denmark and Norway find Sweden too liberal. Too naive in opening its borders to immigrants, too naive in its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Sweden's neighbours were all little brothers who looked up to their one, big brother. Now they are little brothers who no longer know whose example to follow."

Survey results from a YouGov poll this summer showed that 73 percent of Norwegians and 61 percent of Danes thought it imperative to keep Swedish tourists out. More so than, for example, visitors from Spain, Italy or the UK.

The future for the Nordics

Will the disagreements that have arisen during the pandemic have a lasting effect on Northern European relations?

Yes and no, Strang believes.

"On a political and social level, these disputes will probably not last very long. Nordic politicians will shake hands and get on with their day-to-day tasks. Families living on both sides of the border will simply resume their lives," he says.

"But what worries me is the border policy that we have started to dabble with, both in the Nordic region and in the rest of Europe. Norden has had a passport union since the 1950s, much earlier than the EU's introduction of free movement of people and goods.

"Until the refugee crisis our northern passport union didn't pose any problems, but in recent years there has been a continuous establishing and lifting of border controls in the North. And this could, in fact, lead to a more permanent damage in International relations. Would you still apply for a job, organise a cultural event or invest in a company in a border region? Probably not."

This border policy might, in the short term, result in Norwegians selling their Swedish summer houses and Danes moving away from Malmö and back to Copenhagen, to name a few examples, warns Strang.

"The principle of a Nordic unity has always been closely linked to the passport union. It was the greatest achievement of the Northern European cooperation. What will remain of this unity when the borders close? In Europe, closed borders primarily translate to an end to free trade. In the north, it might mean the end of our mutual trust."

It is this trust that Strang says makes the Nordic countries so unique: "It's an example the EU could benefit from: Northern Europe has connected people, not economies."https://www.thelocal.se/20201102/what-unites-and-divides-the-northern-countries