Nordic countries
Overview
 
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 which consists of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Åland. In English, Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 is sometimes used as a synonym for most of the Nordic countries (but excluding Greenland), but that word refers only to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The region's five nation-states and three autonomous regions share much common history as well as common traits in their respective societies, such as political systems and the Nordic model
Nordic model
The Nordic model refers to the economic and social models of the Nordic countries . This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by "universalist" welfare states , which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human...

.
Encyclopedia
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 which consists of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Åland. In English, Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 is sometimes used as a synonym for most of the Nordic countries (but excluding Greenland), but that word refers only to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The region's five nation-states and three autonomous regions share much common history as well as common traits in their respective societies, such as political systems and the Nordic model
Nordic model
The Nordic model refers to the economic and social models of the Nordic countries . This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by "universalist" welfare states , which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human...

. Politically, Nordic countries do not form a separate entity, but they co-operate in the Nordic Council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

. The Nordic countries have a combined population of approximately 25 million spread over a land area of 3.5 million km² (Greenland accounts for around 60% of the total area).

Although the area is linguistically heterogeneous, with three unrelated language groups, the common linguistic heritage is one of the factors making up the Nordic identity. The continental Scandinavian languages – Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 – are considered mutually intelligible
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

. These languages are taught in school throughout the Nordic countries; Swedish, for example, is a mandatory subject
Mandatory Swedish
In Finland, Swedish is a mandatory school subject for Finnish-speaking pupils in the last three years of the primary education . It is also mandatory in high schools, vocational schools, and vocational universities. Furthermore, all Finnish-speaking university graduates must demonstrate a certain...

 in Finnish schools, whereas Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

 is mandatory in Icelandic, Faroese and Greenlandic schools. For this reason, (continental) Scandinavian language is considered the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of all of the Nordic countries. Besides these and the insular North Germanic languages Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 and Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, all belonging to the Indo-European language group, there are the Finnic
Finnic languages
The term Finnic languages often means the Baltic-Finnic languages, an undisputed branch of the Uralic languages. However, it is also commonly used to mean the Finno-Permic languages, a hypothetical intermediate branch that includes Baltic Finnic, or the more disputed Finno-Volgaic languages....

 and Sami
Sami languages
Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

 branches of the Uralic languages
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

, spoken respectively in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, and Greenlandic, an Eskimo–Aleut language, spoken in Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

.

Etymology and terminology

The term 'Nordic countries' is derived
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 from the French term Pays nordiques as an equivalent of the local terms Norden (Scandinavian languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

), Pohjola
Pohjola
Pohjola or Pohja is a location in Finnish mythology, sometimes translated in English as Northland or Pohjoland. It is one of the two main polarities in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, along with Kaleva or Väinölä. Its name is derived from the word pohjoinen meaning the compass point north...

/ Pohjoismaat (Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

), Põhjala / Põhjamaad (Estonian language
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

), Norðurlönd (Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

), Norðurlond (Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

) and Davveriikkat (North Sámi
Sami languages
Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

) with the meaning of "The North
The North
The North may refer to:* a geographical section of the world * the wealthy and technologically advanced nations of the world, as contrasted with the nations comprising the South...

(ern lands)".

In English usage, the term Scandinavia
Scandinavia (disambiguation)
Scandinavia generally refers to the region consisting of Denmark, Norway, Sweden.Scandinavia may also refer to:* Scandinavian Peninsula, a peninsula in Northern Europe...

 is sometimes used—though not consistently—as a synonym for the Nordic countries. From the 1850s, Scandinavia was considered to include politically
Political geography
Political geography is the field of human geography that is concerned with the study of both the spatially uneven outcomes of political processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures...

 and cultural
Cultural geography
Cultural geography is a sub-field within human geography. Cultural geography is the study of cultural products and norms and their variations across and relations to spaces and places...

ly, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Geographically
Physical geography
Physical geography is one of the two major subfields of geography. Physical geography is that branch of natural science which deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, biosphere and geosphere, as opposed to the cultural or built environment, the...

, the Scandinavian Peninsula
Scandinavian Peninsula
The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula in Northern Europe, which today covers Norway, Sweden, and most of northern Finland. Prior to the 17th and 18th centuries, large parts of the southern peninsula—including the core region of Scania from which the peninsula takes its name—were part of...

 includes mainland Sweden and mainland Norway, and also a part of Finland, while the Jutland Peninsula
Jutland Peninsula
The Jutland Peninsula or more historically the Cimbrian Peninsula is a peninsula in Europe, divided between Denmark and Germany. The names are derived from the Jutes and the Cimbri....

 includes mainland Denmark and a small part of Germany. Denmark proper has not included any territory on the Scandinavian Peninsula since 1658
Treaty of Roskilde
The Treaty of Roskilde was concluded on 26 February or 8 March 1658 during the Second Northern War between Frederick III of Denmark–Norway and Charles X Gustav of Sweden in the Danish city of Roskilde...

. The Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 are "Scandinavian" in the sense that they were settled by Scandinavians and speak Scandinavian languages, but geographically they are not part of Scandinavia. Having once been a part of Sweden, Finland has been significantly influenced by Swedish culture and part of it
Enontekiö
Enontekiö is a municipality in the Finnish part of Lapland with approx. inhabitants. It is situated in the outermost northwest of the country and occupies a large and very sparsely populated area of about between the Swedish and Norwegian border...

 is geographically within Scandinavia, whereas the Finnish language is not related to the Scandinavian languages. Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 was settled by the Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

, and is currently part of the Danish realm, with the Danish language spoken by nearly all inhabitants, while geographically it is part of North America.

In geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, the term for the land area which lies above sea level on the Baltic shield
Baltic Shield
The Baltic Shield is located in Fennoscandia , northwest Russia and under the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Shield is defined as the exposed Precambrian northwest segment of the East European Craton...

 (also known as the Fennoscandian Shield) is Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia and Fenno-Scandinavia are geographic and geological terms used to describe the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and Finland...

 (from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 toponyms Fennia
Fennia
Fennia can refer to:* An old Latin name for Finland, along with Finnia, Finningia and most often used Finlandia that originates from an old misconception that people known as Fenni in Tacitus' Germania were Finns...

and Scania
Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

).

