The Confusion between Scandinavia and Nordic

It’s long been a mystery for me and most of the world the difference between the Nordic and Scandinavian. As I learned, Scandinavian is an anglophone term that includes Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Occasionally, in loose English definitions, it includes Finland and Iceland.

The Nordic countries is composed of an official group called the Nordic Council. The Nordic Council includes the three Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway and Denmark), Iceland, Finland, and three autonomous regions (Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland Islands.

Below is a table of the Nordic region nations:

Flag Country Governance Capital Population
Official Scandinavian countries
demark flag Denmark Kingdom Copenhagen 5,519,287
norway flag Norway Independence 1905 Oslo 4,836,183
sweden flag Sweden Kingdom Stockholm 9,336,487
The additional Nordic nations
finland flag Finland Independence 1917 Helsinki 5,349,829
iceland flag Iceland Independence 1944* Reykjavík 319,756
Nordic autonomous regions
faroe islands flags Faroe Islands Self-governance 1948 Tórshavn 49,006
greenland flag Greenland Self-governance 1979 Nuuk 57,600
åland flag Åland Islands Autonomous province 1920* Mariehamn 27,456

Together, the Nordic region is 25 million people with some member states in the European Union, NATO, Eurozone, and Schengan.

To make the definitions more complicated, in terms of geography, the Scandinavian Peninsula includes mainland Sweden and mainland Norway, and also a part of Finland. The Jutland Peninsula includes mainland Denmark and a small part of Germany. But Denmark proper has not had any territory on the Scandinavian Peninsula since 1658. Alas, Scandinavia is still Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Forget Germany.

Nordic Flags

So you can call a Swede a Scandinavian or Nordic person but a Finn is a Nordic person not Scandinavian. Stick to Nordic region for anything relating to those cold, Norse god loving, vodka infused nations of the north. Well, minus Russia.

15 thoughts on “The Confusion between Scandinavia and Nordic”

  1. Actually, it’s quite easy to tell the Scandinavian countries apart from the other Nordic countries, just think of the airlines!

    – Icelandair
    – Finnair
    – and Scandinavian Airlines, SAS

    See – simple! As long as you know what five you start out with it’s easy to figure out what three you’re left with and that make up the glorious region of Scandi!

  2. The whole point here is that the different groupings here are closely attached to cultural and historical affiliation. Denmark is a part of the Scandinavian club because the language is definitely Scandinavian (Nordic). It also used to possess large chunks of the Scandinavian peninsula (Skåne and Norway for instance). With Finland, the common cultural heritage base is weaker but since Finland was a part of the Swedish kindom for more than 600 years, the ties are very strong. Besides, there is a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland (Finland is bi-lingual by law) which qualifies them for enough “Scandinavianess” to join the club.

    Iceland finally has a special place in the hearts of all Scandinavians. They represent our past and language-wise they are the prototypical Scandinavian. Our genes can be found on that island.

  3. Wow, I never realized the complexity and confusion of this. Now it’s clear as my beer, well, filtered beer at least. :)

  4. I met a man on-line from the Faroe Islands, it was the first time I had heard of the place. Have you ever been? They look absolutely amazing.

  5. Reading the blogs it’s definitely good for improving our culture. I did not know the existence of the Aland Islands and I think I am pretty skilful in Geography.We’ll never finish to learn something. Thank Sapphire

  6. LOL Andrew!

    Juni, not been to the Faroe Islands, but it is on my list of places to visit.

    Thanks Pooja, glad you enjoyed the post and the blog. Tell Anita I say hi.

    Riccardo, like the adage ‘never stop learning.’ ;)

  7. Lets settle more important question. Which women are better looking- Scandinavian or Nordic?

  8. Ravi, will go for the Swedish women as the best looking overall.

    Not to say other Nordic women aren’t beautiful, all rank at the top of the list in the world. =)

  9. Swedish women are the best looking i guess, or they have larger presentage of hot women. Second comes Finland, even though not as many good looking ones due to the small population, the ones that are have very unique beauty, definitely nordic, but with something more special thrown in. In Finland Scandinavia meets baltic, so the beauty is very refined.

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