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.

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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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The Great Nordic Diet
by Bob Brooke

Nutritional experts say a traditional Nordic diet is just as healthful as a Mediterranean one. In fact, it includes a lot of the same ingredients—fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads.

According to a study that conducted in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland by the
Nordiska ministerrådet (the Nordic Council of Ministers), a healthy, Nordic diet will decrease cardiovascular diseases and the risk for Type 2 Diabetes,. The study, in which 200 people participated, shows that the diet as a whole is important, just like the well known Mediterranean diet, rather than individual foods.

The Nordic diet is about locally produced food. Scandinavians exchange animal and butter fats for vegetable oils and margarine based on vegetable oils. Nordic food has been shown to reduce inflammation in conjunction with cardiovascular diseases. The levels of harmful cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, decrease while the levels of good cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, increase so the proportions between the two fat types improve. Meanwhile the amount of harmful fat particles in the blood vessels also decreased with the diet.

With these types of improvements, researchers involved in the Nordic project Sysdiet, calculate that the risk of cardiovascular diseases will decrease by 10 to 15 percent during a five to 10 year period. Thanks to the diet, the body’s absorption of minerals and vitamins also increased.

The Sysdiet project began in 2007 with a diet based on foods originating from the Nordic countries, a diet which improves the blood lipid profile and the insulin sensitivity, and which lowers blood pressure and body weight in hypercholesterolemic people. It means a higher intake of plant foods, fish, eggs and vegetable fats, and a lower intake of meat products, dairy products, sweets, desserts and alcoholic beverages.

Nordiska ministerrådet’s homepage explains how to best prepare the Nordic diet. Substiture rape seed oil and plant oil-based margarines for animal and butter fats, as is the use of fat-free dairy foods. Domestic seasonal fruits such as apples, pears, plums and berries are good as are vegetables and root crops. The Council also recommends eating whole grains of rye, barley, or oats daily. For protein, they recommend lean and fatty fish two to three times a week, as well as game and poultry.

< Back to A Taste of Scandinavia              Go to The King of Canned Fish >              

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.
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