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines "Nordic" as an adjective dated to 1898 with the meaning "of or relating to the Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 of northern Europe and especially of Scandinavia" or "of or relating to a group or physical type of the Caucasian race characterized by tall stature, long head, light skin and hair, and blue eyes". Before the 19th century and romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

, the term Nordic may have been used more as a synonym for Northern to mean Northern Europe including the Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 (at that time Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Livonia
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

 and Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

) and occasionally the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 and other lands on the shores of the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

s.

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
Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia and Fenno-Scandinavia are geographic and geological terms used to describe the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and Finland...

 refers to Scandinavia, Finland and Karelia, excluding Denmark and overseas territories; however, the usage of this term is restricted to geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, when speaking of the Fennoscandian Shield (Baltic Shield).

In addition to the mainland Scandinavian countries of
(Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 with a Parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

.) (Constitutional monarchy with a Parliamentary system, independent since 1905) (Constitutional monarchy with a Parliamentary system, de facto independent kingdom since 1523)

the Nordic countries consist of
(Parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

, independent since 1917) (Parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

, independent since 1918, although in a union with and a dependency of Denmark until 1944)

and
(part of the Danish realm, autonomous since 1948) (part of the Danish realm, with various degrees of autonomy since 1979) (an autonomous province of Finland since 1920)

History

The Nordic countries are characterised by similar structures of their societies and cultural traits. This results not only from similar environmental realities and thus traditional livelihoods but also from a shared history.

The indigenous population of northern half of continental "Norden" are the Sami people
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

, whereas the southern half is the historical "urheimat" of the Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 cultures and the forefathers of the Finnish. The western isles may be said to have been first settled by the Norse, with two caveats: Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 arrived on northwestern Greenland more or less at the same time as the Norse came to the island's southeast; and in the settlement of Iceland, Celts were also active.

During the Dark Ages, what are now Norway, Sweden, Denmark and from 10th century onwards also Iceland shared a similar cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, linguistic
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 (Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

) and religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 (Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

) environment. From ca. the 12th century onwards what is now Finland (linguistically Finnic
Finnic
Finnic or Fennic can refer to:* Finnic languages* Finnic peoples...

 and more broadly Uralic
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

) started sharing the common developments as it was increasingly integrated into the kingdom of Sweden. As another example of a deeply rooted unifying past could be taken the indigenous Sami lifestyle (linguistically Uralic) across what is now northern Norway, Sweden and Finland (and beyond). Indeed, all Nordic countries have minority groups deriving or claiming heritage of a population residing within another Nordic state.

After being Christianized
Christianization of Scandinavia
The Christianization of Scandinavia took place between the 8th and the 12th century. The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively...

 around the year 1000, the process of local unification established Denmark, Norway and Sweden as separate kingdoms
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

. Finland became part of Sweden in the mid 13th century, whereas Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

, Orkney, Greenland belonged to Norway. All Nordic countries followed the Protestant Reformation of the Western church during the 16th century and adopted Lutheran state churches—which still have large membership counts, although their state affiliation varies. Finland also has a much smaller Orthodox state church whose members, 1.1% of population, mainly come from the areas that were outside the Swedish realm when Christianity was introduced.

In the 14th century, Denmark, Norway (with Iceland) and Sweden (with Finland) were united under one regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

, in the Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

 which Denmark dominated, in the early 16th century Sweden reestablished itself as a separate kingdom. Denmark's domination over Norway lasted until 1814 when the king was forced to cede Norway to the king of Sweden. Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands remained Danish.

The power balance between the Nordic countries shifted after the Thirty Year War where Denmark was humiliated, but Sweden came out successful and with an alliance with France. During the 17th century Sweden established itself among the Powers
Historical powers
Historical powers include great powers, nations, or empires in history.The term "Great power" represent the most important world powers. In a modern context, recognised great powers came about first in Europe during the post-Napoleonic era. The formalization of the division between small powers and...

 of Europe, but Sweden ultimately lost its foreign Dominions
Dominions of Sweden
The Dominions of Sweden or Svenska besittningar were territories that historically came under control of the Swedish Crown, but never became fully integrated with Sweden. This generally meant that they were ruled by Governors-General under the Swedish monarch, but within certain limits retained...

 one by one. This process culminated in the loss of the eastern part of Sweden in 1809, mainly today's Finland, which became an autonomous Grand Duchy
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

 under the Russian tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

.

The 19th century saw a personal union between Sweden and Norway which was dissolved in 1905 due to growing dissatisfaction from the Norwegian part. From 1840s Scandinavism
Scandinavism
Scandinavism and Nordism are literary and political movements that support various degrees of cooperation between the Scandinavian or Nordic countries...

 emerged in Scandinavia. This movement strove to unite the three Scandinavian kingdoms into one, diminishing after Sweden refused to help Denmark on war in 1864.

In the midst of the Russian revolutions, Finland emerged for the first time as an independent nation, orienting for a Nordic community. During World War II in 1944, Iceland gained its independence from Denmark. The member states of the Nordic council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

 (founded in 1952) had thus emerged.

The Nordic countries share similar traits in the policies implemented under the postwar period, especially in the socioeconomic area. All Nordic countries have large tax-funded public welfare
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 sectors and extensive social-democratic legislation. In most cases, this is due to the political ambitions of the many Social Democrat governments that came to power during the interwar period in each of the Nordic countries.

Chronology of the Nordic countries

Century Nordic Political Entities
21st Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (EU)
Faroes (Denmark)
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

Sweden
History of Sweden (since 1989)
This article describes the history of Sweden from 1989 until present day.After a period of rapid growth and unprecedented prosperity during the late 1980s, by 1990 the Swedish economy overheated, and after a controversial bill freezing salaries and banning strikes failed in parliament, the social...

 (EU)
Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 (EU)
20th Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

19th Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

Sweden and Norway
Union between Sweden and Norway
The Union between Sweden and Norway , officially the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, consisted of present-day Sweden and Norway between 1814 and 1905, when they were united under one monarch in a personal union....

