Nokia, Lego, Volvo, and Ericsson. These are just some of the world-famous companies that originate from the European region called Scandinavia. You have probably heard of Scandinavia as the home of the Vikings, but it is much more than that. Scandinavia is rich in culture, commerce, and history.
Scandinavia, also referred to as Nordic Europe, is a region located in Europe, specifically north of the Baltic Sea. It has an area of more than 358,000 square miles and an estimated population of above 20 million people. The languages spoken include Danish, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Swedish, and Scandinavian.
Scandinavian is composed of the five countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The region also includes the territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard, and Aland.
The name Scandinavia originated from the Skandage body of water that can be found between Norway, Sweden, and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark. Some sources consider Scandinavia to strictly cover only Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. However, other sources include Finland and Iceland, which are also countries in Nordic Europe.
According to historical records, Scandinavia used to be covered by an ice sheet about 10,000 BC. As the ice slowly melted away, different groups of people started to occupy the vast Scandinavian region. The pre-historic age can be characterized by people herding and hunting for reindeers, fishing, crafting pottery, cultivating land, farming, and developing tribes.
The year 793 AD is considered to be the start of the Viking Age. The Vikings were Scandinavian warriors and traders. They invaded, settled, and explored many parts of Europe and as far as the Middle East, northern Africa, and North America.
Christian missioners were sent to the Scandinavian region and began the Christianization of Scandinavia from the 8th to the 12th centuries. As more people were baptized into the Christian faith, Scandinavian kingdoms incorporated religion with governing the kingdom. For instance, during King Canute IV’s reign in the 11th century, Denmark was considered as a Christian country.
The years 1100-1600 saw many Scandinavian countries trying to unite for the common good. The kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden attempted to form what was known as the Kalmar Union in 1397-1520 in order to unify under a single monarch. However, the unification was met with violence and resistance as the Kalmar War broke out in 1611-1613.
More conflicts arose in the 17th century as the Thirty Years’ War erupted between 1618 and 1648. As Catholic and Protestant powers continually fought against each other, more empires rose to prominence.
In the 18th century, the Great Northern War broke out, while colonialism gained ground. The 19th century saw the Napoleonic Wars, the union between Sweden and Norway, the Finnish War, industrialization, and the monetary union.
After two World Wars, Scandinavian countries have pursued peaceful co-existence with each other as more collaboration is established, such as the Nordic Council in 1952. Scandinavia gains strength from its past as it help each other in the challenging present in order to secure a brighter future.