Scandinavia

Scandinavia is a geographical region, which covers an area of 1,320,323 square kilometers. It consists of 6 countries – Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland, which is a self-governing dominion of Denmark. Many people mistakenly believe that Greenland, Denmark and Iceland are not Scandinavian countries. In fact, the reason for this misconception is that these three countries are not located within the Scandinavian Peninsula.

scandinavia sweden stockholmHowever, they belong to this region, which is characterized by common natural and cultural features.

Actually Scandinavia includes the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jutland Peninsula, the islands of Iceland and Greenland as well as hundreds of other smaller islands in the Atlantic, North Sea, Barents and Baltic Sea. Most famous are the Faroe Islands.

Scandinavia occupies the coldest parts of mainland Europe and a small part of North America. From this viewpoint Scandinavia is a region located on two continents.

Much of the region falls within the temperate latitudes, but the northern parts are located beyond the Arctic Circle and have subpolar and polar climates. In most of Scandinavia winters are long, dark and harsh, and summers are pleasant but very short with temperatures over 20°C.

During the cold winter months the thermometers in the region drop several tens of degrees below zero. During the winter of 1966 for example the temperature in Sweden fell to (-52.6) °C. This is the lowest temperature measured in Scandinavia outside Greenland.

The Greenland‘s record, however, is even more impressive. On January 9, 1954 the temperature in Greenland dropped to freezing (-66.1) °C! Usually during the winter months Scandinavia is covered by very thick and long lasting snow cover.

The waters of the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea freeze every year. During the summer months beyond the Arctic Circle the sun shines for 24 hours a day. In winter is just the opposite – for weeks it never rises.

scandinavia finland castleThe nature of Scandinavia is very beautiful. Dense deciduous and coniferous forests cover large areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The landscapes of Denmark are a pastoral picture of lovely farms and small towns, green fields and deciduous forests.

Iceland is charming with its magical emerald landscapes, volcanoes, glaciers and breathtaking waterfalls. Greenland is almost completely covered by a huge glacier and is stunning with its perfect whiteness.

The warm Gulf Stream occurs strong influence on Scandinavian climate, creating an oasis for people and wildlife in the northern-most parts of Europe. The animal world of Scandinavia is extremely diverse.

There are polar and brown bears, wolves, foxes, reindeer and other amazing animals. In the northern parts of the region can be seen walruses, which are a favorite food of the fearful polar bears.

Sea parrot is one of the most popular birds in the region. It is widespread in Iceland. Sea parrot has black and white plumage, but has a brightly colored beak with strange shape.

The landscape of Scandinavia varies from mostly flat in Denmark and Finland to mountainous in Norway. The highest point in Scandinavia is Mount Gunnbjorn, in Greenland.

It rises to a height of 3694 meters. Outside the island of Greenland the highest peak is Galdhopiggen. It rises 2469 m. in the mountains of Norway. The lowest point in Scandinavia is located about 7 meters below sea level in Denmark.

The most common feature of the region is its heavily indented coastline that evidences the former existence of glaciers, covering this part of the world. As a result of the action of glaciers, Nordic countries such as Norway have steep shores with deeply cut coastal bays (fjords) and numerous islands.

scandinavia iceland waterfallThe population of the geographical region of Scandinavia is over 25 million people. Although it sounds a lot, actually this figure shows that Scandinavia is among the most sparsely populated regions in Europe.

The reason is local severe weather conditions. The most populated Scandinavian country is Sweden, and the most sparsely populated countries are the islands of Iceland and Greenland.

Large metropolitan cities such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo are located mainly in the southern parts of the region. Stockholm is the largest Scandinavian city.

Its agglomeration has a population of over 2,000,000 people. The population living now in Scandinavia, for the most part, has a German origin and moved to this part of the world from the south.

These newly arrived tribes progressively settled the northern parts of Europe. Differences in languages and cultures appeared over the years, forming the different nations existing today. Indigenous people of Lapland in the northern parts of Scandinavia are Saami.

Those who today still live in Lapland make their living mainly by reindeer breeding and tourism. Scandinavians have always been known as one of the best sailors and their relationship with the surrounding waters has always been very strong.

They used the sea as a source of food but also for conquering and exploring of new territories. Scandinavians were the first Europeans to reach the coasts of North America. Today Scandinavia is attractive to immigrants from different parts of the world.

medieval scandinaviaScandinavia is one of the richest regions in the world. There are no poor countries, and the living standard is very high. Only the ice-covered island of Greenland differs with a lower living standard.

However, the island cannot be called „poor“. Scandinavia is well known for its social policy. Crime is extremely uncommon. Except for high income, local residents enjoy many other benefits.

Three of the six Scandinavian countries are EU members – Sweden, Finland and Denmark. All the Scandinavian countries have different currencies.

The Swedish krona for example is the currency of Sweden; the Norwegian krona is official currency of Norway, the Danish krona – in Denmark and Greenland, the Icelandic krona – in Iceland and euro – in Finland.

reykjavik islandTourism flourishes in Scandinavia. The most important landmarks of this region are the Icelandic hot mineral springs, the Norwegian fjords, the beautiful Swedish capital Stockholm, the numerous Finnish lakes, the Lapland (especially its Finnish share), and the glaciers of Greenland.

Do not forget also Nord Kapp – the northern-most part of mainland Europe. Scandinavia attracts foreign visitors with the opportunity to ski in the height of summer.

Even in July, some Norwegian ski resorts are covered with fluffy snow. Scandinavia is an attractive place for lovers of cultural tourism.

Here you could enjoy a huge variety of cultural monuments and museums, castles, churches and cathedrals. Do not miss also the famous Little Mermaid statue, located off the coast of the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Travelling across Scandinavia is extremely easy due to its excellent infrastructure and the fact that all the Nordic countries with the exception of Greenland are members of the Schengen Agreement, which facilitates travel from one country to another.