 (personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

)
Russia
(GD of Finland)
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

18th Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway is the historiographical name for a former political entity consisting of the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, including the originally Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands...

 (personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

)
Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

17th
16th
15th Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

14th Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

Sweden
13th
12th Faroes
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

Icelandic CW
Icelandic Commonwealth
The Icelandic Commonwealth, Icelandic Free State, or Republic of Iceland was the state existing in Iceland between the establishment of the Althing in 930 and the pledge of fealty to the Norwegian king in 1262...

Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

Nordic Peoples Danes Faroese
Faroese people
The Faroese or Faroe Islanders are a Germanic ethnic group native to the Faeroe Islands. The Faroese are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins.About 21,000 Faroese live in neighbouring countries, particularly in Denmark, Iceland and Norway....

Icelanders
Icelanders
Icelanders are a Scandinavian ethnic group and a nation, native to Iceland.On 17 June 1944, when an Icelandic republic was founded the Icelanders became independent from the Danish monarchy. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and Lutheranism is the predominant religion...

Norwegians Swedes Finns


The Sami people
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

s of north Scandinavia have been subjects of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.

Nordic Passport Union

The Nordic Passport Union
Nordic Passport Union
The Nordic Passport Union allows citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark , Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland to travel and reside in other Nordic countries without a passport or a residence permit.- Establishment :...

, created in 1954, and implemented on May 1, 1958, allows citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 included since January 1, 1966, Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 not included), Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (Svalbard
Svalbard
Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic, constituting the northernmost part of Norway. It is located north of mainland Europe, midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The group of islands range from 74° to 81° north latitude , and from 10° to 35° east longitude. Spitsbergen is the...

, Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen Island is a volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean and part of the Kingdom of Norway. It is long and 373 km2 in area, partly covered by glaciers . It has two parts: larger northeast Nord-Jan and smaller Sør-Jan, linked by an isthmus wide...

, Bouvet Island
Bouvet Island
Bouvet Island is an uninhabited Antarctic volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,525 km south-southwest of South Africa. It is a dependent territory of Norway and, lying north of 60°S latitude, is not subject to the Antarctic Treaty. The centre of the island is an ice-filled crater of an...

 and Queen Maud's Land not included), Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 (since September 24, 1965) to cross approved border districts without carrying and having their passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

 checked. Other citizens can also travel between the Nordic countries' borders without having their passport checked, but still have to carry some sort of approved travel identification documents.

Since 1996, these countries have been part of the larger EU directive Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later...

 area, comprising 30 countries in Europe. Border checkpoint
Border checkpoint
A border checkpoint is a place, generally between two countries, where travellers and/or goods are inspected. Authorization often is required to enter a country through its borders. Access-controlled borders often have a limited number of checkpoints where they can be crossed without legal...

s have been removed within the Schengen zone and only a national ID card is required. Within the Nordic area any means of proving one's identity, e.g. a driving licence, is valid for Nordic citizens, because of the Nordic Passport Union.

Since March 25, 2001, the Schengen acquis
Acquis
The Community acquis or acquis communautaire , sometimes called the EU acquis, and often shortened to acquis, is the accumulated legislation, legal acts, and court decisions which constitute the body of European Union law...

 has fully applied to the five countries of the Nordic Passport Union (except for the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

). There are some areas in the Nordic Passport Union that give extra rights for Nordic citizens, not covered by Schengen, such as less paperwork if moving to a different Nordic country, and fewer requirements for naturalisation.

Political dimension and divisions

  EU Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

NATO
Denmark x   x
Finland x x  
Iceland     x
Norway     x
Sweden x    

The Nordic region has a political dimension in the joint official bodies called the Nordic Council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

 and the Nordic Council of Ministers
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

. In this context, several aspects of the common market as in the European Union have been implemented decades before the EU implemented them. Intra-Nordic trade is not covered by the CISG, but by local law.

In the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the Northern Dimension
Northern Dimension
The Northern dimension is an initiative in the European Union regarding the cross-border and external policies covering Nordic countries, Baltic states and Russia...

 refers to external and cross-border policies covering the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, and Russia.

The political cooperation between the Nordic Countries has not led to a common policy or an agreement on the countries' memberships in the European Union, Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

, and NATO. Norway and Iceland are only members of NATO, while Finland and Sweden are only members of the European Union. Denmark alone participates in both organizations. Only Finland is a member of the Eurozone. The tasks and policies of the European Union overlap with the Nordic council significantly, e.g. the Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later...

 partially supersedes the Nordic passport free zone and a common labor market.

Additionally, certain areas of Nordic countries have special relationships with the EU. For example, Finland's autonomous island province Åland is not a part of the EU VAT zone.

National symbols

All Nordic countries, including the autonomous territories of Faroe and Åland Islands
Åland Islands
The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

, have a similar flag design, all based on the Dannebrog
Flag of Denmark
The national flag of Denmark, Dannebrog is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side...

, the Danish flag. They display an off-center cross with the intersection closer to the hoist, the "Nordic cross". Greenland
Flag of Greenland
The flag of Greenland was designed by Greenland native Thue Christiansen. It features two equal horizontal bands of white and red with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of centre. The top half of the disk is red, the bottom half is white...

 and the Sami
Sami flag
The Sami flag is the flag of the Sámi people, the indigenous nation of the Nordic countries and the Kola Peninsula of the Russian Federation. The flag is also sometimes used to represent the territory of Sápmi, the traditional area of Sámi inhabitance....

 people have adopted flags without the Nordic cross, but they both feature a circle which is placed off-center, similar to the cross.

Denmark
Faroe Islands
Finland
Greenland
Iceland
Norway
The Sami People
Sweden
Åland Islands

Economy

Population


Name of country, with flag
Flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...

Population
(2011)
Source Capital
 Sweden Sweden 9,433,875 Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 Denmark Denmark 5,564,219 Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 Greenland Greenland 56,615 Nuuk
Nuuk
Nuuk, is the capital of Greenland, the northernmost capital in North America and the largest city in Greenland. Located in the Nuup Kangerlua fjord, the city lies on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea and on the west coast of Sermersooq. Nuuk is the largest cultural and economic center in...

