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The areas in red are definitely part of Scandinavia. The areas in orange might be, depending on who you ask.

Scandinavia is a two thousand year old name for a very cold peninsula in northern Europe. It comprises Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, of which the latter is actually not located on the peninsula at all. Iceland and at least parts of Finland are also part of Scandinavia, except when they're not. The definition of Scandinavia might even be stretched to include Greenland, which isn't even geographically in Europe.[note 1]

Political systems[edit]

Scandinavians have large public sectors with generous state welfare provision including universal health care. Scandinavians tend to be happy despite harsh northern climate[note 2] and tend to live long.[note 3]


Through reviewing the existing studies, theories, and data behind the World Happiness Report, we find that the most prominent explanations [of Nordic happiness] include factors related to the quality of institutions, such as reliable and extensive welfare benefits, low corruption, and well-functioning democracy and state institutions. Furthermore, Nordic citizens experience a high sense of autonomy and freedom, as well as high levels of social trust towards each other, which play an important role in determining life satisfaction. [1]

Scandinavians regularly score extremely high in the world happiness index.

Lo there do I see my father; Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers; Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call me, they bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.

And no, their hats didn't have horns.

Scandinavia has a mainly Germanic culture, but there are some remnants of the indigenous Sámi (or Laps, if you're hip) up north. Their pagan culture has nearly been eradicated and partly converted to Christianity. The result is a bunch of short stature, ill-tempered agnostics proficiently wielding wooden cups of cold coffee and moonshine. That, and some very long knives. In the summer the Lapps dress up in their colorful traditional garments to sell dried reindeer meat and postcards to German truck campers. Public speaking, on the other hand, generally scares the shit out of Scandinavians. If severely stressed, Scandinavia may react by producing vikings, Sami insurgents, heavy water, or satanistic metalheads.

The Finns also bring some Russian culture to the Scandinavian table, provided they're at all a part of Scandinavia.

External links[edit]


  1. This confusion is by and large due to "Scandinavia" (Denmark/Norway/Sweden) being used where the term "Nordic countries" (Denmark/Finland/Iceland/Norway/Sweden) would be more appropriate, and to add to the confusion The Nordic Council includes Greenland as well (as an autonomous and self-governing area within the wider Danish realm alongside the Faroe Islands, just like the autonomous Åland Islands is represented separately from Finland in the NC). The appropriately named webcomic Scandinavia and the World explains this graphically as well as what the NC is really about.
  2. Denmark is considered by some the happiest country in the world.
  3. The Swedes live longer than the British, French or Americans.