An Introduction to the 5 Scandinavian Countries

Each northern European nation boasts a rich history

Henningsvær village at the lofoten
franckreporter / Getty Images

Scandinavia is a large region of northern Europe that is mainly made up of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It includes 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 in Europe, extending from above the Arctic Circle to the shores of the Baltic Sea and covering about 289,500 square miles. You can learn more about the countries of Scandinavia, their population, capitals, and other facts with this list. 

of 05


Aurora Borealis over Hamnoy, Norway
LT Photo / Getty Images

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 that are separated by fertile valleys and plains. The similarly rugged coastline is made up of many fjords. The climate is temperate along the coast due to the North Atlantic Current, while inland Norway is cold and wet.

Norway has a population of about 5,353,363 (2018 estimate), and its capital city is Oslo. Its economy is growing and is based mainly on industries, including petroleum and gas, shipbuilding, and fishing.

of 05


Colorful fishing huts
Johner Images / Getty Images

Also located on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden is bordered by Norway to the west and Finland to the east; the nation sits along the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. Sweden 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 is flat to rolling lowlands as well as mountains in its western areas near Norway. Its highest point — Kebnekaise, at 6,926 feet (2,111 m) — is located there. The climate of Sweden is temperate in the south and subarctic in the north.

The capital and largest city in Sweden is Stockholm, which is located on its east coast. Sweden has a population of 9,960,095 (2018 estimate). It also has a developed economy with strong manufacturing, timber, and energy sectors.

of 05


Cobbled street in the old town, Aarhus, Denmark

Cultura RM Exclusive / Getty Images

Denmark borders Germany to the north, occupying the Jutland Peninsula. It has coastlines that cover 4,545 miles (7,314 km) 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.

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

The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen, and the country has a population of 5,747,830 (2018 estimate). The economy is dominated by industries, focused on pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, and maritime shipping.

of 05


Helsinki harbor and Uspenski Cathedral at night
Arthit Somsakul / Getty Images

Finland lies between Sweden and Russia; to the north is Norway. Finland 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 as well as 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 the weather conditions.

The population of Finland is 5,542,517 (2018 estimate), and its capital is Helsinki. The country's manufacturing is dominated by the engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries.

of 05


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, 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 covers 3,088 miles (4,970 km).

The topography of Iceland is one of the most volcanic in the world, with a landscape 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 of Iceland is Reykjavik, and the nation's population of 337,780 (2018 estimate) makes it by far the least populous of the Scandinavian countries. Iceland's economy is anchored in the fishing industry, as well as tourism and geothermal and hydropower energy.