 Faroe Islands Faroe Islands 48,596 Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. It is located in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the north west of the town lies the high mountain Húsareyn, and to the southwest, the high Kirkjubøreyn...

 Finland Finland 5,397,874 Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

 Åland Islands Åland 27,734 Mariehamn
Mariehamn
Mariehamn is the capital of Åland, an autonomous territory under Finnish sovereignty. Mariehamn is the seat of the Government and Parliament of Åland, and 40% of the population of Åland live in the city...

 Norway Norway 4,954,661 Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 Iceland Iceland 318,452 Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

Total 25,779,428

Countries with close relations to the Nordic countries

Several countries have a long and close relationship with and often identify with some or all of the Nordic countries. These are however for the most part not regarded as part of the Nordic group themselves, although classified as Northern Europe by the United Nations.

Estonia

Estonia has widely been thought of as a Baltic state
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 and a part of Northern Europe; but often grouped geographically with Eastern Europe. Interestingly many Estonians themselves consider themselves to be Nordic rather than Eastern European or Baltic.

The term Baltic as a concept to group Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and Estonia has been criticized, as what the three nations have in common almost wholly derives from shared experiences of occupation, deportation and oppression; what these countries do not share is a common culture or identity. Furthermore, the original use of the word Balt appears in the 19th century referring only to the Germans living in the region (see Baltic Germans.)

The Estonian language
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 is closely related to the Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, and Estonians
Estonians
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

, as an ethnic group, are a Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 people. Sites of the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

 culture reached as far east as Estonia; Estonia also had close contacts with Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 in the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

. The Oeselians
Oeselians
The Oeselians were a historical Finnic people inhabiting Saaremaa , an Estonian island in the Baltic Sea. They are first thought to be mentioned as early as the 2nd century BC in Ptolemy's Geography III. The Oeselians along with Curonians were known in the Old Norse Icelandic Sagas and in...

 were known in the Icelandic Sagas and Heimskringla
Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

 as Víkingr frá Estland (Estonian Vikings).

With the rise of Christianity, centralized authority in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and Germany eventually led to the Northern crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

. The northern part of Estonia was part of medieval Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 during the 13th-14th centuries, being sold to the Teutonic Order after St. George's Night Uprising
St. George's Night Uprising
St. George’s Night Uprising in 1343–1346 was an unsuccessful attempt by the indigenous Estonian population in the Duchy of Estonia, the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, and the insular territories of the State of the Teutonic Order to annihilate the Danish and German rulers and landlords, who had conquered...

 in 1346. The name of the Estonian capital, Tallinn
Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

, is thought to be derived from the Estonian
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 taani linn, meaning 'Danish town' (see Flag of Denmark
Flag of Denmark
The national flag of Denmark, Dannebrog is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side...

 for details). Parts of Estonia were under Danish rule
Danish Estonia
Danish Estonia refers to the territories of present-day Estonia that were ruled by Denmark firstly during the 13th–14th centuries and again in the 16th–17th centuries....

 again in the 16th-17th centuries, before being transferred to Sweden in 1645.

Estonia was part of the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

 from 1561 until 1721, when it was ceded to Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in the Treaty of Nystad
Treaty of Nystad
The Treaty of Nystad was the last peace treaty of the Great Northern War. It was concluded between the Tsardom of Russia and Swedish Empire on 30 August / 10 September 1721 in the then Swedish town of Nystad , after Sweden had settled with the other parties in Stockholm and Frederiksborg.During...

, following the outcome of the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

. The Swedish era became colloquially known in Estonia as the "good old Swedish times". However, the local Baltic German
Baltic German
The Baltic Germans were mostly ethnically German inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, which today form the countries of Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic German population never made up more than 10% of the total. They formed the social, commercial, political and cultural élite in...

 upper classes had stronger political and cultural dominance in the country from the 12th to the early 20th century than the Swedes, Danes, or Russians. There were Finnish, Danish and Swedish volunteer units in the Estonian War of Independence.

In 2011, being a member of EU, NATO, OSCE and the Eurozone, Estonia taken another step north from the Baltic States closer to the Northern European society. Swedish ambassador, Mr. Dag Hartelius's speech on the Estonian Independence day, February 24, 2009, where he considered Estonia "A Nordic Country" gathered a lot of attention in the country and was widely considered as a great compliment.
 
Flag of Estonia
Flag of Estonia
The national flag of Estonia is a tricolour featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue , black, and white. The normal size is 105 × 165 cm...

Proposed Estonian flag
featuring a Nordic cross
Flag proposed in 1919


Historically, large parts of Estonia’s north-western coast and islands have been populated by an indigenous ethnically Swedish population, the Estonian Swedes
Estonian Swedes
The Estonian Swedes, Estonia-Swedes, or Coastal Swedes are a Swedish-speaking linguistic minority traditionally residing in the coastal areas and islands of what is now western and northern Estonia...

. The majority of Estonia's Swedish population fled to Sweden in 1944, escaping the advancing Soviet Army. In 2007, Estonian Swedes were granted official cultural autonomy under Estonian law. Since regaining independence in 1991, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 has expressed interest in joining the Nordic Council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

. In 2003, the foreign ministry hosted an exhibit called "Estonia: Nordic with a Twist." In 2005, Estonia also joined the European Union's Nordic Battle Group.

Latvia

Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 has a long history of political, economical and cultural relations with the Nordic countries. During the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

 the indigenous tribes of present-day Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 - the Baltic
Balts
The Balts or Baltic peoples , defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the Jutland peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east...

 Couronians, Semigallians
Semigallians
Semigallians were the Baltic tribe that lived in the southcentral part of contemporary Latvia and northern Lithuania...

, Latgallians and Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 Livs - both fought and traded with Scandinavian
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 Vikings. The chief items of barter were bees-wax, furs, amber and silver. The Vikings travelled their so-called Eastern route, across the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, along the Daugava and Dnieper rivers and across the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 towards Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. The seafaring Couronians  ("Latvian Vikings") from Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 and the Oeselians
Oeselians
The Oeselians were a historical Finnic people inhabiting Saaremaa , an Estonian island in the Baltic Sea. They are first thought to be mentioned as early as the 2nd century BC in Ptolemy's Geography III. The Oeselians along with Curonians were known in the Old Norse Icelandic Sagas and in...

