Countries of Scandinavia

Each Northern European Nation Boasts a Rich History

Henningsvær village at the lofoten
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Scandinavia is a large region of northern Europe that is predominantly made up of the Scandinavian Peninsula. This peninsula contains the countries of Norway and Sweden. Neighboring Denmark and Finland, as well as Iceland, are also considered to be part of this region.

Geographically, the Scandinavian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in Europe, extending from above the Arctic Circle to the shores of the Baltic Sea. It covers about 289,500 square miles. Learn more about the countries of Scandinavia—including their populations (all of which are 2018 estimates), capitals, and other facts—below. 

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Aurora Borealis over Hamnoy, Norway
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Norway is located on the Scandinavian Peninsula between the North Sea and the northern Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 125,020 square miles (323,802 sq km) and 15,626 miles (25,148 km) of coastline.

Norway's topography is varied, with high plateaus and rugged, glaciated mountain ranges separated by fertile valleys and plains. The similarly mountainous coastline is comprised of many fjords. The climate is temperate along the coast due to the North Atlantic Current, while cold and wet inland.

Norway has a population of about 5,353,363 and its capital city is Oslo. Its industrial economy is growing thanks to the successful export of petroleum and gas as well as booming shipbuilding and fishing markets.

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Colorful fishing huts
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Also located on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden is bordered by Norway on the west and Finland on the east. The nation, which sits along the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, covers an area of 173,860 square miles (450,295 sq km) and has 1,999 miles (3,218 km) of coastline.

The topography of Sweden features rolling lowlands with scattered mountains in western areas, near Norway. Its highest point—the mountain Kebnekaise at 6,926 feet (2,111 m)—is located near Sweden's northwestern border. This country's climate is temperate in the south and subarctic in the north.

The capital and largest city in Sweden, found along the east coast, is Stockholm. Sweden has a population of 9,960,095. Its developed economy owes its stability to strong manufacturing, timber, and energy sectors.

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Cobbled street in the old town, Aarhus, Denmark

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Denmark borders Germany to the north and occupies the Jutland Peninsula. Its coastlines cover 4,545 miles (7,314 km) of land along the Baltic and North seas. The total land area of Denmark is 16,638 square miles (43,094 sq km)—this area includes the mainland of Denmark as well as two large islands, Sjaelland and Fyn.

Like Sweden, the topography of Denmark consists of low, flat plains. The highest point in Denmark is Mollehoj/Ejer Bavnehoj at 561 feet (171 m) and the lowest point is Lammefjord at -23 feet (-7 m). The climate of Denmark is mainly temperate with cool, humid summers and mild, windy winters.

The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen and the country's population is 5,747,830. The economy is dominated by industries with a focus on pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, and maritime shipping.

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Helsinki harbor and Uspenski Cathedral at night
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Finland lies between Sweden and Russia with Norway to its north. This country covers a total land area of 130,558 square miles (338,145 sq km) and has 776 miles (1,250 km) of coastline along the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Bothnia, and the Gulf of Finland.

The topography of Finland consists of low rolling plains dotted with many lakes. The highest point is Haltiatunturi at 4,357 feet (1,328 m). Finland's climate is cold temperate and as such, it is relatively mild despite its high latitude. The North Atlantic Current and the nation's many lakes moderate weather conditions.

The population of Finland is 5,542,517 and its capital is Helsinki. The country specializes in manufacturing for the engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries.

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A man stands inside an ice cave
Peter Adams / Getty Images

Iceland is an island nation located just south of the Arctic Circle in the northern Atlantic ocean, southeast of Greenland and west of Ireland. It has a total land area of 39,768 square miles (103,000 sq km) and a coastline that stretches 3,088 miles (4,970 km).

The topography of Iceland is one of the most volcanic in the world. Its landscape is pockmarked by hot springs, sulfur beds, geysers, lava fields, canyons, and waterfalls. Iceland's climate is temperate with mild, windy winters and wet, cool summers.

The capital city of Iceland is Reykjavik and the nation's population of 337,780 makes it the least populous of the Scandinavian countries by a wide margin. Iceland's economy is anchored in the fishing industry as well as tourism and geothermal and hydropower energy.

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Briney, Amanda. "Countries of Scandinavia." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Briney, Amanda. (2023, April 5). Countries of Scandinavia. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Countries of Scandinavia." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).