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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THE MAN BEHIND THE SCREAM
by Bob Brooke

Edvard Munch, notably Scandinavia's greatest artist, pioneered in the expressionist movement., He painted is his best-known painting, The Scream, in 1893. Growing up in Oslo, then called Christiania, he was often ill. Early memories of illness, death, and grief in his family had a tremendous impact on his later works. His father's death may have contributed to the loneliness and melancholy of one of his most famous works, Night , painted in1890.

By the early 1890s, Munch had achieved renown. He was at the center of a succes de scandale in Munich in 1892, when his art was interpreted as "anarchistic provocation." Authorities closed a major exhibit of his work due to protest.

Munch traveled to Berlin, where he joined a world of literati, artists, and intellectuals. Among them was August Strindberg, who discussed the philosophy of Nietzsche, symbolism, psychology, and occultism with Munch. These discussions clearly influenced his work. He revealed his growing outlook to the world in an 1893 show in Berlin, where several paintings had death as their theme. Death in a Sickroom created quite a stir.

In 1896 Munch moved to Paris, where he made exquisite color lithographs and his first woodcuts. By the turn of the century he began painting in a larger format and incorporating some of the Art Nouveau aesthetics of the time. Red Virginia Creeper and Melancholy reflects these new influences.

A nervous disorder sent him to a sanitarium, where he had a turbulent love affair with a wealthy bohemian nicknamed "Tuna." The affair ended in 1902 when a revolver permanently injured a finger on Munch's left hand. He became obsessed with the shooting incident, and poured out his contempt for "Tuna" in such works as Death of Murat, painted in 1907.

Prominent people asked Munch to paint their portraits, so he did. The group portrait of Dr. Linde's sons, painted in1904 is a masterpiece of modern portraiture. Munch became increasingly alcoholic, and in 1906 painted Self-Portrait with a Bottle of Wine.

From 1909 until his death, Munch lived in Norway. In his later years he retreated into isolation, surrounded only by his paintings, which he called "my children." The older Munch placed more emphasis on the monumental and the picturesque, as in landscapes or people in harmony with nature.

In 1940, he decided to leave his huge collection of paintings to the city of Oslo upon his death. Today, the Munch Museum, featuring works illustrating all phases of his artistic development, provides the best introduction to this strange and enigmatic artist. As has been the case with so many famous artists, Munch's fame is far greater today than it was during his lifetime.

< Back to Scandinavian Arts                        Go to The Ageless Design of Alvar Aalto >

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

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