 ("Estonian Vikings") from Saaremaa
Saaremaa
Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia, measuring 2,673 km². The main island of Saare County, it is located in the Baltic Sea, south of Hiiumaa island, and belongs to the West Estonian Archipelago...

 battled the Scandinavian
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 Vikings and raided their lands. In 1187 they pillaged and sacked Sigtuna
Sigtuna
Sigtuna is a locality situated in Sigtuna Municipality, Stockholm County, Sweden with 18 inhabitants in 2005. It is the namesake of the municipality even though the seat is in Märsta....

, by that time Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

's largest and richest city. People in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 prayed: "save us Our God from the Couronian pirates". The Couronians participated in the Battle of Bråvalla on Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 side against the Danes
Danes
Danish people or Danes are the nation and ethnic group that is native to Denmark, and who speak Danish.The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century...

. Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 (or Kurland) and the Couronians (or Kurs) are mentioned in the Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 sagas
Sagàs
Sagàs is a small town and municipality located in Catalonia, in the comarca of Berguedà. It is located in the geographical area of the pre-Pyrenees.-Population:...

, such as the Heimskringla
Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

 and Egill Skallagrímsson
Egill Skallagrímsson
Egill Skallagrímsson was a Viking Age warrior and skald. Egill is one of the great anti-heroes of the Icelandic sagas.-Life:...

's saga
Egils saga
Egils saga is an epic Icelandic saga. The oldest transcript dates back to 1240 AD. The saga is centered on the life of Egill Skallagrímsson, an Icelandic farmer, viking and skald...

. Seeburg (now Grobiņa
Grobina
Grobiņa is a town in western Latvia, eleven kilometers east of Liepāja. It was founded by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. Some ruins of their Grobina castle are still visible. The town was given its charter in 1695....

 near Liepāja
Liepaja
Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

) was a Scandinavian
Scandinavian
Scandinavian refers to a resident of or something associated with Scandinavia, including:* Scandinavians, a Nordic ethnic group* Scandinavian Airlines , an aviation corporation* Scandinavian Defense, a chess opening...

 settlement in Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

. Weapons, ornaments and large cementries of mixed Baltic
Balts
The Balts or Baltic peoples , defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the Jutland peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east...

 and Viking character prove Swedes
Swedes
Swedes are a Scandinavian nation and ethnic group native to Sweden, mostly inhabiting Sweden and the other Nordic countries, with descendants living in a number of countries.-Etymology:...

 and Gotlanders were dwelling among the native population. Boats of the Couronians and Vikings were similar in construction and decoration. It is thought that in this age loanwords were adopted, like lord or king: in Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 kung, Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 kungs and Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

 konung.

The Northern Crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

, undertaken by the kings of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and German Livonian
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

 and Teutonic
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 military orders, brought Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 to the pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 tribes of Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. The Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

 brought protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

. Between 1560-1585 the Bishopric of Courland
Bishopric of Courland
The Bishopric of Courland was the second smallest ecclesiastical state in the Livonian Confederation founded in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade...

 belonged to king Frederick II of Denmark
Frederick II of Denmark
Frederick II was King of Denmark and Norway and duke of Schleswig from 1559 until his death.-King of Denmark:Frederick II was the son of King Christian III of Denmark and Norway and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg. Frederick II stands as the typical renaissance ruler of Denmark. Unlike his father, he...

, his brother Magnus of Holstein lived and died at Piltene
Piltene
-Population:Population : 40,000 -History:*September 1234: Bishopric of Courland established , consisting of three separate enclaves after numerous distributions of the Couronian lands among the Bishops of Courland, and of Riga, and the Teutonic Order.*1290: The cathedral chapter is incorporated...

. Between 1561-1721 the Duchy of Livonia
Duchy of Livonia
The Duchy of Livonia was a territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania — and later the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth — that existed from 1561 to 1621...

, which constituted the southern part of modern Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 and northern part of modern Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, became Swedish Livonia
Swedish Livonia
- Swedish infantry and cavalry regiments:Infantry regiments:* Garnisonsregementet i Riga * Guvenörsregementet i Riga * Livländsk infanteribataljon I...

, a dominion of the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

. These times became known as "the good Swedish period", although the local Baltic German
Baltic German
The Baltic Germans were mostly ethnically German inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, which today form the countries of Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic German population never made up more than 10% of the total. They formed the social, commercial, political and cultural élite in...

 upper class kept their strong political, economical and cultural dominance over the peasant people. Alongside Finns and Estonians
Estonians
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

, Latvians
Latvians
Latvians or Letts are the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia.-History:Latvians occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia...

 fought with the Swedes
Swedes
Swedes are a Scandinavian nation and ethnic group native to Sweden, mostly inhabiting Sweden and the other Nordic countries, with descendants living in a number of countries.-Etymology:...

 in the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 against the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. Livonia
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Gothland were part of the same Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 trading chamber, with first Visby
Visby
-See also:* Battle of Visby* Gotland University College* List of governors of Gotland County-External links:* - Visby*...

 and later Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 as its chief city. Duke Jacob
Jacob Kettler
Jacob Kettler was a Baltic German Duke of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia . Under his rule, the duchy was brought to its greatest peak in wealth and engaged in colonization.- Life :...

 (1642-1682) of Courland
Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia is the name of a duchy in the Baltic region that existed from 1562 to 1569 as a vassal state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and from 1569...

 leased iron and copper mines in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 to support ship building and global seafaring. The flags of Ventspils
Ventspils
Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the Courland historical region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port...

