Facts

Scandinavia

is a historical and cultural region in Northern Europe characterized by a common ethnocultural North Germanic heritage and mutually intelligible North Germanic languages  In English usage, Scandinavia sometimes refers to the area known as the Scandinavian PeninsulaThe term Scandinavia always includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The remote Norwegian islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen are usually not seen as a part of Scandinavia, nor is Greenland, an overseas territory of Denmark. However, the Faroe Islands, also a Danish overseas territory, are sometimes included, as sometimes are Iceland, Finland, and the Finnish autonomous region of the Åland Islands, because of their historical association with the Scandinavian countries and the Scandinavian peoples and languages. This looser definition almost equates to that of the Nordic countries. In the local languages, Skandinavia/Skandinavien often means the European parts of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, whereas the name Norden is more commonly used for the extended region that includes Finland, Iceland, and overseas parts of Denmark and Norway. The name Scandinavia originally referred vaguely to the formerly Danish, now Swedish, region Scania. The terms Scandinavia and Scandinavian entered usage in the late 18th century as terms for Denmark, Norway and Sweden, their Germanic majority peoples and associated language and culture, the term being introduced by the early linguistic and cultural Scandinavist movement. The majority of the population of Scandinavia are descended from several (North) Germanic tribes who originally inhabited the southern part of Scandinavia and spoke a Germanic language that evolved into Old Norse. Icelanders and the Faroese are to a significant extent descended from the Norse, and are therefore often seen as Scandinavian. Finland is mainly populated by Finns, with a minority of approximately 5%[citation needed] of Swedish speakers. A small minority of Sami people live in the extreme north of Scandinavia. The Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages form a dialect continuum and are known as the Scandinavian languages—all of which are considered mutually intelligible with one another. Faroese and Icelandic, sometimes referred to as insular Scandinavian languages, are intelligible in continental Scandinavian languages only to a limited extent. Finnish and Meänkieli are closely related to each other and more distantly to the Sami languages, but are entirely unrelated to the Scandinavian languages. Apart from these, German, Yiddishand Romani are recognized minority languages in Scandinavia. The southern and by far most populous regions of Scandinavia have a temperate climate. Scandinavia extends north of the Arctic Circle, but has relatively mild weather for its latitude due to the Gulf Stream. Much of the Scandinavian mountains have an alpine tundra climate. There are many lakes and moraines, legacies of the last glacial period, which ended about ten millennia ago.


Currency

Finland

The clearest example of the use of the term “Scandinavia” as a political and societal construct is the unique position of Finland, based largely on the fact that most of modern-day Finland was part of the Swedish kingdom for hundreds of years, thus to much of the world associating Finland with all of Scandinavia. But the creation of a Finnish identity is unique in the region in that it was formed in relation to two different imperial models, the Swedish and the Russian, as described by the University of Jyväskylä based editorial board of the Finnish journal Yearbook of Political Thought and Conceptual HistoryThe term is often defined according to the conventions of the cultures that lay claim to the term in their own use. When a speaker wants to explicitly include Finland alongside Scandinavia-proper, the geographic terms Fenno-Scandinavia or Fennoscandia are sometimes used in English, although these terms are hardly if at all used within Scandinavia. More precisely, and subject to no dispute, is that Finland is included in the broader term ‘Nordic countries’.

 

Finnish

The Scandinavian languages are (as a language family) entirely unrelated to Finnish, Estonian, and Sami languages, which as Uralic languages are distantly related to Hungarian. Owing to the close proximity, there is still a great deal of borrowing from the Swedish and Norwegian languages in the Finnish and Sami languages. The long history of linguistic influence of Swedish on Finnish is also due to the fact that Finnish, the language of the majority in Finland, was treated as a minority language while Finland was part of Sweden. Finnish-speakers had to learn Swedish in order to advance to higher positions. Swedish spoken in today’s Finland includes a lot of words that are borrowed from Finnish, whereas the written language remains closer to that of Sweden. Finland is officially bilingual, with Finnish and Swedish having mostly the same status at national level. Finland’s majority population are Finns, whose mother tongue is either Finnish (approximately 95%), Swedish or both; the Swedish speaking minority lives mainly on the coast from the city of Porvoo, in the Gulf of Finland, to the city of Kokkola, up in the Bothnian Bay. The Åland Islands, an autonomous province of Finland, situated in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden, is entirely Swedish speaking. Children are taught the other official language at school; for Swedish-speakers, this is Finnish (usually from the 3rd grade), and for Finnish-speakers, Swedish (usually from the 3rd, 5th or 7th grade). Finnish speakers constitute a language minority in Sweden and Norway. There are also languages derived from Finnish, having evolved separately, known as Meänkieli in Sweden and Kven in Norway.

