Countries of Scandinavia and the Nordic Region

Green Aurora borealis over Alesund, Norway / Getty Images

Scandinavia and the Nordic region is a historical and geographical region covering much of Northern Europe. Extending from above the Arctic Circle to the North and Baltic Seas, the Scandinavian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in Europe.

Today, most define Scandinavia and the Nordic region to include the following countries:

Rarely, Greenland is included among the ​Scandinavian or Nordic countries.

The Countries of Scandinavia & the Nordic Region

Scandinavia or Nordic Countries?

Scandinavia historically encompassed the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Formerly, Finland was part of Sweden, and Iceland had belonged to Denmark and Norway. There has been a long-standing disagreement as to whether Finland and Iceland should being considered Scandinavian countries or not. To fix the divide, the French stepped in to diplomatically smooth out the terminology by dubbing all of the countries, "Nordic countries."

All of the countries, with the exception of Finland, share a common language branch—Scandinavian languages that stem from the Germanic family. What makes Finland unique is that its language aligns more with the Finn-Uralic family of languages. Finnish is more closely related to Estonian and lesser-known languages spoken around the Baltic Sea.


The southernmost Scandinavian country, Denmark, consists of the Jutland peninsula and over 400 islands, some of which are linked to the mainland by bridges. Almost all of Denmark is low and flat, but there are many low hills as well. Windmills and traditional thatched cottages can be seen everywhere. The Faroe Islands and Greenland both belong to the Kingdom of Denmark. The official language is Danish, and the capital city is Copenhagen.


Norway is also called "The Land of Vikings" or "The Land of the Midnight Sun," The northernmost country in Europe, Norway has a jagged expanse of islands and fjords. The maritime industry sustains the economy. The official language is Norwegian, and the capital city is Oslo.


Sweden, a land of numerous lakes, is the largest of the Scandinavian countries both in land size and population. Volvo and Saab both originated there and are a big part of the Swedish industry. Swedish citizens are independently minded and highly regard their people-oriented social programs, especially women's rights. The official language is Swedish, and the capital city is Stockholm.


With a surprisingly mild climate, Iceland is Europe's westernmost country and the second largest island in the North Atlantic ocean. Flight time to Iceland is 3 hours, 30 minutes from the European mainland. Iceland has a strong economy, low unemployment, low inflation, and its per capita income is among the highest in the world. The official language is Icelandic, and the capital city is Reykjavik.


Another country where the weather is better than many tourists expect, Finland has one of the lowest immigration rates in the world. The official language is Finnish, which is also called Suomi. The capital city is Helsinki.

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