, Cēsis
Cesis
Cēsis , is a town in Latvia located in the northern part of the Central Vidzeme Upland. Cēsis is on the Gauja River valley, and is built on a series of ridges above the river overlooking the woods below...

 and Alūksne
Aluksne
Alūksne is a town on the shores of Lake Alūksne in northeastern Latvia near the borders with Estonia and Russia. It is the seat of Alūksne municipality.- History :...

 bear a Nordic cross. Like other Northern Europeans
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 the Latvians
Latvians
Latvians or Letts are the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia.-History:Latvians occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia...

 celebrate Midsummer solistice
Midsummer
Midsummer may simply refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different...

 and St. Johns Day
Jani
Jāņi is a Latvian festival held in the night from 23 June to 24 June to celebrate the summer solstice , the shortest night and longest day of the year. The day of Līgo and the day of Jāņi are public holidays, and people usually spend them in the countryside...

.

An ethnic-linguistic minority of Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 are the Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 Livs
Livonian people
The Livonians or Livs are the indigenous inhabitants of Livonia, a large part of what is today northwestern Latvia and southwestern Estonia. They spoke the Uralic Livonian language, a language which is closely related to Estonian and Finnish...

. The Liv people
Livonian people
The Livonians or Livs are the indigenous inhabitants of Livonia, a large part of what is today northwestern Latvia and southwestern Estonia. They spoke the Uralic Livonian language, a language which is closely related to Estonian and Finnish...

 are indigenous inhabitants of present-day Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and ancient Livonia
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

. The nearly extinct Liv language
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

 is a Baltic-Finnic language
Baltic Finns
The Baltic Finns are a historical linguistic group of peoples of northern Europe whose modern descendants include the Finns proper, Karelians , Izhorians, Veps, Votes, Livonians and Estonians who speak Baltic-Finnic languages and have inhabited the Baltic Sea region for 3,000 years according to...

 related to Estonian
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

, Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, Karelian
Karelian language
Karelian language is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia. Linguistically Karelian is closely related to the Finnish dialects spoken in eastern Finland and some Finnish linguists even classified Karelian as a dialect of Finnish...

, Veps
Veps language
The Veps language , spoken by the Vepsians , belongs to the Finnic group of the Uralic languages...

 and Votic. Researchers believe about 15,000-28,000 Livs
Livonian people
The Livonians or Livs are the indigenous inhabitants of Livonia, a large part of what is today northwestern Latvia and southwestern Estonia. They spoke the Uralic Livonian language, a language which is closely related to Estonian and Finnish...

 to have lived in the 12th century. In 2011 there were 180 registered Livs
Livonian people
The Livonians or Livs are the indigenous inhabitants of Livonia, a large part of what is today northwestern Latvia and southwestern Estonia. They spoke the Uralic Livonian language, a language which is closely related to Estonian and Finnish...

 in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and about 30 native speakers in the world. The Livonian Coast
Livonian coast
Livonian Coast is a territory of Latvia inhabited by Livonian people. It is located in Northern Courland and encompasses twelve Livonian villages...

 (Livonian
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

: Līvõd Rānda) in Northern Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 is a protected area encompassing twelve Livonian villages. The Liv Peoples House (Livonian
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

: Līvõd Rovkuodā) is located in the Livonian village of Mazirbe
Mazirbe
Mazirbe is a village place in Kolka parish, Dundaga municipality, Latvia 18 km southwest of Kolka. It is one of twelve Livonian villages on  - the Livonian Coast. Mazirbe is the cultural capital of the Livonians....

 (Livonian
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

: Irē
Mazirbe
Mazirbe is a village place in Kolka parish, Dundaga municipality, Latvia 18 km southwest of Kolka. It is one of twelve Livonian villages on  - the Livonian Coast. Mazirbe is the cultural capital of the Livonians....

) and the Liv Culture Center (Livonian
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

: Līvõ Kultūr Sidām) in Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

. The Liv language
Livonian language
Livonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is a nearly extinct language, with one of its last native speakers having died in February 2009. It is closely related to Estonian...

 is taught in universities in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

.

Since the early 1990s Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 takes part in Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8: Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

), for which former Latvian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs
Valdis Birkavs
Valdis Birkavs is a Latvian politician. He was born in Riga. He was first elected to the Latvian parliament in 1990 and helped to found the Latvian Way party. After Latvian Way won the 1993 parliamentary elections, Birkavs became the prime minister, leading a coalition government of Latvian Way...

 and former Danish Minister of Defence Søren Gade
Søren Gade
Søren Gade Jensen is a Danish politician who served as Defence Minister representing the Liberal party, Venstre from 2004 to 2010, when he replaced Svend Aage Jensby. He has been a Liberal member of the Danish Parliament since 2001. Before entering politics, he was a military officer and...

 wrote the 2010 NB8 Wise Men Report. The NB6 (Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

) is a framework for meetings on EU related issues. On August 30, 2011 the Nordic and Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 signed an agreement on diplomatic cooperation. Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 also cooperates with the Nordic countries within the Council of the Baltic Sea States
Council of the Baltic Sea States
The Council of the Baltic Sea States is an overall political forum for regional intergovernmental cooperation which addresses the five priority areas of the environment, economic development, energy, education and culture, civil security and human dimension, including trafficking in human...

 and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

's Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The Nordic Council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

 has an office in Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 is a member of the Nordic Investment Bank
Nordic Investment Bank
The Nordic Investment Bank is an international financial institution founded in the mid-1970s by the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In 2005, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became members of the Bank. NIB’s headquarters are located in Helsinki, Finland...

. The Nordic countries are among the most important trading partners of Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

.

England

The Kingdom of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 was founded mainly by invading Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 and in part by Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 and Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

, who all originated in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 prior to the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

. Saxons, although usually associated with the modern region of Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, came from what is now lower Denmark and upper Germany. The name of England means 'land of the Angles', and scholars believe that the Angles were the main contributors in the creation of what is usually called Anglo-Saxon England. These tribes shared a Scandinavian culture with the neighbouring Swedes, Danes and Geats, who all appear in the English national saga Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, which is itself set in Denmark.

