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

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    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.
    Last edited by Sedtrogen; Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 at 06:09 AM. Reason: I fixed some spelling errors.

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    Staff note: Discussion about the differences between Scandinavia and Nordic has been split from this thread.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyrd View Post
    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 includes Denmark, Finland, The Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden & Aaland.

    Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are sometimes differentiated into western Nordic countries.
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    Skandinavien = Danmark, Norge and Sverige

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs vonTrep View Post
    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'').

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    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.

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    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.



    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


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