 

 

Germanic reconstruction

The Latin names in Pliny’s text gave rise to different forms in medieval Germanic texts. In Jordanes’ history of the Goths (AD 551) the form Scandza is the name used for their original home, separated by sea from the land of Europe (chapter 1, 4). Where Jordanes meant to locate this quasi-legendary island is still a hotly debated issue, both in scholarly discussions and in the nationalistic discourse of various European countries. The form Scadinavia as the original home of the Langobards appears in Paulus Diaconus’ Historia Langobardorum; in other versions of Historia Langobardorum appear the forms ScadanScandananScadanan and Scatenauge. Frankish sources used Sconaowe and Aethelweard, an Anglo-Saxon historian, used Scani. In Beowulf, the forms Scedenige and Scedeland are used, while the Alfredian translation of Orosius and Wulfstan’s travel accounts used the Old English Sconeg.

 

Languages in Scandinavia

Two language groups have coexisted on the Scandinavian peninsula since prehistory—the North Germanic languages (Scandinavian languages) and the Sami languages. Due to later migrations, Finnish, Yiddish and Romani have also been spoken for over a hundred years. Denmark also has a minority of German-speakers. More recent migrations has added even more languages. Apart from Sami and the languages of minority groups speaking a variant of the majority language of a neighboring state, the following minority languages in Scandinavia are protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: Yiddish, Romani Chib, Romanes and Romani.

 

North Germanic languages

Continental Scandinavian languages:

  Danish
  Norwegian
  Swedish

Insular Scandinavian languages:

  Faroese
  Icelandic

The North Germanic languages of Scandinavia are traditionally divided into an East Scandinavian branch (Danish and Swedish) and a West Scandinavian branch (Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese),but because of changes appearing in the languages since 1600, the East Scandinavian and West Scandinavian branches are now usually reconfigured into Insular Scandinavian (ö-nordisk/øy-nordisk) featuring Icelandic and Faroese and Continental Scandinavian (Skandinavisk), comprising Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.The modern division is based on the degree of mutual comprehensibility between the languages in the two branches. The populations of the Scandinavian countries, with a Scandinavian mother tongue, can—at least with some training—understand each other’s standard languages as they appear in print and are heard on radio and television. The reason Danish, Swedish and the two official written versions of Norwegian (Nynorsk and Bokmål) are traditionally viewed as different languages, rather than dialects of one common language, is that each is a well-established standard language in its respective country. Danish, Swedish and Norwegian have, since medieval times, been influenced to varying degrees by Middle Low German and standard German. A substantial amount of that influence was a by-product of the economic activity generated by the Hanseatic League. Norwegians are accustomed to variation, and may perceive Danish and Swedish only as slightly more distant dialects. This is because they have two official written standards, in addition to the habit of strongly holding on to local dialects. The people of Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark, have the greatest difficulty in understanding other Scandinavian languages. In the Faroe Islands and Iceland, learning Danish is mandatory. This causes Faroese people as well as Icelandic people to become bilingual in two very distinct North Germanic languages, making it relatively easy for them to understand the other two Mainland Scandinavian languages. Although Iceland was under the political control of Denmark until a much later date (1918), very little influence and borrowing from Danish has occurred in the Icelandic language. Icelandic remained the preferred language among the ruling classes in Iceland; Danish was not used for official communications, most of the royal officials were of Icelandic descent and the language of the church and law courts remained Icelandic.

 

Political Scandinavism

Scandinavia as a 19th-century political vision (Scandinavism): A Norwegian, a Dane and a Swede. This image is considered emblematic of Scandinavism and is widely used in Scandinavian school books The modern use of the term Scandinavia has been influenced by Scandinavism (the Scandinavist political movement), which was active in the middle of the nineteenth century, mainly between the First Schleswig War (1848–1850), in which Sweden and Norway contributed with considerable military force, and the Second Schleswig War (1864). The Swedish king also proposed a unification of Denmark, Norway and Sweden into a single united kingdom. The background for the proposal was the tumultuous events during the Napoleonic wars in the beginning of the century. This war resulted in Finland (formerly the eastern third of Sweden) becoming the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809 and Norway (de jure in union with Denmark since 1387, although de facto treated as a province) becoming independent in 1814, but thereafter swiftly forced to accept a personal union with Sweden. The dependent territories Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, historically part of Norway, remained with Denmark in accordance with the Treaty of Kiel. Sweden and Norway were thus united under the Swedish monarch, but Finland’s inclusion in the Russian Empire excluded any possibility for a political union between Finland and any of the other Nordic countries. The end of the Scandinavian political movement came when Denmark was denied the military support promised from Sweden and Norway to annex the (Danish) Duchy of Schleswig, which together with the (German) Duchy of Holstein had been in personal union with Denmark. The Second war of Schleswig followed in 1864, a brief but disastrous war between Denmark and Prussia (supported by Austria). Schleswig-Holstein was conquered by Prussia, and after Prussia’s success in the Franco-Prussian War a Prussian-led German Empire was created, and a new power-balance of the Baltic sea countries was established. Even if a Scandinavian political union never came about at this point, there was a Scandinavian Monetary Union established in 1873, lasting until World War I.