However, recent scholarship has suggested the possibility that England's links with Denmark go back further than the migration period. Traditionally, from the dawn of serious histography in the 19th century, it has been assumed that the entire population of Roman Britain were one uniform ethnicity, sharing a common language, since Roman accounts made no ethnic distinction between the tribes of Britons. However, scholars such as Stephen Oppenheimer suggest that there was in fact already a clear genetic and cultural division between western Britain (linguistically Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 and genetically closer to Iberia
Iberia
The name Iberia refers to three historical regions of the old world:* Iberian Peninsula, in Southwest Europe, location of modern-day Portugal and Spain** Prehistoric Iberia...

) and eastern Britain (linguistically Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 and genetically closer to Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

). Population genetics is relatively new, but it is clear already that the east coast of England has shared populations with coastal Scandinavia and Denmark in particular for thousands of years. This was facilitated by Denmark being on the opposite shore of the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, the coast of which was an area of common trade, culture and settlement. This possibility also raises the question of whether the English language is older than previously thought, and more closely related to Scandinavian languages (North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

) than Continental Germanic languages (West Germanic languages
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

).

In addition to Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 links, much of England, particularly East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

, Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

 and Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

, were once part of the Danelaw
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

, an area of England ruled by Danish vikings. These Danish vikings may have been following a tradition of fortune-seeking in England that pre-dated the Viking Age, and was already well established when earlier Angles, Jutes and Saxons set up petty kingdoms in England. By contrast, the Norwegian vikings tended to raid Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In the 11th century, Danish King Cnut the Great inherited the Kingdom of England, which was then the most prosperous monarchy in Europe, becoming king of England, Denmark, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and part of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. In 1066, the Viking Age ended with the death of Norwegian King Harald Hardrada during an invasion attempt of England, where he was defeated by English King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

.

The story of Lady Godiva
Lady Godiva
Godiva , often referred to as Lady Godiva , was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants...

 and Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom is a nickname commonly given to voyeurs, particularly males. It originated with the legend of Lady Godiva, when a man named Tom watched her during her nude ride and was struck blind or dead.It may also refer to:In music...

, London Bridge Is Falling Down
London Bridge is Falling Down
"London Bridge Is Falling Down" is a well-known traditional nursery rhyme and singing game, which is found in different versions all over the world. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 502.-Lyrics:...

 and Sigurd the Dane of Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

 fame come from this period of an Anglo-Scandinavian "Empire of the North". After England's population stabilised into a nation-state, Sweyn Forkbeard's family, which went back to Denmark from the Danish colonies in the West (see Harthacnut of Denmark
Harthacnut of Denmark
Harthacnut or Cnut I was a legendary King of Denmark. He is alternatively given as the son of an otherwise unknown "Sweyn," or, as presented by Ragnarssona þáttr, of the semi-mythic viking chieftain Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, himself one of the sons of the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok...

), took over Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 partly with the excuse of St. Brice's Day massacre
St. Brice's Day massacre
The St. Brice's Day massacre was the killing of Danes in the Kingdom of England on 13 November 1002, ordered by King Æthelred the Unready. The name refers to St Brice, fifth century Bishop of Tours, whose feast day is 13 November.-Background:...

 and stratified as well as unified the government of England into four regional earldoms under control by Danes and Norwegians as well as promoting the English church in Scandinavia at the expense of the German church. This led to the later installment of the Archdiocese of Nidaros
Archdiocese of Nidaros
The Archdiocese of Nidaros was the metropolitan see covering Norway in the later Middle Ages. The see was the Nidaros Cathedral, in the city of Nidaros...

, which administered the Diocese of Sodor and Man
Diocese of Sodor and Man
Sodor and Man is a diocese of the Church of England. Originally much larger, today it covers just the Isle of Man and its adjacent islets.-Early history:...

 formerly belonging to the Province of York
Province of York
The Province of York is one of two ecclesiastical provinces making up the Church of England, and consists of 14 dioceses which cover the northern third of England and the Isle of Man. York was elevated to an Archbishopric in 735 AD: Ecgbert of York was the first archbishop...

 (and would later reconnect upon Norse land cessions) by the English Pope Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV , born Nicholas Breakspear or Breakspeare, was Pope from 1154 to 1159.Adrian IV is the only Englishman who has occupied the papal chair...

. Direct relations between Denmark and England would continue intermittently until the reign of Eystein II of Norway
Eystein II of Norway
Eystein Haraldsson , born c. 1125 apparently in Scotland, died 1157 in Bohuslän, Norway, was king of Norway from 1142 to 1157. He ruled as co-ruler with his brothers, Inge Haraldsson and Sigurd Munn...

, but the take overs of both by Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania KG was King Eric III of Norway Norwegian Eirik, King Eric VII of Denmark , and as Eric King of Sweden...

 and William of Normandy
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 respectively, divided their focuses to re-attachment with Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

 instead. There was a much later interjection of New Sweden
New Sweden
New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement. New Sweden included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania....

 amidst the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 colonies, but the relationship was much different in that period.

Scotland

Like the English, the Scottish people had strong historical links to Scandinavia. The Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 is descended from Old English, and the lowlands of Scotland were colonised by the same tribes as England. Later, during the Viking Age, Scotland was frequently attacked from Norway, giving rise to a culture of Norse-Gaels
Norse-Gaels
The Norse–Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region, including the Isle of Man, and western Scotland for a part of the Middle Ages; they were of Gaelic and Scandinavian origin and as a whole exhibited a great deal of Gaelic and Norse cultural syncretism...

, similar to the Anglo-Dane
Anglo-Dane
The Anglo-Dane was a Danish automobile manufactured by H. C. Fredriksen of Copenhagen from 1902 to 1917. Fredriksen began by building bicycles in the 1890s; for these he used British parts - hence the name....

 culture of Northern England. Areas such as Caithness
Caithness
Caithness is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area of Scotland. The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is...

, Sutherland
Sutherland
Sutherland is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic administrative county of Scotland. It is now within the Highland local government area. In Gaelic the area is referred to according to its traditional areas: Dùthaich 'IcAoidh , Asainte , and Cataibh...

 and the Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 were under Norse rule for long periods, and the Bishopric of Trondheim formerly controlled large sections of north west Scotland.

The Norn language
Norn language
Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken in Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were pledged to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, it was gradually replaced by Scots and on the mainland by Scottish...

 was spoken in eastern Caithness into medieval times.

