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.


"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

Roasted fish.
The word for ghost in

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.

Read more

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          

Find out how to contribute to this site

Norden—The North
by Bob Brooke

Map of Scandinavia.
It’s "the rooftop of the world." Once the home of the Vikings, it’s now a haven of peace. Once isolated off the routes of travel by land and sea, it’s now on main air traffic routes. Once poor, it’s now productive and prosperous. Barbarous late into European history, it’s now an enlightened society. This is Scandinavia, Norden, the North.

Scandinavia includes Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, the eastern flank in Finland, the western outposts in the Atlantic Ocean: the Faroes Iceland, and the Danish colony of Greenland. The area reaches from the Russian border to the shores of North America. It’s flanked on one side by polar seas, and on the other by the Atlantic and the states of continental Europe. It’s people have a common cultural tradition, have been in and out of various political combinations with one another, and think of themselves as a group. They have their differences–each of the five nations is an entity–yet each is far more different from other nations outside the group than it is from any of the brother nations within the group. Its unity is based on geographical position and community of culture.

When Scandinavia was on the frontier of civilization and conflict the people could choose whether they wished to play the game of international war and politics, or stand aloof. When they did choose to play they could usually do so on other people's grounds. Swedes like to claim, for instance, that their country has never been invaded, and even though the claim is not literally accurate, it is almost so. Does this aloofness of the past have significance in the mid-20th century? Is the idea of the marginal position of northern Europe merely an illusion to which wishful thinking clings? What are the geographical realities of today, the pressures, the protective barriers which affect this section of the earth?

The countries of the North have been praised to the skies as lands of the middle way and damned to the depths as selfish and blind in a confused and embittered world. Neither view is correct.

To understand these peoples one must assume certain fundamentals–common sense, education, honesty, cooperativeness, hard work, a dash of good luck, far-sighted planning, careful spending, a creative talent, independent spirit, and democratic processes.

Progress has been hampered sometimes by distance from supplies and markets, sometimes by pride and stubbornness, sometimes by an overdose of the independent spirit. Difficulties from plagues, wars, blockades repeatedly have harassed the Scandinavians. But progress has been real throughout the area. Perhaps the elements of that progress have meaning for the rest of the world.


< Back to Article Index

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
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


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.
Read more         Go to the Book Shop >

To read more articles by Bob Brooke, visit his Web site.

Site contents Copyrighted ©2002-2016, by Bob Brooke Communications.
Site design and development by
BBC Web Services.