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Scandinavia is a geographical region centred on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. It consists of the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark (including the Danish Faroe Islands and Greenland), as well as also generally including Finland and Iceland. Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese are classed as North Germanic languages and are part of the Indo-European language group. They can also be sub-divided into continental (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian) and insular (Faroese, Icelandic) Scandinavian language groups. Finnish, spoken by over 5 million people worldwide is from an entirely separate origin despite its geographical proximity to the other Scandinavian countries and is part of the Finno-Ugric language group, more closely related to Estonian and also distantly to Hungarian.


Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian countries with a population of 9.9 million people and borders with Norway and Finland. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1994 but rejected the Euro (EUR) in a popular vote and maintained its own currency, the Swedish Krona (SEK). Sweden’s engineering sector accounts for 20% of output and exports. Telecommunications, the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industries are of significant importance to Sweden. Other well-known companies to be found in the country include Volvo, Sony Ericsson and IKEA.


Norway is on the western most edge of Northern Europe and is a very wealthy country with large oil reserves, being the eleventh largest oil exporter in the world. It is the only country in the Nordic region not to have joined the EU. Norway has rich resources of gas, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Other main industries include food processing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, fishing and pulp and paper products. Norway just as the other Nordic countries has a highly developed welfare system. Well-known Norwegian brands and companies include Statoil, Nordea Bank, Kraft foods and Telenor. Famous Norwegians include Henrik Ibsen, Morten Harket, Roald Amundsen, Gerhard Hansen and John Arne Riise.


Denmark, like the rest of Scandinavia has an above average standard of living in Europe with a GDP per capita almost as high as that of the USA. Denmark has also not adopted the Euro as its currency. Denmark is a pioneer in the use of renewable energy and has gone from being 99% dependent on foreign oil to being energy self-sufficient. It is a net exporter and home to a lot of specialised industry particularly in the chemical, IT, engineering and electronics sectors. It has many multi-national companies including, Maersk, Danfoss, Lego, Bang & Olufsen and Carlsberg. Famous Danes include Brigitte Nielsen, Viggo Mortensen, Georg Jensen, Arnold Peter Møller, Ole Kirk Christiansen and Hans Christian Andersen.


Finland is also highly developed with a fast growing economy and above average standard of living. It also has high levels of manufacturing and technology and is a net exporter. Major industries in Finland are chemicals, paper and pulp, timber, transport vehicles, metal products and electronics. Finland is the only Nordic country to have adopted the Euro. Well-known Finnish companies include Metso, Finnair, Wärtsilä, Kemira, Konecranes, Marimekko and Nokia. Famous Finnish people include Jean Sibelius, Tove Jansson, Karl Stockmann, Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen and Janne Virtanen.

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