Norsemen have been found to have settled throughout Scotland, concentrated highly in the North.

Shetland and Orkney

The Northern Isles
Northern Isles
The Northern Isles is a chain of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. The climate is cool and temperate and much influenced by the surrounding seas. There are two main island groups: Shetland and Orkney...

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

Orkney
Orkney Islands
Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands , is an archipelago in northern Scotland, situated north of the coast of Caithness...

 and Shetland
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

—have a long-established Nordic identity. The islands were Norwegian and Danish colonies for more than 500 years, but ownership defaulted to the crown of Scotland in 1472 following non-payment of the marriage dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

 of Margaret of Denmark and Norway, queen of James III of Scotland
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

.

During World War II Shetland and Orkney were important bases for the Norwegian armed forces in exile. The Shetland Bus
Shetland bus
The Shetland Bus was the nickname of a clandestine special operations group that made a permanent link between Shetland, Scotland, and German-occupied Norway from 1941 until the German occupation ended on 8 May 1945. From mid-1942 the official name of the group was "Norwegian Naval Independent Unit"...

 was based in Shetland and smuggled refugees, agents and supplies to and from Norway.

In later years financial relations, particularly in the maritime industries, have been important. Cultural and sporting exchanges are frequent. A genetic survey showed that 60% of the male population of Shetland and Orkney had Western Norwegian genes.

The traditional links to Scandinavia are reflected in the islands' flags, both of which are based around a Nordic cross:
   
Orkney
Flag of Orkney
The new official Orkney Community Flag was the winner of a public flag consultation in February and March 2007. In the flag consultation the people of Orkney were asked for their preferred design from a short list of 5, all of which had been approved by the Court of the Lord Lyon...

Shetland
Flag of Shetland
The flag of Shetland was designed by Roy Grønneberg and Bill Adams in 1969. It was unofficially created to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the transfer of the islands from Norway to the Kingdom of Scotland and the 500 years before as part of Norway....



Other regions of the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 have adopted symbols to allude to a similar Norse or Norse-Gaelic
Norse-Gaels
The Norse–Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region, including the Isle of Man, and western Scotland for a part of the Middle Ages; they were of Gaelic and Scandinavian origin and as a whole exhibited a great deal of Gaelic and Norse cultural syncretism...

 heritage.

Germany

Parts of the states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 in northern Germany, namely Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 and Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 were at times part of Denmark and Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

, Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern part of Sweden, and have a long history of cooperation dating back to the medieval Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

. In the 15th century, Stockholm had a German majority population, and Germans paid more than half of the city's taxes.

Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig denotes the southern half of the former Duchy of Schleswig on the Jutland Peninsula. The geographical area today covers the thirty or forty northernmost kilometers of Germany up to the Flensburg Fjord, where it borders on Denmark...

 on the Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 peninsula was conquered and reconquered both by the Germans and the Danes, i.e. the border between Denmark and Germany changed several times over the centuries. Particularly the northern parts of present Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 have a significant ethnic Danish minority
Danish minority of Southern Schleswig
The Danish ethnic minority in Southern Schleswig, Germany, has existed by this name since 1920, when the Schleswig Plebiscite split German-ruled Schleswig into two parts: Northern Schleswig, with a Danish majority and a German minority was united with Denmark, while Southern Schleswig remained a...

. The region had a Scandinavian identity in Hedeby
Hedeby
Hedeby |heath]]land, and býr = yard, thus "heath yard"), mentioned by Alfred the Great as aet Haethe , in German Haddeby and Haithabu, a modern spelling of the runic Heiðabý was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age...

 and Angeln
Angeln
Modern Angeln, also known as Anglia , is a small peninsula in Southern Schleswig in the northern Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, protruding into the Bay of Kiel...

 up until its transfer to Germany in the mid 19th century and its subsequent Germanisation
Germanisation
Germanisation is both the spread of the German language, people and culture either by force or assimilation, and the adaptation of a foreign word to the German language in linguistics, much like the Romanisation of many languages which do not use the Latin alphabet...

. Today, the Nordic character of Southern Schleswig's society and its inhabitants is still very prominent. There are Danish state schools in the area, and the Danish minority is active both politically and culturally.

Swedish Pomerania
Swedish Pomerania
Swedish Pomerania was a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815, situated on what is now the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. Following the Polish War and the Thirty Years' War, Sweden held extensive control over the lands on the southern Baltic coast, including Pomerania and parts...

 was once part of the Swedish kingdom; a time when the local University of Greifswald, at that time Sweden's oldest university, attracted both students and professors from Sweden. The cultural heritage survives in the form of many buildings, though the Swedish population either left the region when the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

 declined or was assimilated into mainstream German society.

Genetically, Germans and Scandinavians are closely related. According to recent genetic analysis, both mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms showed a noticeable genetic affinity between Swedes and Germans (conclusions also valid for Norwegians).

See also

  • Scandinavia
    Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

    , Northern Europe
    Northern Europe
    Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

    , Baltic region
    Baltic region
    The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

  • Baltoscandia
  • Subdivisions of the Nordic countries
    Subdivisions of the Nordic countries
    The countries and autonomous islands in the Nordic region have some similarly named country subdivisions, although their translations into English may differ.-Subdivisions of Denmark:*Mainland Denmark...

  • Nordic Council
    Nordic Council
    The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

    , Northern Dimension
    Northern Dimension
    The Northern dimension is an initiative in the European Union regarding the cross-border and external policies covering Nordic countries, Baltic states and Russia...

  • Nordic Cross
  • Climate of the Nordic countries
    Climate of the Nordic countries
    The climate of the Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe, consisting of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories which include the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...


External links

  • Norden – the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers' website.
  • Nordregio – a European centre for research, education and documentation on spatial development, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Includes maps and graphs.
  • Go Scandinavia – official website of the Scandinavian Tourist Boards in North America.
  • Scandinavia House – the Nordic Center in New York, run by the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
  • vifanord – a digital library that provides scientific information on the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as the Baltic region as a whole.
  • Mid Nordic Committee – Nordic organization to promote sustainable development and growth in the region.
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