Societal and tourism promotional organizations

Various promotional agencies of the Nordic countries in the United States (such as The American-Scandinavian Foundation, established in 1910 by the Danish American industrialist Niels Poulsen) serve to promote market and tourism interests in the region. Today, the five Nordic heads of state act as the organization’s patrons and according to the official statement by the organization, its mission is “to promote the Nordic region as a whole while increasing the visibility of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in New York City and the United States.”[17] The official tourist boards of Scandinavia sometimes cooperate under one umbrella, such as the Scandinavian Tourist Board.[18] The cooperation was introduced for the Asian market in 1986, when the Swedish national tourist board joined the Danish national tourist board to coordinate intergovernmental promotion of the two countries. Norway’s government entered one year later. All five Nordic governments participate in the joint promotional efforts in the United States through the Scandinavian Tourist Board of North America.

Sami languages

Historically verified distribution of the Sami languages — (legend). The Sami languages are indigenous minority languages in Scandinavia. They belong to their own branch of the Uralic language family and are unrelated to the North Germanic languages other than by limited grammatical (particularly lexical) characteristics resulting from prolonged contact. Sami is divided into several languages or dialects. Consonant gradation is a feature in both Finnish and northern Sami dialects, but it is not present in south Sami, which is considered to have a different language history. According to the Sami Information Centre of the Sami Parliament in Sweden, southern Sami may have originated in an earlier migration from the south into the Scandinavian peninsula.

Scandinavian unions

Denmark–Norway as a historiographical name refers to the former political union consisting of the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, including the Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The corresponding adjective and demonym is Dano-Norwegian. During Danish rule, Norway kept its separate laws, coinage and army, as well as some institutions such as a royal chancellor. Norway’s old royal line had died out with the death of Olav IV in 1387, but Norway’s remaining a hereditary kingdom became an important factor for the Oldenburg dynasty of Denmark–Norway in its struggles to win elections as kings of Denmark. The Treaty of Kiel (14 January 1814) formally dissolved the Dano-Norwegian union and ceded the territory of Norway proper to the King of Sweden, but Denmark retained Norway’s overseas possessions. However, widespread Norwegian resistance to the prospect of a union with Sweden induced the governor of Norway, crown prince Christian Frederick (later Christian VIII of Denmark), to call a constituent assembly at Eidsvoll in April 1814. The assembly drew up a liberal constitution and elected Christian Frederick to the throne of Norway. Following a Swedish invasion during the summer, the peace conditions of the Convention of Moss (14 August 1814) specified that king Christian Frederik had to resign, but Norway would keep its independence and its constitution within a personal union with Sweden. Christian Frederik formally abdicated on 10 August 1814 and returned to Denmark. The Norwegian parliament Storting elected king Charles XIII of Sweden as king of Norway on 4 November. The Storting dissolved the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905, after which the Norwegians elected Prince Charles of Denmark as king of Norway: he reigned as Haakon VII.

 

Terminology and use

Satellite photo of the Scandinavian Peninsula, March 2002Scandinavia originally referred vaguely to Scania, a formerly Danish region that became Swedish in the 17th century “Scandinavia” usually refers to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Some sources argue for the inclusion of the Faroe Islands, Finland and Iceland, though that broader region is usually known by the countries concerned as Norden (Finnish Pohjoismaat, Icelandic Norðurlöndin, Faroese Norðurlond), or the Nordic countriesThe three monarchies (DenmarkNorway, and Sweden) that compose Scandinavia according to the local definition The extended usage in English which includes Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the Åland Islands, and Finland. The use of the name “Scandinavia” as a convenient general term for the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden is fairly recent; according to some historians, it was adopted and introduced in the eighteenth century, at a time when the ideas about a common heritage started to appear and develop into early literary and linguistic Scandinavism. Before this time, the term Scandinavia was familiar mainly to classical scholars through Pliny the Elder‘s writings, and was used vaguely for Scania and the southern region of the peninsula. As a political term, “Scandinavia” was first used by students agitating for Pan-Scandinavianismin the 1830s. The popular usage of the term in Sweden, Denmark and Norway as a unifying concept became established in the nineteenth century through poems such as Hans Christian Andersen‘s “I am a Scandinavian” of 1839. After a visit to Sweden, Andersen became a supporter of early political Scandinavism. In a letter describing the poem to a friend, he wrote: “All at once I understood how related the Swedes, the Danes and the Norwegians are, and with this feeling I wrote the poem immediately after my return: ‘We are one people, we are called Scandinavians!’

Use of Nordic countries vs. Scandinavia

While the term Scandinavia is commonly used for Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the term the Nordic countries is used unambiguously for Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, including their associated territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands). Scandinavia can thus be considered a subset of the Nordic countries. Furthermore, the term Fennoscandia refers to Scandinavia, Finland and Karelia, excluding Denmark and overseas territories; however, the usage of this term is restricted to geology, when speaking of the Fennoscandian Shield (Baltic Shield).

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