Scandinavia--Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland--is blessed with five distinct, yet related, cultures.

Learn about the stories behind the legends, about the countries, and most of all about the people.

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"We sailed our ships to any shore that offered the best hope of booty; we feared no fellow on earth..."
Saga of Arrow-Odd

What is Gjetost?
A town in Sweden.
Brown goat cheese.
The word for "hello" in
       Danish.

Roasted fish.
The word for ghost in
       Swedish.

Correct answer?
OSLO - Norway

Clustered around the head of the 68-mile-long Oslofjord, Oslo is probably the most spacious city in the world. Its 175-square-mile metropolitan area consists of over 75 percent forests and five percent water. Its fine deep harbor, Pipervika, stretches into the heart of the city and from it leave ferries to Denmark and Germany.

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Feature: Stavanger
Featured City: Oslo
Food: The Great NordicDiet
          Swedish Semla
          Norwegian Cuisine
          Canned Sardines
History: The Round Tower
Arts:   Vigeland Park, Oslo
          Georg Jensen
People: Henrik Ibsen    
News: Happiest Countries          

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RECIPE

Lefse
Norwegian Wrapping Bread

Lefse is a great treat, particularly during the holiday season and for other festive occasions. Every region and every family seems to have its own style. Some lefse is soft, with cooked mashed potato, and rich with butter and cream, while others are made only with potato, flour, and water.

Needed:

4 cups old or mealy potatoes, peeled
       and coarsely chopped
1/3-cup soft unsalted butter
cup heavy cream
1 teaspoons salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

A large pot, large bowl, rolling pin, potato masher, and an electric frying pan, lefse maker, or a large cast iron skillet.

Preparing the dough
Prepare the dough the day before. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Drain, and mash thoroughly. There must be no small lumps to interfere with rolling out the breads. (Using instant mashed potatoes works well because the potatoes need to be smooth and lump-free.)

Transfer potatoes to a bowl. Stir in butter, cream, and salt, and blend well. Add flour and work the dough into a ball. DO NOT KNEAD. If the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. Since
potatoes vary in moisture content, the amount of flour needed to make a workable dough will vary. Cover and seal tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight.

Rolling the dough
The next day, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide in two, and set one half aside, covered with plastic wrap. (The dough can be sealed in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.) Divide the piece of dough into sixteen equal pieces.

While keeping hands and work surface lightly floured, flatten one piece of dough with the palm of your hand, turning it over once or twice as you do so. Using a light touch and a rolling pin, roll the dough out, rolling from the center outward and rotating it an eighth- to a quarter-turn between each stroke, to a very thin round, 8 to 10 inches across. Turn the dough over occasionally, keeping the work surface and rolling pin lightly floured to prevent sticking. Slide the finished round to one side of your work surface and start rolling out the next one. Roll out 8 bread rounds and cook them before rolling out any more. Even slightly thicker rounds will cook well.

Read about the lefse tradition.

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Every year about 95 000 people die in Sweden and, according to the law, everyone must be buried. There must be room for everyone in the cemeteries, therefore the future needs of space have to be predicted. Because of this funerals must be part of the planning process.

Read more about Swedish burials

News from Norway
from Aftenposten
News from Denmark
from Denmark.dk
News from Sweden
from the SR International 
News from Finland
from Finnish News Agency STT
News from Iceland
from The Iceland Review
All news is in English
.

THE VIKINGS:
THE NORTH ATLANTIC SAGA

In the early Middle Ages, driven by famine at home and the promise of wealth to be had in other lands, the Vikings set out from Scandinavia to conquer parts of England, Ireland, France, Russia, and even Turkey. Bolstered by their successes, the Vikings pushed westward, eventually crossing the North Atlantic and founding settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland in Canada.
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