Scandinavian and Nordic countries – is it the same thing?

What is the difference between the Scandinavian and Nordic countries? In short, “Nordic countries” is a broader geographical, cultural, and political term than “Scandinavian countries.”

Scandinavian countries refer to three nations. Two of them, Sweden and Norway, are located entirely on the Scandinavian Peninsula. The third country, Denmark, initially occupied the southern part of the peninsula (including Skåne province, from which the term “Scandinavia” originates) until the 17th century.

In addition to the aforementioned countries, the Nordic countries also include other northern nations: Iceland, Finland, as well as the dependent territories of various member states, such as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland Islands. They form an organization called the Nordic Council, which aims to collaborate in the fields of economy, science, and culture.

While Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland have similar Germanic languages as their official languages, Finland uses a Uralic language that is not even an Indo-European language. The indigenous population in the far north, the Sami people, also speak Uralic languages. Estonia, which shares linguistic and cultural similarities with Finland, also aspires to Nordic identity and membership in the Nordic Council.

In conclusion, when discussing the northern countries in terms of their economic or political models, it is more accurate to use the term “Nordic countries” rather than “Scandinavian countries.” Typically, this also includes Finland and Iceland.


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