When you think of the Northern Lights and fjords, what countries do you think of? Norway? Sweden? Maybe you’ve heard these countries referred to as Scandinavian countries. But just where is Scandinavia?

Scandinavia is an area of Northern Europe that shares a common historical, cultural and linguistic Germanic heritage. This area includes the modern countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Scandinavia is a cultural term that is often confused with a similar geographical term: Scandinavian Peninsula. The Scandinavian Peninsula is made up of the modern countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Scientists believe the Scandinavian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in Europe, measuring about 1,150 miles long and anywhere from 230 to 500 miles wide.

Finland, although a part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, is not usually considered a Scandinavian country. Despite its close location to Sweden and Norway, it doesn’t share the same Germanic cultural and linguistic heritage as those countries.

Sometimes the Scandinavian countries are grouped with Finland and Iceland and referred to as the Nordic countries. This is also a geographical term that recognizes the similar location and climate of these countries.

The Scandinavian languages — Danish, Norwegian and Swedish — are similar and can, with a little training, be understood by people in each of the Scandinavian countries. Finnish — spoken in Finland, of course — is entirely unrelated to the Scandinavian languages, which further explains why Finland is usually not considered Scandinavian.

The Scandinavian people are descendants of old Germanic tribes who moved into the area from Northern Germany. These tribes spoke an old Germanic language that evolved into a language called Old Norse.

In the Early Middle Ages, Scandinavians were called Norsemen. The Norse culture gave rise to unique cultural groups, such as the Vikings.

Even though the Scandinavian countries share a common heritage, the modern countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden are quite diverse geographically. From Norway’s fjords to Denmark’s lowlands to Sweden’s archipelagos, the lands of Scandinavia take on many forms.

Most people live in the warmer, southern areas of these countries. The far northern parts of Norway and Sweden, however, approach the Arctic Circle and can be quite cold. In today’s Scandinavia, you can find both warm, inviting coastlines and cold, hard tundra!

66 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (14 votes, avg. 4.64 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
    • Hi there, Ky Duyen Quang, thanks for WONDERing with us today! Isn’t it cool to learn that Norway, Sweden and Denmark are also known as Scandinavia? We bet you’d have to pack for warmth, but it would be a WONDERful area to visit! :-)

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We had never heard of Scandinavia before, but we live on a peninsula too.

    We think tomorrow will be about an owl because it “hoots”, planes, or a flying squirrel.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s class

    • We’re oh-so-happy that you’ve been WONDERing about an entirely new place, Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! Thanks for telling us that you also live on a peninsula, too! What a SUPER connection to today’s Wonder!

      Tomorrow’s Wonder is going to be spectacular, just like all our Wonder Friends (including you)!

      Have a WONDERful day!

  2. We feel like we are in the tundra today in Michigan! It is -3 degrees out and we will be inside for recess! When we read this article we thought about the movie called, “How to Train a Dragon” because of the charcater’s Viking heritage.

  3. We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about airplanes.

    We also really liked how big the waterfalls were in the video.

    • Hooray, our Wonder Friends in Mr. Grundy’s Class are here today! We Wonder if you have any waterfalls in your town, or if you will have to travel all the way to Scandinavia to see them?! Thanks for sharing your comment today– we hope to Wonder with you tomorrow, too! :)

  4. We LOVED learning about Scandinavia! Scandinavia doesn’t look like where we live at all. We liked the waterfalls, and fjords.

    We think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about Eagles or Airplanes.

    • Thanks for sharing what you liked and learned today, Wonder Friends in Miss Holden’s 2nd Grade Class! Scandinavia offers lots of cool views of nature– we bet it would be a WONDERful place to explore! Thanks for sharing your SUPER guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder… we can’t wait to see what will be soaring around Wonderopolis! :-)

  5. Hi,
    I am the Media Specialist at Workman Middle School in Pensacola, Florida. I have a class that I would like to participate in this program. Could you send me more information?
    Thanks,
    Audrey Booth

    • Great guess, Hunter! We can’t wait to find out what the next Wonder will be, but we sure are excited! Thanks for sharing your AWESOME guess! :-)

  6. Actually I have absolutley positivley have no idea whatsoever at all and I am completley postitivley sure that that couldn’t be more positivley correct and I am absolutley sure of that!

    • He he, you are making us laugh today, Hunter! We like your creative comment for today’s Wonder! We hope you enjoyed today’s Wonder video and article– Scandinavia is a great place to Wonder about! Thanks for stopping by, Wonder Friend! :)

  7. We now know where Scandinavia is and what it looks like! It is pretty cool!
    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about airplanes, eagles, butterflies, or spaceships!

    • Hooray, that’s exciting new, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Brandon’s Class! We sure are glad you visited the Scandinavian Peninsula with us, through our imaginations! :)

      Tomorrow’s Wonder is going to soar– we’ll see you then! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for your information about Scandanavia. We like many others here had not heard of it before. We were able to make connections to our study of landforms in science through this article. We are also looking at fact and opinion in non-fiction text. Thank you for your valuable information.

    We think that tomorrow’s wonder will have to do with flying. It will be either mechanical or natural.

    Thanks,

    Mrs. Swick’s Class

    • Hello to all our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Swick’s Class! Scandinavia has been a lot of fun to Wonder about, don’t you agree? We’re oh-so-proud of you for relating our Wonder to your science lessons about landforms, too! HOORAY!

      Thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment with us today; we sure hope to see you soon! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for the great wonder, we think tomorrow will be about unknown birds or bats. We also think it could be about butterflies, griffons, or even maybe even a parrot.

    thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • You sure have been using your Wonder imaginations today, Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class! WAY TO GO! We love all your Wonder guesses– nice work using context clues! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… we look forward to the next adventure! :)

  10. I thought today’s wonder was really fascinating! I learned a lot, and it was weird that you can find warm coastlines and also cold tundra. Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • Thanks so much, Berkleigh! You’re a great Wonder Friend– we’re glad you learned something new about weather and geography today! HOORAY! See you soon! :)

    • We’re so proud of you for learning something new today, Leslie! Great work! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we’ll see you soon! :)

    • We’re so happy that you enjoyed today’s geography Wonder, Doglover! We can’t wait to soar with you tomorrow, too! :)

  11. I think about tomorrow’s wonder and I guess that is going to be about birds, spaceships, and even planes and jets although maybe it would be wrong or right I still wonder.

    • Hi there, Pedro, thanks for WONDERing with us today! We are so excited that you shared all your Wonder guesses with us– so many awesome ideas! Great work! :)

  12. Why was the water moving so fast? How long did it take to make the video? Mrs. Hess said when she retires she would be working with the wonder friends !!!!!!!!!

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends Isaiah and Joaquin! We’re glad you and your Wonder classmates visited us today! We think you’re all lucky ducks to have an awesome teacher like Mrs. Hess! Please tell her that we’ll save her a spot here at Wonderopolis!

      We can’t take credit for today’s Wonder video, but we are glad you liked it! The water was flowing so quickly due to the weather in Norway and Sweden! :-)

  13. I am in Mrs. Hess’ class she would like to work with wonder friends when she is done being a teacher. Well that won’t be until later.

    • We think it’s cool that Mrs. Hess is doing such a great job of helping all of us Wonder! WOOHOO for WONDERful teachers! Thanks for sharing your comment, Joaquin and Isaiah! :)

  14. Wow nice job wonderopolis! Amazing you guys keep doing what you do best. Nice job, Keep WONDERing, Thanks, Zion

    :D have a good day!
    XD
    :)
    ;)

    • Thanks for sharing your kind Wonder comment, Zion! We sure are glad you’re here today! See you soon! Keep up the WONDERing! :)

    • WOW, thanks for sharing that interesting statistic with us, Jack! We hope you get to visit your future home soon! We bet it would be a WONDERful place to live! :)

  15. I am in Mrs. Hess’ class. I think it was amazing because I never saw a country in the North side and I was delighted to see some waterfall, mountains, and even more!

    I think tomorrow’s WONDER would be about birds, geese, or even airplanes, jets, and chickens! I CAN’T WAIT!

    • We’re so glad you learned something new about countries that are way up North, Kathy! Thanks for sharing your comment– we can’t wait to Wonder with you again tomorrow! See you then! :)

    • How cool, Joy! We’re so glad you WONDERed about your heritage with us today! Thanks for joining the fun and sharing your comment! :)

    • Hi there, DJ boy! We are lucky to have Wonder Friends, all over the world, who share their videos and knowledge with us! If we traveled everywhere, it would be very expensive– you’re right! The best part about WONDERing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment! :)

    • We hope you get to travel to many WONDERful places, Jusin! We know that traveling is a great way to learn about other cultures as well as learning about yourself! Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

  16. What a coincidence we were just learning about Scandinavia in Social Studies. Scandinavia is three countries Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!!!!!!

    • Nice work, Garrett! We’re so glad you and your Wonder classmates have been studying Scandinavia! Great job sharing what you learned- we’re proud of you! We Wonder if you would like to travel to Scandinavia in the future? :)

  17. Some of my ancestors were vikings so I want to learn more about vikings and Scandinavia and to know where my ancestors lived in Scandinavia.

    • WOW, that’s so cool, Maddy! We’re glad you made the connection to your family and their Scandinavian roots! We’re so happy to hear that you plan to do some more research about your family’s history in Scandinavia! Perhaps you can create a family tree?! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share

  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Where is Scandinavia?
  • What countries make up the Scandinavian Peninsula?
  • Is Finland a part of Scandinavia?

Wonder Gallery

ScandinaviaVimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to explore Scandinavia some more? Ask a friend or family member to help you with one or more of the following activities:

  • Download and print out this blank map of Scandinavia and its surrounding regions. Can you fill in the names of the countries on the map, along with their capitals and other major cities? Here are a few of the places you should be sure to mark on your map:
    • Denmark
    • Sweden
    • Norway
    • Finland
    • Copenhagen
    • Stockholm
    • Oslo
    • Helsinki
    • If you were to visit Scandinavia, what are some of the sights you would want to see? With the help of an adult, use the Internet to find pictures and information about the following famous Scandinavian attractions:
      • Northern Lights
      • Denmark’s castles
      • Legoland
      • Polar World
      • Briksdal Glacier
      • As you learned in today’s Wonder of the Day, the languages of Denmark, Norway and Sweden are similar, while the language of Finland is quite different. Use an online translator to translate the following words into these different languages:
        • hello
        • goodbye
        • school
        • teacher
        • student

Make a chart of the different translations of these words. How do they compare? Can you see the similarities between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish? Are the Finnish translations significantly different?

Still Wondering

Check out this Smithsonian’s History Explorer activity, Unexpected Cargo: Spud Campbell, First Radio Officer, about an American who, during WWII, helped and was honored by Norway.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will soar on the wings of…who knows?

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.